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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Fri May 31, 2013 7:42 pm 
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White backed vultures were resting in trees

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and at Gesanftombi we could admire on the left side a multitasking buffalo who was feeding whilst taking a bath and after chasing away more than thousands flies around his body whilst standing up he started to quench his thirst whilst still feeding.

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A resting fish eagle could also be spotted from far away and after the heavy rain earlier that day the dam was now overflowing in cascades and offered the view onto a couple of waterfalls

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obviously the view was so fascinating to me that I unfortunately forgot to take a picture – On one hand I was so sure that maybe the Gesanftombi pride might come across and hang around here but with that much water around I have to wait until the next year. Nevertheless we paid a short visit at the dam to enjoy also the view from the other side but beforehand a group of waterbucks wanted to cross the road in front of us and needless to say that we soon got hooked of them

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A lone wildebeest which was resting under a tree close to the road also joined the waterbucks and soon a cheerful munching started.

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We allowed us another short break at Crocodile Bridge camp and whilst I was visiting the shop Timon discovered one of these colourful agamas on one trunk.

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Meanwhile it was early afternoon and it was hot so we did not expect to see that much but some of the usual suspects did not let us down. Lots of warthogs with muddy and wet piglets came running,

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one of the many noisy woodies could finally be captured – Trrp-trrrrrrrrr – There will still much more of them about to come later

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and the obligatory impalas could not be passed without taking at least one picture.

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In Timons’s case it were soon a couple more but

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who could not resist in stopping for them.

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Finally after a drought of two years we were again turning into the hilly S139 and after a short stop for the majestic sentinel in from of a martial eagle right at the beginning of that road

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we enjoyed the cliffy descents and drive-ups and gladly compared to other roads in the park this road had not suffered under the recent floods. The welcome was as usual a very warm one and we were rewarded this time with bungalow No. 8 in which we never stayed before but which immediately turned into our favourite one. No. 4 + 5 in which we already stayed do have the same facilities but the view from this one was simply breathtaking which might also have caused due to the recent floods but indeed the look into the now nearly empty Biyamiti riverbed compared to other riverbeds was in fact not that disastrous as expected.

Whilst carrying our stuff in the bungalow I realized that we had some pets on our verandah ceiling – one bat was taking a nap and a huge swallow nest could also be found as well as between the bedroom window and the ceiling.

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I easily pushed the table and chairs a bit further away from the danger zone not to receive an unwanted surprise in our coffee or wine.......Furthermore I filled up the bird bath whilst Timon was busy in carrying chairs to the braai area which was located a bit farther away from our bungalow but closer to the riverbed. As we had enough from driving we decided to stay in camp for the rest of the day and simply enjoy the view and the come and going in the camp itself.

The first who was coming a bit closer and tasted the bird bath was a naughty vervet monkey - more were also around but gladly did not dare to come closer, a lot of hageda ibises and a lone wooly-necked stork could be spotted in the riverbed and then I saw a movement on one of these strange looking flowers – another sunbird – but same disappeared already before Timon was right at the fence. Lots of yellow-billed hornbills could be observed on the grass and we even captured a red one in a close bush.

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We sat nearly motionless in the braai area and simply sighed from time to time as life was so wonderful at this very special place although the time was already ticking down far too fast. The family of bushbucks – 4 females with a cute little one - which is to be found inside the camp dared to come closer and started to feed on some close by large blades of grass.

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The benefit of No. 8 was that the area from the bungalow to riverbed was wider and more open whereas we also like the dense trees of the other bungalows but today the birds and bucks were easier spotted from where we just sat. Isn’t that a cutie? Nearly all ears.

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Whilst watching the bushbucks a large troop of baboons were chased away by one employee and gladly they did run away immediately. Fortunately the bushbucks were not disturbed by them and allowed us some more shots.

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Timon snapped happily away and also lit the braai so that maybe today it will not be that late until we will have finished our braai.

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After the bushbucks disappeared he moved with the camera back to the fence and finally got a shot although not a that good one from a scarlet-chested sunbird – Another new tick for us!

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With this feeling of success the braai even tasted much better and with no neighbours in the close by bungalows we even had an extreme quiet evening and slept with windows open as it was not that hot and so due to the non existing noise of the air condition we slept like locks this night.

to be continued........


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:59 pm 
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Wednesday, 13th February, 2013 – Biyamiti

As always when staying in Biyamiti the S25 is our first choice as we already had the most lion sightings in the entire park on that road but well not today......It was as if all the cats disappeared and avoided to be captured on picture by us but at least we got to meet this cute chap.

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He first did not realized from which direction the engine noise came and so he turned permanently around and trumpeted in the wrong direction. His mom and aunt had already crossed the road and were only interested in feeding instead of paying any notice in our car but he simply was so curious what we were that he permanently tested all his available threaten signs into our direction.

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Still the fluff on the head but already acting as a full grown bull – This was simply too cute and finally he gave in and immediately followed mom and aunt.

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There were many lovely ponds to be found at this road and especially were small streams have to be crossed the water was still overflowing strongly but gladly everything could be done in a small sedan car as well. In one of these ponds we spotted a pair of white-faced ducks very well hidden but I cannot remember having the honour in seeing these ducks so close.

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More elephant herds were on their way down for a morning bath into the Crocodile river and we came across a member of them with strange formed tusks.

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The rest of the drive on that road was extreme quiet that early morning but close to the Hippo Pools the obligatory zebras could not be missed

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as well as the wildebeests were close by

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and then it was also time to wave to a smiling Daniel as he was about to cross our path with his bicycle. Once again and for the final time at least this year we drove again the S28 but same was even more quieter than the previous days although the weather was gladly far better today and it started with each day to get warmer and warmer from now on. A lovely sighting was a beautiful but still very wet Burchall’s coucal with it just caught breakfast.

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What a beautiful bird especially with the berry-coloured eye from so close.

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Another regular bird to be seen on that road is the magpie shrike and we found one which was observing suspiciously it's just caught green breakfast

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but same must have finally tasted yummy as after same has been eaten it was time for a content looking pose.

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On the road to Duke’s waterhole a warthog showed up – must have been the same as yesterday!

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and also still a lot of white-backed vultures were to be found where we saw them already yesterday but their number decreased already but some of them allowed us some nice shots.

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Also the European rollers were in the mood for catching breakfast and for posing afterwards for a nice picture

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or for more – as it is once again not easy to chose the best pictures as they are all so nice fluffy cuties.

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A Beautiful saddle-billed stork lady just landed right next to our car – Last year we were a bit disappointed to only spot so few of them but this year we gladly met a lot of them. Although at that stage we did not know so.

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A safari vehicle with a nice lady also stopped for the stork and thanked us enthusiastically for making them aware of that “great” sighting as she said. We always find it fantastic when also other vehicles and on top these safari ones do stop and even stay a bit longer also for birds and not only for cats.

to be continued.......


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 11:49 am 
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A short visit to Sunset dam revealed the obviously same green backed heron we already saw yesterday there and same was even to be found in the same bush.

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The hippos were grunting, the crocodiles to be found on the shore far away as well as the yellow-billed storks – It was simply a peaceful atmosphere.

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Nature was calling and after a short break once again at Lower Sabie we for a final time hit the Mlondozi road as well as the Muntshe loop to say already good bye for this year. Before we once again admired the now full and lazy lying around crocodiles -

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It seemed as if they even did not move a single centimetre, as most of them could be watched in the same position as yesterday.

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All in all it was another quiet drive but nevertheless we enjoyed same a lot as we still could not get enough from the lush vegetation and also traffic-wise was not much to be found.

Another Burchall’s coucal made us stop again and I cannot imagine ever having seen so many of them during the previous trips although we had there also rainy days and wet vegetation.

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Meanwhile strolling on the Muntshe loop a quite impressive, very old and extreme muddy buffalo allowed us to pass – I guess this old chap can already tell quite some thrilling stories which he already experienced in his life.

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Yesterday it was elephant bull time on that road and today it time for the lone dagga boys as soon after the first one another one crossed the street.

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Then I wanted under all circumstance do have a picture of the entire Muntshe mountain as this little hill is a magical place for me – I wanted to have cotton ball clouds, the green grass and even an animal on it and at least this wish came true as there was a buffalo walking into the frame once I conducted Timon where to stop and position the car best so that all my requirements could be fulfilled.

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This is how I have the Muntshe hill now in my memories whenever staying far away from same.

The rest of our drive back was even quieter than the morning drive but it does not matter as we were so far happy with all the sightings we had that day already – We decided to stroll back via the tar road and take then the H5 plus S25 to plan longer stops at the many causeways on that road but for that ellie bum we simply had to stop.

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We turned into the H5 and soon were caught in a traffic jam caused by a male bateleur in a tree extreme close to the road, as all passengers in the cars wanted to have a picture.

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Everyone looked from below up and snapped away and the bateleur himself looked from high above in nearly each car which came by. This was already the second traffic jam caused by a bird! After a while, however, the bateleur obviously got bored and took off

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and with the disappearance of the bateleur the traffic jam cleared away immediately. Meanwhile it was late midday and again hot and not that many cars on the roads so that we could continue in snail’s pace without getting disturbed by an impatient driver. We found some very well camouflaged kudus in the dense bush. It was a male with its beautiful harem

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but pity was that in that area of the park they are always so skittish and shy and did not dare to leave the protective bushes.

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The causeway over the Bume is always a lovely place to relax and although not much to be admired today it is always so peaceful there. Whilst we were about to leave we discovered a tiny terrapin taking a sunbath on a small rock in the river.

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Unfortunately on this picture the terrapin is looking much larger as originally being as same had only the size of a small coin!

Finally it was time for an excessive stay at the Biyamiti causeway which besides the camp and the weir itself is a main reason for us why to book this camp and roam in this area so copiously. At noon at least trafficwise is was quiet so we could block the causeway with the car where we wanted and start to observe our feathered friends which were due to the warm but windy weather and the still strongly flowing Biyamiti plentiful, especially the pied kingfishers started their fishing show and entertained us a lot.

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to be continued with more birds and even a couple of new ticks.......


Last edited by Pumbaa on Sun Jun 09, 2013 6:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2013 7:01 pm 
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We also could spot two hamerkops but same kept hidden nearly the whole time under the bridge and lots of swallows were also buzzing around our car and under the bridge like torpedos.

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Finally the hunt of the male pied kingfisher was successful and same presented a far too large fish compared to its size.

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But to swallow such a large prey is the easiest task for a bird and with only a couple of hits of the fish with his strong bill onto a branch same fitted somehow and slowly slid into its bill and disappeared until only a small piece of the back fin of the fish was still visible.

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For the time it looked as if this huge lunch must have been enough for the rest of the day. After taking a drink from the river some water drops looked as if same were floating in the air

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and after the thirst was quenched it started the grooming of its plumage and ended in shaking the entire body which looked a bit more like a wet dog than a wet bird.

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Time to puff up and maybe time for a little midday nap as well. Only from far in the far away trees we also saw a giant kingfisher but same unfortunately did not come closer. We could have watched our pied friends nearly for the rest of the day but we also were a bit tired from the whole day in the

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car and decided to take a short break in camp, also to stretch the legs a bit and to come back during our afternoon drive to this bird oasis.

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Although leaving that causeway might not mean that birding was over, as in fact the contrary was fact as more soon whilst having made ourselves comfortable with the chairs again at the braai area three new ticks could be done! The first visitor was this grey headed sparrow

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whilst the scarlet chested sunbird gladly paid another visit

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and a dusky flycatcher said "hi" as well.

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Then at least one of the most wanted to be seen birds appeared – a speckled mousebird!

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Pity was that same kept the whole time nearly hidden in the bush but at least we could spot the head and part of its upper part of the body - Aren’t they look a bit like a cockatoo?

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Finally the last bird whilst staying in camp was a white-bellied sunbird - At least when Timon took this shot everything fitted together - he was ready with the camera and the bird stayed long enough and posed away.

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to be continued.....


Last edited by Pumbaa on Sun Jun 16, 2013 2:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:20 pm 
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For our afternoon drive we once again chose the S25 as this is simply the best option from camp. It did not take long until you reach the causeway and here you can stay until you have to return or you may drive a bit further into the direction of Crocodile Bridge which we did after a short stop at the causeway where our pied kingfisher friend was still or once again in hunting mood.

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But now we got a better view onto the hamerkops which were now to be seen walking around in the riverbed

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and not far away from them we had the honour in spotting as well two wooly-necked storks

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a specie we definitely did not see that often and so we were again delighted and only whilst turning our heads we could see a large ellie bull feeding in the riverbed.

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Sometimes you really did not have to drive far – you simply had to be patient as the animals will for sure come to you. Nevertheless we were in the mood to drive a bit further and although the obligatory lions did not show up we had a great time and soon stopped for this couple of banded sandgrouse

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only to be followed by some more mini-me’s

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which were hiding behind each other whilst approaching them

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but later on they more and more relaxed by our presence and started to feed again.

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Although the sun still was shining but with the deeper going sun the light started to get dimmer in the dense vegetation in that area and from time to time only a couple of sunrays could made their way through the bushes and turned everything into a magical forest like in a fairytale – At least this is my imagination of a wood in a fairytale! And a fairytale without birds is unthinkable so on one of these overflows a hamerkop couple was busy in bulding a huge nest – disproportional large in comparison to the size of the hamerkop itself but in fairytales

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nests could not be large enough and with the size of a candelabrum they hit the nail on the head.

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One of them was busy in collecting nesting material and the other one was busy – which for sure must have been the female – in putting everything at the right place in order to turn it into a cosy home for the little ones.

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Although we often do see these huge nests in the park we have neither at least up to now saw the hamerkops itself in the nest nor being still busy in building one and then even so close to the road.

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to be continued.....


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 10:36 am 
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We stayed quite a while watching the hamerkops come and go with material so that we nearly forgot about the gate closing time and so we had no alternative then to turn around but did not get far as in one of the little ponds we found another green-backed heron standing motionless on a rock hypnotizing the fishes in the water at least it looked so.

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The heron must have been in a comical mood as it made some funny poses and needless to say that Timon was in seventh heaven again by pressing the button nearly permanently.

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The heron must have decided that the fishes in the water have all been caught meanwhile and flew only one rock further to try it’s luck there again.

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Same must have had a flexible neck as it extended same so that the green backed heron looked a bit like a grey heron. We definitely had a great time with the birds on that road and were already looking very much forward what still might come across next during that holiday birdwise.

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Back on the causeway the pied kingfishers were gone buy now the giant woke up and was busy in catching some dinner.

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Between the causeway and the turnoff to the S139 we were caught in an ellie herd but the members were all so relaxed that we could stop for a couple of pictures

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as moreover the light was so great and enwrapped everything in the magical golden light which is so great in the early mornings and late afternoons.

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One of them even wore a green headdress!

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Between them finally a little one appeared and same looked suspiciously like the naughty chap we met early in the morning!

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With this picture I wanted to capture the magical atmosphere which was predominating on that road this lovely evening.

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Back in camp we lit the braai and sat quite a long time on our verandah as we could not believe that our stay in Biyamiti was already nearly over and we wanted to soak in as much atmosphere as we could to survive the next year in the North European urban jungle until we will be back.

to be continued with a lot of grey ones and a couple of disappointments.....


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 8:31 pm 
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Thursday, 14. February, 2013 – Biyamiti – Skukuza

With melancholy we packed together and had to leave this comfy and quiet place and whilst we just left the gate we immediately felt homesickness! As the weir was still closed and the S139 in the direction very dense we decided to for a very last time this year drive the S25.

But before going into the details of the sightings we had this day we wanted to share our rhino pictures with you which came across somewhere on our way to Skukuza. Both sightings were extreme close to the road and you even had not to use a long lens. First we met a group of three out of which two of them were more than relaxed

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whereas one was a bit anxious and did not fell that good by our presence

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but with turning the engine off same became more and more released and even joint the other two again by lying down again and continue the just disturbed sleep.

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Compared to other animals these grey masses are indeed late risers. As already said they were so close that even the lens Timon had on was far too large for a portrait.

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The next couple which came across was a mom with her little one and obviously our car was the first one the little one ever saw as same was so curious and inspected us extensively.

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Now back to the chronological adventures of the day. Whilst for a very last time driving through my fairytale forest – in the early morning the light is as good as in the later afternoon – we met again good old friends at nearly the same spot and nearly at the same time as yesterday our naughty baby boy suddenly stood with mom and an aunt in the road.

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At first sight he was still a bit shy and stayed close to Mom but with every further seconds he got even naughtier and more self-assured compared to yesterday if ever possible.

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The first victim was mom as he stole right out of her mouth a large branch full of green but he did not started to munch as the other two did but started the Dumbo show with catapulting his small trunk around like an airscrew which was for sure so funny and cute to watch that we both could not hold our cameras because we laughed so loud.

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Needless to say that only a beggarly rest of the branch he just had stolen survived his stormily rotation as most of same was now lying down spread all over the road.

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He simply was in his own world in which he might have dreamed of being “Super Ellie”.

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After he finally lost the interest in the remains of his branch he discovered a sandgrouse right in front of him and started to chase it away.

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You cannot believe how funny that looked because although still a teenage ellie but far larger than the small sandgrouse which hit finally in the high grass.

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“Did it!” “Oh, it’s you again!”

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He was so cute with his behaviour that nobody could be angry but as already said whenever grown up I would not feel that well should he might cross our path.

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What cheeky little bugger!

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He even got a bit stronger with Mom as back up but finally Mom had enough of his performance – his aunt only crossed the street and disappeared munching in the bush right at the beginning of that sighting – She might already know him very well – and vanished in the thick bush and needless to say that with Mom out of sight he took his heels and followed her immediately.

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What a show and believe me it was once again extreme hard to chose my favourites and sorry about the amount of pictures of our “little” friend. At least I am looking already forward what he might puzzled up until next year.

Unfortunately the rest of our drive until Gesanftombi was quiet not even a bird could be seen – At the dam a huge buffalo bull – might have been the same as the previous days – was about to make himself comfortable in a shady muddy place.

Today we decided to give the S130 another try but same is so overgrown at this time of the year that we saw again nothing. For the very last time we drove the S137 and besides some zebras in the distance nearly nothing but I could not pass without taking a picture of the high grass.

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One of the noisy glossy starlings landed close by and allowed Timon a couple of shots.

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We turned into the upper part of the S28 and besides this brown cheeky looking snake eagle also on that road it was quiet.

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After a final visit at Lower Sabie and Sunset dam we drove North and on one of the bridges which you have to cross on the S79 we met another hamerkop couple on the lookout for some fish.

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Although whilst driving closer they did not feel disturbed in any way and we were happy to get some close ups of them.

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to be continued with our visit at Lake Panic.....


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 1:01 pm 
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Originally we planned to drive the S21 that day but same was unfortunately closed due to the only recent rainfalls – same was open earlier and with the closure of the S30 as well we in fact did not have much options to chose. At Nkulu we granted ourselves the daily ice-cream dose and could spot a large rock monitor whilst sucking away. Same was so hidden so we were not able to get a clear shot.

We only hoped that after the recent rainfalls that the S65 and Lake Panic might not be closed as well and because it was still far too early to check in to pay a visit at the bird hide first.

The naughty vervets to be found nearly everywhere in the vicinity of the Sabie river raised our mood a bit

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although the light was not that good in the shadow.

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On our way to the bird hide we at least could spot a sentinel on top of a tree in the best light.

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Originally we visit Lake Panic only on the second day whilst staying at Skukuza but today we had also time to spend some time there and gladly same was open and so it was time for an excessive two hours stay there and in the midday heat indeed a good choice as the light breeze which was blowing felt very pleasant and chilly on the skin.

A couple of people were about to leave and made Timon aware of a dragonfly on a water lily.

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We simply sat down, looked around and waited but in fact we did not have to wait that long as our malachite friend was again present

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and the even Black Crake was coming closer

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using the huge leaves of the water lilies.

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Pity was that the African jacana stayed nearly the whole time hidden but allowed some shots whilst same was busy in grooming the plumage – Is it indeed the right description/word? "grooming?"

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The reeds were very thick and floating in the wind and with them a tawny flanked prinia which obviously had close by a nest.

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Unfortunately the hippos neither could be seen nor been heard and also the huge crocodile normally who swim for a closer look did not show up. So besides the whispers of the people and the noise of the feet on the ground from some more coming or leaving people were the only sounds we heard besides the chirping of the birds.

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I remember here our very first visit to Lake Panic were I desperately trying to locate the lake as in same warthogs were grassing. This must have been indeed a very dry summer and compared to our last three visits here after the floods still an unbelievable sighting. We could not take our eyes away from a colourful fluff ball flying from one edge to the other of the lake trying to catch some fish or frog.

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Same even must have dug somewhere in dirt as its bill was a bit dirty which even made the pictures we took from same much more interesting.

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What a cute colourful beauty same is!

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Needless to say that the following is my favourite shot of the malachite and meanwhile framed!

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I guess it was simply too hot as no other birds could be seen and even the obligatory Lake Panic pied was somewhere else today and we even found out later where same was plus some other friends as well the next day.

Meanwhile the malachite caught a fish and landed close on a branch where the green backed heron was breeding but same became due to the presence of the malachite agitated and left its nest to have a closer view what same was doing so close

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and same even chased a terrapin away which was about to climb a root at the bottom of the bush in which the heron was breeding.

Finally after everything was inspected and found to be trustworthy the heron returned to its nest and satisfactorily enthroned on same in the end.

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We were about to leave when I spotted a beautiful Paradise flycatcher very far away but same was already gone when I made Timon signs where he had to look for same. After splendid two hours at the hide we left very satisfied and at that stage we were confident that we will return the next day again.....

to be continued.........


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 9:11 pm 
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Finally it was still not late enough to check in so we originally only wanted to check whether the S65 was open and after realizing that in fact same was open we decided to drive a small detour via this road although not expecting much to see and in the end it turned out that we were right. The birds obviously avoided the heat and also other animals only appeared sporadically – For example this elephant bull in the large riverbed of the N’waswitshaka which you have to cross on that road

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to be followed by two buffalo bulls in the next riverbed.

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The rest of our drive was quiet so we made it in no time back to Skukuza and after checking in I triumphantly showed Timon the key of the Lion Cottage which I had asked for and which was meanwhile granted to us for the fifth time and after we moved in we enjoyed the view from our huge verandah over the strong flowing Sabie river.

As we only left for our afternoon drive quite late we skipped our original plan to drive via the highwater bridge and back via the low water bridge as we only had to hurry and would have had no time to stop for sightings so we only drive up to the highwater bridge and checked each and every loop along the tar road and compared to last year and even after this year’s flood the riverbed looks already much more overgrown

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as this picture with some grazing hippos on simply proved.

In one of the many trees whilst staying in one of these loops and scanning the area we nearly overlooked this African fish eagle as same was simply too close.

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Finally nearly at the highwater bridge an injured baboon was sitting on the roadside apart from the clan and was licking a wound on his arm.

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He looked as if he was sorry with himself but the wound indeed must have hurt immensely. Some smaller teenage baboons finally joined and comforted him.

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As already said it was now already extreme late so we could not stay long and had to turn around and it was due to clouds nearly dark and if not another car made us aware of a couple of hyaenas sleeping in a nearly dry riverbed which we had to cross we would have overlooked same as we oviously did already on our way to the highwater bridge.

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The adult one, obviously mom, auntie or the babysitter, kept sleeping the whole time the sighting lasted and kept hidden behind a small bush.

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The two pups were about to wake up and one was extreme agile already whereas the other one only stood up, looked up to us, did the cat stretch and whilst doing so

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already laid down again – It was simply far too early to wake up completely!

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On this picture same looked as if it was smiling – maybe it dreamt already from a yummy dinner later that night!

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Meanwhile the light nearly faded due to the cloudy weather and the dense foliage and I watched the clock suspiciously but we still had enough time to stay a bit longer as on top the more active one was now even coming a bit closer

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drank from a puddle and exercised on the many rocks which also were plentiful

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and tried to reach another puddle with obviously some better tasting water.

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Then it was also for us time to leave in order to be back in time and we had to say bye bye although we wanted to stay a bit longer.

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All in all it was a quiet day and compared to the other quiet days same was even quieter and with the many road closures on top a bit disappointing especially as we had in the past years or better to say always when we stayed in Skukuza some great sightings with many surprises but we still had tomorrow and nobody knows what might come across and I only can say now that it started quiet again but then.......

As it was Valentine’s day today I already had booked a table in the Selati Train restaurant from home and although we stayed already a couple of times in this very atmospheric restaurant we never ate that great there as we did that night. We both had different salads as starters which would normally already be enough to be filled up – Timon chose fish for the main and I had a chicken pizza which arrived freshly made and large as a cartwheel!

Needless to say that I only managed to eat half of it and gladly the waitress asked whether I would like to have a doggy bag which I accepted as same simply looked too yummy. It was simply a fantastic evening with great wine and after we strolled back to our bungalow we went straight to bed and slept happily.

Friday, 15th February, 2013 – Skukuza

The next morning after the obligatory morning coffee on our verandah with the awesome view over the Sabie river we headed for our morning drive forward on the S1/S65 but somehow that road did not like us because besides only one single hyaena

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we saw nothing even no bird. I know that on that road awesome sightings occur and I also know that one day same will be extreme productive for us but not during this holiday and on top not today.

As in no time due to the lack of sightings we finished the S65 and therefore we decided to even drive down up to the Biyamiti weir already knowing that same was still closed but finally our drive that far down had been held up by some road blocks in form of massive grey animals which even occur in herds.

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This one appeared out of nowhere silently and the matriarch was not that sure what to do and so the rest of the herd neither.

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Gladly for us was that we had a more than comfortable safety distance and so the matriarch relaxed again – obviously she got lost – and she simply was recapitulating where to walk next. As soundless as the whole herd appeared they disappeared again

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and it was as if there was definitely no roadblock only seconds earlier. Actually we did not come far as the next barricade already awaited us in form of a large group of rhinos.

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to be continued with finally some golden kitties.....


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
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Suddenly from everywhere there was also great volume of traffic and although a lot of cars drove around the rhinos we stayed where we were as the rhinos were blocking the road from both side

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and to end finally between two of them as car sandwich was not the way we wanted to begin the day and moreover two bulls started a quarrel or at least did not like the presence of the other one that close.

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Finally they calmed down and each one returned to his side of the road and then struggled with a lot of highjackers invading the grey “bus”.

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Each time a car dared to slip through the gap and the rhinos gave them enough space they afterwards immediately took the same spot – as same must have been still a bit warm – and started to continue their nap.

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Especially the little ones between them were still extreme sleepy.

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Somehow the road has been cleared and we continued our way, stopped for a brown snake eagle – the light was still too bad due to the many clouds, and for another sleeping beauty in a tree.

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As bird especially owl lovers we could not drove on without stopping and at least taking a couple of pictures of this pink eyelid cutie. Pity was that this one was alone as I would have loved to hear the hippolike sound they make when communicating with each other again.

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After taking picture after picture I forced Timon to continue our way as otherwise we still would stand there and admiring the owl. Somewhere in a dry riverbed there was a family of rhino peacefully sleeping but same got aware of a closer coming elephant bull and so stood up.

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Whilst watching the pictures later I realized the kink in the left ear of the female and with that remarkable sign I remember having seen them already a couple of days earlier when we were on our way to Crocodile Bridge on a totally different road.

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The sun meanwhile came up and illuminated everything in a fantastic way and you could even saw the sand which splashed up and around them due to their fast jumps up and believe me although they do might look snugly they can move and run very fast.

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Also the oxpecker burst excitedly up not knowing for what reason. Finally Dad in front, followed by Mom and finally the little one disappeared deeper into the riverbed out of sight.

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Due to the back light this picture of them all together plus the elephant bull is not the best one but I simply wanted to show the interaction we just watched between these different species.

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After a dry spell with nothing to be seen on our way further down South we reached again the weir but as already known earlier the road was still closed but from high where we stood and after Timon maneuvered the car in a best possible position to overlook the biyamiti weir a bit we noticed a beautiful goliath heron on top of a rock which could not be left without a couple of clicks

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which finally ended in an excessive number of clicks as moreover no disturbing grass was in the way. Whilst Timon was busy in capturing the heron I once again scanned the area and located a fish eagle in a tree – maybe once again not the best sighting of a fish eagle because same was a bit hidden from the leaves.

We also noticed a pair of giant kingfishers trying to fish some breakfast but due to the road closure we could not come closer and only saw a couple of colourful dots flying around.

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In the end we turned around and strolled back via the Biyamiti loop and the S114 and besides the usual suspects in form of zebras, wildebeest, waterbucks and impalas

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it was a quiet drive until we got stuck in a traffic jam although nothing to be seen......Finally we got a glimpse of a paw and a belly.

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Only one meter away from the road although invisible in the high grass framed by a couple of smaller and thin trees and on top in a small scrape we realized a clew of bodies, legs and paws which finally solved into three adult lionesses.

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If we do not know where to look for we would have never seen them. So we had no other choice than in exercise in patience and wait for some action.

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From time to time we even saw a head and finally one lioness stood up, stretched everything a bit and finally changed position and we got at least a glimpse of her behind the high grass.

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to be continued with the revenge.....


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 14, 2013 10:31 am 
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Pity was that we could not leave the car and push the grass behind as then we would have had the perfect view – So close but then so far away!

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Nevertheless we were so happy to once again find some cats although taking pictures through the high grass was indeed complicated.

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A lot of cars and even a couple of JJ’s joined us and stayed a bit but as it was indeed hard to identify at least an ear and so they did not stay that long.

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One of the lionesses had a strange posture and looked the whole time we could spot her a bit weird.

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All in all we stayed with them two hours but as there was no sign that they were about to leave their cosy place we decided to return first back to camp for a short break as also Nature was now calling heavily.

Whilst waiting for each other Timon spotted a stick insect in the planting close to the reception area and I asked him “how could you spot same?”, he then answered that “an employee just had left the “Men” with same on a piece of paper.....otherwise I would also not have noticed same” – I am always fascinated how funny creatures do have their place on Earth to keep same in balance.

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On our short way back to the car we even found this moth on the ground – Same was still alive but simply needed obviously only a short break.

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As it was still far too early to stay for the rest of the morning in camp we decided to drive around the “magical square” which is my nick name for the drive around the H 4-1/H12/H1-2 and back to camp and if still a bit time left to pay another small visit at Lake Panic but it went out totally different as planned.......

Right in the beginning we spotted a huge spiderweb close to the road and admired an eight-legged beauty with her harem.

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Whilst coming closer to the high water bridge we already spotted from far an enormous traffic jam directly on the bridge and we enqueued patiently at it’s end still a bit puzzled at what all the people in the cars were looking at as the only thing we saw was a gigantic crocodile with a stick in its yaw. Well, originally it was a stick but on top it just had caught a water monitor!

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I cannot remember on our meanwhile numerous visits to South Africa having ever seen a kill where the caught animal was still alive and I also was not that sad about it as I definitely could not imagine how I would fell seeing a creature fighting for its life although knowing that same is Nature.

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We arrived at the time where the crocodile only had caught the monitor a couple of minutes before and was about to move farer away now from the bridge with its prey although via binoculars and without any disturbing bushes or grass the whole spectacle was for everybody in their cars best visible although some comedians stayed under the impression that this was also a “get out of the car bridge”......gladly the people in the cars close by told them to return immediately back to their car which they finally did.

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In the beginning we only saw the head of the monitor but now the crocodile whilst still moving further away allowed some views onto the body of the monitor and same must have been also an enormous specimen – Indeed not a way I wanted to see one of my favourite animals (I am fascinated by all kind of reptiles especially by monitors) but consequently also more than impressed by crocodiles.

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I think it was simply the revenge for stealing earlier in life a lot of crocodile eggs and then the monitor was at the wrong time at the wrong place whilst the crocodile was the lucky one that day.

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Needless to say that the monitor had no chance whilst the crocodile did not release a single millimetre the tight grip of its jaw.

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This fascinating spectacle lasted nearly half an hour until the monitor finally lost its death struggle which for me indeed was cruel to watch.

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Whilst the crocodile was still busy in finally feeding on the monitor we left with mixed emotions between sadness and fascination.

Originally we wanted to drive back via the Marula loop but as guessed already same was also closed due to the recent floods but gladly the causeway had been repaired after the last year’s floods and so we decided to stay there and wait what might come across whilst standing there but before we made ourselves comfortable on same we had to stop for two nyala females which are at least a rare sighting for us that South in the park.

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At that time of the day gladly for us it was not much traffic so we simply parked in one of these bulges on the bridge over the Sand river so that at least the people who are about to hurry to Skukuza can pass easily. Finally we found the pied kingfisher who is always roaming around Lake Panic but today we had luck and even got to see two of them – both females.

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One of the two ladies just caught a fish but somehow was not that hungry and so she hold the fish permanently in her bill

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the other one was still on the look out for some fish but also that attempt looked a bit unenthusiastic

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to be continued.......


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 11:48 am 
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whilst the one with the fish started to play a bit with her catch.

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Although it was hot and the sun was sparkling on the water it was also windy and funny was to watch how the wind was blowing from the back into the head feathers of the pied.

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Obviously the rivers, dams and even huge puddles presently were overpopulated by fish so that there were more of them to be found that the ones whoever eat them were able to eat. Also lots of debris could be seen and I also never having seen the Sand river so full and only recently same still must have been overflowing the causeway.

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Mrs. pied with the fish flew finally away with same and also it looked like the other one was about to follow her but she first had to do her aerodynamic flight check before taking off.

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Airbrakes - check!

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Left wing - check!

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Elevon – check! and off she finally flew.

As nothing more could be seen we moved forward to the next bulge and could already see a blacksmith plover relatively close

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and finally transformed into a duck – At least it looked so.

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From the recent floods which gladly spared this awesome causeway this year a lot of puddles on the many rocks could be found and whilst still busy in admiring the plover I suddenly realized a shadow above us and then the culprit even landed close to where we parked.

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A yellow billed kite although already often seen we never saw one that close and so relaxed by the presence of our car.

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Same immediately started to drink from one small puddle and it was indeed funny to watch how same drank as it put the head nearly completely under water and whilst coming up most of the water dripped out of its bill.

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Our presence did not disturb the kite in any way but same was a bit irritated about the permanent click noise which came from our cameras whilst running hot.

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Besides their brilliant eyesight these raptors also must do have a more than fantastic hearing as we often experienced already that they react more on the clicks than whilst on our whispers but maybe it is simply because they cannot allocate that strange “click”.

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This guy or girl was indeed very thirsty and drank and drank without intermission and after such a long time its head was completely wet but nevertheless allowed us some more than great close ups and we enjoyed that sighting very much and after a more than slow early morning the day developed once again to a typical Skukuza day as whilst staying in that camp the areas around same do often offer some special sightings in form of leopards, wild dogs or lions and well today it was that crocodile taking vengeance.

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After a long time we were allowed to watch the kite without even being disturbed by any other cars same flew finally away and as it was meanwhile already nearly 3.00 o’clock we with heavy hearts skipped another visit at Lake Panic as we still had to buy some things from the shop and our legs needed a stretch as well.

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Whilst driving back to our bungalow we already saw from far a group of banded mongoose running around and as we do not see them that often I was already a bit disappointed that we missed them and so we hurried to the shop and whilst enjoying our ice cream on our verandah with cameras ready the family of banded mongoose appeared again and with the melting icecream in one hand and the camera in the other we snapped away although same was not that easy.

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I was under a spell how they communicated with each other in such a cute squeaking and whimpering noise and waited for each other not that one might get lost. This once again proved that although staying that often in the African bush already there are still so many things and impressions I still want to experience.

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Between their communication they even stayed a while, looked where the other family members were and so allowed some nice shots and as we stayed with them until the last one of them disappeared completely it was nearly far too late for an afternoon drive.

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to be continued with a couple of different road blocks.......


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 3:27 pm 
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But as we had to leave tomorrow for Satara we wanted to say good-bye to the area here a bit and decided to drive a bit along the S1 until it was time again to turn around.

The first sighting that we had was the passing of an impatient woman hooting at us because we were driving for her liking far too slooooooow. Only around the next corner it was us smiling back at her calmly because she right away drove into a speed trap and had been stopped by the police.

As already supposed it was a quiet evening drive and even it was a Friday evening it was also carwise extreme quiet but we simply had to stop for another green backed heron which came along

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and it turned out to be a relative to the one we saw close to Biyamiti as same turned also out to be a comedian.

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Back in camp Timon already lit the braai and decided to do some running in camp until the glow might be ready whilst I enjoyed my magical half an hour on the verandah until it was too dark to spot something and I so much hoped that the family of banded mongoose might return as I wanted to hear their cute squeaking once again but here I had no luck but I noticed a never seen bird. Originally I thought it was a falcon which was attacking permanently the sprinkler on the grass and so I positioned myself with the heavy lens on the bench and tried to take some pictures but due to the bad light under the shady trees and due to the heaviness of the lens I struggled too much and most of the pictures came out blurred but on one it was easily recognized as a juvenile African goshawk.

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It was already pitch dark until our braai was ready and whilst Timon was enjoying a huge T-bone steak I put my half pizza from yesterday on the braai not thinking that same might still taste that good as yesterday but I was wrong same tasted fantastic from the braai and so we sat still a long time outside and enjoyed the evening.

Saturday, 16th February, 2013 – Skukuza – Satara

We awoke with the feeling that not only our stay in Skukuza but also our holiday was already half way over and so we packed up hastily not too miss that much and not be at the gate too late. As the route to Satara is not that long we decided to once again give the S65 another try but as already experienced the previous days it was a quiet morning for us on that road.

Although before we even could turn into that road we had stop as also a couple of other cars too because two elephants bulls were not sure whether they should be happy about the presence of each other and as they stood on both sides of the road we and also not the other cars dare to pass.

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After quite a while the sun meanwhile came up the one decided to join the other and both finally walked away together into the bush.

As already said the whole remaining drive was dead quiet and we even did not see a bird and after a short break at Skukuza we were on our way North but simply had been held up in another road block as on the crossing which leads to the causeway a troop of baboons had taken over nearly the whole road and were about to criss-cross same.

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It was very difficult to capture especially the little ones as they were running speedyly around trying to find someone to fool around with.

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Although it was only 07.30 o’clock in the morning it was already in the sun extreme hot and compared to the previous days the day might turn into a typical South African summer day with temperatures up to 38 degrees and so we already thought that due to the heat we might not see that much today but we were totally wrong.

First stop was once again on the causeway and as meanwhile all the rushers might have been on their way already we once again stopped at the bulges and simply enjoyed the morning atmosphere. A curious crocodile swam closer and an African pied wagtail said “hi” as well.

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A hippo emerged from the water soundlessly and with the morning sun coming from the back

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and together with the water / air mixture whilst the hippo breathed out it was a very special atmosphere.

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The hamerkop couple was still a bit sleepy whilst we arrived

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but a bit later one of them got up and did some stretching and grooming and it looked as if we did find them somewhere on a beach.

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White and black feathered fluff balls could also be spotted one of them was a victim of the wind because it’s feathered looked a bit tousled.

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Today we in all spotted three of them 2 males and one female

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and one of them just caught one of the tiniest fish we ever saw. The water level was still high and lot of debris in form of stuck up branches and roots could be spotted and attracted a lot of birds which landed on them simply to rest or to be on the lookout for some breakfast.

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But as we still had a long way to go we finally left with heavy hearts this stunning place.

Due to the road closures of the Southern part of the S36 and later on also the S33 and 34 completely there was indeed not much choice and we simply could only drive the H1-2. Although it was a Saturday traffic wise it was again quiet so we could stop for birds at our heart’s contents where we wanted and how long we wanted without causing in seconds a traffic jam and first stop was made for a large group of European bee eaters

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landing on a bush and later flying away in flocks as the red-billed queleas always do.

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These colourful cute fluff balls always steel our heart within seconds when they do come across.

[i][b]to be continued......[/b][/i]


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2013 10:30 pm 
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A bit further down we have been made aware by another couple of the gorgeous klipspringer

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far away on a rock.

Actually it was not only a rock it were indeed several rocks balancing on each other and on top the klipspringer was on the lookout.

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I am still a bit puzzled how same made it on top without being hurt or even fell down. It could have been that his lady was also close by but we did not see her and whilst still capturing the klipspringer a very curious red-backed shrike landed on a bush close to where we parked and with a “click” we got him too.

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Next stop was a visit at Leeupan although this year unfortunately all the birdies were too far away as due to the rainfalls Leeupan turned into a huge lake covered nearly completely by water lilies and so the birds on the water could be hardly spotted. In the dead tree we nevertheless realized a couple of cattle egrets and a pair of Egyptian goose but the cheeky European bee eaters entertained us quite a lot at the spot where we parked.

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and in a close by thorny bush another red-backed shrike could be admired.

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Then I noticed that one after another white backed vultures landed on the ground somewhere in the dense vegetation and I watched a bit sharper and even was sure that I saw a shadow but as soon as I noticed the shadow same was again gone so I did not tell Timon something only: “I am not quite sure” not that he stayed under the impression that I started to hallucinate because of the heat.....but people in another car stopped as well and suddenly a quite impressive lioness emerged from the bush but far too far away for some good pictures.

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Same must had fed on the remains of a kill as the vultures landed close to that spot. At least for me another mystery has been solved as I now can say that there are definitely lions (at least one!) at Leeupan.

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The sighting of the lioness got around quite soon between the passengers in all the cars spread all over Leeupan and soon a quite large column of cars one after the other tried to spot the lioness which for us was quite funny to watch. We also stayed a bit longer – the other cars meanwhile disappeared again as the lioness did not show up again – but we also had no luck so we left as well.

Shortly before we reached Tshokwane I got my daily giraffe fix as out of nowhere a giraffe invasion took place

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and although most of them were far too very well hidden in the dense bush some nice “feeding” pictures could be captured.

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The shop at Tshokwane still was closed but at least the toilets could be used and after a short look at the sighting board we realized the many “cat” pins around Satara which was indeed very promising. Further down a lovely tawny invited us to stop for a quick snap

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Mazithi was filled up with water and we never saw that dam so full. When we arrived a grey heron abused a hippo as island but as soon as Timon had the camera ready same flew away right in the second whilst Timon was about to click.

Nevertheless we parked and looked around and after quite a while a group of waterbucks appeared on the scene in front two beautiful ladies

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followed by an impressive male.

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A cute spotted fly catcher forced Timon to stop again

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and same was so relaxed that we were allowed to press the button quite a few times.

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Kumana was also unbelievable full and although last year we thought already that same reached its maximum that was nothing compared to the water masses this year.

Due to the high water level the birds were far away to at least identify via binoculars the specie but nearly at the end where we never saw water the previous years the shore was closer and soon a couple of birds came across, the start was made by a grey heron,

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a group of Egyptian goose was a bit noisy and a beautiful saddle-billed stork just landed close to our parking spot

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and he immediately started to pace up and down the shore in order to find something eatable. Patiently we watched how he walked nearly around the whole bank until someone gave him a clearance for take off and off he was.

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to be continued with a good old friend.....


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 12:02 am 
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It was meanwhile close to noon and it started to get hotter and hotter and that did not prevent the birdies from paying us a visit along our way further North to Satara. We already noticed large numbers of Carmine bee eaters nearly all the day but finally same sat still and allowed us to photograph them

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and also a grey hornbill in a bush – Looked like a juvenile – waiting that the parents might show up to bring some food.

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Normally we always drive the S125 and back via the S126 but a force from above or a feeling in my stomach told us to stay on the tar road as on top I wanted under all circumstances pay a visit at Nkaya pan this year as I cannot remember having ever visited this place earlier.

But before we even reached same a quite impressive elephant bull still a bit far away made us stop again to be precise an elephant with a single wide spread tusk

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who looked quite familiar to me but I only know one elephant with such remarkable tusks and this is Shibotwana so this could not be him.

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At the beginning of the sighting he was still a bit far away but whilst feeding from the grass here and there he soon came closer and allowed some great shots

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and whilst coming closer the ears got better visible and due to the hole in the left ear and a couple of notches in the right one I realized that I had the honour in seeing this impressive bull now for the fourth time in four different years. It was for sure Shibotwana but unfortunately his right tusk is meanwhile history.

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The first time we met him he was quite aggressive and was roughing up an elephant herd and was chasing a couple of cars at Shibotwana waterhole.

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The second time was in 2011 where we met him right in front of the Satara camp gate where he was in a neighbouring dispute with a smaller and younger bull about the belongings of fallen marulas, last year we crossed path with him on the Mananga trail where he was once again showing an elephant herd who the real boss is

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and today he was a calm and very relaxed bull whose only interest existed in feeding and due to his calmness we allowed him to come closer until he no longer fit into the frame and although it may looked as if we were eye in eye with him our safety distance to him was guaranteed. After Timon took around hundred of pictures we left him and waved good bye with a possible reunion maybe next year.

On our way to Nkaya pan we spotted on the road two crested francolins

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and although very much overgrown Nkaya pan was lovely and as the pan itself was not that large as the just visited Leeupan or Kumana lots of birds in an acceptable distance could be spotted but first the two resident hippos had to take a look.

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It would have been a great motive if one of them was wearing some of the green on its head but this was today wishful thinking.

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A pity was that a group of hadeda ibises was busy in feeding and none of them even raised its head for a picture but a beautiful black crake appeared between the long grass on the search for food.

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Another grey heron could be spotted and was it in the South the sightings of green-backed herons in the central part of the park up to now the grey herons predominated. Out of the dense vegetation suddenly three waterbuck ladies arrived to quench their thirst at the pan

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and on their coat-tails a lone wildebeest.

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We really enjoyed this peaceful spot and the whole time we parked here we were alone and with some cookies we carried on observing the surroundings. The waterbuck ladies were extreme alert and each of them looked into a different direction to scan the area and only one of them drank whilst the other two were still on the look out.

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After a relaxing half an hour we left this lovely spot but had to stop not far on the tar road as a traffic jam had build up. We looked into the direction all the people were watching but what to say did not see anything. The car close to us was about to leave and explained to us the exact direction where to look and suddenly I got a big grin on my face realizing at what I was looking – cheetahs!!!

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All in all we have been told that same is a group of five but we only had the honour in at least seeing one a bit better provided the high grass in that area and the wind blowing into it allowed that

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as nearly in turn either the cheetah head was blurred and the grass was sharp or the other way round.

to be continued with a very special dinner guest......


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