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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:53 pm 
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Right at the turn off into the Timbavati picnic spot we had to pass a guard on the look out

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who was telling jokes but we obviously missed the punchline.

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The picnic spot itself was already extreme full and we hardly found a parking spot for our car. We stretched a bit our legs there but due to the bustle all around we did not stay that long and carried on for a longer stay at Ratelpan hide but before we even arrived there more boons very well camouflaged in the trees around the road were looking curiously down to us.

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Shortly before the hide there is also a larger loop which offers you views into the river but instead of the water we only saw thick green reeds and tiny red spots – You guessed again right we found again a couple of red ones on their display show! Besides lots of males also the females could be spotted in a greater number than at the Sweni hide.

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On the look out for a beautiful female!

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We stayed quite a while at that spot but realized more and more cars passing by and so we only turned around to also found the parking area at the Ratelpan hide also nearly fully occupied. Now at least we got an impression how it can be at the holiday periods in the park. Normally we are for a long time the only people at that hide but today all the others had obviously the same idea as we.

Nevertheless we swallowed the bitter pill and entered the hide and even found a single free bench and so we made us comfortable and waited what might come across. Greatly all the people in the hide were relatively quiet but not the hippos out of which a proud mom presented her offspring to us.

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Also around the hide itself lots of reeds could be seen and our feathered red ones were busy in displaying also here and obviously playing the clown is making extreme hungry!

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The female was also not that far and tried to imitated the male as she started to fluff up as well

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at least it looked so or she was simply shaking her feathers! A masked weaver was also busy in building a nest and he was really hard-working and looking around that maybe a female might come along.

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The red “bumble bees” were extreme active in flying from reed to reed attracting a female

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and as soon as one flew by the feathers turned into the “Hola Chica” modus!

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The longer you stay and the more you looked around, the more birds came across and although from our present viewing position – all the benches and consequently the complete hide was occupied and changing our position a bit limited – we spotted a very well camouflaged thick-billed weaver

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and also a resting pied kingfisher but same was nearly hidden by branches and finally an interested females landed on one of the reeds as well and soon on her coat’s-tail a male as well.

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The behaviour of one couple sitting on the extreme left made me a bit perplex as he was permanently photographing into one direction I could not see anything so I scanned a bit more careful the area as well as all the branches and finally I triumphantly discovered a branch on a branch – another European nightjar sleeping on a branch!

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Pity was that where we were sitting the nightjar was not very good visible so I simply hoped that we still will have later the possibility in taking a couple of more pictures of this cute fluffy ball.

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to be continued.....


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 7:15 pm 
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A female masked weaver showed interest in the nest of the male and she even inspected same carefully.

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“Please come back – I can also show you my stamp collection!”

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Despite the fullness of the hide we had all in all a great time and enjoyed our feathered friends quite a lot –

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A large group which we already met at the picnic spot gladly only took a glimpse and disappeared and also the couple close to the nightjar packed their bags as meanwhile the whole hide got notice of the camouflaged nightjar and we gladly could also now occupy the bench close to the nightjar and Timon finally snapped happily away

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and also from this point the resting pied kingfisher could far better be captured.

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We meanwhile were only three couples left and all of them were busy in browsing through their bird books or busy in looking onto IPhone apps in order to identify the nightjar correctly. You obviously can imagine the commotion this little bird finally released but gladly all kept relatively quiet not to disturb our sleeping beauty which finally only opened the eyes a bit to inspect what’s up.

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Finally also Mrs. Masked weaver was extreme satisfied which what she got offered and got more and more interested.

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We left the hide around 11.00 o’clock after more than an hour and although in the hide itself a slight breeze was blowing in the car and on the road it was meanwhile unbearably hot.

So whenever Timon stopped to take pictures we started to sweat out of all pores but we also do not want to turn the air condition on but I guess there are worst things than the heat! At least for example some people suffering under arachnophobia this eight-legged beast is hardly bearable.

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On top despite the heat lots of general game was around and so we sweated harder as Timon now stopped much more. A herd of zebras entertained us as always especially this cute youngster having a drink from mom’s milk bar,

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a lone elephant bull, a horde of baboons and this beautiful dragon fly accompanied us further down this simply breathtaking road.

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At one of the causeways which we had to cross I looked once again out for another tilapia but I guess I already found the next development stage of the tilapias

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which fascinated me that much that Timon once again nearly forced me to carry on.

For a short time the road abandoned the river bed and suddenly the vegetation changed and thousands of acacia bushes appeared – another aspect why we do specifically love to drive that road – and out of nowhere a large elephant herd appeared

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on the scene but gladly at that part of the road where you had the possibility to turn around with the car to escape the danger zone

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but we had luck this was one of the calmer herds and nearly all of them were only interested in feeding

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and as it was a hot day in resting in the shade and flapping ears.

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to be continued....


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 21, 2013 6:10 pm 
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They had lots of little ones between them and were spread all over meanwhile but were obviously on the way down to the river.

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We stayed with them until also all of them finally disappeared between the acacia bushes and were no longer to be seen.

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Nearly at one of the last loops on that road from which you always having stunning views into the Timbavati river a huge buffalo herd was cooling down in the shade and in the water.

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Although a bit far away we nevertheless enjoyed another sighting of a large buffalo herd from another angle this time and not being part of them but to enjoy them from far.

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I was a bit green about the awesome place they had chosen to rest as I was sure it was down there at least slightly cooler than in the car.

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Some of them started to move off slowly deeper into the riverbed nearly out of sight to maybe choose an even cooler place.

A unicorn peeped through the bushes in curiosity

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and the whole time we drove now on that road a strange and strong smell accompanied us and finally we captured the relevant culprits.

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We had a more than brilliant drive on the S39 and I should already now make a note that we next year simply have to drive that road at least twice as same is offering so much. Due to the closure of the Balule causeway we simply had no choice than to approach Olifants via the high water bridge which for sure is always a more than worth stop but first of all we had to pass another large herd of impalas which were more than willing to pose

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and more zebras.

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At the high water bridge itself it was more than a pleasure to leave the hot oven in form of our car and although the sun was shining from high above a slight breeze was going so it was indeed more bearable than inside the car. We looked into each direction in the distance but beside the usual suspects there such as hippos and crocodiles nothing else came across and as we only looked into the distance we nearly overlooked a group of male waterbucks relatively close to the spot we parked.

One of the male was already fully grown and all the others must have been at the same age.

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As we do love waterbucks it took us quite a while until we could continue our remaining journey to Olifants especially these tender moments between maybe father and son let Timon press the button

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more than a couple of times.

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We decided to drive via the longer way over the S91/92 as it was still a bit time to kill and we do simply prefer this stretch to Olifants than the tar road.

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Due to the midday heat not much came across and so we simply enjoyed the views from the many loops on that road and finally we had to stop in order to let some grey giants cross the road in a hurry not to miss the other members of their herd.

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Gladly we arrived just in time to check in and whilst entering the reception Timon checked the thermometer and realized that we had 38 degrees! I was 100 % convinced that we once again would get bungalow No. 9 which we already occupied five times in a row but this time they handed over to me the key for No. 10 which we even liked more. Do not get me wrong but No. 9 has got extreme privacy and the view into both directions of the river is breathtaking but the fence is nearly at eye level and the bumpy footway from the parking area to the bungalow is extreme long.

At no. 10 we nearly had to open the car and after only three steps everything was stowed away. The view from these bungalows is always mind blowing and with a nice ice cream even more delicious even in the unbearable heat. Within one hour an extreme strong wind came up which made the temperature much more comfortable but the braai in the evening impossible. Although we had only limited roads to choose from due to the road closures in that area we had not that great desire in doing an afternoon drive but finally picked ourselves up for a short drive onto the S93.

Meanwhile it got extreme stormy and overcast and it looked as if a thunderstorm will pay a visit. Nevertheless the animals which came across obviously felt that a cooling-down was on the way especially the zebras which came across were very playful and cheeky

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“What you can do I can do even better!”

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to be continued with the day of the raptors......


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 8:37 pm 
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When we were on our way back already to camp a large group of impalas crossed the road and used a special area in the harsh vegetation around Olifants obviously as impala loo.

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I do not know whether this is a usual behaviour of them but it was funny to watch as nearly each impala stopped did its thing only in that special area and carried on as if nothing happened even with oxpecker on board and dinner between the teeth.

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Funny was that the storm continued to blow heavily but the sun came even out again and illuminated the next group of noisy animals which got separated due to the road and part of them were still on one side of the road and the others, most of them younger ones did not dare to cross the street due to our presence

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and so I had once again the honour in admiring the squeaking and whimper of the banded mongoose once again. I really fell in love with such noises. Finally also the younger ones joined the other group and although we did no longer see them we loved it to still hear them.

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Not much else came around and so we returned back to camp and whilst unpacking our car a couple of nearly tame red-winged starlings dared a look

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whilst Timon dared to take a few shots of them.

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Today we had to visit the restaurant because of the strong wind and obviously the rest of the camp had the same idea as same was quite full, as it looked as if it would start to rain shortly nearly every table inside the restaurant was occupied, the service was good but the food itself was simply microwave fast food which is definitely not something we like that much. Well for one evening it is okay but we already hoped that tomorrow the wind might calm down so that we can enjoy another braai with view.

After our dinner we sat still quite a while on our verandah as from far a thunderstorm could be seen and one lightning after another came down which was a nice spectacle to watch and furthermore it cooled down with every minute and so it was indeed a pleasure to sit in totally darkness with a glass of wine in reach and to watch a thunderstorm. Gladly the thunderstorm kept were same was and did not come closer and it also did not rain that night and only the sounds of strong gusts of wind and the strong flowing Olifants was nearly the last things we heard whilst slipping over into dreamland.

Thursday, 21. February, 2013 – Olifants

After we awoke the next morning we quickly checked whether it rained over night, it did not, but it was still nearly pitch dark, overcast, very windy and cold, so cold that we had to put small jackets on. If I remember correctly this happened so far only three times and compared to yesterday where the head wind was a welcome cooling against the heat today it was simply a nasty pest causing us shivering and extreme cold feet but after all it was much more bearable.

We have chosen to drive the S89/90 at least up to Bangu waterhole and to decide then whether it will still be enough time to explore the area around Letaba a bit. Although only a short drive we stopped for a quick look around at the high water bridge and spotted a fish which just caught a fish, landed on a sandbank in the Olifants and was about to pleasurably eat same as breakfast.

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We watched same a while but due to the bad light did not stay that long and had to stop once again after the bridge as a large group of giraffes popped their heads out of the dense vegetation which looked indeed a bit funny.

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Once again we did not come far as one car in front of us stopped, looked down to the street and made us aware not to overrun a giant land snail trying to cross the street as fast as possible.

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We made the car behind us also aware of the snail and so on so hopefully same could have reached the safe shore. We turned into the S89 and also stopped again without driving that far and now we had to look up as right above a branch overhanging over the street and extreme close a beautiful bateleur could be admired.

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Gladly same was so relaxed that Timon could position the car at the best so he could snap away happily without any serious wrenches and

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I could drink in peace the rest of my still hot coffee and sigh about the great time we still have

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but I also was a bit concerned because if we continue to drive that way and to make so many stops we could already forget about our flying visit to Letaba later that day but gladly the day just started and I could adore once again one of my favourite birds.

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The only disadvantage now was that I had problems in selecting some pictures as nearly all of them came out not that bad and I had troubles in choosing the favourites.

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A couple of times she started to call so I guess that there must have been another one close by.

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After nearly a decade at least it felt so Timon was satisfied and we could continue and meanwhile we drove also already on the S90 coming closer to Bangu but a strange sighting made us stop again as we could watch some strange bugs/ants on the ground walking like soldiers in formation and after a while the outer “soldiers” changed with the ones marching in the centre of the formation and the ones in the back row with the ones in the first row. Maybe someone of you can help me with the id of these strange creatures which finally disappeared on the road side in the bush.

A large group of kudus could also be discovered in the high grass

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and obviously were in the mode to do some running after the hot day yesterday.

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Whereas all the ladies were situated on one side of the road their handsome Mr. could be found on the other side

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busy in feeding on a yummy bush. Maybe he simply wanted to have time for himself as it is indeed a hard job to please all the ladies in the same way.....

Lots of ellies were also around but gladly far away and here I love the ellie between some endless green – the vegetation at that stretch of the road was lovely and once again so different compared to the rough red sand around Olifants which is making the tracing of animals in contrary a bit easier!

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Another group of kudus made us stop again.

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to be continued with another lifer.......


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 10:07 pm 
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Then we spotted a catlike silhouette walking right on the road – incredible but true another wild cat! – but same made it impossible for us to take a decent picture as same, as soon as we approached disappeared in the high grass and not even the grass did move and maybe revealed in which direction the cat had just walked so we could only guess where same might appear again and that was most likely in front of our car and then this procedure continued for approx. 10 minutes.

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This was the only proof picture we were able to get and we already thought that we might have lost her when she suddenly jumped up on the chase of a francolin – That would have been the ultimate picture but at least this sighting once again left both of us with open mouth – The francolin escaped with the usual noisy call and the wild cat could no longer be seen.

Somehow we had already passed Bangu where nothing could be seen and normally wanted to turn around but suddenly Timon babbled something like: “strange horns” ??? and whilst I followed his look discovered our very first Kruger reedbuck male

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at least the head of same as this was due to the high grass the only thing we saw from him – WoW That road was one of the best we had driven this year and not only delivered from the Southern part but also from the Northern part.

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A bit pity was that our reedbuck only looked for a minute into our direction and then jumped away in high speed and was no longer to be seen.

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The next sighting was also a lifer for us, as we spotted a strange looking raptor which permanently landed a couple of meters in front of our car grabbed something from the ground and as soon as we broke the pain barrier in form of a 10 m distance,

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flew up again, so increased the distance between herself and our car and landed again in the middle of the road and pull apart what she just grabbed and enjoyed breakfast – Our very first Montague’s harrier female!

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and needless to say that with that sighting and our very first Kruger reedbuck a couple of minutes ago our day was already made.

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I forced Timon not to drive too close to her and so we could at least although still far away take a couple of pictures and whilst enlarging these pictures later at home at the screens we noticed that the road must have been littered with grasshoppers which formed the breakfast buffet of our beautiful raptor lady.

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Which one did taste best?

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Gladly for us that from the other direction the whole time this sighting lasted no car came and so we had the honour in watching her quite a while. A bit farer away in a bush another Montague’s could be seen but same did not dare to come closer. Finally also our Montague had enough and joined the other one on the far away bush.

We somehow lost Being and time and so we noticed the turn off into the S41 only when same was a kilometre behind us and so we decided to also drive the rest of the S90 instead of turning around and so include a visit at Ngotso North which we did not visit often and we were not disappointed with this decision, as a lot of usual suspects could be found.

A large elephant herd crossed our path and I simply had to share this picture especially with the soft green grass

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and obviously the kudus also liked that road that morning much, as another group came across

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and also ostriches were busy in searching for breakfast. Also lots of Carmine bee eaters and European swallows were buzzing around all of these animals and whilst afterwards watching the pictures we noticed on nearly each picture at least one of these birdies.

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Another black-backed jackal which we found this year a lot on this road just found something delicious.

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Meanwhile also the sun could be seen more often than earlier that morning but is was still extreme windy and I still had my jacket on. Female ostriches

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and wildebeests spread all over the rest of that road were nearly the last animals we saw until something feathered made us stop again. A lovely tawny pointed us the direction back to Olifants

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and took off from that tiny bush same was sitting on

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only to land in a close by tree to be maybe a bit more protected against the strong wind.

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When you look at the feathers of the tawny this maybe show you how strong the wind was still blowing.

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“Today flying is cancelled I have to use my feet!”

to be continued with more raptors......


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 04, 2013 11:02 pm 
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Ngotso dam was extreme full and due to the fullness nothing could be seen besides a yellow billed kite resting in a far away tree. We meanwhile decided that due to the weather and time we could dare a day trip to Mingerhout dam and stay outside the whole day without a break in Olifants and we finally have been proved correct with that decision as not much came across nearly the whole drive until Letaba besides a couple of hippos, impalas

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“Life can be so beautiful!”

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and a lone grey heron and although we also stopped at the view point on the tar road we finally had plenty of time in exploring the area around Letaba although we already drove a lot that morning.

After only a short pit stop at Letaba – how I love the large trees in that camp! – we returned onto the road and drove all the lovely loops on the H1-6 until the high water bridge. Whenever driving that short stretch of the road we do remember the sightings of elephant bulls with either remarkable tusks such as Nhlanganini, Hlahleni or Nwatimbuti which peeped through the bushes on different visits here and also the shorter tusks are always showing up too and even around midday

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so for us this part of the road is more and more an elephant highway.

The river itself was still flowing strongly as never seen before but the water meanwhile cleared lots of sandbanks so hippos and saddle-billed storks could be seen without even wet feet.

A short stop on the high water bridge showed clearly all the devastation after the flood earlier this year in that area and after quite a while watching into all direction we turned around and travelled along the S47

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to Mingerhout dam and although the dam itself is always a bit disappointing because of dense vegetation and located too far away it is the drive on that road itself with lovely small loops and breathtaking views into the riverbed that is always attracting us back here and right in the first one we were already rewarded, as a pair of fish eagle were resting in the tree close

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to where we parked and overlooking the riverbed. The only disadvantage was that we could not capture them both as they were simply too close so after Timon finally found a suitable place to position the car best he once again snapped away and could capture some comical poses – such as playing owl

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or with an itch here and there.

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Finally it was also time for me to take the jacket off as meanwhile it heated up again so we could travel without same although the wind was still strongly blowing but by far not that worst as the evening before or even in the early morning

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but also our larger feathered friends allowed themselves a break from flying and enjoyed time together or simply did a bit day dreaming

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and we simply loved their show and also enjoyed the time we all four spent together. After an enjoyable half an hour break with our fish eagles we carried on and discovered a very content and resting in himself dagga boy close to the road in a huge mud puddle.

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What a great place to spend the day at least for buffaloes!

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He had chosen a riverbed of a small stream finally ending into the Letaba and also we had to cross this riverbed and that was one of two parts were a 4x4 was highly recommendable as the mud was still extreme deep and slippery but it was nevertheless fun to drive through!

Right from the next loop we spotted another raptor drinking from a puddle in the riverbed – another bateleur and behind same a yummy fish already waited to be eaten which must have been obviously just caught but first the quench had to be satisfied.

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But we were wrong a juvenile bateleur just landed behind the elderly and started to feed on the fish and this was another premiere was us as we never saw an adult and a juvenile together – funny was that the juvenile looked a bit larger in seize than Daddy!

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Finally Dad spread his wings and flew away and let junior do its thing – Nevertheless for us it was a thrilling sighting and we carried on with happy hearts but did not come far

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as soon a large group of ground hornbills was busy in crossing the street

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to be continued......


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:29 pm 
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There were a couple of younger ones in between

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which soon started to squabble with each other – Also a great sighting for us and our feathered friends were today already extreme good to us.

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We somehow made it finally to the look out point at Mingerhout dam but as already expected the view was very limited due to the dense vegetation and compared to the just driven loops up to that point the flood did not come so we did not spent much time here and turned around as it was still a long drive back to Olifants.

So whilst driving slowly back and daydreaming we echoed suddenly eye in eye with a grey giant in form of a massive dagga boy with a blade of grass between his teeth!

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Out of nowhere the theme melody of the movie “Once Upon a Time in the West” came to my mind and I was reminded of the duell between Henry Fonda and Charles Bronson – Scary!

Gladly our grey friend got soon bored in eying us and trotted off into the bushes.

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On the way back we also realized that the juvenile bateleur was still busy with its lunch and we once again had to cross the slippery mud part and soon after we had solid ground under our tyres again another dagga boy popped out of the bushes high above and slipped more or less agile through the deep mud down into the river bed.

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It looked like the same we met earlier and here he obviously was in buffaloes Paradise!

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Also our fish eagle couple was still sitting the at the place overlooking the river and we could not but had to stop once again.

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The rest of our drive with a first stop in Letaba was uneventful and for us it was time again for a body break and to maraud the shop with the essentials for our last days in the park. For sure an ice cream was on the schedule as well and we took a short walk through the camp and soon came across a family of bushbucks out of which the little one was extreme shy and we were eaten up nearly immediately by mosquitoes.

Meanwhile it was already early afternoon and we decided to drive slowly back via the S46/93 which both were luckily open after the recent floods and skip our afternoon drive completely. Furthermore these two roads were the first gravel roads we have ever driven in Kruger and same are always a “must” drive.

In one of the many ponds which could be found on these roads we spotted a green backed heron in stalking mode

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and right in the next one a hippo mom with her newborn and I only realized later when editing this picture that another green-backed heron appeared on the picture as well.

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A group of noisy hadedah ibises were on the hunt for some late lunch or early dinner but the light was so bad and they moved so fast that the pictures unfortunately came out blurred but this beautiful Mrs. Giant kingfisher gladly sat still enough so Timon was in his element again.

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A pity was simply the weather because it started somehow to get again extreme cloudy with dark grey clouds so that the light was indeed not the best.

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Mr. Giant was also present but far away on the other side of the riverbed and even resting in a thick tree so we were not able to get a picture from him as well.

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From time to time our beautiful lady looked around either for some fish or simply for her hubby.

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For us it was nevertheless another lovely sighting as we already had years were we saw none of them in Kruger and so indeed stayed a long time and simply enjoyed her close presence.

Somewhere on the S46 we had to cross another slippery part with extreme deep and gluey mud where a 4X4 indeed comes very handy but after all the debris still lying around we were at least extreme happy that so many gravel roads were open again after such a short time after the floods.

Nearly on eye level we met another hammerkop which was also on the search for some fish for lunch.

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to be continued with an interesting hole.....


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 1:46 am 
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Between the debris in the Letaba riverbed a hippo appeared relatively close to the road munching happily away

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in one of the next loops another saddle-billed stork could be admired as well and whilst watching so many animals feeding our stomach started to growl as well suddenly after a long day on the road.

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For sure the impressive baobab tree along that road is always a worth stop

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and the day nearly started with giraffes and the last animals we saw on that day were also giraffes and two very happy people returned finally at 17:30 o’clock back to camp after a very enjoyable day on the roads but the day was not yet over and due to the fact that my magical half an hour was extended today to 1 ½ hour and on top with such a view

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it was a more than a lovely evening we spent on our verandah and simply sighed away after finally Timon lit also the braai and the meat found its way into two very hungry and happy persons. Gladly the wind meanwhile had gone completely and we sat still quite a long time outside until it was time for the bed.

Friday, 22nd February, 2013 – Olifants – Mopani

Today was our last moving day before we had to leave the park on Sunday and after everything had been thrown into the car we were on our way to Mopani – Originally booking had been made for Shingwedzi but we all know what happened after the floods and so we had to change our booking but the first roads we had chosen today would have been the same irrespective of the destination.

We once again ended on the S93/S46 as we also wanted to have an early morning drive on these roads. It was again overcast and a bit chilly that early but by far not that cold as yesterday morning and somehow our drive started slow until we finally reached the Letaba riverbed where we immediately spotted something feathered on some remaining debris in the river itself – an African hawk eagle – also not that often seen by us –

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however, the light was still not that good so we only took this one shot, however, more birdies appeared on the scene a goliath heron far away and very well hidden but this juvenile African fish eagle was simply too impressive to pass by without stopping.

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For me adult fish eagles are already impressive raptors but this juvenile was by far larger as its parents.

Obviously same had just had its breakfast in form of a fish and was about to leave this lovely spot and spread it wings and took off

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but the sighting was not yet over as same met in the air one of its parents and they greeted each other by “shaking” claws in the air and by their remarkable call – We never saw such behaviour before and needless to say that this was once again a magical moment for us.

The hippos were still extreme sleepy

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whereas a family of Egyptian goose was already up and on the run at least as fast as this was possible,

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as either Mom as well as Dad goose were limping badly on one of their feet and with two cute fluffy goslings the move forward was limited.

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Another goliath could be spotted far away and even today Mr. Giant kingfisher was around

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at the same spot where we had the honour in meeting his wife yesterday.

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Then I asked Timon to stop immediately as I spotted a huge, very freshly digged hole on the road side which I cannot remember having seen yesterday there. After he finally positioned the car in a way that we both could through a glance into the whole we already saw something in same – a porcupine at least part of same!

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We still waited quite a while if same might appear again or even come up but that never happened – Nevertheless we saw same again running inside the hole which must already had been a huge den as we only saw the porcupine running into the same direction.

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The whole time we waited at the entrance of the den no car appeared and also the remaining drive it was comfortable quiet on the roads. As our nocturnal friend obviously started to oversleep the day we left this quite thrilling hole and only when we left I saw a lot of porcupine quills spread all over the ground so I already had noticed right at the beginning who might have been the occupant of this den!

At Engelhardt dam we made another stop although only right at the beginning as the other loops did not look too trustworthy after the floods but here we were rewarded with a close encounter of a waterbuck family with an extreme impressive Mister

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and a couple of lovely ladies

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which gave him the idea of doing something very special.....

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but she was only interested in feeding.

to be continued with a very scary moment.......


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:40 pm 
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A large zebra herd could also be seen and we simply had to stop for this mom and her little one

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and this comical poser.

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Shortly before our body break at Letaba more waterbucks appeared through the dense vegetation.

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After our extreme short break in Letaba we were back on the road and needless to say that we soak the views on the tar road in the Letaba riverbed in as they are always so breathtaking – a pity was that at that early hour nothing could be seen and soon we reached the turn off into the S95 were Timon had to break suddenly as a cute crested barbet could be seen on top of a bare bush

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Funny was when the wind came from the back to view its crest blowing into the other direction

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and whilst Timon was busy in photographing our feathered friend I spotted another one in the next bush – a Jacobin cuckoo – Indeed a bird that not come across that often

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and right in the end nearly at the high water bridge we were soon caught in a traffic jam as a large family of ground hornbills were running around on the ground.

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The two cars in front were obviously also passionate birders as we as they photographed as well frantically the emboss of our feathered friends and it was not that easy for us to find a gap to also take some pictures

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but we had luck they finally had enough from the cars around them and started to move on one after the other into the bush right behind our car.

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For sure we stopped once more on the high water bridge on the Letaba and looked into all directions but did not stay that long and carried on further North via the H1-6 which was extreme quiet today and not even a bird could be seen for a long long time.

Finally we spotted something grey in the thick grass and were happy to find a very relaxed warthog

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feeding on the grass on the road side as normally when on their own they are very skittish

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but this one allowed us to stay and capture same from all possible angles

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and to watch him feeding with full cheeks.

Somehow we were surrounded by thick mopane bushes and stopped for a cute elephant calf close to our car

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and then somehow the hell broke loose.....Suddenly from everywhere more elephants appeared which prior were invisible for us

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and we soon were surrounded by the scary low grumble from extreme close and trumpeting all around!

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The matriarch stopped frantically and started the obligatory threaten gestures in front of us and made clear that all other members of her herd crossed the street immediately and safely in front and behind our car.

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As suddenly as the spook started same was nearly over although we both still were breathing strongly and the adrenaline were still rushing through our venes whilst all elephant of this large herd assembled together also with the little ones between them and started to flap ears.

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From own experience I know that a horde of enraged women is already a serious problem but to be trapped in a circle of around twenty enraged elephant ladies is another house number.

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Gladly we all calmed down relatively soon and the large herd trotted of still trumpeting and we were more than glad to escape from such a scary moment but the next one was already on its way.....

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We were already looking very much forward to drive once again the Tsendze loop and we already drove quite a while on same when right in front of us a huge – they somehow grow even huger in the North or after a close encounter – elephant bull was trotting in the middle of the road into our direction and another car on his coat-tail.

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So we had no other possibility in putting the reverse gear in and drove backwards in the same way the elephant came closer but this took longer and longer and nearly endlessly and we hoped that same might decide to disappear in the mopane bushes but same was not in the mood to do so, so still a bit excited about our elephant encounter a couple of minutes ago we turned around and postponed the Tsendze loop to next year!

to be continued.....


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2013 12:42 am 
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The S50 along the Nshawu waterholes brought us more elephants – gladly far away and a short side trip to Mooiplaas waterhole offered a lovely sighting of two younger ostriches

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which somehow got obviously bored and were busy with a sit down strike which was nevertheless funny to watch.

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Their parents were a bit farer away busy with feeding but these two youngsters were in the mood for some break.

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Nothing more could be discovered on this large open area around the waterhole and so we returned back to the S50 and hoped for not so many close encounters with elephants that remaining day. Suddenly Timon braked again frantically and we found this little chap on the ground about to cross the street.

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Needless to say that the minute we stopped same did the same and remained in this shock numbness for quite a couple of time, however, we waited as long as this little cutie crossed the street safely – I really love the curled tail!

The remaining drive on that road was once again quiet although it meanwhile cleared up and the sun was out and the air started to glimmer again. At Nshawu marsh hundreds of cattle egrets could be seen although the vegetation was dense and thick.

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Finally we could also capture a lovely posing purple roller extreme close to the road on a bush

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and we somehow made it back to Tihongonyeni which is always a brilliant place to simply sit and watch and after Timon found a suitable area for the car we did so and let the animal come which for sure were once again plentiful around such as wildebeests

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and zebras in large groups all around.

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We even discovered the elephant carcass of the elephant which has been hit by a lightning only weeks ago and felt a bit sad about the poor boy.

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In the pond where normally the elephants were taking their baths hundreds of white storks, a couple of red-billed teals, Egyptian goose and even African spoonbills were around, however, a bit far away for decent pictures and due to the heat the colours were a bit blurred but we got our pictures at a later visit to Tihongonyeni!

A lone tsessebe walked by but was not in the mood for stopping so we only got this shot from the back.

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A bit disappointed for us was the fact that this was the only one we saw that day that close and as it was around noon the parade of the elephant bulls started who suddenly appeared from everywhere to quench their thirst,

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taking their bath as well as mud bath and for a small chat to a good friend.

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Whilst watching around and soaking in everything I saw out of the twinkle of my eye something moving close to where we parked and very well camouflaged – Another juvenile kittlitz plover

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who we already discovered last year nearly at the same spot.

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After two hours at our favourite place in this area it was time to leave and the whole drive to Mopani camp nothing else came across. Due to the fact that we only rebooked our accommodation shortly prior our departure from Shingwedzi to Mopani a bungalow with view was an illusion and we were happy enough to get rebooked after all. So we got the key to No. 57 which was lovely and large and had a nice bush view with no inhabited bungalows close by but located right at the turnoff to the staff quarter so unfortunately it was regular traffic all around. Nevertheless we made the best out of it and made ourselves as comfortable as possible.

Around 15.30 o’clock we started to our afternoon drive and first stop was once again at Mooiplaas waterhole but same was deserted and nothing could be seen at all so we did not stay long and visited instead our second best area besides Tihongonyeni in that area the Shipandani causeway and for sure we were not disappointed and right at the beginning simply had to capture this sunbathing little terrapin,

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however, noticed already a lovely goliath heron, a grey heron, a hammerkop and a couple of blacksmith plovers close or right on top of the causeway looking for some fresh fish and from time to time we even could watch one swimming with the still strongly flowing water. If same was lucky it could escaped or even ended in the stomach of our hammerkop friend as same was the top fisher that evening.

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to be continued.......


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 6:02 pm 
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As it was still enough time left we wanted to pay a short visit at the hide itself but first we had to cross a very muddy and washed out part of the road which was indeed a bit bumpy. The hide itself was located lovely but the vegetation far too thick and the water simply too high to trace something worth only this little chap dared to come close enough for a picture but nevertheless the silence at the hide was amazing,

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however, we definitely did not stay that long as the causeway itself attracted us back like a magnet and now the sun stood in the right position and we as well with our car and the only thing we had to do was to wait and press the button – the grey heron was at the look out for some dinner

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and one of our reptile friend had it easier same only had to open its mouth and finished!

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And this was not the only one hanging around at this brimful feeding trough at least it was funny to watch seeing the crocodile putting its head on the causeway.

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A couple of cars arrived and after a short time of watching around they crossed the causeway and either visited the hide or drove further and each car chased the crocodiles as well as our feathered friends away but gladly for us after it quiet down again all of them returned to their favourite positions

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and we had a great time in switching our views from grey heron, to hammerkop and black crake in the background and crocodile in the foreground and it was difficult to decide where to look first we were simply lucky that we still had a lot of time to simply sit there and enjoy.

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Finally the grey heron was successful and caught a huge fish

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and same was extreme excited about it and walked proudly with its catch out of the water to the other side of the causeway and throw the fish on the ground and examined same carefully even the hammerkop who caught one smaller fish after another already came closer and checked the fish out but obviously found the size simply too large.

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We ourselves only asked the question to each other whether the grey heron would swallow the fish or would same be too large?

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Obviously the question was unnecessary as the heron gave already the answer -

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funny to watch for us but for sure not for the fish was the fact that we still could see the silhouette of same in the neck of the grey heron!

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With such a fisher’s luck also the crocodile started to smile!

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Also the hammerkop returned to its favourite hunting area and we saw same permanently gulping and the time we looked at same it must already have caught twenty or thirty fishes.

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Unfortunately the water dikkops and a green backed heron were too far away and too good camouflaged to take decent pictures and we also spotted a group of waterbucks coming slowly but permanently closer.

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I love the rough stony area but also the riverine vegetation at exactly that spot as only a couple of meters further down you once again will be surrounded by deep and thick mopane bushes. Now it was also time for us to leave and we said good-bye to our now satisfied and full grey heron and finally had luck in taking at least one shot of the green backed heron who finally dared to come closer.

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Pity was that the goliath heron stayed the whole time during our stay a bit far away but we already decided to return tomorrow again to that awesome spot and try to get some close ups of same or even other birds.

Back in camp Timon lit the braai and gladly with the nightfall the rush of cars quiet down and with no neighbours around we definitely enjoyed the louder getting night orchestra of the bush and this was unfortunately already our final braai under the African sky

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and needless to say that we sat outside still quite a while and even got visited by a praying mantis.

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to be continued with our last full day......


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2014 2:45 pm 
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Saturday, 23. February, 2013 - Mopani

Finally our last full day dawned and although we were not in the best mood to leave the park already tomorrow so we made the best out of the situation and even all the sightings which came across today would be noticed much stronger as this might already be the last ones we had. We headed straight to Tihongonyeni but did not came far as on the H1-6 we soon had to stop as a family of hyenas were blocking the road

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for sure these gorgeous youngster had a high cuteness factor especially when looking so curious and innocent.

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I remember having met this clan as well on this road already last year where we had some nice cuts in one of our tires afterwards and still having the clan we met in Satara in mind so we watched out a bit more this time

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but gladly today our concerns were baseless - Lots of smaller ones could only be seen with only two or three teenagers and only one adult

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although these two looked a bit naughty already!

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From time to time the younger ones were chased back into the den whenever a new car approached but finally curiosity always won.

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The innocence in person at least at this age!

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We cannot remember having ever seen such a large group ever before at least most of the members must have been still on the search for some breakfast and we were so busy in watching into each directions that we could not remember at all how many of them we were facing presently

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especially the amount of youngsters were incredible and most of them were nearly at the same age.

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Also the babysitter and the only adult we saw that morning was extreme relaxed and was extreme unstressed while observing so many lively youngsters.

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We as well could not take our eyes from these cute little ones

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and although the sun did not rose finally

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the buttons of our cameras started to glow already and our fingers could not be stopped to press same.

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However, finally we had to cut loose ourselves from this clan and headed forward and we even did not forget this year to take a picture of the signpost of the Tropic of Capricorn.

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After two days which started extreme overcast and relatively cold today we had the best weather and finally also the sun was high enough to illuminate everything into some more than lovely golden light - We stopped for this majestic

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and curious looking wahlberg eagle

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and could hear once again the famous "plop" sound of the black-bellied bustard and finally could capture same in the typical pose.

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Finally we arrived at Tihongonyeni, the sun was in the right position and although the zebras, wildebeest and elephants could not be seen at this early hour we enjoyed to be there and having Big "T" all to ourselves. After quite a while a couple of black-backed jackals appeared out of which this one was still extreme sleepy

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whilst the other one was a real poser and compared to the other overgrown parts of the park in February the area around Tihongonyeni was not that dense and thick and we finally could capture the jackals in the best light and at the right position

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and this was indeed one of the best jackal sightings we so far had in Kruger as sometimes they are far too skittish or too shy to stay long enough for a decent picture or sometimes the grass is far too long to even see more than their heads but this couple was extreme relaxed and for us after the incredible hyena sighting earlier this was already the second highlight we had that day.

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This one even got in stalking mood eye in eye with a fly - The other one sniffed extensively at the ellie carcass but finally joined the other one

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to be continued.....


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:14 pm 
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who finally found something very interesting in the grass.

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Eventually both of them could no longer to be seen so time for us to capture some birdies such as this red-billed teal

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and we even could hear the roar of some lions not that far away and although we still stayed quite a while we never saw them so time for us to carry on and we decided to discover today the S50 into the Northern direction as far as we were able to drive as same was still closed from one point there onwards.

At last still on the S143 another of my wishes came true today because we met a beautiful kori bustard in the best light and without any disturbing grass and same even allowed us to come close enough

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for some nice close ups and did not to run away.

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But it somehow got even better and same spread its wings

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and we already thought that same might now take off but after some unenthusiastic attempts whilst flapping the wings and even jump up

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same decided to use its legs for the rest of the day

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and cleared the road whilst walking into the grass and looking for some food instead - What impressive bird!

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Far away we could see another large buffalo herd but indeed too far away for any pictures - Gladly to the relatively short grass and lack of thick bushes we could look extreme far in that area. On the sporadic bushes we found on the road side the birds were having a ball and even allowed us some nice close up shots without flying away. Lots of groups of European bee eaters could be seen

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either close or in groups on some bald bushes where they do look like blossoms.

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The magpie shrikes were also present and somehow looking a bit miserable

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and also some lovely amur falcons taking a rest

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could also be found whereas most of them were already in the air high above circling around which was a great sighting to watch.

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The further we drove at last on the S50 Northwards the more thicker the vegetation got and the mopane bushes finally made it difficult to spot something in the distance but that is something I like about Kruger the changing vegetations on the same road between only minutes. So the further we drove the quieter it got but this lovely juvenile bateleur on top of a bush made us stop again.

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We dared to pay a visit at the Shibavantsengele look out although the road leading to same did not look that trustworthy

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and was surrounded by thick mopane bushes - Just to give you an impression!

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The view from the look out was indeed nice but besides mopane bushes as far as the eye can reach nothing else could be seen. Somehow we were happy to be back on the S50 as same was by far easier to drive than the bumpy washed out road which leaded to the look out. It did not take long then we reached Grootvlei and there our drive on this road was finished as from here the road further North was finally closed but gladly we could pay a visit at the dam itself

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which was extreme full and compared to the only one time we have ever been there where there only was a mud puddle left it looked so beautiful and totally different and simply lovely with so much water left.

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to be continued.....


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:21 am 
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On the couple of dead trees which stuck out of the water hundreds of cattle egrets could be noticed -

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Would love to know at what this one was looking at?

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Most of them where busy in cleaning their plumage and some of them really inspected everything very carefully one of them finished looking under its wings and then the next one took over and did the same thing.

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For us funny to drive was right on the dam wall at least we did not see any sign that this is forbidden nor any barrier and noticed also other tire tracks on the ground and so we supposed that same was allowed. You are located far higher on that wall and one is having a brilliant overview without any disturbing vegetation.

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At the end of the dam there was even a possibility of turning the car around and drive back on the one lane dam. A grey heron landed next to the cattle egrets

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and so did an Egyptian goose.

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After a very joyful break at the dam we drove back on the S50 and here we only met the first car it was as if we were alone in the entire North of the park. Meanwhile it heated already up again and it was great to have a sunny last full day in the park although on the other hand it got already extreme hot again. On our way back to Tihongonyeni we saw quite a number of wattled starlings flying up in flocks a few times like the red-billed queleas and finally resting in a thorny bush where we could take a couple of shots.

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At "Big T" the usual hustle and bustle predominated everything and also all the usual suspects could be seen again which kept away only hours before.

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At much as we loved the morning atmosphere earlier that morning with the golden light and the couple of black-backed jackals

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we loved the bustling activities of the savannah animals in the midday heat

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although it mystified me extreme from where all the animals came in that short time as the area there is quite open and in the morning we did not even see raising dust at the horizon.

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Gladly for us the birds meanwhile awoke and so we were able to capture a pair of knob-billed ducks

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and the group of white storks which was about to consolidate as one after the other landed and after only a short time hundreds of them could be found around the water hole.

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For us it was still far too early to return back to camp on our last full day so we decided to pay a visit at Red Rocks and check the S52 out but before we arrived there we had to pass the monotonous S144 where only thousands of mopane bushes could be seen and the only other sighting we had was a lone elephant bull hiding under the only few other trees we found in this area.

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To our surprise the S52 was open and must only have been reopened shortly after the January floods as the road itself looked like same has only recently be graded. Normally that first part of the road leading to Bateleur camp is our favourite with some nice loops allowing to overlook the Shingwedzi riverbed from time to time.

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Well this year it looked overall a bit airy as quite an amount of beautiful trees had been washed away and we also found on the road itself lots of debris far away from the riverbed so the road itself must have been flooded completely - Scary what the power of water can do! A big thanks here to all the hard working people in the park to grade and repair all the roads which had been damaged after the floods in such a short time and although it was a quiet drive besides this pregnant looking steenbok lady

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we loved it nevertheless as we once again were all alone on the road. Finally we reached the causeway crossing the Shingwedzi connecting the Southern and Northern parts of the S52 and to our great joy same was still in good order and although lots of water was still overflowing the causeway same was drivable and we already saw from far nearly ten really large scary hungry monsters waiting for some lunch.

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So we parked right on the causeway as we did not expect much traffic and enjoyed the view far away

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and closer

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and even extreme close!

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On some rocks close by we spotted another green backed heron who was also on the hunt and observed the water flowing between the two rocks where same was on the look out extensively

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but same was also looking carefully into the direction of our hungry reptile friends.

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to be continued.....


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:29 pm 
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Luckily same was finally able to catch some small fish for lunch compared to the size of the fish the grey heron catch last evening this one was by far smaller but made for sure the green backed heron happy.

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Nearly motionless four of the crocodiles remained as this one floating like tree trunks in the water although the head in anticipation for some lunch was sticking out of same - indeed scary creatures and we never saw that much of them and so large ones during our this year's trip than ever before.

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As we were still all alone we observed the crocodiles and the green backed heron quite extensively and also soaked in the whole atmosphere always having in mind that this was our last full day.

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The green backed made itself comfortable on the rocks whereas the crocodiles appeared to come closer.

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We were already thinking about to drive also the Northern part of the S52 but we supposed that same might still be closed nearly at the end where you have to cross the Shingwedzi again as we were about to leave gladly a car right from that direction appeared on the scene and after asking the passengers we got already the answer that at exactly that part the road is still closed so we drove back the same way we came and therefore paid a visit at Red Rocks which looked like as if no flood only a couple of weeks earlier devastated that area

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in the contrary it looked extreme peaceful!

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After we stretched our legs a bit we drove slowly back via the tar road and due to the fact that we did see nothing the whole drive and it was already not that late we paid a final visit at Tihongonyeni for the third time that day already! Today it was again extreme hot and the air at "Big T" started to glimmer already and even this ostrich male was already suffering under the heat.

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Although the zebras seemed to love that weather and quite a large number of them where around and so we could not take our eyes from them as they are always great to watch

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even with the Lebombo mountains in the background!

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Although we always do hope to spot some rarer antelopes here we so far managed only one sighting of a single roan there so this is also a reason to return soon as maybe one day we will hit the jackpot there.

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Nevertheless the usual suspects did very well, especially this comical poser performed like mad.

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We did not ask same to pose like this or that he did it all by himself! Maybe it was a lady close by who he wanted to impress

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or he even know how to pose when the large lenses are directed at him and finally the show was over

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and he even stood up to enjoy the applause a bit better.

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Finally we also decided it was time to leave and with an ultimate wide look all around we said good-bye for nearly one year.

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Due to the heat and our time we spent already in the car for this day we were a bit too tired to do an afternoon drive and as it was not that late we decided to pay also a final visit to the Shipandeni causeway and although we did not expect to see that much we were definitely not disappointed as our feathered friends are always hungry despite the heat or time of the day. Needless to say that the grey heron was still hanging around

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to be continued...


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