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 Post subject: Touareg The story of the Bushbaby, Badger and Hyena Sep 2010
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 8:03 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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The story of the Bushbaby, Badger and Hyena

The title is the introduction to a three night blitz into the Kruger from 18 to 21 September. This blitz was already planned in February to coincide with business in Nelspruit so I was really looking forward to it. The last time I was in Kruger was in September 2009. I must confess that the crowds in Kruger put me off and that I am addict to the Kalahari, but I was going to follow the same crowd avoidance strategy as in the past i.e. stay off the tarmac and keep to the dirt roads.

I was flying direct from Cape Town to Kruger international on the only flight of the day so I was up early and at the airport with lots of time to spare. This was not a trip I was going to miss. It was the first time in a many flights that I had check in luggage as my camera equipment and laptop had to stay with me as “hand luggage”. The check in assistant kindly let me take my weighty backpack as hand luggage. The general plan was to arrive at MIA at about 12:35, pick up the rental and be at Phabeni gate at 14:00, and then make good pace to Lake Panic to spend the afternoon there. I had done a lot of Googling and searches on Lake Panic, so knew I would get some good shots from there in the afternoon.

The main aim of the trip was to add to my bird pics, specifically with regards to the African Jacanas and various king fishers.

The plane journey was pleasant enough with me, against the window, sharing a row with a honeymoon couple from Spain. They were here to visit a camp in Sabie Sands before heading off to the Okavango and then Mauritius. Lucky them, I hope they do manage to get out and see the animals :wink: .

We landed on time, but as luck would have it, my suitcase came out last. I was already having visions of a previous fishing safari into the south of Angola, where I was waiting for my luggage and fishing equipment at the carousel in Windhoek and nada, nothing…apparently the SA Airlink flight was too heavy and they offloaded about 12 of the passengers luggage. All of it. With only twice weekly trips in Lubango in Angola and a 6 hour journey to follow, this was going to be interesting how I was to get my luggage. So there I was on an 8 day fishing trip with no clothes and no fishing equipment :doh: . Well that’s another story…a lesson in humility and accepting help from strangers was to follow.

As I was saying, the luggage came out last which meant an almighty queue at Avis of 6 people with me making up the rear. By timing was going to be off and I was loosing my Lake Panic time. Deep breaths….get into holiday mode. So I was given a choice between a Fiesta and an Atos. I chose the roomier Fiesta, but was secretly hoping for an upgrade to a 4X4…well I also did ask so it wasn’t such a secret, but because I was last all the cars had been given out. O well, I will go to the Kruger on a donkey cart is that was they only was to get there.

I had driven the route twice before so was confident of the route. Off we went and after some time the surrounding started to look very unfamiliar. OK check the GPS, yes I did have one, but I knew where I was going. I’m a man right. Right, so I’m on my way to Sabie…mmm. Estimated time of arrival now around 15:00. More Lake Panic time lost.

I eventually arrived at Phabeni and check in was smooth…didn’t even have to get out of my car, but did to assemble the camera equipment, get out the binos and organize the front passenger seat of the Fiesta into a “camera shop”.:cam: O yes, and I did tie on my yellow ribbon. I kept the GPS on so that I could check on the estimated time of arrival at the various points. That way I didn’t waste time along the way, but also knew how much time I did have to stop for anything interesting along the way to Lake Panic.

And so the long anticipated journey begins…..tbc

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KTP: 09 Dec 2012 - 18 Dec 2012


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 Post subject: Re: The story of the Bushbaby, Bagder and Hyena
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 6:36 pm 
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Phabeni gate to Skukuza – 18 September

I set off with great expectation and anticipation for what Kruger will show me. Every day, every trip, every road has something to show if you are patient look, not only for the large animals, but the small things as well.

Shortly after entering the park I took the S3 towards Skukuza. What I immediately noticed was the fact that large parts of the veld had been burnt and in fact some of the larger stumps were still smoldering. The light was extremely harsh with high cloud cover which made photographing a challenge. I didn’t see any Rhinos as on my previous trip down this road, but managed to get a few shots.
A young Kudu
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The red-billed Hornbill.
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A Wattled Starling
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A beautiful Waterbuck. Check out the heart shaped nose.
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I found the turn-off to Lake Panic and promptly found the overflowing car-park. The hide itself had a few spots left on the benches and I found myself a spot on the right hand side between some very friendly people. Walking around with the 500mm lens is guaranteed to draw attention and some smart comments, like “which newspaper do you work for” or “I suppose you can see the ingrown toenails on that Buffalo”. The usual suspects for Lake Panic were about i.e. a distant African Jacana, Hippos, African Darters, Brown hooded kingfisher, a Goliath Heron, some weavers, a juvenile and adult Black Crake, a few grey Herons, a buffalo, Pied kingfisher and a Burchell’s Coucal. What a place. I could spend the whole day there snapping away. I probably arrived there around 16:00 and by that time the light was fading fast. An earlier arrival would have been ideal. I missed an African Darter with a speared fish. A gentleman next to said he was waiting for the leopard that was spotted here the previous days. Well the leopard didn’t turn up but I did manage to get a few shots of the various species about.

African Darter
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Pied Kingfisher with a fish.
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Hippos
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Grey Heron
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I like the hide and its location. More time will be spent here when I return in July 2011. That will be worked into the program from the start. I think a morning session may also be asked for.

So with 15 minutes to go before gate closure, I set off to Skukuza to check in. This proved to be quite a long process, as I must have been in the queue for about 45 minutes. Breathe deep. I eventually got the keys to my bungalow, number 120 and set off in the dark to find it. Found it, opened the door and noticed a huge mess on the one bed. Movement overhead caught my attention which caused a slight heart flutter. A bush baby was climbing up the fan. A man!! A quick trip to the car, grab the camera, take one shot and set off to reception again to get another bungalow. After another 10 minute wait, I was told that the camp is fully booked, but that they would see what could be done. I suggested someone go to the bungalow, remove the culprit and clean up the mess, then all would be good. I was given another place to stay, the Struben guesthouse. But first I needed to get a few things from the shop for the next day and dinner. I had the R100 buffet which was quite ok and I at least forced in some greens and salads to stay off any possible scurvy. (Eeeew) The guesthouse was quite a mission to find in the dark with some of the roads closed due to the resurfacing. I eventually found it and unpacked. It consisted of 2 bungalows, joined in the middle by a big open stoep with a private braai area. Great, but where’s the kitchen area? Never mind, I had more important things to do like download my new pics. Problem. The mac would not read my 16GB card and said there was some ERR02 on the card. No way. I kept on trying by putting the card in my card reader and then also the cameras. Something had to read this card. I eventually managed to track down the source of the problem, which was a corrupt file. I deleted the file somehow and was then able to complete the download and backup. Phew.

Sleep didn’t come easily and I was awake most of the night, probably from excitement. I left the bungalow at 05:20 and headed for the gate falling in behind 2 other vehicles.
Tbc

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[b] Another day in paradise.

KTP: 09 Dec 2012 - 18 Dec 2012


Last edited by Touareg on Tue Sep 28, 2010 8:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The story of the Bushbaby, Bagder and Hyena
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2010 6:46 pm 
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Skukuza to Satara – Sunday 19 September.

I sat at the gate in the early morning dawn and formatted my CF cards, cleaned my lenses and planned my trip for the day. I listened to people talking and telling stories of yesterday’s sightings, but as a fisherman I know you don’t catch yesterday’s fish today. Today was a clean slate and by the end of it most people will have a story or two to tell. By the time the gates opened promptly at 06:00 a long queue of vehicles had formed and we all left in convoy. I had decided to take the S83 and then the S36 to end up at Tshokwane for a brunch and from there decide which way to go next.

I had my eyes peeled and cameras at the ready for anything interesting that would present itself to me in the early morning. A few cars passed me, obviously late for an appointment somewhere. By the time I turned off on the S83 dirt road there was one vehicle ahead of me which was a bit frustrating as when I stopped to let it get ahead of me so that I didn’t have to drive in it’s dust, it would also slow down or stop as they thought I had spotted something. Here is what I saw.

Kudu bull
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Brown Headed Parrot
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No idea!
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I exited the S83 and continued north on the tar road and stopped to and chat with a couple who asked if I had seen the 8 lions…ehh. No, I had missed them as they were on the tar road and I was on my evasion maneuvers on the dirt roads. Bummer, but then he said that it caused quite a roadblock, which made me thankful for not being caught up in it. I want to experience the maximum peace and quiet that Kruger can provide even if it means finding my own cats. There was a large herd of Buffalo lying in the grass being groomed by an army of oxpeckers.
I turned off at every loop and headed for the dams and pans where I saw all the plains game but still no elephants.

On the S36 I stopped numerous times when birds presented themselves and most often they would just fly off, but on the odd occasion present themselves for enough time for a pic even if just for the record.

Crested Francolin
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When your eye catches something out of the ordinary you have to stop, as was the case with this beautiful huge lizard. If someone knows the name, please let me know. It really stood out from the surrounding tree bark.

Help with lizard name please.
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Another bird that caused the Fiesta to stop was this Woodpecker. Another first for me.

Cardinal Woodpecker
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The little blue Waxbills had me busy for the whole trip and I didn’t manage to get one great shot.

At Tshokwane, which was quite full, I decided to have the pap and wors selection with generous amounts of chakalaka (spicy tomato based sauce). This was a decision I would start to regret not long after consumption :( . The birds at the picnic site are a real nuisance, just about taking the food out your plate. The main culprits are the Glossy Starlings. Overall the facilities are in good nic and the ablutions are clean and well maintained. It was getting really warm by now with the maximum temperatures forecasted for the day being in excess of 33 degrees. The aircon in the Fiesta is useless and I prefer to keep it off and the noise down anyway. I set off north with the acid of the tomato chakalaka starting to do its business :roll:

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KTP: 09 Dec 2012 - 18 Dec 2012


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 Post subject: Re: The story of the Bushbaby, Bagder and Hyena
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 7:49 pm 
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Tshokwane to Satara:

I headed north and stopped at Mazithi dam next to the road and watched a monitor lizard in the water. There wasn't a lot going on as it was nearly midday, so I headed off into the S86 where I saw this beautiful Slender Mongoose chewing on a tasty treat it dug up from under the fallen leaves.
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As I said the Chakalaka was starting to work its magic, not with the heartburn but into my right ankle in the form of a gout attack. My meds were in my suitcase in the back and I was starting to wonder how I was going to drive let alone walk if I can't halt this. I stopped at one of the next waterholes and asked a friendly couple to please keep a lookout while I retrieved my meds from the case. I did this only after thoroughly scanning every bush and tree :shock:. Meds taken, I was ready for action. The couple told me of a group of 7 lions up at Girivana and they believed thy would still be there. So I set off with optimistic pessimism. As I said, you don't catch yesterday's fish today, but it was still today. When I arrived there I did not have to wonder if they were still present as the number of vehicles gave me a subtle clue. After a bit of maneuvering I managed to find a spot, turned off my Avis 4X4, I mean Fiesta, and settled in for the afternoon. There were indeed 7 lions under the trees on the other side off the waterhole, but just lying around.
Here are two of the more alert females.
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So with the lions in the one corner, in the other corner we had Elephants, Giraffes, Zebras and Impala with the occasional warthog. The elephants came and went to the water hole as the wanted and occasionally walked towards the lions where they were lying and scatted them in all directions. The Elephants had a great time playing with the water and and taking a bath.
First there is the power was cycle.
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Then into the rinse cycle
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All the while being watched by very thirsty Zebras.
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They eventually managed to build enough courage to go for a drink. But charged off every time something twitched.
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Another big tusker turned up scattering animals as it came towards the water.
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While all this was going on, a Southern Hornbill was digging around in the dung looking for treats.
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When the Giraffes decided to go for a drink I knew I need to get a few pics. Every time they raised their heads the water and oxpeckers would go flying.
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The lions were still lying in the shade when a warthog came walking straight towards them. A female charged the warthog, who managed to escape. They caought me unawares.
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The GPS said that the time to leave for Satara had arrived so I set off with a last look towards the lions.
I had to stop for the White-backed vulture and the Glossy Starling
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A last stop was for this Fish Eagle. Unfortunately I couldn't get a clear shot through the trees.
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I checked in without any hassle, bought some food from the shop and filled up the car after which I eventually managed to find my bungalow. Quite a maze in the dark I settled in, made coffee and started to download and backup. This is always an amazing time to see what was actually captured during the day. I sat on the stoep and enjoyed the peace and quite when a honey Badger came shuffling past within 3 meters of where I was sitting. It ran to my dustbin, had a sniff and then moved on to the neighbor's bin. This it proceeded to push over and inspect more thoroughly. It then disappeared into the dark before I could grab my camera. Of the gout there was no further sign for now. Result. It was another early night after I made some sandwiches for tomorrow.
tbc.

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KTP: 09 Dec 2012 - 18 Dec 2012


Last edited by Touareg on Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The story of the Bushbaby, Bagder and Hyena
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 7:00 pm 
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You guys are making it hard to keep up the standards and keep meeting your expectations. I will try. :redface:

Satara to Sweni: 20 Sept 2010

I slept like a rock and woke just before the alarm at 05:00, made a quick coffee, loaded the 4x4 and headed for the gate. When I arrived at 5:30 I was 4th in the queue behind Tiny. We had a great chat, and I met his clients. I was going to do the S100 but decided against it at the last moment as I understood that this is like a highway. So I decided to turn left and go to Sweni via the S90. I realise that the S100 is very productive for cats, but I just couldn't be asked to join the convoy. This proved exactly right as it was only Tiny and myself that turned left. Looking in my rear view mirror, it reminded me of fighter planes dipping there wings and banking right. Good sightings.
My fisrt sighting in the early morning light was this Swainsons Spurfowl.
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Next up a pair of Burchall's Coucals. Still a bit early for enough light, but you get the idea.
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It was a beautiful morning and I liked the open landscape. I turned off on the S90 and stopped often for the feathered friends. Here is a grey-headed Sparrow.
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Also a Crested Barbet. I still want to shoot one of these op close and in good light.
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The rest of the S90 was quiet in terms of cats, but plenty of birds. I turned south on the S41 and headed for Gudzani dam. I saw this antelope in one of the river beds, but am not sure of the name.
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The tall reeds and herds of elephants made for interesting viewing. Another swarm of Blue Waxbills halted my advance and I tried my luck again.
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Further on I ran into a troop of Vervet monkeys begging to be my models :D. Well this one at least didn't take off when I pointed the 500mm at him.
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A Goliath Heron in one of the river beds made me stop and it was only afterwards that I saw it wasn't alone on the rock. So whom is going to eat whom here?
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Here is another first for me in the form of a long-billed Crombec.
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The were so many Giraffe, Elephants, Waterbuck, Impala and Wildebeest about the I was wondering where all the predators were hiding. Here is a huge Waterbuck.
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Another bird I was hoping to get on my list was the Yellow-billed Stork. They did not disappoint on the beautiful blue-skyed morning.
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So far I had only encounterd 2 vehicles and it felt as if I had all of this to myself :D. In another riverbed crossing I spotted these Red-Breated Swallows singing their hearts out.
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Lastly before I stopped at N'wanetsi for a pitstop this beautiful Green-winged Pytillia.
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if you were not into birding, it would have been quite a boring drive, but for me it was magical. On to Sweni.

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 Post subject: Re: The story of the Bushbaby, Bagder and Hyena
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 9:51 am 
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Hi Touareg.

Quote:
I wish I was back there right now, but will have to wait until next July. Until then I have two Kalahari trip lined up for December and April.


Lets Keep in touch about your July dates in Kruger.
Who knows i may be there as well.

A few pics of my morning drive.

Started of with a beautiful Rhino with morning light.

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Followed by a stunning lion sighting with 2 males, Great morning light.

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Than a huge ellephant bull.

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A nice herd of Buffallo.

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Bateleur Eagle with African Rock Python.

Image

Image

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Some Zebra drinking at a water hole. (Bad lighting)

Image

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Hope that you guys enjoyed them.

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 Post subject: Re: The story of the Bushbaby, Bagder and Hyena
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 10:05 am 
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A double TR :shock: Did you do the same roads?


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 Post subject: Re: The story of the Bushbaby, Bagder and Hyena
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 10:32 am 
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Hi Micetta.

No not at all. We met at the Satara gate in the morning, we had a wonderful chat and decided to turn left onto the H1-4 towards Olifants. Than Touareg turned right onto the S90, right onto the S41 and the S37 towards Sweni bird hide.
I took the S127, right onto the S39 Pass roodewal and right onto the H1-4 back to Satara. Did this to avoid the traffic, noise and dust on the S100.

Two completely different drives.

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 Post subject: Re: The story of the Bushbaby, Bagder and Hyena
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 12:32 pm 
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Tiny...thanks for adding those pics to the TR. Just shows you what 2 different routes over the same time period came bring. I am jealous of your lion and bateleur sightings :mrgreen: . I trust your guests enjoyed what you showed them. I'll let you know about our trip next year. Thnx for following the report.

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KTP: 09 Dec 2012 - 18 Dec 2012


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 Post subject: Re: The story of the Bushbaby, Bagder and Hyena
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 8:13 pm 
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@vgstephens. Just keep snapping away, keep studying pics you like and learn the basics of aperture, shutter speeds and iso. Most importantly, get of the house and into mother nature. She will always show you something :D and remember to say thank you afterwards :)

SWENI

When I stopped at the Sweni hide at about 09:00 there was only one vehicle parked. Great!. When I entered the hide, the occupants of the vehicle came out. I asked what they had seen and the answered, Storks and Storks and storks. Oh well, I was going to spend a few hours here so will eagerly await anything coming down to drink. I saw the Yellow-Billed Storks.
Image
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There were also a number of African Jacanas.
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I missed the grey Heron actually catch this fish, but managed to see it swallow the catfish whole.
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Also showing up all over, the ever present Terapins covered in green slime.
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This little Crake was very busy, covering a lot of ground and didn't really want to stand still.
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And then the Elephants came........tbc

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 Post subject: Re: The story of the Bushbaby, Bagder and Hyena
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2010 7:16 pm 
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This TR is fun :D with all the old and new friends commenting positively. Ok here goes the next episode:

SWENI to LS

I left the story last time still in the Sweni hide clicking away. A lovely couple from Roodepoort came in and we started chatting. They shared some great experiences of sightings at Sweni with me. Like the time a crocodile caught an Impala that was stuck in the mud in front of the hide. While sitting there ever watchfull, I noticed a Brown-Headed Kingfisher wizzing by, but couldn't pick up where it was perching. So you can imagine me "quietly" rushing through the hide, camera in hand trying to spot it. This was on my "hit list" so I had to get a few shots. While this was happening I noticed a group of Elephants approaching the water on the far side of the dam. It was a whole family unit with adults and quite a number of young.
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They were gently pushing away the algae and then drinking, taking long deep pulls of the cool water.
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Here a family unit sticks together drinking as a family.
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Here is another image of an adult and young elly. The colors were just so great that I couldn't stop clicking away.
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After they had all drunk their fill this little one moved to one side and did his own thing.
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The adults arrived and they all proceeded with the obligatory spa treatment. The small African Jacana ads a nice touch of color in the foreground and was also doing its best to stay clean.
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I was never really a fan of photographing elephants, but watching them interact as a unit and seeing the finer things in their behavior has really opened my eyes.

This fellow was gently cruising around below us and the Jacanas and Black Crake was definately staying out of its way.
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I picked up the Kingfisher again as it darted across the front of the hide. This time I saw where it went and moreover saw that it had caught a dragon fly. It first perched high in a tree on the left and then flew down onto an open branch where a young one was waiting.
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Here is the handover from the adult to the young bird.
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and finally the young Kingfisher throwing the meal in the air to reposition the meal and swallow it down.
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I will stop here for today :D

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 Post subject: Re: The story of the Bushbaby, Bagder and Hyena
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:50 pm 
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Sweni to LS

This installment is a big one so apologies if it takes long to load. I want to finish the Sweni to LS part of the journey tonight.

Another "battle" that started to develop was when a new mother Egyptian Goose kicked up a huge racket and only then did I spot the monitor lizard that was on its was to her new hatchlings. The two Lapwing Plovers took over the fight and kept on buzzing the lizard until it disappeared into the grass.
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Here is the first intended target of the monitor lizard, the mother Egyptian Goose. From the empty shells of the eggs close by it looked like these guys were newly hatched.
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In the left hand pond the green algae moved and a huge croc appeared. There was already a large animal lying in the sun so I was expecting sports. The croc still in the water appeared to be on a power wash cycle as bubbles and foam were appearing all round the croc. I was reminded of a National Geographic program where it was explained that the croc vibrates it's body as part of the mating ritual. So I was going to see some action. The croc in the water approached the other one and both lifted their heads. They both moved into the water where the next generation of crocs was energetically created :D
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It was now close to 11:00 and time to leave, which I did with a heavy heart and a promise to myself to spend lots of time here when we return in 2011.

I hit the H10 south with the next planned stop Orpen dam. I saw this Red Breasted Korhaan, female I believe. I spent about 20 minutes in a hot car waiting for the bird to move out of the long grass and shade, but to no avail. This was the only open shot that I was allowed.
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I was also very pleased to have added this Purple Roller to my list. Now I just need the European Roller.
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I eventually reached Orpen dam and upon driving into the parking areas which was deserted I spotted a number of baboons squatting in the shade of the parking bays and a huge male sitting under a tree on the left. I drove in under the shaded parking area and the few baboons there kindly moved off. The alpha male was still watching me, so I sat in the car for a while and ate my sandwiches. It lost interest in me and I walked into the lookout spot. What a wonderful view. There were crocs in the water, elephants, Kudus, waterbuck and Nyala on the opposite bank. This kudu drew my attention.
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A lizard also made a brief appearance on a rock in front of the hide.
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Three Lappet Faced Vultures came gliding by and landed at the water's edge.
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By this time a number of families and groups had joined me in the lookout with the expected comments towards my equipment. I enjoyed the kids and missed Mattanator on this trip. He is my entertainment center and buddy. Next time he will also experience Kruger.

Time to leave again and I decided on the H10, S128, S29 as my route to LS. I was aiming to spend some time a the Sunset dam so I had to push on. I stopped a number of times for various animals and birds but will share the Lilac Breasted Roller
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the one of many Magpie Shrike
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This little Black-headed Tchacra gave me the run-around and was only prepared to show itself after quite a few minutes with me waiting in the hot car, engine off and camera ready. It looks as if there was a tick on it's head.
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I eventually reached Sunset dam and was immediately rewarded with another first when a Green-Backed Heron came and landed meters away from me on the concrete structure. It was then chased away by a Grey Heron, but fortunately it landed even closer which forced me to quickly remove the 1.4 converted in order to get the whole bird in the frame.
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It was all happening, with a troop of baboons walking by, a family of warthogs came by but were so close I couldn't get the whole animal in the frame.
Image.

Ditto for the Hippo that came from the river and passed with 2 meters of the front of my Fiesta.
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What a day, but the gates were about to be closed so I left to go and book into my tented accommodation. Checkin was quick and efficient and I was even quicker in the shop buying a burger,a Prago roll and snacks for dinner. I was given the tent unit right in the corner of the camp. I settled in quickly, but darkness came faster, so I missed a sundowner in the stoep. The canvas sides of the unit is in dire need of replacement. I sat on the stoep and started the nightly routine of download and backup when I got the fright of my life when I looked up, squinted through my laptop induced night blindness and looked into the face of a hyena. Of course there is an electric fence between me and the beast , but the unit being a mere meter from the fence, the presence of a wild predator so close took a few years off. After that the fence crackled throughout the night, which left me wondering what was trying to get in or out..........

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[b] Another day in paradise.

KTP: 09 Dec 2012 - 18 Dec 2012


Last edited by Touareg on Thu Oct 07, 2010 10:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The story of the Bushbaby, Bagder and Hyena
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 7:28 pm 
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Location: Somerset West
LS - Kruger International

I was a very sleep interrupted night with the crackle of the electric fence pulling out of a deep sleep every now and then. Sometime the fence crackled 9 times in sucsession. Still don't know what that was about. I was on the stoep at 04:00 with my first cup of coffee and just sat there enjoying the night sounds and the smell of the bush. I also got the time to sit and plan my last morning in the park as I had to be at the airport by 13:30 to give back my current by now very dusty Avis car, pick a clean fresh one and meet my 5 colleagues for our business meeting in Nelspruit.

So I packed up just after 05:00 and while doing so found a huge frog in my tent behind my suitcase. Hope that was they only one and that I didn't have a stowaway of any sorts.

At the gate I was first in line and watched the cars building up behind me. The gentlemen at the gate didn't want to trust my watch (which was 10 minutes fast :-) and promptly at 06:00 he opened the gates and I turned left towards Crocodile bridge. The plan was to do the S28, S137 and then head up the H4-1 towards Skuks and turn off on the S21, S112 towards the H3. Exit via the H1-1, but only after stopping off at Transport and Shitlhave dams.

First up jus after I turned off was this Gymnogene perched high up in a dead tree.
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Even having seen so many of the Lilac Breasted Rollers, this one caught my eye.
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A few kilometers south of LS there is a dry river bed where I had seen a Leopard on a previous occasion. When I passed the I slow down to almost a stop looking everywhere..nothing. O well, next time. I did the S28 and stopped at the Ntandanyathi bird hide for a quick look. The hide was covered in baboon/monkey excrement. We must learn to closed the shutters in the hides to keep out the sh£tters :D. The road was reasonably quiet in terms of animals, but I did spot a Rhino trotting across the road and a number of Giraffe.

Back on the tar road north and was immediately rewarded at the low water bridge with a few cars parked. must be a cat. The cars were parked nose to bumper, but I managed to get a view between two cars. That was enough for me to witness one of the best sightings I had seen to date. Not one but two Leopards. A young male looked younger that the larger female.
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The young Leopard had a dead hare that it was playing with.
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The female was also lying in the river bed and was observing the youngster.
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The youngster walked over the where the other one was lying and was taunting it with it's "kill".
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Here is one of my favorites with both of them just lying down enjoying the moment. What beautiful creatures.

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I have another episode of the leopards to share in the next installment.....tbc

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[b] Another day in paradise.

KTP: 09 Dec 2012 - 18 Dec 2012


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 Post subject: Re: The story of the Bushbaby, Bagder and Hyena
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 8:26 pm 
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Ok..here we go. I last left off were I was sat in an ever increasingly growing traffic jam. Luckily my little Fiesta was so low on the ground that the larger 4X4 could look right over me. I was happily snapping away. The light was getting better, but the two Leopards seemed to favor the shade. The young one would jump up, grab the hare, toss it around and run full speed in a direction.
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At one stage it raced up the embankment, walked a few meters, turned around and charged towards a fallen tree leaning into the river bed. The leopard missed the branches and tumbled head of heals into the undergrowth. When it rose its head it was with ears pinned back, looking very embarrassed.
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The older Leopard would stalk the younger one and pounce on him, pretending to want to take the prey away.
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The young one wasn't too impressed with these games.
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I think about 35 minutes passed when the GPS was saying you HAVE TO LEAVE NOW! So with the Leopards still messing around and the traffic building I extricated the Fiesta and headed north, a couple of hundred images stronger. Now comes the time when you wonder how many images are in focus, how many are spoilt by rocks and grasses. Even if I had 5 good ones, I would be chuffed to bits. I headed north....tbc

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[b] Another day in paradise.

KTP: 09 Dec 2012 - 18 Dec 2012


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 Post subject: Re: The story of the Bushbaby, Badger and Hyena
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 7:52 pm 
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Thank you CuriousCanadian :thumbs_up:

The way out!

So left the leopards to play in the river bed. I understand they were there for about 2 hours. I'm glad I left as I have never maxed out a memory card, but feel this may have been the day. I made a brief stop at Sunset dam and watched the locals frolicking in the water. Also present the "logs" playing dead in the sun. This one was particularly large.
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Here is my first Brown Snake Eagle of the last few days. It obligingly sat still and even posed correctly in the morning sun. A real star in the making for all future Krugerites.
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Further on I saw a familiar VW Kombi in one of the pull off areas. I stopped and asked what they were watching and was told they were looking at White Fronted Bee-eaters. I couldn't see them but as I watched noticed this Brown Hooded Kingfisher.
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Within minutes the little cull de sac was overflowing with nosy people asking what we were seeing. When being told that e were looking at birds, they promptly tried to turn around and exit. It was quite hilarious.

A large troop of baboons came down the road, with the little ones making up the rear. They were doing what little kids would do, messing around and pushing one another over. This one opted for the executive transport option.
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I stopped at all the waterholes on the way to Numbi gate and managed to shoot Impala
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Giraffe
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Blue Waxbill
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And this large tusker.
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All to soon I was heading towards Shitlhave dam. But before I go t there a very exciting sighting for me. These Ground Hornbills were scouring the burnt countryside for scraps of food. I really wanted to get a decent shot of these beautiful birds eyes and those long thick lashes, but do what I may, it would stand still and pose, so I had to shoot it on the move.
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At Shitlhave dam, a large herd of Elephants were hastily walking towards the water. They were almost running into the water. In between these large neats a few very small babies were trying to keep up. I was so scared for the young ones and already had visions of someone drowning. I was so keeping an eye on the youngsters, that I forgot to take pics. The babies were holding on to the adults with there little tusks. There is no way there feet were touching the ground, but they hung on and eventually appeared on the side all accounted for. I did manage to get a few shots after the fact.
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Well from there it was uneventful and I made it to the gate 5 minutes past 12. I left the gate after a quick inspection and headed for the airport to pick up my colleagues. I was so filled with images and experiences from the last few days and could't wait to see the results of the morning results. It was over for now and all things going well, I would return with my family in July 2011. In the meantime I had two KTP trips to look forward to.

THE END.

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[b] Another day in paradise.

KTP: 09 Dec 2012 - 18 Dec 2012


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