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 Post subject: BushFairy KNP, my own magical never never land (Jan 2011)
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 9:50 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Location: Grahamstown, Eastern Cape
In January I went on my little KNP adventure, well, lets just say my sightings were, um.... INCREDIBLE!
I'm not sure whether it was all the green in KNP that brought out some serious Irish luck or whether it was the soft whispers of fairies that were calling me from one road to another, from one waterhole to another, but whatever it was, it was truely MAGICAL!

So, day 1, drive into the park at Malelane gate as the Crocodile River was flowing over the new high level croc bridge and I don't want to take any chances! Great anticipation and have a ridiculous grin on my face! Well, half an hour later and I had not seen a single animal, not even an impala... I am grumpy, the grass is so long that I doubt I would be able to spot an ellie 5m off the road :evil: Oh well, I have become a keen birder so I spend my time clocking up my bird species list! And then I get this feeling, this excited predator feeling in my gut, don't ask me where it comes from, but I have had it since I was tiny in KNP! And I was right, I crept along and around the next corner, this is what I found.......

Isn't he a beauty?
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Here is to show how long the grass was (and this was a little elevated section where I was lucky enough to snag a pic!)
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I will carry on with day one a little later this evening! :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: KNP, my own magical never never land (Jan 2011)
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 11:24 pm 
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I was in heaven! Birds EVERYWHERE, butterflies EVERYWHERE, mammals EVERYWHERE, it was some kind of magic, never have I ever seen the lowveld looking so enchanting!

Here are some more pics of day 1:

At every weir/bridge there were flocks of Hamerkops (I have never seen this before), they were really a great source of entertainment!
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Every animal looked extremely relaxed, as though they had no worries in the world! (I suppose with that much food and water around, who wouldn't be relaxed!)
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 Post subject: Re: KNP, my own magical never never land (Jan 2011)
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 9:15 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Location: Grahamstown, Eastern Cape
@ Flying cheetah - :lol: :lol: :lol: Great to have you here FC, thank you!!

@ Philip/Alet - I could not agree more, when I enter one of the KNP gates I change from a university student into some sort of giddy 3 year old and have a constant smile and look of excitment on my face, after the first day my face is usually sore from smiling so much! :D Thank you for joing my TR!

@ Fenwickh - Thank you so much for your kind words and for joing me on reliving my little KNP adventure, lot more bird pics to come!!

@ Katja - Wonderful to have you here, I promise I won't keep you all waiting on this one, photobucket is taking ages, but I will finih day 1 as soon as possible!

----------------------------------------------------------

Ok, so let me give you all a little insight as to what my KNP trip was:

Day 1 - 7: Biyamiti
Day 8 - 11: Satara

During this TR, I will give you the mammal species count for the day at the end of each day and then right at the end of the TR I will list all the birds I saw (which could take a good while, but it's a record for me in KNP so I have to share it!).

I'll be back soon :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: KNP, my own magical never never land (Jan 2011)
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 1:42 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Location: Grahamstown, Eastern Cape
After a wonderful morning of super sightings we made our way to Biyamiti. It was extremely hot and we were tired (driving from 5am to 2pm is no joke!). Driving along the S25 we drove onto the bridge over the Biyamiti River and in the heat of the day was a huge tom leopard walking up the edge of the river bed, beautiful!

So now we'd seen two male leopards, no lions and lots of general game.... Where were the lions??

We checked into camp and then went on a two hour drive in the evening, up and down the Biyamiti private road. We saw scrub hare, rhino, ellies, buffs, bushbuck and many other species.

On the way back to camp we came across our first lion of the trip, a lone lioness looking rather hot and bothered in one of the river beds of the small tributries along the Biyamiti River.

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DAY 1
Mammals: 22 species
Baboon, Buffalo, Bushbuck, Elephant, Giraffe, Scrub Hare, Hippo, Impala, Kudu, Leopard, Lion, Banded Mongoose, Dwarf Mongoose, Slender Mongoose, Vervet Monkey, White Rhino, Tree Squirrel, Steenbok, Warthog, Waterbuck, Blue Wildebeest, Zebra

Highlight: The first sighting! :roll:

Next up, day two, and the leopard:lion ratio continues to grow :shock:
Also, lots more birding experiences

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 Post subject: Re: KNP, my own magical never never land (Jan 2011)
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 3:57 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Location: Grahamstown, Eastern Cape
DAY 2

Day 2 was a beautiful morning, but by 8am it was BOILING hot!! Visiting waterholes and rivers proved fruitful, with lots of sightings of birds in the early morning :D

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Next up: Day 2 continued :D

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 Post subject: Re: KNP, my own magical never never land (Jan 2011)
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:21 pm 
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DAY 2 - Continued.....

The rest of the morning was the "baby morning", there were just young animals everywhere!

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There was a lot of general game which kept me entertained for hours. Because of the long grass the only animal which was actually easy to photography was the giraffe, unless of course it was in the road, like this young African Rock Python (I had four sightings of pythons on my trip, too beautiful for words!)

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On my way back to camp I spotted a young female leopard on a little island of grass (on a small loop which views a pan after Mpondo dam there is a tree with some other vegetation around it which you drive around to view the waterhole), and there she was! But she was very nervous and hid behind the grass, I waited patiently until she finally dashed across the road into the thick, tall grass never to be seen again.

I stopped off at Biyamiti and decided to try and take a nap, it was about 12:00 and I'd been out since 04:30 so I thought I might need one.... Well after my luck earlier on I was far too excited to sleep so I packed my coldbox and headed out again! This time towards Renosterkoppies!

When I arrived I saw Vulture everywhere, so I turned off my vehicle and watched, listened and waited. By now the clouds had built up rather nicely as they did every afternoon that I was there. I could hear the lions in the grass, but could not see the. While waiting I managed to grab a few shots of the vultures, and to me the dead wood and gloomy skies were the perfect backdrop to these majestic creatures with their full crops!

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I finally left so that I would be able to get back to camp comfortably. I passed many bodies of water and had some wonderful birding experiences! I watched this Greenbacked Heron fishing for quite a while!

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I came across a nursery of Impala lambs and found this amusing oxpecker taking a sandbath to cool off, it looks more like a penguin than anything else!!

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My final treat for the day was this sweet Scrub Hare near the entrance to Biyamiti!

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 Post subject: Re: KNP, my own magical never never land (Jan 2011)
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 10:45 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 13, 2010 9:51 pm
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Location: Grahamstown, Eastern Cape
DAY 2 - summary

Mammals: 23 species
Baboon, Buffalo, Bushbuck, Grey Duiker, Elephant, Giraffe, Scrub Hare, Hippo, Impala, Kudu, Leopard, Lion, Banded Mongoose, Dwarf Mongoose, Slender Mongoose, Vervet Monkey, White Rhino, Tree Squirrel, Steenbok, Warthog, Waterbuck, Blue Wildebeest, Burchells Zebra

Highlight: Young female leopard (along Mpondo dam road)

Next up: Day 3 and 4 together.... This consisted of very few sightings as it poured with rain most of the day :cry: But things get really heated from day 5! I will be doing day 3 and 4 together :thumbs_up:

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@ Zettie - Thank you, not anywhere near purfect yet, but hey, that's what practice is for!! :tongue:

@ FC - Once again, it was just luck with the pythons, they were all crossing the road so were very difficult to miss :D Considering the length of the grass and the heat I was very surprised by the number of leopard sightings I had on this trip, just luck I guess. But Biyamiti private road remains my favourite road in the park for leopard, the key is persistance, sometimes we just drive up and down this road, but ultimately we always find at least one spotted beauty!

@ Lowveldboy - :thumbs_up:

@ Fenwickh - Thank you so much for all your kind comments! :D

@ Rookie2009 - I agree, I have never seen as many Scrub Hares in KNP as around Biyamiti this year! Thank you for joining my TR :thumbs_up:

@ Mi - Oh my goodness but you really do make me laugh :lol: :lol: I hope you haven't put some sort of curse on me and I end up marrying a troll :big_eyes:

@ Zettie - I will PM you with the recipe asap :lol: :lol: :lol:

@ Son godin - thank you :D That is exactly where I saw Scrub Hares every morning and every evening, there was usually one but sometimes it mate would be sitting with it! What a treat! :mrgreen:

@ Katja - I actually saw lots of snakes on my trip python x4; Black Mamba x2; Boomslang x1; Cobra (don't know which one) x1; and one small one which I could not identify! Thank you for always being such a lovely asset to my TR, you are so kind!

@ BB30 - you are right! Satara is my heaven and whe I got there I was reminded time and time again why I feek this way! Haha! I am glad you are leaving some space for your lucky charms!! :tongue:

@ Bosmama - I have called in the reserves too and they promise to jump on board and help you ALL out! :lol: :lol: I am sure you are going to have a super time!

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 Post subject: Re: KNP, my own magical never never land (Jan 2011)
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 11:03 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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@ Sky - Hi and welcome to my TR! Hope you enjoy the rest! :D

----------------------------------------


DAY 3 and 4

These days were spent in the Lower Sabie region as this was the only area around Biyamiti which was not pouring with rain on these particular days... But the heat and humidity was unbearable and made game viewing very difficult, even the birds were hiding in the trees and bushes!

I found a pair of mating lions just beyond Lower Sabie (±3km), the male seemed really messed up and injured!
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I decided to do the Salitjie road (one of my favourites), but by the time I got there it was late and HOT so my trip was rather unsuccessful! I stopped at Mlondozi for brunch before heading back to Biyamiti for a nap and to try and escape the heat! On my way there I had some nice bird sightings and managed to find a Pearl-spotted Owlett at the picnic site itself! Cute!

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Day 4 was very quiet, but that evening I had a lovely experience with a Barred Owlett and with my resident chalet bat!

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Day 3: 17 Mammal species
Day 4: 21 Mammal species
(These aren’t bad totals, but considering I had no good photographic opportunities I was most disappointed with these two days)

Day 5: coming soon!!!

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 Post subject: Re: KNP, my own magical never never land (Jan 2011)
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:20 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Day 5 was still rather gloomy when I got up, but the cool overcast morning meant that I could not resist shooting out the gate along the biyamiti road at 4:30am! It was a bit dark so I had to drive really really really slowly and could not take many pics, but as soon as it was light enough I was snapping away again!

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I then spotted some tracks in the road.... LION, at least three of them I thought, I followed the tracks for about 6km until I drove around a corner and found these beauties!

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The first two were in the road while the other two lay off the road in the long grass and were impossible to photograph! One of the lions in the road then moved into the long grass, but this one stuck around for a photo shoot!

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What a super morning! I spent at least an hour and a half alone with these four until they all finally started to move off down towards the river bed!

Day 6, I didn't think it could get better than this, but I was very wrong!

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 Post subject: Re: KNP, my own magical never never land (Jan 2011)
Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 12:25 pm 
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Location: Grahamstown, Eastern Cape
DAY 6 :D

I decided to do the Biyamiti private road and then the Biyamiti loop, head up towards Skukuza and then down the sabie, back along the N'watimhiri and then do the Biyamiti loop and Biyamiti private road again - I had a good feeling about today so I decided to stay out from 4:30am to 6:30pm - KNP ADDICTION!

Biyamiti Loop was a winner, I should have just driven up and down this road the entire day. My first sighting was my four friends from yesterday walking down the road! They were lovely to watch and seemed to have such a strong bond!

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Further down the road, I spotted two dark objects running across the road. A pack of wild dog! Yay!!!! Unfortunately, as is often the case with sightings of these lovely animals, they were too busy hunting for me to take any pics (they took a few seconds to cross the road and carry on with their business and because of the grass, they simply vanished!).

Now I have always said that I would rather have one leopard sighting than three wild dog sightings - not sure why, but the painted ones don't have the same soft spot in my heart as leopards! Well, my next sighting was a leopard on my way back from my long day along the Biyamiti loop again! Pics coming up soon!


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 Post subject: Re: KNP, my own magical never never land (Jan 2011)
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 11:43 am 
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Here is my spotted one, it wa incredibly hot (>40 degrees) and he was drinking at one of those natural pans near the Biyamiti weir that had filled up due to all the rain. He then walked up the Biyamiti loop road and I followed him for about an hour before turning back to get back to camp in time! He was a real beauty :D

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 Post subject: Re: KNP, my own magical never never land (Jan 2011)
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 10:04 pm 
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Hi all :D

So sorry I have been so slack!

I will get back on the ball now, promise! Was really busy with MSc work, but will have some spare time this week to try and finish my TR!

Also, thank you all for your wonderful replies and comments, I will address each one tomorrow, for now, I would just like to share some more of my pics.

DAY 7:
Just as I thought the flooding rains were over, they came down again and HARD! All the rivers which were finally calming down and gathering some waterbird species were now gushing down in full force again! But this only happened from about 2pm, but it lasted until 7am the next morning. And this was not a mizzle or a drizzle, it was a hard, constant rain which made it sound like the river was about to flow into my windows in my Biyamiti chalet! Luckily I was able to get out of Biyamiti and move to Satara the next day. I was determined to go to Satara and took some chances across low level bridges along the S25 which I probably shouldn't have, but I did make it there in one piece! But enough about this, let me show you some pics from the morning of day 7. I did see lions, a pride which was tucked away in a Koppie near Renosterpan, so no pics I'm afraid!

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And then the rains started and did not stop for more than 12hrs!

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 Post subject: Re: KNP, my own magical never never land (Jan 2011)
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:42 am 
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Thank you all once again for your very kind comments!

I am in a rush as I have to go out into the field again this weekend, but will quickly share my sightings of DAY 8. Satara is my special place, the place in the park which makes me feel more at home than any other. My childhood memories of the camp itself and the surrounding areas are too special for words, so needless to say, I was very excited to be going "home". Satara has NEVER disappointed me (touch wood) sightings wise, and I am not a big 5 chaser, I love all the creatures, but I do love the cats, and it is no secret that Satara is cat paradise, and not just the big cats, ALL CATS!

When I left Biyamiti after nearly being rained in, the river had risen considerably!

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I have never seen the park looking so incredibly beautiful!

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Another scrub hare!! So adorable!!

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I love Satara area, the lions seem bigger and stronger, the game looks fitter and healthier and experiences as far more wild than down south where animals are completely accustomed to cars. I get this excited feeling in the pit of my stomach that I around every corner I am going to find something special.

First lions – a mating pair
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Next – three brothers napping in the shade

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I stayed with these lions (a mating pair and the three other brothers from the pair for ages and it was worth the wait!)

This guy was very relaxed (pic A) until some fool got out of his car to take a pic (pic B), the look on the lions face sent him straight back into his car, priceless! IDIOT!
Pic A
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Then a poor little warthog came strolling down the road and practically ran into the three males. Well, all hell broke loose. Lions running everywhere, with their manes flapping in the wind and in the tall grass, it was like something from ghosts of the darkness!! The pig was squealing like a banshee dashing from one side of the road back across the road, etc. until the one male finally caught him! He was tiny (shame!) so I think each lion got a teeny-tiny bite before coming back and relaxing in the road again. It happened so quickly that all I managed to photograph was the male that sat up when he saw the person out of his car, dash into the long grass after the poor little warthog! By then I was cutting it fine to get back to camp so I had to leave.... But I found them all the next morning again! Yay!

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Day 9..... To be continued!! And yes.... day 9 was even better than day 8.... Spotted cat time again!

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