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 Post subject: WendyA A Spotty Easter in KNP! July 2012
Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:44 am 
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OK, I know some of you will think I needed my head examined going to Kruger over the Easter weekend but we all learn from mistakes …

I admit, the long weekend itself was busy and I can’t remember the number of times I lost my temper on the roads when cars would flash headlights or “beep” me, then overtake and look at me as if I was doing 50kms on the outside lane of the N1.

But I was in Kruger … need I say any more!

I left Pretoria on the morning of Wednesday 04 April and was in Malelane by late-morning. I decided that instead of going in at Malelane Gate I’d continue in and go in at Crocodile Bridge, make my way up to Lower Sabie, check-in, then go out on a late afternoon drive.

Going over the bridge entering the park there were the usual hippos, crocs, and Egyptian Geese in the river, as well as a pied kingfisher.

I went into the Reception at Croc Bridge to check in but was told that I could go straight to the gate and check in there … it seems to be different rules at every gate. Anyway, I was checked in at the gate, given my Entry Permit, and back in the park again!

It’s strange … it seems that I’m always so selective when I first get in to the park … my sightings list reads “impala, wildebeest, zebra, warties, grey heron, hippos, tree squirrel, wooly necked storks, and vervets” before there is evidence of a sighting!

I’m not sure if it is cause I’m being selective … maybe it’s just I’m so preoccupied with the sightings and taking it all in …???

Anyway, after seeing the animals that I listed above I saw an ellie and took a photo!

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It was a hot day and sightings were few and far between.

A little further up the H4-2 a pair of beautiful birds that were flitting about in the trees. The colours of their yellow bodies, red beaks, and black head and wings was really striking. They looked like huge weaver birds. They moved so fast and the foliage was thick … this is the best photo I got …

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I think it might be a Black-Headed Oriole???? Stiffnecks?????

Further up when the bush opened up I could see Mr Fish Eagle sitting on his usual perch overlooking the Sabie River …

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I got to Lower Sabie, checked in, went along to my home for the next 10 nights and unpacked. Time for a cold Savanna ; I sat in the shade of a tree where I spotted this little guy …

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At about 4pm I decided I’d go and see what was happening in the park.

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2012 9:26 am 
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:thumbs_up: Black-headed oriole.

Lovely start, and yes every gate is different :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 2:51 pm 
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I took the S82; the first thing I came across was this guy who I think is a juvenile brown snake eagle???

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Next were a couple of giraffes in the road …

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They started necking … not as in knocking lumps out of each other, but as in soft, caressing, necking …

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He kept standing behind her protectively …

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Then I noticed that he was ready for something else …

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He tried to mount her a couple of times but she wasn’t having any of it

“What are you looking at … please can we have some privacy?”

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So I left the young lovers alone to have a bit of privacy.

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:56 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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The rest of my drive on the S82 was quiet …

At the end of the S82 there were a couple of rhino but they were very skittish and took off as soon as I stopped to try and get a photo of them.

I headed north up the H4-2 then took the S130 south, thinking I’d take the S137 across then the S28 north … well, that was the plan, but then I heard such a racket in the bush. I stopped the car, looked at where the noise was coming from and saw this guy …

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I didn’t realise what sort of bird it was at first and when this starling got close to it, I thought it was making all the noise to try and scare the starling away …

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But then I realised it was making a racket because it wanted fed … it was a cuckoo that the starlings were raising!!!

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Thank you Elsa, Tawny and Martial for helping me ID it as a juvenile Greater Spotted Cuckoo when I was with you at Ngwenya!

A car pulled by to tell me that there were a couple of hyenas in the road a little further up.

“I’ve just seen a cuckoo being fed by starlings” I told them – I could hardly contain my excitement …

They looked at me as if I had 2 heads on my shoulders and drove off!!!

I didn’t go to try and find the hyenas; I didn’t “do my plan” and drive to the S137 and S28 back to Lower Sabie. I sat and watched the cuckoo … what a magical sight!

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I returned to Lower Sabie on a “high”! Time to sit outside and enjoy the night sounds with an icy Savanna. Unfortunately this wasn’t possible ... as soon as it got dark, crickets the size of flipping mice were hopping about the place. I’m very happy driving around the park on my own with the ellies, lions, leopards, etc; put a cricket near me though and it’s a totally different story!!!

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:16 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thursday 05 April

I woke up REALLY early … call it Kruger Excitement! The gates didn’t open till 6am but at 5:30am I decided I’d drive up to them and just sit and listen to the sounds of Kruger. I couldn’t believe it when I got there though … there was already another car waiting at the gate!!! Kruger Excitement is contagious!

The car in front of me turned right; I turned left. I drove over the Sabie bridge … all was quiet; I didn’t have a route in mind (what’s the point when nature takes over as in the beautiful Greater Spotted Cuckoo and starling scene I saw yesterday!). I got to the S128/S29 junction and turned right onto the S29.

I’ve noted that I saw a few impala, vervets and giraffe around. My first photo of the day was this one though …

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A “common” South African garden bird and one we take too often for granted … I just thought he looked so beautiful in the morning sunrise.

A little further on and this dugga boy sitting all on his lonesome …

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He really was a muddy boy!

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He seemed to be very happy there chomping away on a mouthful of grass …

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… every now and then I could hear his stomach gurgling and he’d burp!

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I guess all that chewing the cud was hard work and it was soon time to rest his weary head … I couldn’t believe the way he used the little termite mound next to him as a pillow …

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 6:08 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thursday 05 April cont …

On getting to the junction with the S122 Muntshe Loop I decided that was the way I was heading … I added kudu to my sightings list and got some photos of an egret, coucal and shrike …

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Further on and lots more impala … I’ve so enjoyed seeing the “little ones” growing up this year, being lucky enough to get into the park every other month …

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I stopped off at Nkumbe … there were a few ellies visible in the distance. An elderly couple were there and the man was trying to explain to his wife where the ellies were … “Over there by the tree” he kept telling her which I found quite amusing … how many trees can you see from the lookout at Nkumbe???!!!

I crossed the bridge over the N’waswitsontso and was still struck by the visible damage (the tar had been washed off the road), and how little water was now left …

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I continued up to Tshokwane for a quick loo stop at the Eco Loos that were there whilst the permanent bathrooms were out of order. I wonder what’s happened to all those Eco Loos now that the permanent bathrooms are open again. Kruger could certainly do with a few more loo stops dotted about ... why not at the bird hides? Ntandanyathi used to have an Eco Loo but for some reason that’s disappeared???

The ladies who were looking after the loos (cleaning them, etc) were VERY cheerful; they were singing and dancing their hearts out – a pleasure to watch and listen to!

The S34 north of Tshokwane was still closed and the devastation and destruction in the river bed there clearly visible.

I continued north then pulled off on to the S35, lots of general game and the biggest herd of zebra I’ve ever seen.

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I can’t believe how green everything is!

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Lots of mud/dust baths were going on …

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How cute are the Mummies with their babies …

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It was nice seeing lots of general game together …

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 9:07 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thursday 05 April cont …

Then in the road in front of me …

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The jackals also got the attention of these guys …

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This giraffe looks like he’s stolen someone else’s clothes that are far too big for him …

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The jackals wandered off into the tall grass but one of them obliged for my camera …

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Further along and this big chap …

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I mentioned before the HUGE herds of zebra … here are a few of the photos … (but they don’t REALLY show how many zebra there were … some of the herds must have comprised at least 300 zebra …)

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And of course the memorial stones in memory of Ranger Wolhunter (which I’d never seen before – apart from in others’ TRs!)

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 6:16 pm 
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Thursday 05 April cont …

Further on and another young family …

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Are kudus born with huge ears and “grow” into them???!!!

Another beautiful shrike …

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A little further on and a couple of dove-like birds flitting about in the trees … rubbish photos but here they are anyway …

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Are they Namaqua doves? I thought they looked different from the one I saw in Feb (photo below)…

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The S37 was VERY quiet; on the H1-3 I headed south. The herons from Sunset Dam have obviously migrated to Mazithi or they’ve been taking surfing skills from the Chief Heron Surfer …

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There was still LOTS of water at Mazithi … here’s a comparison photo …

Mazithi in April 2012 …

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The same view in October 2010 …

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That's the same log in both photos!

I returned to Lower Sabie via the H10 and had some nice sightings …

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Is this one a juvenile carmine bee-eater?

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I wondered this as its colours aren’t as bright …

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At the bridge over the Sabie this time there were Pied Kingfishers, Crocs, Hippos and Golly was in his usual spot.

I pulled into Lower Sabie rest camp … it had been a long day. Although I didn’t have a route in mind when I left camp at 6am, I was thinking that since I’d be in the park for 10 days I could take it easy – go for a morning drive, come back at lunch time then go out again late afternoon. Apart from my coffee, I hadn’t taken anything else in the car with me so I was a little hungry!

I went down to the restaurant where I had a burger then decided to go out and see what was happening on the H4-1.

Sunset Dam was pretty quiet except for the usual hippos and crocs. I decided I’d drive up to Lubylubye and back but about 500 metres north of Sunset Dam and there were half a dozen cars at the side of the road. I pulled over, got the binoculars out and saw spots!

Little did I know at the time that this would be the first of many spotty sightings and a pretty rubbish sighting in comparison to the others so I took the obligatory photos just to prove that I actually saw a leopard on my trip … here are a few …

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I returned to Lower Sabie and had time for one Savanna outside before it got dark and I had to go into the safety of my hut, away from the flying and jumping night time critters!

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2012 4:38 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
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Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
Wendy:

That is a male Namaqua Dove. It's the only Dove with a long tail, and the male has the black face and throat - according to the Sasol Bird Guide. :D

I love the comparison photos of Mazithi. We only ever get to see the the park when it resembles the October photo. As a visitor to South Africa, we are constantly reminded that water is Africa's most precious resource and those photos really drive that point home.

As for your "rubbish leopard sighting", the background in the last photo looks a bit like snow. Or maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part. There is a recent thread that SA is getting snow. :shock: To be honest, I wouldn't mind a bit of that weather here right now. We need rain and it's hot, hazy and humid temps in the mid 30's, and "feels like" in the high 30's, low 40's. A typical Toronto summer.

Looking forward to the not "rubbish" sighting(s). :)


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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2012 2:50 pm 
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Location: The planning is on again.....
BTW It were juvenile Carmine bee eater which you captured :thumbs_up:

Would love to see how Kumana dam is looking now - I guess there will be still much more water in it than normally especially when comparing them with my old Kumana dam pictures we took in previous Februaries :dance:


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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:37 pm 
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Friday 06 April

I was out of the gate just after 6am this morning and headed south and onto my favourite road, the S28. My sightings list reads:- Mum & baby waterbuck, impala, hippo, scrub hare, warties, white backed vulture, kori bustard, brown snake eagle, giraffe and baboons.

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The baboons really have no shame …

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and in front of the children as well. You know the saying “Monkey see, monkey do”? Well, it’s true … the kiddies saw and the kiddies had a go as well …

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I stopped at Ntandanyathi; it was full of water, hippos were wallowing, a herd of impala were making their way down to quench their thirst;

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Mummy and baby waterbuck appeared; Mum made her way down to the water but kept her eye on her little one …

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I think the bank down to the water was too steep for the little one so he moved on but stopped to wait for Mum rather than wander off on his own …

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Mr Heron was up in the tree keeping a close eye on everything and no doubt looking out for breakfast as well …

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I left the hide after a while and continued south on the S28. This little guy ran out in the road in front of me and stopped to pose for a photo …

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The rest of the drive south was quiet apart from a couple of zebra, giraffe, and ellies. That may have had something to do with the fact that two helicopters were circling fairly low overhead and making quite a noise.

I got to the junction of the S28 with the H4-2; the helicopters were on the ground in the tall grass; there were police cars, quote a few policemen and a sniffer dog. They were stopping all the cars at the junction (either coming out of the S28 or going north or south on the H4-2) and checking (presumably for rhino horn?).

I decided I’d go and see if anything was happening at Mpondo. I headed south on the H4-2 then took the S25, Crocodile River Road then the S108 Bume Road and saw impala, zebra, giraffe, tree squirrel, ellies and kudu.

On the S102 just a few kms from Mpondo, a car was pulled over at the side of the road. I pulled alongside and saw that they were checking out the view ... a natural waterhole from the recent rain. Just ahead was a lay-by with a better view; I pulled in and was admiring the scene ... the blue sky; the pond full of water lilies; a white faced duck;

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an impala ram all on his ownsome standing to the side of the pond – just beautiful.

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Next thing the impala took off ...

I reached for my thermos to make a coffee and saw movement in the grass out of the corner of my eye ...

Spots!

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:15 pm 
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Friday 06 April cont ...

The spotted one walked down towards the water then turned around …

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Guess what was behind also walking down to the water …

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They walked down to the water together for a drink …

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They each had a drink then one of them took off into the long grass …

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The other one followed and I watched as they played together like kittens …

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They then had a “sibling love” moment …

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then returned to the water.

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 7:08 pm 
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Friday 06 April cont …

This one was fascinated – either by his reflection or I wondered if there were perhaps small fish; whatever the cause of the fascination, it was amazing to watch …

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The other one came back …

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and they wandered off together. I could see they were making their way back up on to the tar road so I promptly started the car, reversed out of the lay-by and waited on the tar.

They appeared at the side of the road. A breeze was blowing the leaves in a bush and just like a little kitten in a playful mood, one of the leopards was playing “catch” with the leaves as they moved!

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The other leopard decided this was not his idea of fun so took off and disappeared into the grass; his sibling swiftly followed!

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WOW!!! How exciting was that???!!!

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:55 pm 
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Friday 06 April cont …

I continued on to Mpondo. The car that I’d seen at the side of the road next to “the leopard pond” was there ... I decided I wouldn’t spoil their day by telling them what they’d missed!

A couple of Secretary birds were wandering through the grass and the plovers were going mad, squawking and dive-bombing them!

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There was an African Jacana there and a couple of little balls of fluff following closely behind!

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Just past Mpondo and this lovely Goshawk on a dead branch right next to the road (is it a PCG or a DCG? It looks pale to me but my bird book shows that only DCGs reside in the Kruger area???). I’m not quite sure what had his attention but he was ever so busy ...

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I continued on the H5 and found yet another Goshawk ... this one with lunch! (sorry Val … I can just hear you saying “What is it with you and the birds with snakes???!!!)

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I drove to the S114, headed north then did the little triangle around Stevenson-Hamilton Memorial but it was pretty quiet – a steenbok, warties, and impala ... (I was still buzzing from seeing the leopards and wouldn’t have minded not seeing another animal or bird for the rest of the day!)

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: A Spotty Easter in KNP!
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2012 7:34 pm 
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Friday 06 April cont …

My route back to Lower Sabie was via the S21 and H4-1 where I came across a tree full of vultures …

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black storks …

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Crocs and terrapins …

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and a nice tawny eagle …

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Not such a nice sighting was a wartie that had been hit and lay dead in the road … why oh why do people drive so fast???

It was a beautiful evening with a full moon rising …

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and a gorgeous sunset to enjoy at Sunset Dam …

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What an amazing end to an amazing day!

I had three rhino sightings on my travels during the day – and spent quite some time watching this big guy who was just chilling …

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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