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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 12:18 pm 
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Location: Essex, UK. Much too far from SA!
Hi carolv

More great pix :thumbs_up:

Love my little namesakes :D

Also love the monitor, always an impressive creature!

What luck getting a Red-billed Woodhoopoe in the open :thumbs_up: Usually they are busy right in the tree trunk and hard to photograph. :thumbs_up:

More please :popcorn:

DD

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KNP SEPTEMBER 2014
4/5 B 'n ' Dal
6 Skukuza
7/8 Tamboti
9/10/11 Shimuwini
12/13/14 Shingwedzi
15/16/17/18/19 Letaba


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 1:56 pm 
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Carol v, I had a bit of catching up to do, but what a pleasant use of time. Your episodes are bumper filled with great sightings. Those cheetahs are breathtaking and I just love the images of the elephants playing in the water. Looking forward to more. KEEP IT COMING!!!!! :popcorn:


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 2:26 pm 
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Thank you again everyone. We really do appreciate all your kind comments and it is our great joy to share our photos with you all.

Dinkybird - many thanks for your explanation for the closure of the Mananga Trail.

I have just written up the next day of our trip and SO (WildImage) will sort out the photos to accompany it. Not sure where the last week has gone - despite hitting the ground running, I just do not have enough hours in my day!

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... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 3:41 pm 
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21st November

Having heard the wind blowing hard through the night, I was not surprised to see the weather had changed for the worse when we got up this morning. The sky was dark and cloudy, the wind definitely on the cool side. I quickly made up our flask of coffee, packed a few munchies and we were back on the road. We took the tar heading north, stopping by the river area as we went along. Much quieter than yesterday but found Saddle-billed Stork, Hippos, Spoonbills,

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Little and Greater Egrets, a tortoise rushing across the road,

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Grey Heron and Sandpipers. By the time we had reached the Letaba bridge, the rain had also arrived.

Stopping on the Letaba bridge, we got out of the car briefly to check the river bed – Waterbuck and various Ellies about – but did not tarry for too long as it was decidedly damp.

Keeping to the tar road, we soon came across a large Buffalo herd and parked up to watch them as they munched their way through the bushes and eventually crossed the road.

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Further north we took the H15 Giriyondo road in the hope of finding some of the rarer antelope. Lots of Zebras

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and Wildebeest and then a group of Tsessebe.

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It is a long time since we have driven down the H15 and, even then, had never continued for very long – partly because we do not usually have the treat of such a sturdy 4x4 and also it could be busy with people dashing across with boats in tow as they raced towards the Indian Ocean. Although the road was quiet we continued as far as the Makhadzi Picnic Site – it was still a chilly morning and a comfort break was in order. We were the only car here although we spotted a couple of staff on the edge of the site. We were somewhat intrigued about the number and size of the buildings here. Perhaps someone could explain – does it have a special reason for them? Some history of which we are unaware? Not sure if it was because we were the only visitors but it had a sort of strange atmosphere...but then, maybe I was feeling a bit super-sensitive that day!

Back on the track to rejoin the H15, we headed east for a short while as it looked as though there might be a river crossing – certainly the line of large trees seemed to line up either side of the road. Just a muddy patch however, with a Green-backed Heron patrolling

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and a Fish Eagle was settled in a nearby tree.

We decided to turn back and head back to the tar but were soon stopped by a Red-crested Korhaan displaying for us in the middle of the road. What a fabulous sight it was and just wish I had been able to capture it on video.

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Red-crested Korhaan by WildImageSANP, on Flickr

Continuing on, the Zebras were grazing in the open area by the tar junction. Heading south lots of Little Swifts in the sky, a European Roller posing and a Steenbok caught our attention. At the bridge the Ellies had moved on and were replaced by Hippo, Little Egret, Yellow-billed Stork, Egyptian Geese, Fish Eagle and a Spoonbill in flight.

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A solitary Terrapin inched its way across the road – I’m sure he would have been safer crossing under the bridge.

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Back at Letaba camp I cooked a late breakfast to warm us up. The temperature had reached 21 degrees but the rain made it feel much cooler. Obviously we had been spoilt by the very hot days further south and I really do like the heat as all my family and friends will confirm!

This was our last full day at Letaba and we wanted to drive up to the Manthambeni hide this afternoon. Passing Waterbuck,

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Giraffe, Baboons and 2 single Bull Elephant along the way, we finally reached the hide. What a difference all the rains earlier in the year had made. Plenty of deep water but much fewer sandbanks for the waders to use. Like everyone else, we read avidly on the Forum about all the heavy rainfall and sometimes floods but, until you actually get to an area that you know well, you cannot comprehend how much difference these can make. Plenty of water for large Hippo pods, several Crocodiles were stretched out along the central sandbar, a few Ellies came down for a drink but the star attraction for us were the 4 Fish Eagles.

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They flew backwards and forwards in front of the hide, constantly calling out to each other. We had never seen 4 together and were unsure whether they were two adult pairs or one adult pair and their two grown up offspring.

Moving on, we headed south over the bridge, pausing to watch a group of 7 Waterbuck and Yellow-billed Stork. Turning onto the H9 a Buffalo herd filled both sides of the road, soon causing a real traffic jam. We tried our luck along the S131 which was very quiet apart from a single Bull Elephant, then took the S96 and back along the H9 where we soon caught up with a long line of vehicles strung out along the road. A pride of lions were laid out in the bush, mostly sleeping.

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We could see 6 but suspect there were at least 4 more hidden deep in the long grass. It was difficult to see them all but we were shocked when another vehicle drove way into the grass in an attempt to get better photos :naughty:

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and thoroughly upset one male lion who looked very skinny and was limping badly.

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It’s never easy to know what to do for the best in these situations, several of us tried to flash the driver and call out to him to get back on the tar but, if you shout too loudly, you are disturbing the wildlife also. We took a photo of him, others waved pen and paper to indicate that they intended to report him but it all leaves a bad taste in the mouth for everyone else who were prepared to sit and wait quietly for a better chance to see them. As we inched closer to the action, we saw a couple of friendly faces, YRs Wildcatzoo and her SO, who kindly gave up their space for us to get some photos. Huge thanks to you both and it was nice to see you again as we had met up before at Satara.

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Eventually we got back on the road and headed back to camp and be met by some of the resident Bushbucks.

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Time to light up the braai, pour out a glass (or two) of red and talk through our day

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...we also had to pack up ready to move on again in the morning.

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http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=58977Our 2012 Trip Report
... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 8:41 pm 
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Lovely Lion sighting, carol, :clap: :clap: :clap:

love also your birdies, the waterbucks, the tsessebes and the buffaloes :dance: :dance: :dance:


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 8:52 pm 
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Thank you Pumbaa. A pleasure to share with everyone. We really enjoyed the Tsessebe and they were the only 'rarer' antelope we found this trip. Often they can be a bit skittish but as we were the only vehicle around we could just stop, switch off the engine and wait for them to cross the road.

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... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 4:57 am 
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Super sightings and lovely :cam: of all Carol. :clap: :clap:

The Lion does look rather thin. :? ..Such a pity about the inconsiderate person who spoiled it for the rest of you. :rtm: Never the less still a great sighting. :clap:

What a special sighting of the 4 Fish Eagles :thumbs_up: ...must have been awesome to hear them calling to each other. :dance:

:popcorn:

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 9:15 am 
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Catching up on this report. So many wonderful pictures and moments. Absolutely amazing Cheetah sighting. Good reward for getting out early. Sad about the limping Lion and I hope he is back to full strength . Can't believe the rule breaker giving the thumbs up :rtm:

Thanks for sharing

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 10:03 am 
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Wonderful sightings of birdies and an awesome lion sighting :clap: :clap: .

Some people just don't understand what they are doing when driving like that :tongue: .

Thanks for sharing :thumbs_up: .

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 9:58 am 
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Stunning Tsessebe sighting carolv! Very nice Buffalo herd too! :clap: :clap:

Awesome picture of the Waterbuck, and to see four Fish Eagles in one spot is definitely not an everyday sighting! Gorgeous! :dance: :dance:

That poor Lion is so thin and in a very bad state! How arrogant of that visitor to give you thumbs up while transgressing the rules! :evil:

I also love those Bushbuck in Letaba camp! They are so cute! :dance: :dance:

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:32 am 
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carolv, thank you for another bumper episode with great pics. :dance:

The view from the hide over the river, just beautiful and wow - 4 Fish Eagles - must have been a great sighting. :clap:
Beautiful pics of the Tsessebe, buffs and zebras.
I enjoyed the variety of birds around and must admit - never done the H15, so definitely a must do next time for me. :D

You had a excellent lion sighting with lovely pics to go with it. :dance: Just a pity of the one person testing his car off road - always leaving a bad taste. :(

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2014 9:45 pm 
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A few episodes filled with fantastic sightings. Thanks for sharing :thumbs_up:


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2014 7:35 pm 
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22nd November

We were up and ready for 4.30am this morning - quite an achievement for us these days! Our plan had been to do a short drive, come back to cook a good breakfast and then take our time driving up to Shingwedzi. First problem? We had no power so had to ditch making up a flask of hot coffee and it was feeling a bit cool. Never mind, we thought, hopefully it would be all be sorted out when we returned for breakfast.

Heading out down the Phala Gate road we soon met up with a group of Wildebeest and then 3 Hyenas. Past a small herd of Zebra and then found a single male Lion.

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He was close to the area where we had sat with the pride yesterday but we could see no sign of any of them today. Hopefully they had been lucky and had a successful hunt in the night – they had certainly looked in sore need of a good meal.

Looping back along the S131 we spotted a Wahlberg’s Eagle

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and then more Zebras, one of which was a young foal with hiccups which made us smile.

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Otherwise it was all quiet and we did a quick run up to the Letaba Bridge and found Hippos, Egrets and Goliath Heron.

Back at camp our hopes of electrical reconnection were dashed but one of the staff advised that a different part of the camp did actually have power so off I wandered, food and utensils in hand, to try and cook some eggs and bacon. Having found a community kitchen, I got myself organised and turned on the hot plate. Is it just me or are some of these hotplates only half working? Although the light came on, confirming that the power was actually working here, the plates just did not seem to heat up beyond luke-warm and it took almost an hour to produce a decidedly shabby looking breakfast. SO had meanwhile loaded up the car and thought I had either got lost or got chatting and forgotten about the time. It was a struggle to get things washed up and put away ready for the next occupants of our hut – we were almost reduced to cleaning the plates with wet wipes! Finally we had to pack up all our food from the fridge and freezer – having done a big shop at Phala ready for our trip north, we had left everything in the fridge until the last minute in the hope that it would not defrost to the point that we would have to thrown some of it away.

With a wave goodbye to Letaba, we headed north up the tar spotting Elephant, Ostrich,

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European Roller, Wattled Starlings, a Bull Ellie

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and his askari and Wildebeest. We took a short detour down to Shipandani Hide where Black Crake,

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Burchell’s Coucal,

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Three-banded Plovers and a large Crocodile were right alongside the causeway. We would have loved to sit with the Croc for longer but we could see a couple of cars approaching behind us and we did not wish to cause a queue. From the Hide we could see Coucal, 2 Black Kites and a Fish Eagle flying overhead.

Conscious of the journey still to go, we did not spend too long in the Hide and headed up to Mopani camp for a comfort break and a badly needed brunch. Both the food and service were good and we enjoyed Fish Eagles

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and Darters

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flying out across the Dam as we were seated by a window overlooking the Dam.

The road north was very quiet, just a few Buffalo and, sadly, a dead Spitting Cobra in the road. We arrived at Shingwedzi much earlier than anticipated so well before permitted check-in time. However, we were still concerned about the food we had in the car and popped into reception to ask if there was any chance of having access to ‘our’ fridge even if the accommodation was not ready. We explained about the lack of power at Letaba and the receptionist was amazingly helpful. She went out to check and came back with our keys and said our bungalow was ready and we were very welcome to go and put everything away there. What a star! Not only that but we found we had been allocated our absolute favourite bungalow in Kruger, the last one along the Back Gate road, number 27.

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There is just so much room here...and it has a double bed! It was the first bungalow we had stayed in on our very first stay at Shingwedzi. It has space, it’s next to the back fence and has a couple of trees close to the stoep so you are guaranteed lots of birds on the doorstep.

Once the car was unloaded and everything found a place in our ‘new home’, we sat on the stoep and soaked up the atmosphere with a cold beer in hand. After reading and hearing about all the devastation which had taken place here, we were so relieved that the camp had been rebuilt and we could spend more quality time here. It is such a peaceful camp – a main camp but almost with the feel of a bush camp.

When we had driven along the road from the main tar into the camp earlier, we had already noticed what a huge difference the flooding had made to the river bed and that so many of those wonderful big trees alongside the banks had been wiped out by the water. Although tired, we decided we must make a short drive out before Gate closure as we were curious to see what other changes had happened nearby. Just pausing on the causeway, we could see how much smoother the river bed had become and fewer places for wading birds to fish in the large puddles. Still, there is always plenty to see in the area and we drove slowly around the small loops of roads close to the camp. Several large Bull Elephants on their way down or back from the river bed,

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Yellow-billed Stork,

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Bushbuck,

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Baboons, a small Nyala family,

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Waterbuck, Vultures

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and Hippos

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were all about to welcome us back in the north. Time, though, to head back to camp and light up the braai and raise a glass in grateful thanks to another great day in the Park.

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... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 3:37 pm 
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Wow carolv, what a lovely, full day you had! Starting with a Lion, Wahlberg's Eagle, Zebra, Ostriches, Ellie! Awesome! :clap: :clap:

Quite a variety of beautiful birds, and I love those stunning Nyalas! Cute little Bushbuck too, and those Hippos are very active! :dance: :dance:

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 5:39 pm 
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23rd November

We awoke to a clear sky and a chilly 16 degrees (yes, I know we’re Brits but I love the heat)! One of the joys of this bungalow is the inside kitchen so I have lots of space to get our coffee flask made up and find something for munchies when we stop on our morning drive..and no chance of the vervets pinching things either. Our plan was to take the main road north as far as Babalala Picnic Site and then return to camp via the S56. Along the tar we founds Giraffe, Vultures, Steenbok, a Secretary Bird,

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Zebra and 2 Kori Bustards.

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Both the Bustards and Secretary Bird are always on my ‘hope to see list’ – we have always been lucky with the latter when in the north but I have, on occasions, been known to drive round and round trying to find a Kori Bustard before we go home.

After a quick pit stop at Babalala we turned south always on the lookout for those huge Ellies which seem to hang around along this road. I am not a great fan of reversing but have had to practice it on several occasions when driving down the S56. Having found Buffalo and Kudu we eventually came upon one of the big tuskers opting for the easy route and reverse gear became the safest option again. Parts of this road are so narrow and don’t always leave much room for manoeuvre.

Eventually we found a nice spot overlooking a waterhole in the river bed and we stopped for our coffee break.

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It was a fairly quiet morning but a few creatures paused to greet us – Ground Hornbill, Woodland Kingfishers, Vultures, Dwarf Mongoose, Nyala, Saddle-billed Stork, Wahlberg’s Eagle

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and a Tawny Eagle.

Back to camp for a well-earned breakfast which we ate out on the stoep. Luckily the temperature had risen considerably to a pleasant 29 degrees. Having quickly washed up the plates and dishes, we were back in the car and heading south towards Kanniedood. Now we could really see what a difference the floods had made to the area – still plenty of water which now flowed without restriction but leaving all too few spots for the smaller birds and waders to feed. Still lots to see though with Cape Glossy Starling, Vervets, Buffalo, Hammerkop, Bushbuck,Ground Hornbill and a large breeding herd of Ellies.

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At Kanniedood Dam, which had been seriously damaged,

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a few more birds – Yellow-billed Stork,

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Marabou and a Little Bee-eater.

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On the road back to camp Greater Egret, Open-billed Storks, Fish Eagle,

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Woolly-necked Stork,

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Nyala, several more herds of Elephant, Hippos,

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Waterbuck and Saddle-billed Stork.

This evening we had booked a sunset drive and were surprised to find just the 2 of us and 1 other guest. Good job this was not Satara as they would probably have refused to go out with so few. We have certainly never been let down at Shingwedzi and, thinking back, have gone out on several occasions with ourselves as the only guests on the drive. It was, however, one of the quietest drives we have ever been on but we had plenty of time to chat with the guide about the camp recovery after the flood and just to sit out in the bush and soak up the atmosphere. Looking at our photos for the night, we only have a scrub hare

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and a chameleon

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– that probably sums it up! Recalling our sunset drive out from Satara where no cats were to be seen, same again tonight. This was definitely a rarity for us here as we couldn’t recall ever doing a Shing sunset or night drive with no cats before.

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... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


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