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 Post subject: Touareg introduces Whackaroon to KNP! Aug 2011
Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2011 7:00 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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When the opportunity presented itself earlier in 2011 to do a short 5 day trip into KNP in August I jumped at it and made all the necessary arrangements in record time. It too a few more calls to my favorite booking agent to secure the specific type of accommodation required but eventually I managed to get all bungalows with utensils and single beds. Why? Because I was taking a colleague and fellow photography enthusiast on his first KNP photography experience. His pseudonym aka Whackaroon...don't ask :D

Our itinerary was Skuks, Satara, Olifants, Satara, Skuks and out! We needed the bungalows to have utensils as we were flying up and being restricted to a measly 20 kilograms. My two cameras and 2 lenses alone are more than 11kgs. These travel in the cabin with me. I'm getting sidetracked by the Lions beating the Sharks and my son wanting advice for a school business plan.
OK so we didn't have space for any utensils, but I did take a small soft cooler bag, spices, salt and coffee. The rest we would get as and when we need it from the camp shops and restaurants.

The night before the departure, I could hardly sleep again with all the excitement building. Nevertheless I reached the airport in time and for the first time in more then 200 flights had to by R89 for 3kg excess weight. :rtm:

Whackaroon arrived bursting with excitement and even brought a sleeping bag as apparently it was very cold in the Kruger. Huh!! :doh:

The 2 1/2 hour flight to KMIA whizzed by as we poured over my laptop and I showed him what to expect and introduced him to the various birds we are likely to encounter and what he needed to keep an eye out for.

Whackaroon had arranged a Nissan Xtrail for our visit which we picked up after completing many documents. It was a diesel and higher than the Corolla we would originally have rented for the week. We made Phabeni gate in good time, brought a few hot dogs and drinks from the shop at the gate, assembled all the cameras and lenses, got ourselves settled (W in the back seat which he would call home for the many kilometers to come) and entered the park for 5 nights and 6 days of heaven. ....tbc

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[b] Another day in paradise.

KTP: 09 Dec 2012 - 18 Dec 2012


Last edited by Touareg on Fri Sep 16, 2011 10:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Touareg introduces Whackaroon to KNP!
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 2:01 pm 
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Great to have at least 5 passengers onboard :D, so I guess its time to start posting a few pics. I will keep the number of images per page down to 5 or 6 but will need your help in turning the pages. Deal?

As I said we entered at Phabeni and quickly got our spotting eyes going albeit with a Giraffe :roll: . The sky was grey, bright and overcast so any shots were a challenge. We hadn't gone very far before we spotted a small roadblock of 4 cars. Elephant on the right..mmm. Ok ask. Two wild dogs on the right. You have gotta be kidding :cam: The elephant actually helped us find them as he trumpeted and mock charged the area they were lying in. They quickly moved out the way.

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The two were lying in the grass but would occasionally get up and give us a shot.

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A nice old stretch.

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Then we spotted movement in the grass in the back and 3 more doggies made their appearance. Then more movement and no less than 7 pups were spotted running around in the grass. Here are two of the best shots.

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This was only the second time in 5 visits that I had come across the dogs. What an awesome start to the trip. The adults moved out off the grass and flopped down on the verge off the road with the pups nowhere to be seen. They must of had a den close by.

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We bid farewell to the dogs as we had a date with Lake Panic, something I had been looking forward to since leaving last time.....tbc

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 Post subject: Re: Touareg introduces Whackaroon to KNP!
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:09 pm 
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Welcome on the bus to all the new posters :thumbs_up: . The area between Phabeni and Skukuza is indeed becoming a doggie territory so a slow drive could be well rewarded. Unfortunately I haven't got specific location for you.

So on to Lake Panic with a brief stop to shoot some female and young kudu. Bad light so no pics. On the way to Lake Panic we were jabbering away about how lucky we had been to spot the dogs. At Lake panic, the parking lot was quite full but we took our chances and soon found a seat on the best wooden benches in the world :D. As Whackaroon would later comment "It's like watching a 24 hour movie". He was totally unprepared for what he was seeing.

Here a Black-headed Heron came straight at us to eventually settle on it's nest in front of the hide.

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As usual the hippos were providing much entertainment and photo opportunities. This one showing his pearly whites. No wonder they are deemed the most dangerous animals in Africa.

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One of the younger ones fancied some of the sweet green grass to the right of the hide.

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And this young one was still too sleepy to pay attention to the Pied Wagtail using it's head as a perch. The light was fading fast so a lot of noise in the pic.

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On the perch in front of the hide, an African Darter who regularly announced it's unhappiness with the world :roll:

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And lastly the Pied Kingfishers were going about their business catching fish. They are so efficient and we saw no less than 4 birds regularly catching fish.

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Time wasn't on our side and we had to get to Skukuza to check in. Check as usual here takes longer than anywhere else with long queues so patience is required.

What a start!. We had already gotten rid off all work related stress. Thats what Kruger and Kgalagadi does to you. We stocked up at the shop on essentials and Pork chops and sausage for dinner. What will tomorrow bring? I plan to get is to Tshokwane for brunch.........tbc

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KTP: 09 Dec 2012 - 18 Dec 2012


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 Post subject: Re: Touareg introduces Whackaroon to KNP!
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 6:50 pm 
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As usual I was awake way before the alarm went off at 05:00. Too much excitement and expectation for what the day would bring. We were going to stay over in Satara and the route we chose would see us at Tshokwane for lunch and then on to the S100 somehow to end at Satara by 18:00. We left Skukuza a few minutes past 06:00 as there was no real hurry to get out in the dawn light. I would rather leave a bit later and get the best light than have a sighting and no light to take a shot. We turned off on the H4-1 and headed towards Lower Sabie and turned off at the bridge over the Sabie River on the H12 to witness a beautiful sunrise. A fish eagle came at us unexpectedly so we missed those shots. We would need to sharpen up :big_eyes: if we were to get the shots. W was operating from the back seat and we both had enough room to manoeuvre. No danger of him being whacked on the head with the 500mm.

We hit the H1-2 tar road to Satara and with nothing really to show yet. The plan was to stop off at Mantimahle dam and get some shots of the hippos but when we arrived there, the access road to tha parking area had been closed off with logs and branches. Only 4 weeks earlier this was clear and we could enjoy the dam and the hippos. I would love to know why this road is closed off. So onwards on the S36 and here we ran into some goodies in terms of birds. First up the Go-Away bird.

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And then a bird that keeps on eluding me, the Pearl-spotted Owlet. This one was quite far away and busy hunting, so would keep on moving from thorn bush to thorn bush.

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Also on the road we spotted the herd of Sable antelope, probably the same herd I saw in July. They were however so deep in the brush that getting any kind of shot would prove a challenge.

This Martial Eagle behaved well and allowed us to shoot away until we got some decent images. I was hoping for a take-off shot but is was just enjoying the early morning sun.

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Then in the distance we spotted a white Rhino mother and calf. The calf was still young as it was seen to be suckling.

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Another one of our challenging birds is the Magpie Shrike, which proves particularly tricky to shoot with its black and white coat. Additionally to remember to get the whole bird in the frame and secondly in focus.

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So still on the S36 a herd of Zebra crossed the road ahead of us.

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I will leave the episode here for the time being and wait for a page turn ….cmon :-)

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 Post subject: Re: Touareg introduces Whackaroon to KNP!
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 4:56 pm 
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Sorry can't wait for the page to turn so here goes a short episode. Were were still on the S36 and made a quick emergency stop to shoot this Black-crowned Tchagra. Maybe one day I will get one out in the open and cooperative.

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And a small herd of Buffs chewing away the day.

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We were getting hungry and in need of a pitstop so I turned off on the S34 and headed for Tshokwane for a much needed leg stretch.

On the way we were rewarded with this Tree Squirrel who proved to be quite a challenge to shoot against the harsh light

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We eventually made it to a busy Tshokwane and had a great lunch of sausage buns while dodging the the starlings and aggressive hornbills. W was using the opportunity to shoot the Starlings and a pair of Crested Barbets trying to steal food and crumbs from our table.

We watched a couple preparing sausage on a skottel and the putting the sausage on rolls and into a plastic bag. The next moment a Vervet monkey dropped out the tree, onto the table, grabs the bag with hot dogs and runs off. The owner of the hotdogs rushed off after the money who then lets go off the bag spreading the dogs over the ground. The birds then set upon the bread rolls leaving the sausage behind. Not even the monkeys wanted the wors :-)

Thats is for now. Next time we head off on the H1-3 then onto the S33 and onwoards.......

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 Post subject: Re: Touareg introduces Whackaroon to KNP!
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2011 6:11 pm 
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Hi again from Tshokwane (I wish!). Well this is where we pick up from again. Stomachs full with prime boerie buns and all fluid levels where they should be we hit the road north on the H1-3. Nothing really of note other than the normal. I didn't want to get to Satara too early and the S100 was still on the menu so we turned west onto the S33. I had never been on the S33 so looked forward to the new scenery. This episode will have a few more than normal pics, but I want to share them so please be patient.

We were going along quite nicely the S33 when we reached Vutomi dam and spotted 2 vehicles pulled up ahead. We drove towards them and quickly saw what the fuss was about. A beautiful male lion lying in the shade of a bush albeit on the wrong side of the light.

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He was very lazy and we drove forward a bit to get a better shot in the harsh light and then we spotted the 2nd male lion also in the shade.

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Around the dam further north were, Giraffes, Zebras, Kudus, Warthogs and Impalas. The duo didn't look at all interested in hunting at this time of the day. We had places to go and things to shoot so we said our goodbyes and headed off. A troop off baboons crossed the road and were already a bit far off, but this one decided to take a treat or two from the bush. I like the image of the baboon feeding.

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Another first for me was lugmag dam where these hippos were lazing away the cloudy afternoon on the bank.

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There was also a pair of Fish Eagles, one int he trees and the other on the far side feasting on a fish of some sorts. Too far away for a decent shot. In the distance another bird I really am keen to get a good image off was the Saddle-bill Stork.

We set off and soon had to stop again for this Helmeted Shrike.

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And then one of the funniest times we had when another troop of Chacma baboons crossed the road and provided a lot of entertainment. Here is one of the elders of the troop.

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And here is the star of the show :shock:

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What are you looking at? BRING IT ON DUDE!!

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The baby was so cute.....we continued on. So far I was enjoying the S34 and now the S36 we were on. We were about to turn on to the S125.......tbc

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 Post subject: Re: Touareg introduces Whackaroon to KNP!
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2011 3:31 pm 
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Thanks for turning the page Flutterby :thumbs_up:

The rest of the S36 was quiet with the exception of a large elephant crossing the road diagonally about 50 meters in front of us. We were trying to find it on the right at the spot where it disappeared but as large as it was, the bush had swallowed the Ele whole :big_eyes: . As we started up and drove on, we approached the path upon which the Ele was travelling and we were just in time to snatch a few very quick images of this approaching bull. Needless to say we set off quite quickly when the Ele started flapping its ears. :cam:

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Just before we reached the H1-4 we were lucky enough to see this Arrowhead marked Babler and a chic. (bonus) For those of you that have tried to photograph them will know they do not hang around, so I was happy to get off 2 frames before they flew off.

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We were heading North on the tar road towards Satara when we were stopped by a kind chap who pointed out 2 lions in the distance. Great to see more cats even at a distance.

The light was really turning for the worst and was very grey and sharp at times. Here is another favourite of many as they are relatively easy to photograph and are usually perched in the open. The Lilac Breasted Roller.

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You will please need to help id this LBJ as I have no idea. (rattling cisticola - Thanks Ferdelance :thumbs_up: )

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Another favourite is the Brown Snake Eagle and this one was on a very interesting perch. If only the light was favourable.

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We passed a huge herd of buffaloes along the way with the splattering of Giraffe, Impala and Wildebeest thrown in for good measure.

After what seemed like a very fulfilling day thus far we arrived at the Sweni hide which we had all to ourselves. It was probably around 15:30 so we gave ourselves and hour before we had to set off again. The water in the hole right in front off the hide had disappeared since we were last here in July, but the Hippos were still in the waterhole to the right. There seemed to be many more large crocs around than I recalled. A lone Bush buck was showing right next to the hide and eventually walked down to the water for a drink.

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A small herd of Impala also arrived for an afternoon drink. I picked this one to show you how healthy the Impala are.

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This hide is not the best for afternoon photography as the sun is obstructed by the trees and small hills to the west.

I will leave this report here as we drive off towards the S100 and the final stretch of the day. We were already talking about what we believed our image of the day would be……tbc

(PS I see that saving the pics at a reduced quality to minimise the size is having an adverse impact on the sharpness. I will see what I can do to adress this)

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KTP: 09 Dec 2012 - 18 Dec 2012


Last edited by Touareg on Sat Sep 17, 2011 6:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Touareg introduces Whackaroon to KNP!
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:39 am 
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As you will recall we were now on our way to the S100 when I stopped for W to take a shot of a new bird for him, the Purple Roller. This one sitting in the late afternoon sun.

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And then we get to have another go at W’s bogey bird, the Magpie Shrike. Hopefully we will get all off the bird in this time round. This is also one of my favourite images of the trip.

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On the actual S100 we pulled over when a group of Vervet Monkeys showed themselves. Again it was crazy to watch the young ones playing around. This one was just begging to have it’s picture taken :pray:

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At another “station” grooming was in full swing with full body massages the order of the day.

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And for those to young to partake in the pleasures of the massage, mom was always around.

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This large Vervet monkey sitting on the edge of the group must have been the Alpha male and was watching us with interest.

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As the S100 was getting shorter and shorter we had accepted the fact that today at least it was not going to produce any cats. We did however have to make a quick stop and reverse to shoot this Saddle-bill before a pair of them flew off. :wall:

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Arriving at Satara, check in was quick and efficient. We had decided to try the buffet tonight so after dropping off our luggage and camera gear and checking that there were in fact two single beds in the bungalow we went for dinner :thumbs_up: . At R129.00 for the buffet we took our chances with the Sweet and Sour lamb (I think) and the Venison. The venison was a disaster as it was as dry as biltong. We pointed this out to the chef who removed the Venison from the buffet. As guys we are not too fussy but this was not edible. The other food was quite OK. We also got to see a herd of Buffs coming in to drink from the waterhole. They suddenly all shuffled away when first one and then another Hyena arrived to drink. After dinner we wanted to get back to the bungalow as quick as possible to have a look at our images of the day. We had a perimeter bungalow and had a pleasant visit by the pair of Hyena as the shuffled by.

Another great day in paradise had come to a very satisfying end even though the spotted one still eluded us. It was a warm evening so W’s sleeping was still relegated to the suitcase :P ….

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 Post subject: Re: Touareg introduces Whackaroon to KNP!
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 7:29 pm 
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OK..back to normal. Birthday come and gone now back to the real world of work and trip reports :D. Today we will be going down the S100 and then up the S90 to eventually end up at Olifants where we would spend the night. We waited a few minutes after sunup before we left in order to ensure we had some light in which to get a few shots. We saw a few Elies and some Buffalos within minutes of leaving Satara. Then down the S100. No immediate lions, but the past handiwork clearly visible.

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A little bit further along the protector of the S100 :wink:

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In one of the big Leadwoods, a troop of Chacmas were waking up and enjoying the morning rays.

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Even with large numbers of Go-away birds about we still struggled to get a perfect shot. The always seemed to be on the wrong side of the sun. :wall:

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The S100 came to an end all to quickly. No lions again! We turned left and headed to Gudzani dam to show Whackaroon it's beauty.

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We headed up the S41 and were rewarded with a pair of Saddle-bills sunning themselves in the early morning sun.

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Another bird on the list which W had instructions to look out for was the Blue Waxbill. We had come across them a few times, but they are very flighty. We found this group and sat it out for a while. They rewarded us by feeding close to the road.

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I guess I need to stop now as the number of pics is growing :).. Please turn the pages faster so I can get through the TR. I have another one to write in December :D ........tbc

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 Post subject: Re: Touareg introduces Whackaroon to KNP!
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:10 pm 
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Thanks for helping to turn the pages and to all the new commentators..wellcome :D

I hope you don't find all the bird pics boring, but of you do, then prepared to be bored some more :tongue:. Still on our way to Olifants we were on the S90 and the scenery was really nice. It is amazing how the habitat changes suddenly, almost as if a knife was drawn across the countryside. So this report isn't free and I need your help to id the LBJ.

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This one I know :thumbs_up: Swainson's Spufowl.

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An another Lilac Breasted Roller. I have a bucket load of images of this species, but can't seem to stop myself when I see them perched in good light.

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Further along a quick stop for this Red-crested Korhaan (I think)

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Another bird which I handn't seen in Kruger before is the Kori Bustard. In fact we saw quite a number of these birds in the following days.

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We were having a ball on the S90 with the birds and in fact we saw all the common mammals along the way. Close to Olifants, we had our first view of a place where we would be spending quite some time over the next 24 hrs......tbc

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 Post subject: Re: Touareg introduces Whackaroon to KNP!
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 3:07 pm 
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Hi Toureg. Great photo's again there! Love the shot of the lake and the Lilac breasted roller. I've thrown away hunderds of failed pics of blue waxbill's.... :roll: ... well done ! :thumbs_up:

The Lark you are looking for is a Sabota Lark! Broad white supercilium and the lack of rufous on the wing panel, coupled with location I'd say is the give away for me! :whistle:

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 Post subject: Re: Touareg introduces Whackaroon to KNP!
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 10:05 pm 
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Ok….so we have a few pushy formites onboard demanding the next instalment even though we are not on a new page :D. We were still on our way to Olifants for my first stay in this camp and something I was really looking forward to. We drove all the dirt roads in the hope of spotting something special, but nothing out of the ordinary appeared. All water points at the weirs were bone dry so the animals were keeping to the river. We stopped on the bridge over the Olifants and enjoyed a quick brunch of….you guessed it…Boerewors rolls and coffee. What a spectacular view you get from here. We spotted crocs, hippos, Giraffe, fish eagles, Saddle-bill storks etc from the bridge.

Travelling further along the Olifants, we saw a number of circling vultures over the opposite bank, but couldn’t see what they were circling over. We also spotted a few Vultures on the sandbanks drying their wings after a bath. I wished we were closer with a clear view of these bathing birds.

And then we came across the low water bridge at Balule. We crossed the bridge very slowly taking in all the scenery and possible hiding places where we spotted Pied Kingfishers going about their business of hovering and fishing. None of which took place close enough or on the right side of the vehicle. We heard the Fish Eagles and one even flew towards us only to disappear from view into one of the large trees. A common South African bird was this White Breasted Cormorant sunning itself on a rock.

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While were parked on the bridge, an Osprey came flying straight towards us, looking down into the water for its next meal. I just about dislocated every joint in my body twisting aroundin the font seat in an attempt to track the bird as it flew over us. You try handholding a Canon 1D MK IV with a 500mm while trying to track a bird coming over your car :doh: . I had only seen these beauties from afar in the West Coast National park so I was very excited to have squeezed off a few shots.

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We also spotted the White-fronted bee-eaters darting about and snatching insects out of the sky. More of that later. We had to continually move as we were blocking the bridge to allow other cars to cross the river. Couldn’t they see we were busy getting shots for a TR? :pray:

Anyway, we drove on to Olifants where we checked in, brought a few things from the shop for the evening braai and set off again northwards along the Olifants taking the dirt roads.

We were forced to stop at one of the culverts to get a few shots of this Tree Squirrel.

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The day was absolutely beautiful with temperatures now in the low 30s and not a breath of wind. We stopped off at a viewing point and my attention was immediately drawn to a feathered friend I had not seen before. Any ideas on the id?

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The views were also spectacular.

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And on we went……..tbc with the next episode I will call titled Explosions of color :wink:.

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 Post subject: Re: Touareg introduces Whackaroon to KNP!
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2011 6:25 pm 
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We continued in the heat off the day, now 32 degrees, and followed the dirt road around until it met up with the tar road again close to Olifants. We decided to go the low water bridge at Balule again, so a right turn was executed and off we drove towards the river once again. The plan was to do a circular route and eventually end up back at Olifants rest camp. It was around 15:00 by now and we were keen to see what was happening near the river. On the way to the low water bridge we saw quite a few elephants and the obligatory Impalas. Arriving at the bridge we saw a vehicle parked in the middle of the bridge unable to move across due to a “roadblock”

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The Terrapin was somehow stuck on the bridge and couldn’t make up its mind on which side to cross to. It eventually moved over to the side perching on the edge of the brige, allowing the vehicle to cross safely. This allowed us to creep along and finally spot a Bee-eater and the perch it was launching its attacks from. Here it is seen taking off. I must confess that it took quite a few attempts to get these images. Luckily we were thus far undisturbed by other vehicles wanting to cross, so we used the opportunity to shoot to our hearts content. I opened the depth of field quite a bit in order to get any movement in focus.

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Here it had caught a dragon fly and was in the process of tossing it up into the air before being caught and swallowed.

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My favourite image so far is this one where it had caught a huge wasp, returned to the perch and in the process of bashing it against the log, the wasp escaped. This image is where the Bee-eater managed to grab hold of the wasp again in mid air.

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It didn’t escape again and was promptly dispatched with down the hatch.

Following, tracking and concentrating on the birdies out of an awkward sitting position wasn’t going unnoticed to my body and I could feel a migraine developing.

We had to move position a few times, every time looking out for and dodging the Terrapin, as other cars needed to cross…really. We finally decided it was time to make a slow drive back to camp, but further along the bridge another halt was called, this time for a Lilac Breasted Roller in hunting mode.

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I would like to end this episode with my best LBR pic (ever) and one of my all time favourite images. The late afternoon light was perfect; it wasn’t on a branch but on a rock and with a nice background to boot.

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For those of you whom have never been to Olifants camp, it is situated on a hill overlooking the Olifants River with spectacular panoramic views. We eventually reached Olifants and our East facing perimeter bungalow. What a absolutely priceless view in a awesome park and wonderful country. Why would you want to be anywhere else? As we were sitting there editing and downloading our pics, the migraine launched a full out attack and I was relegated to bed for a forced power nap. W sorted out the fire and braai and by the time I was up and in a half human state again, the food was cooked and the sun had long since set. At some point W closed the sliding door and the latch locked itself. We were left on the stoep looking at each other, wondering what had happened and what to do next. I walked around the bungalow and fortunately found an open window. Being the more athletic of the two…..Like a cat burglar I sailed straight through the open window and unlocked the door to tremendous applause. (well that’s not really how it happened, but you get the idea….overweight guy climbing through window blah blah blah) When I eventually got to look at my pics of the day, I was really pleased with some of the shots. The best ones you have seen so far. As this is a full on photographic journey of discovery for W and myself we believed that we were learning. It was time to call it a day and we drifted off with images of a fantastic day again flashing through our minds……tbc. ( O yes! once again no sleeping bag required)

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 Post subject: Re: Touareg introduces Whackaroon to KNP!
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:01 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 4:44 pm
Posts: 467
Location: Far away from Home....
Hi Touareg! Well done on those pictures again! WOW love the detail in the Lilac breasted Roller. The bird you wanted to ID from your last post is a Yellow breasted Apalis. Really cool shot with the red eye, and the osprey :shock: well the neck jarring was worth it... :thumbs_up:

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Latest Lifer:= Shelley's Francolin; Flappet Lark.


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 Post subject: Re: Touareg introduces Whackaroon to KNP!
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 9:40 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2010 6:14 pm
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Location: Somerset West
Thanks Kite and PeterPM. A bonus Osprey pic for you PeterPM :D

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