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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 3:41 pm 
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We indeed do not have something against dense vegetation in contrary it is always great to watch around and see only green but at such sightings I sometimes wish that the grass was a bit shorter as exactly in that area the grass was high as the cheetah itself but cheetahs are cheetahs.

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Originally we thought that they might come closer but the contrary was fact as they started to move into the other direction and from time to time we could even realize dimly two other cheetahs close to the one which was reasonably visible.

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Whilst I was looking through the binoculars I always explained and pointed to Timon were to focus and so within only a couple of minutes – exactly five as this was how long this sighting lasted – Timon tried to photograph as much as possible not knowing due to the distance as besides the high grass the distance where the cheetahs were sitting was incredibly far if even a couple of pictures might come out usable

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but as you see the yield was not that bad although the sighting was for our liking far too short but as it was meanwhile nearly 2 o’clock we originally thought we might not see much at that time of the day and although we stayed a bit longer until also the last spot was invisible the cheetahs disappeared now completely.

Already quite impressed by the sightings we had that day we were still extreme curious what might the next days bring as the area around Satara is indeed a good terrain for everything. This year we were rewarded with bungalow G178 which is the second last from the back and soon I started to remember KDU told me once in a post that between the bungalows in that area a wild cat could be seen so I was a bit excited that maybe we will also have the luck in seeing same during one of the next days but before we even could move in I made Timon aware of a cute fluffy sleeping beauty close to a dust bin

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which was indeed not a nice sleeping place for the little scopsie as the branch on which same was sleeping was nearly on eye level for everybody and consequently soon a crowd had build up and I was certain that the scops owl will chose tomorrow another sleeping place with a bit more privacy!

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The location of our new home was stunning and although a bit farer away from the fence than in the beginning of the G circle you still had a view into the green with the large and beautiful trees and the birdies all around out of which the noisy woodland kingfisher - one started to trrrp-trrrrrrr and then even a chorus answered with trrrp-trrrrrrrr – needless to say that I miss this call desperately. We did feel very well as we normally always do when staying in Satara although on a Saturday nearly each bungalow in the G circle was occupied.

For our afternoon drive we decided to drive down the S100, however, the last years also after a good and wet rainy January / February we could not trace that much animal activity in the beginning of that road until Shibotwana and so we did not expect that much and we were not wrong again. We had to drive quite a few kilometres into that road until the first herd of elephants, wildebeests and impalas came across.

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Later on also warthogs and waterbucks joined in

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and on top due to the cloudy weather and the late hour already the light changed permanently from nearly dark – when a cloud was hiding the sun – and golden so the photography was a bit tricky that afternoon.

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On top of a tree a group of grey louries was plotting something and eyed into our car already suspiciously.

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The wind blew strongly from the back and the noisy bird presented us a fancy stormhairdress

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at least we had now a good laugh whilst downloading the pictures later that evening.

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to be continued with the promised dinner guest.......


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 8:45 pm 
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A lot of sentinels now again in the best light could be found

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and also one of the cheeky woodland kingfishers.

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We already turned around as otherwise we would not have made it back in time and met once again all the herds we already saw earlier whilst driving down that road but gladly the elephants came close and between them lots of little ones could be admired as well

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and Mom was always on the look out for the little ones.

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As we already stocked up with vegetables, fruits and meat at Skukuza no need to visit the shop this evening and so Timon lit already the braai and went inside to start the downloading process and whilst I was busy scanning the area with binoculars I nearly fell from the chair when I saw a large, and he was definitely large, honey badger on the first step of our verandah. I shouted to Timon at least if you can shout silently to come out quickly with the camera we have got a visitor.

Needless to say that the honey badger ran away but was still visible running between all the other bungalow excitedly and soon also all the other people in camp realized the honey badger and soon a crowd of people armed with cameras followed the honey badger and that indeed was a funny sighting as well to end the day with.

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I stayed close to our bungalow and watched the whole ado about the honey badger whilst having a ball. The woman from our neighbour bungalow joint me and told me that same is coming nearly each evening at nearly the same time. It looks, however, that same had been fed by people although when coming too close to the honey badger it started to hiss warningly.

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The crowd running behind the honey badger dissolved the minute same disappeared and some very happy people returned to their bungalows and let the fire go in the meanwhile fading light.

We also had a lovely dinner on our verandah thinking back how the day started that slow and turned into a very successful one and we started to presume what might come across the next days and with a grin on our faces we soon went into dreamland.

Sunday, 17. February, 2013 – Satara

To awake once again in Satara is always something very special to us and always one of the highlights of our trips although we had already stays there were the cats kept totally hidden the whole time during our stay so definitely you never know what might come across the next corner but I think this is always valid for the whole time whilst in Kruger. So with no great expectations we decided to drive as first morning drive the S100 and then decide later where to went next depending on sightings. Gladly carwise we took the right decision as most of the cars in front of us turned into other directions so we nearly had the S100 all to ourselves at that early morning time.

As already experienced yesterday evening until Shibotwana we saw nothing not even a birdie and at the waterhole itself lots of zebra,

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wildebeest and impala herds mixed together

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were populating that area and after we spent quite a while with them continued our journey with again not much to be seen until we suddenly and this was reality whilst driving around a corner saw two cars on each side of the road standing and directly in the middle we spotted a sleeping beauty

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and also our as well as a couple of cars close on our heels could not wake her up - She was deep sleeping in dreamland - she only raised her head to look out for her companion who was not lying far away from her but nearly hidden between flowers and high grass.

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The crowd must had followed us as soon we were surrounded by cars and neither could move forward nor backward but with nearly pole position with sight onto the sleeping lioness we anyway had no intention to leave that sighting.

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Now she was awake at least for the moment and checked with a glance out of her beautiful brown eyes what the fuss around her has to mean on an early Sunday morning and soon she squinted one eye and the other followed nearly immediately.

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And even the head was attracted by force of gravity and found its way back to the ground so the beauty sleep could continue

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and time for us to have a closer look to the other lion which up to now also did not move anything besides his head.

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More and more cars meanwhile arrived from the back and the inpatient hooting started as the latest cars in the row could not see nothing but the cars in front of us did not want to chase the lions away and also us and the others which had still a good view onto them could not move a single centimeter so a couple of the latecomers simply drove into the veld and overtook from there not knowing if there might be a deep ditch and even the lioness in the road shook reproachfully her head about such a rudeness behaviour.

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to be continued......


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2013 6:52 pm 
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After only one click of the passengers in all the cars which decided to follow the first one into the veld the quietness came back and the interrupted sleep could be continued.

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Time also for us to grant our fingers and arms a pause and to sip the last drops of our nearly lukewarm coffee

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and also the lioness went back into the obligatory daydreaming modus

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whereas her companion was nearly the whole time this sighting already lasted stoically looking into one direction sometimes with shut eyes and sometimes with open eyes but still with elevated head - a majestic gesture already at that young age!

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and even a bit snootily - simply the way a future King might to represent himself

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whereas the lioness was still blocking the road and did not let somebody pass - Obviously they know already how to let people dance to their tunes

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At least the younger male watched his princess now with a bit more alertness

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although her favourite aim this early - and even sunny morning - was to sleep as deep and as long as possible

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and even the upcoming sun must have disturbed her finally as she was now hiding her eyes behind her paw

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and now it was only a short question of time until she might clear the road and joined her companion or even more lions which, however, stayed invisible for us!

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As soon as the lioness finally stood up and trotted closer to her companion in the high grass, engines started and soon the traffic jam cleared up and we were nearly the only car still left so we allowed ourselves a couple of portraits with meanwhile glowing fingers because of the permanent clicks.

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Both lions meanwhile lied down a bit farer away from the road into the wet and high grass but still were extreme good visible so some latecomers would still have the honour in having a great time with them

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but as we took meanwhile enough pictures we waved a final good bye to them. Finally we found again lions whilst staying at Satara and they even occurred on the S100 which is not always the case!

We then decided to drive the S41 until N’wanetsi picnic spot and then drive back the way we just came and back via the S90 but it came totally different. On one of the low water bridges where we love to stay and watch the surroundings we discovered after only a while because they are always so very well camouflaged a group of water dikkops

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and then the usual suspect appeared on the scene such as plenty of waterbucks which we do always find in masses in the Satara area,

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a Wahlberg’s eagle and for sure zebras and here the youngster always do entertain us,

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especially when posing together with Mom.

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to be continued with the rest of that stunning morning drive.......


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:58 pm 
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After a short break at N’wanetsi we knocked our planned route on the head as we heard about a sighting of lion cubs right at the beginning of the H6 so we headed that way but needless to say that the cubs meanwhile disappeared when we arrived at the indicated place where to look for them but we got to see more of the locals and saw many giraffes,

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more zebras

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and my relatives!

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We made another pit stop at Satara and as it was still far too early to stay for the rest of the morning until our afternoon drive in camp we now did the planned route, however, the other way round and from that day and the following days onwards the S90 got more and more our favourite road in that area at least for this year......and although it was already getting late and hotter we had some nice sightings that late morning and compared to the S100 there was always something to be seen. First came along an elephant bull

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followed by more and even a herd

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and they were even not shy and aggressive and allowed us some nice close up shots.

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Further down the road the area was teeming with animals and lot of zebra and wildebeest herds were worth to stop for some pictures.

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All of them were either resting or munching and obviously were simply happy to be alive

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and on top lots of youngsters were running around and having fun.

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There was even a black backed jackal to be admired which was looking the whole time observantly on to the other side of the road

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followed by a kori bustard and this was definitely the road where we saw that many of them as never before

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or it were always the same?.......

More birdies could also be found especially lots of Carmine bee eaters and this one got by mistake onto the picture together with the kori

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and also the red-backed shrikes were roaming this road in hords – This one could be captured still with its breakfast.

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We really had problems in deciding where to look first as now a large group of kudus was resting under a bush close to the road.

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Finally we reached the turnoff into the S 41 but the sightings continued. On nearly each bush an European roller could be found only waiting that some of the creeping crawlers on their menu could be spotted on the road and it really did not take long until one caught a large grasshopper and swallowed same with pleasure.

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A bit further down the road we suddenly had to stop again as we spotted a large group of resting waterbucks, all males, and due to the high grass we sometimes could only identify part of their horns but overall it must have been around 20! Some of them squeezed under a small bush or tree and nearly kept hidden the whole time

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and whilst we were still busy in counting them I scanned the area around them and soon discovered a pair of saddle-billed storks building a nest in a remarkable tree – WoW I was thrilled with such a sighting and although we already saw many of them during our previous trips but never a couple building a nest.

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


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 8:13 pm 
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The male even flew down and was now raiding the grass close to where we parked right in the middle of the waterbuck group in order to find something usable for the nest.

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She was meanwhile busy in putting everything at its right place and finally settled down – Gladly to hear that they indeed were successful in raising some fluff balls as Katy in her report posted a picture of the nest with the little ones.

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A wildebeest was now also coming closer and joined the waterbuck group out of which some meanwhile stood up and started munching and whilst we were busy in watching from the saddle-billed storks to the waterbucks and then back again we spotted two secretary birds on the other side of the road.

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WoW – That sighting nearly topped the saddle-billed storks because secretary birds are a rare sighting for us in Kruger and we only had the honour in seeing them only twice so far there!

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It was, however, not easy to capture them as they were nearly the whole time on the run and either one of them was hidden by a bush or grass when we were about to press the button then the one we just focussed was hidden and the other one was posing nicely and so it carried on

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as they were permanently on the move and they could even run extreme fast and we had troubles in following them. We already thought that the sighting was over but then they returned via another bush and even came a bit closer.

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What a fantastic day so far we had and nearly the whole drive on the S90/41 we in fact had the honour in meeting only a handful of other cars so nobody was chasing any animals away and we had also enough time in stopping excessively for our feathered friends although it was a Sunday!

We even still had a lot of time in examine more wildebeests, zebras and carmine bee eaters

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and captured some impalas as a large herd was nearly blocking the whole road and some of them could not decide

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on which side of the road the grass or leaves might taste better but with their indecision we had plenty of time in being part of their herd and smelling them and hear them barking.

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The whole morning is was nice weather with a bit sunshine and clouds and it was not that hot and really pleasantly so maybe this was also one reason why we saw that much on that day. At Guzani dam which we never saw that full as this year we enjoyed the silence as long as the hippos kept quiet and finally we drove back once again via the S100 where our lions from early morning could not be spotted any longer and compared to the just driven S90 and S41 this road was deadly silent besides a group of waterbucks with some little ones between them

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and they even allowed some nice mother and youngster picture

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and with that sighting we named this road from now on the “waterbuck” road as you either will see everything on that road or nothing but you can always rely on the waterbucks as they will always be there!

Finally it was time to relax a bit in camp and whilst doing so my trrrp-trrrrrrrrrr friend’s did start their concert again and needless to say that this was one of the best concerts in my life so far.

Meanwhile the sun chased the clouds completely away and it was a sunny and nice afternoon and we decided to see what might come across the S90 once again. The light was simply brilliant for photography and now only the animals had to show up – First we spotted a warthog mom with her piglets running in front of our car – a pity was that they did not turn around so we only got theirs bums.

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One of the many present red backed shrikes did pose so nicely so Timon could not resist in taking another picture

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and also a banana bird had already an early dinner and then the ostriches started their show

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and they were indeed in good mood and allowed an excessive photo shooting – It was a group of five in total, 2 females, 2 males and one nearly grown chick

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and they were very hungry

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and some urgent things also had to be done.

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After spending quite an entertaining time with them they walked away farer into the bush and for us it was time to explore that road once again a bit more.

One of the many or as already said maybe once again the same kori bustard showed up

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and also an elephant bull came across

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and another kori which was definitely not the same and far too far away for a picture!

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to be continued with the naughty ones....and some never seen before........


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 1:02 am 
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On that road and on the S145 we did see this year so many koris as never before and they sometimes, especially early in the morning were not willing in clearing the road on which they stood motionless.

Meanwhile it was time to turn around in order not to get back too late and whilst we did so we saw a badly limping giraffe bull making his way slowly through the veld.

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Although the sun was good to us that afternoon we could see some strange clouds somewhere far away and it looked as if a heavy rain shower somewhere else in the park came down and also the rainbow which we tried to capture proved that.

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Back on the H1-4 not far away from the camp we got stuck in a hyaena clan and although many people do say they look ugly we never could get enough from them and on top they do pose always lovely and are extreme relaxed when cars are around.

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This clan – at least the ones who were visible consisted of the babysitter, mom or auntie and two very adventuresome pups inspecting the tires on each car which surrounded them. Our tires had gladly been adjusted as too old from them so they gladly at least for us changed to another car which look brand new and these tires found their acceptance but for sure not the ones of the passengers who owned this car and were chasing the hyaenas permanently away.

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Whilst the two gorgeous pups were doing their thing the older one was continuing her beauty sleep and did not care the fuss which was made by the cars and the pups.

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The cars were now coming and going as it was nearly gate closing time and each new arrived car were frantically greeted and inspected by the two little ones, whereas mom did impersonate the doggys.

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For us these comical poses or the cuteness of the pups are always a diversionary tactic as you never know from where else other hyaenas might come and continue the inspecting of your car or even do have other things in mind.

Nevertheless finally the pups got tired in the tires and cars and whilst one of them was lying down close to the bigger one the other one

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flopped down close to our car between the high grass and was simply too cute for words.

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Whilst Timon was busy in capturing this gorgeous face I permanently looked out for some other hyaenas not that we just walked into one of their traps but in fact we had luck and no ambush out of nowhere took place.

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Finally we had to leave and back in camp Timon lit already the braai and decided to do a round (running) through the camp. I was still busy inside the bungalow before my magic half an hour on the verandah could start and realized that our car was still open so I grabbed the key and went outside to close same but got another fright as suddenly an African wild cat walked by as if it was the normal thing of the world! WoW – My very first wild cat and same looked as if someone brought its pet and I had the car key in my hand but no camera! So I rushed back inside threw the car key onto the bed, grabbed the camera but needless to say that the wild cat meanwhile disappeared. I waited still a bit but same did not return but Timon returned and said “Oh, you did see her as well”. So although we could not get a picture of the wild cat we both at least had saw one.

During the braai we talked about the thrilling day we had and once again Satara did deliver again. At that stage we did not know that the next day will develop into one of the best we had during this trip......

Monday, 18th February, 2013 – Satara

Normally our second day in Satara is always the day which we spent on the Mananga Trail but due to the this year’s flood same was still closed and so we had to spent the day on Satara’s roads which was obviously Destiny......

This morning we decided to drive the S90 as yesterday’s sightings had overwhelmed us and we were hungry for more....but before we even reached the turn of we once again got stuck on the H1-4 as our hyaenas from yesterday were still hanging around.

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At first sight the little pups were nowhere to be seen but with the approaching cars same popped out of the den and said “hy” as well.

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We did not stay that long and only a couple of meters further down we saw a shadow running from left to right – An African wild cat just crossed the road in front of us and disappeared in the high grass close to where we parked. We both only looked at each other and thought the same “once again no picture!” but the little kitty was nice to us this morning and finally stopped, sat down and started the grooming.

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Gladly also Timon found a suitable spot from where our feline friend was reasonable visible and started to fire away

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although the high grass was once again a challenge but finally we got a picture of this little cutie.

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As there were more cars behind us and from our spot was the only possibility to watch the wild cat we showed them where to look exactly and what for and continued our way only to stop again shortly close to the turn off as we discovered a couple of amur falcons.

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Although the light was still bad and the sun was only about to come up and the sighting was also a bit far away we finally managed to get some nice shots of these fluffy cuties

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and after only half an hour on the road I was already in such a good mood that everything which came across was a cutie today and believe me I am definitely no morning person.

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Time to finally turn into the S90 but we did not come far as we already saw from far a large elephant herd coming closer and we managed to reach them in time so that they could cross the street behind us and we gladly had no road block in front of us

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but our concerns were unjustified as all of them were extreme relaxed and calm so we stayed a bit longer and waited also for the very last one, as on top we still had to drank our coffee as same was hot enough.

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I especially love in this picture how the birdies orbited the little ellie.

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Can it get better?.........


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2013 1:55 pm 
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Time to continue but we could not believe our luck as another African wild cat could be seen – unbelievable – there we drove already thousands of kilometres through Kruger and KTP on nine different trips so far and no wild cat appeared and now we already saw three of them on nearly one day

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but I have to correct me this was a mom with two nearly grown kitten so now I had to increase the figure up to five! Unfortunately at that part of the road the grass was far too high to take decent pictures of the mom so we only got a head shot of mom after fumbling a bit with the camera settings

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and from the kittens we only saw the feline shapes of two smaller ones – It looked as if all of them were on the hunt for some breakfast but needless to say we were already thrilled today.

Finally one of the cars we showed already the wild cat on the tar road reached us and now we pointed the next one to them and they also could not believe their luck. A pity was that from where we parked I realized further down on the road and right in the middle a kori bustard and I would have loved to take a picture of this impressive bird in full size without any disturbing grass but when we finally left the wild cats other cars already chased it from the road.

Elephant bulls occurred now from nearly everywhere and one of them was wearing a nice set of tusks

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and as all of them were in good mood and far enough away we allowed us extensive photo stops

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This one was obviously a bit shy and tried to hide behind or in a bush which was far small for him or obviously his morning toilette was not yet finished.

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Only one hour passed since we left the gate and we had already so many stunning sightings and after leaving the elephant bulls we already could see from far three cars close together. We slowly approached them and realized that all of them where looking to the right side of the road where a couple of black backed jackals where running around but out of the twinkle of my eye I saw on the left hand side a couple of golden heads popped one after the other out of the grass and whilst reaching the other cars I said only jokingly to them: “Did you see the lions on the other side?”

You cannot believe how fast the jackals had been forgotten and the race started to get the best position to observe the lions best! That comes close to the sighting in camp when all people where running behind the honey badger!

In total we have been four cars the whole time this sighting lasted and no car neither from North nor from South turned up and after finally each car found a sufficient spot to observe the lions best a pleasant silence surrounded us and it was simply a breathtaking morning.

Somehow the lioness looked a bit bleary-eyed it was obviously a long and hard night.....

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but also the other visible members of the pride did not look better either all of them looked more than a bit exhausted.

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Once again at that time of the year the grass was a again a challenge and we simply had to be patient that one was willing to show up.

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Gladly by birth cats are curious and so it took not that long until also the first smaller heads could be seen and we have been eyed suspiciously.

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Close to where this golden kitten observed us there was a small elevation on which already a slightly smaller cub could be seen and so it lasted not long until our copious observer joined the one on the hill so that the surveillance of the strange metal boxes could continue from there a bit more detailed.

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“I can see you!”

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We never experienced a better behaviour at a lion sighting than here – No hectic driving with the car to find a better position and no loud talking – Everyone was simply happy that the lions allowed us to watch them and on top the sun was brilliant and even showed up from the right direction.

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“Man, was it a hard night!”

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Under nearly each bush we could spot a lion or even part of one and it must have been a large pride consisting of around 10 – 15 members in total with a couple of different old cubs between them

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and gladly the smaller ones did not get bored in watching us excessively.

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to be continued with a very special performance.......


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2013 10:32 pm 
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The only disadvantage at that sighting was that the shortly passed by 3 elephant bulls came steadily closer and the crackle and rustle got louder and also the lions were meanwhile well aware of the presence of the grey giants

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and so it did not take long until one after the other lion got up and made their way deeper into the bush

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further away from the elephants.

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Finally we could admire a couple of golden kitties in different sizes out of which the fully grown lionesses looked like beauty queens.

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With the breaking up of the lions also the other three cars started their engines and only after a short chase they left this sighting and continued their way.

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But we still could not or even better to say wanted to believe that this amazing sighting was already over so we still stayed and were not disappointed as more and more lions did finally leave their resting places and followed the other ones deeper into the bush although a bit farer away but still visible. So we also followed them slowly and stopped when they did and during one of these stops a not shy birdie landed close to a bush we parked so Timon could also capture same which I think is a rufous-naped lark

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on top same then started to sing!

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How amazing is that?

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Nearly that stunning as the trrrp-trrrrrrr concert the previous days in Satara and with that birdie sighting which was by the way another lifer for us we nearly forgot the lions and to our great joy one of the nearly grown cubs showed up close a dead leadwood tree and soon got fascinated by same.

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As cat owner for many years now we nearly could read the minds of this lion – “I can do that.....or yet not?”

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“Maybe my thoughts can beam me up there”

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“Man! This could not be that difficult”

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“Did you not get bored in watching me! – The audience is also getting more and more unthankful”

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“Okay I will try again but first I have to yawn”

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“Yep”

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However, gravity was stronger and our lion friend did not make it up to the tree but we were more than pleased and applauded silently.

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After the failed attempt to climb the tree our cute friend soon followed its pride and at least today we did not see them again. WoW – We could not tell it again and again – What a stunning morning once again and if not the elephants had chased the lions away which once again proved that the real King of the jungle the elephant is who knows how long we could have watched them that day.....Our stays at Satara were always amazing but we had already stays there where we did not see a single cat and this stay was for sure one of the better ones.....

Slowly we continued our way but Timon stopped nearly immediately again for this cute female lesser kestrel

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another lifer for us!

Then came across a red-crested korhaan

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and normally when discovered they are walking right into the high grass and only allow some head shots but this one

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did not even cleared the road and continued walking bullishly into our direction.

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


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
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Obviously same was also not willing in disappearing in the high grass because then it would not see anything or might even got wet so in this case the high grass was a mercy because now we could even capture this bird in fully glory.

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Finally we must have come too close and so the red-crested korhaan did only swung into the grass and after we passed same returned immediately right into the middle of the road and continued its walk.

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We waved a final good-bye whilst thanking same for its patience with us.

The whole morning it was extreme quiet carwise and so it continues nearly the whole time we spent on the S90 so we once again could take stops where we wanted to without being asked at what we are looking and we had enough time to observe the many giraffes, zebras and wildebeests all having a great time with their breakfasts.

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We stopped once again at our saddle-billed stork nests but today only she was at home and busy in sitting on their nest.

The stops at these several causeways on that road are always a great pleasure as there is always something to been seen and without the traffic today we allowed us a lot of time and on top it started to heat up already and to stop right on top of a small steam – there was still water overflowing the causeway – at least is giving the feeling that the temperature is a couple of degrees lower than without any water.

Furthermore you are now nearly on eye level with the hippos and it was easy to get some nice shots

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and after scanning a bit more carefullier the rocks a very well camouflaged and still sunbathing crocodile also extreme close could be discovered.

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More and more hippos emerged now from both sides of the causeway where large ponds swelled up and in which on each side a family of hippos could be seen and needless to say that a loud grunting concert started from time to time and whilst standing in the middle our car swung from right to left.

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However, after a while the hippos lost interest in us and the yawning started

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and the crocodile had enough from the sun and dived up and suddenly only the small head of the crocodile was visible any longer and if not realizing the size of the crocodile earlier I would have estimated the sizes much smaller.

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More causeways had to be crossed and after another short break at Gudzani dam we saw lots of wildebeests with many little ones in between them.

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Another great sighting was a male steenbokkie who was not at all shy, as these cuties normally stop, take a look when you stopped the car and already galloped away when you got the camera ready

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but this one was really relaxed and even started to carry on feeding

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and obviously he was extreme hungry.

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Finally the bush got thicker and we nearly overlooked a group of giraffes spread all over and each called an acacia bush their own.

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A bit offside on the other side where the bush was a bit more open we discovered a smaller one on the ground,

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however, same did not look that healthy and we spotted all over its body some strange sort of bulges.

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Poor thing but at least the parents where close by and had an watchful eye on the little one.

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On one of the causeways which we had to cross soon lots of dragonflies could not escape the lens on which Timon focussed them

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to be continued.......


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Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2013 11:02 am 
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Nearly at the end of the road crossing the N’wanetsi I found a larger fish who permanently was calling - at least fish can do so - its uncountable little ones in his big mouth as soon as another fish came too close

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and disgorged same again immediately when the coast was clear! This happened quite a couple of times and we had great fun in watching this behaviour as we saw something like that never before.

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When leaving that magnificent spot we had to be careful in not to overrun this three banded plover searching for food directly on the causeway.

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After the obligatory pit stop at the N’wanetsi picnic spot we paid today the Sweni bird hide a visit because tomorrow will already be our last day in Satara and at this stage we did not know whether we would make it tomorrow to that hide. Gladly we were the only people there and the dam was full and soon Timon was already shouting: “There is a red one!” and from that time on our nick name for the red bishop was simply the “red one”.

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But the usual noisy suspects could also be heard and seen and here especially a mom with her little one located a bit farer away from the other hippos.

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Lots of the red ones could be easily spotted in the reeds as the colours of their red and black feathers definitely could not be overlooked and on top the also ever present woodland kingfisher was also present and still sitting on its favourite branch where we do spot same normally always when paying a visit here.

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Only a handful of the present red ones half-heartedly were building nests or at least were pretending in doing so especially when a female came closer but then the nest was forgotten and they started to behave like mad and believe me as already seen a couple of times it is always a pleasure to watch such crazy display show.

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Especially when they flew from one reed to another to attract the female’s attention they always do look to me like barbarous mutated bumble bees!

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Our reeds here do look in summer similar and can you believe it whenever watching our reeds in summer here I think or maybe it is always wishful thinking that a red one would flew by!

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Finally they gave the female enough space and we could capture her as well whilst showing interest in one of the red ones.

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After a fantastic time watching the “red ones” come and go it was time for us to leave and we decided to drive back via the S41 and then S100 – Plenty of usual suspects were soon easily spotted such as wildebeests, warthogs

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and the zebras at least one of them started a show at one of the causeways on the S41 – The pond on the one side was still extreme full and only a couple of rocks were visible and having been left alone from nearly all members of its herd on one side of the river one zebra got a bit frantic

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because same had been “forgotten” by the other zebras and now

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started to stalk from one rock to another to reach the safe shore

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and after having walked through deeper parts of the pond only having a watchful eye onto some strange floating tree trunks and after having crossed some slippery rocks same was once again reunited with its herd and believe me or not the zebra has just reached the other shore when the first crocodile turned up – Scary!

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and whilst watching the whole scene a blacksmith plover joined us as well.

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to be continued......


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
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We reached again the giraffe family and now the little one with the bulges all over its small body was now standing but was permanently rubbing one of its legs apathetically on one rock – As cute as same was but same looked indeed not that healthy.

It was meanwhile early noon and therefore there was also a bit more lift on to S100 at least the usual suspects did not leave us down and with nearly zebras

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and impalas spread all over that famous road

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we had still a lot to see and even the baboons showed up today with some close ups

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as the previous days we only heard them from far away.

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A male saddle-billed stork just landed in the N’wanetsi river whilst we were parking at one of the loops on the S100 but once again it was tricky to get a clear picture of same as the grass was again high.

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Finally the S100 lived again up to its credit as nearly at the end very picturesquely imbedded by beautiful high green grass and white flowers an extreme handsome waterbuck male was in the mood for a photo shooting

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and needless to say because he posed so nicely it took much longer until we finally left him.

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After a magic morning and noon in the park we enjoyed the silence as long as the woodies kept so rest of the afternoon until our afternoon drive started in camp and whilst Timon was busy in capturing the culprit of the disorderly conduct I was visiting the shop and stocked up again in fresh fruits, vegetables and bread.

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Our afternoon drive led us today in the direction of Girivana waterhole but once again we did not come far as we had to stop for a water monitor who just crossed the street and immediately disappeared on the other side in a small steam which is normally jam-packed with buffaloes but today the water monitor had the stream all to itself.

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To stop at Nsemani dam is always lovely as normally either birds, crocodiles, hippos or elephants are around and today a large group of white faced ducks relatively close could be seen.

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A movement in the water revealed a green backed heron who just caught a frog – Okay the pictures is not that great but the best we could get.

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For the white faced ducks it was obviously already sleeping time as only sometimes one of them raised a head to look around and afterwards return immediately back to the original sleeping position.

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Unfortunately the S12 was closed so we only could reach Girivana via the S40 and had to drive back via the same way which we normally try to avoid. At the waterhole itself it was quiet but from there we could easily see that under the huge tree close to the road where normally a group of vervets is hanging around a huge part of the road was missing. After a while until more and more cars arrived we left and drove slowly back to camp. The light was now brilliant and so we had to stop once again for a group of grey louries

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and impalas which came across plentiful and nearly around each corner. We felt a bit sorry for this chap because of the masses of flies.

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Whilst driving back to camp we spotted extreme far away in the dense bushes a rhino far too far away for a picture but due to the shape of the body it could have well been a blackie. We waited still a bit in the hope that same may come closer but instead same moved steadily farer away.

At least the zebras were good to us this evening and offered also lovely photographic opportunities onto their high-jackers

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which were extreme cheeky that evening.

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Back in camp we once more sat outside as long as the bugs allowed and enjoyed our braai and still were extreme thrilled with the cat sightings we had that day especially the wild cats. The only disadvantage that evening was that no dinner guest appeared.

Tuesday, 19. February, 2013 – Satara

Unbelievable but true today was already our last full day at Satara, gladly not in the park but scary how time flew by. Needless to say that we wanted to say good bye to our favourite road this year, the S90 and so we turned this way and soon were rewarded with a stunning sunrise

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and although the sun was coming up slowly it was still extreme dark and we only realized shadows which materialized into of a group of ostriches when we got close enough to that sighting. Also the still resting buffaloes were difficult to identify and could have passed off as rocks with ears.

And so it happened that we overlooked a cute fluffy owl on a branch close to the road and I only realized same when we already passed same and whilst driving backwards same flew already away and turned out to be another pearl-spotted owlet! You definitely cannot have everything and also the S90 itself was really quiet today but we did not care as we meanwhile know what a potential that road is possessing.

Nearly at the same spot where we spotted yesterday the elephant with the large tusks who later chased the lions away we today saw from far grey masses trotting from right to left and left to right enwrapped in a thick cloud of dust and buzzing flocks of flies – A sighting which was still missing this year – a large herd of buffaloes!

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Meanwhile also the light got better as the sun came up more and more and so it was time for buffalo portraits.

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Whereas Timon is loving the challenge in capturing a feathered friend where you have to be fast I prefer the much more comfortable way in first looking for a victim which could be captured and then zooming a bit with the lens and finding the right background to put this altogether into a picture then indeed buffaloes are my favourites – better to say a huge buffalo herd where lots of them were around and willing to pose.

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


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
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Today we had luck as although some of them were still sleeping in the grass others we already up and grazing and others where curiously looking into our cameras and saying “Hi”.

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As the buffaloes were hanging around on both sides of the road we had at least on one side perfect light and from the other back light but also against the light Timon managed a couple of very special shots.

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A couple of other cars also joined and shared time with them the whole half an hour we spend with them and soon all of the cars where no longer to be seen as the buffaloes surrounded us nearly immediately and we even were part of their herd.

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I really love to watch in their differently beautiful faces and although there where lot of young calves close to their moms which had a high cuteness factor I am also fascinated by the faces of the older buffaloes as I am sure they can tell already many stories.

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Although we experienced it quite a couple of times it is always a stunning feeling to get stuck in a buffalo herd as the members among each other always behave with extreme respect and do have a fond relation to each member of the herd although when there are hundreds of them around.

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The one thing we do love less are the hordes of flies surrounding our faces already at that early hour.

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“This is my mum and I do love her very much” – Indeed one of my favourite pictures we took whilst having a great time with the grey ones.

Finally we took enough pictures and decided to carry on – Already whilst admiring the buffaloes we saw from far a couple of other cars standing at our lion point from yesterday but before rushing on we wanted to spend as long time with the buffaloes until we have been chased away by the flies.

And we had once again luck as our pride was still there but today a bit more farer away and squeezed together under a small thorny bush.

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Actually we only saw beige fur behind high green grass and luckily from time to time an ear and if we got even luckier a head popped out but that was it for today.

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From the cubs we did not see anything that morning but nevertheless we were simply happy to at least saw the silhouette of one lioness again. We got into conversation with a couple in the car close to ours and we chatted a bit whilst nothing from the lions was visible any longer.

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As it was obvious that the lions had settled themselves for the day under that small bush the couple turned around and wanted to spend a bit time with the buffaloes and we continued our drive and enjoyed once again everything and finally we managed to get a picture of one of the loudest birds in Kruger, the swaison francolin, as same simply posed too cute to escape Timon’s lens.

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At one of the streams which had to be crossed a lovely crested barbet appeared and was patient enough to pose long enough for us.

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We also met again one lone guy who we already met yesterday and also chatted a bit about our sightings and whilst doing so the crested barbet was still there and did not felt disturbed in any way.

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In contrary same was extreme cheeky and did not stop in posing so we got again more than enough pictures.

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Once again we did not come far as now we had to stop for a large herd of zebras and this is nearly the same when getting stuck in a herd of buffaloes there are always something to be seen

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and at that sighting there was a small hill with a rubbing post on top and nearly each zebra wanted to use that post to scratch a bit and so there was a lot of pushing between lots of black and white

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but there was also time for cuddling between each other

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and all these actions made it worth to stop for and admire.

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Meanwhile we turned once again and at least this year for the last time into the S41 and it was time to say goodbye to our saddle billed stork nest and everything else which meanwhile got familiar to us on that road and once again there was lot of activity – A European roller just caught an amour cricket

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and was busy in pleasurably swallowing this juicy delicacy. Kudus came across

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as well as the ever present zebras – it was as if today a zebra congress took place in that area.

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to be continued.....


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
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We also had to pass a lot of road blocks in form of wildebeests and even cheeky impalas

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Once again we visited the crocodile on the rocks,

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said good-bye to the noisy hippos

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and even spotted another green-backed heron busy in stalking near the brink of one pond.

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A plopping noise made us away of another red-crested korhaan, followed by its head, however,

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later we could once again adore the whole bird, followed by another white-winged widow.

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The black-backed jackals were also good to us this year and we once again could spot one in the thick grass who just found something delicious.

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The rest of the drive on the S41 after we passed the S100 was more than quite although we once again enjoyed to simply stand on the causeways there and look around. After a short break at Nwanetsi we drove back via the H6 but same was also extreme quiet today and it was although still early extreme hot so it got more and more difficult to take pictures as the air started already to glimmer but from a flock of white storks which was about to take off we could finally capture one of the not yet started ones

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and although maybe the mammals kept hidden from the heat the birdies were plentiful, especially the Carmine bee eaters.

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As it was still far too early to return to camp although unbearably hot we decided to drive at least once the S126 in order to spend an extensive time at Ximangwaneni which we fell in love with whilst staying a couple of years ago at Talamati. The S126 is normally also not that bad but although driven that road already lot of times we only saw there once wild dogs and a lioness besides the normal suspects so we do normally prefer other roads whilst staying at Satara and today with the intolerable heat we already expected not to see much and we once again have been proved correct as today it was extreme quiet although I love to drive on that road and today it was the carmine bee eater road as nearly on each bush we passed at least one of them could be spotted.

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Nearly halfway a younger lone elephant bull came across who looked to us a bit young to stroll around without his herd but obviously he feel great to be alone as he just had a refreshing bath somewhere and was now busy in feeding and not at all shy an very self-confident and it looked like he was already knowing what he was doing and wanted to do

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on top he was totally cute and extreme charming – in a nutshell: a character!

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We stayed quite a while with him because he was so relaxed and funny to watch. Later on lots of smaller birdies once again could be seen and now also the red-backed shrikes joined the Carmine bee eaters on the bushes out of which this lovely female stayed long enough for a quick snap!

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Although also several males were also around we were not allowed to take a picture as they flew immediately away the second we stopped but this prinia gave us the permission

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and so it carried nearly on until we reached Ximangwaneni – Carmines, red-backed shrikes, larks and so on. At the dam itself we parked at our favourable spot and enjoyed the silence if ever possible with hundreds of Egyptian goose around and involved in territorial fights and so it was a lot of air traffic caused by the goose.

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Unfortunately not much else to see besides a grey heron a bit far away and moreover as it was meanwhile nearly midday the light remained for the rest of the day extreme harsh.

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Nevertheless it was a nice change to the lot of driving we did the previous days and only the heat finally chased us away from this lovely spot as there was nowhere shade to be found.

to be continued with our last afternoon drive at Satara at least for this year.....


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
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After a short break at the Muzandzeni picnic spot where we also stretched the legs a bit we headed back slowly to camp and to our luck we once again could admire a very sleepy rhino under a bush relatively far away from the road.

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Due to the time of the day and the heat it took us relatively quick back to Satara as simply nothing else came across and only close to Satara a couple of giraffes meanwhile also under a tree made us stop

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until we were finally back on our verandah after a long drive and simply relaxed and soaked in everything a bit more extensively as this was already our last afternoon at Satara. The woodies were once again in full swing and with heavy hearts we started to our afternoon drive although we could have sat there the whole afternoon.

Now you can guess which road we had chosen for our final drive around Satara and yes, it was the S90 simply to say good bye as we had such a great time this year here. The light meanwhile was brilliant it was still extreme hot but no longer that unbearably as around midday and it definitely took not long until we spotted the first kori around its head a lot of flies were buzzing.

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Only a bit farer down the road the next kori came across and close to where we spotted that morning our lion pride we realized a couple of dead trees full of vultures

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and sporadically on smaller thorny bushes there was always one single lapped-faced vulture sitting.

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Then we saw dimly heads with ears far away under nearly the same bush as that morning but due to the distance, the dense vegetation and the back light it was nearly impossible to at least capture a decent picture. It must have been around five under that bush but for sure there must have been the others too somewhere else.

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Vis-à-vis on the other side of the road we saw a couple of jackals running around and also vultures on the ground so maybe there was some remains of an older kill on which all of them were feeding but due to the high grass on the roadside and several ditches we only could saw part of the animals but not the kill itself.

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On the other side the lions must have made a relatively fresh kill as several heads permanently could be seen obviously feeding on something – Some of them strolled from the shady bush over to the buffet and others just had finished and returned from the kill to the shady bush.

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Although we could not see the lions in total and only parts of them it was nevertheless a fantastic way in leaving Satara the next morning with such a sighting and on top we met again the couple which we met already in the morning here and we nearly said to each other simultaneously: “You did obviously know much about lion behaviour”.

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We stayed until the nearly last minute to return back in time to Satara and we also hoped that with the setting sun they might come a bit closer but that was not the case although one of the lioness looked a bit irritated into our direction.

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Finally we had to leave although we would have loved to stay the whole night. Gladly there was no elephant herd which could have delayed our return as otherwise we definitely did not return in time but we had still enough time to enjoy a stunning sunset to finally crown our stay this year at that camp.

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Also tonight no dinner visitor arrived and so we had a more than lovely final braai until it was time for the bed.

Wednesday, 20th February, 2013 – Satara – Olifants

As we do not always stay four nights in a row in one camp it was a bit difficult for us to pack everything together moreover as we had just a good time in Satara sightingwise but somehow we also managed that and I was already looking forward to the view in Olifants we left camp relatively punctual just after the gate opened. First stop was then at Nsemani dam and although it was still a bit gloomy it gave the whole dam an all the animals we could see a special look.

The noisy hippos where numerous and relatively close to where we parked

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although we nearly see none when visiting the dam during the day and on top a bird we do not often see was busy in foraging – An African spoonbill!

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Years ago there were still two trees standing right in front of the parking area at the dam but these trees are meanwhile fallen and from one the trunk was lying down and due to the heavy rainfalls in January same was still nearly under water but the hippos obviously enjoyed this “toy” very much as nearly all of them lingered around these fallen trees – also these three all in different sizes

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some played “Happy Hippo”,

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the little one was impersonate the White Shark out of the movie “Jaws”

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and others were simply still tired.

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to be continued...


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 7:16 pm 
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All in all we had a great early morning in observing them even without binoculars so the still hot coffee could be enjoyed without juggling with other things in the hands even the cameras deserved a short break and we simply stayed and sighed and after we also admired the spoonbill also extensively it was time to leave.

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Whenever changing camp from Satara to Olifants we do take the S39 as this is simply one of our favourite roads for nearly each and every animals and also same is allowing some nice views into the riverbed and dense vegetation and although the distance between Satara and Olifants is not far it always takes us until early afternoon until we finally arrive and before we even could turn into that road we still had to stop quite several times on the H7, especially for this giraffe,

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another one of the cheeky Burchall’s coucals

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and one of the friendlier elephants bulls.

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Meanwhile the sun also illuminated everything in a lovely golden light and as Mr. Elephant posed so nice we could not leave and the cameras started to get hot again.

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He also came closer as there the grass was greener and the marulas yuicier but gladly he way only interested in feeding

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whereas Timon’s interest was to snap the perfect elephant shot with the obligatory marula trees in the background which are so typical for that area so it took him a lot of clicks and for me later to choose the best picture a couple of time until we could finally carry on.

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Shortly before we could turn into the S39 we were held up by a troop of baboons and a couple of white backed vultures in the best light.

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It normally takes a while until you reach on that road the riverbed where the stunning views do start and today we had a great time in watching a large herd of impalas busy in a morning chat,

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in feeding,

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or in simply enjoying the new morning.

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I think the height of the grass gives you a good impression how dense the vegetation was at that time of the year.

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The views into the river bed were as always breathtaking and although it was extreme quiet that morning until we reached Leeubron we had a lovely time as moreover not much cars crossed our path. Funnily as quiet the road was previously at Leeubron there is always animal activity – We experienced this meanwhile on each of our visits here. A family of Egyptian goose with meanwhile nearly grown goslings could be watched and lots of impalas quenched their thirsts very alertly.

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With the following picture I at least can try to explain why I love this road in February that much – A lovely green jungle with birdies maybe not always to be seen but chirping from everywhere and out of nowhere a giraffe appeared on the scene and did not bother our presence and walked giraffewise closer and closer

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until same disappeared together with a baboon in one of the green carpets on one roadside as if same was not there only seconds earlier. We drove all the loops on that road to allow closer looks into the Timbavati riverbed although you had to be careful as some of them do not look that trustful after the last year’s flood. An African fish eagle landed close by and although same only turned its back onto us we spend quite a while in watching and photographing same

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until same took off unfortunately into the wrong direction.

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Next came across a strange dangling bush and whilst examining same a bit more careful the closer we came we realized a family of vervets very well hidden but also a very famous and regular sighting on this road as well.

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All of them were nearly the whole time on the move and first we had problems to choose for a victim and finally our cameras stopped on one of the cute little ones

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which was about to chew a bit on a small branch.

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to be continued with a great stay at Ratelpan hide.....


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