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Kaapsedraai's Lone Ranger on recovery trip. KNP, Jan/Feb '14

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Kaapsedraai
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Kaapsedraai's Lone Ranger on recovery trip. KNP, Jan/Feb '14

Unread postby Kaapsedraai » Fri Feb 21, 2014 10:15 am

During Dec’14, SO, my little girl and I visited Kruger spending 18 days staying in a number of camps i.e. Skukuza – Biyamiti – LowerSabie – Tamboti – Mopani – Satara – Berg ‘n Dal – Pretoriuskop. We were spoilt with some great sightings and special moments, but unfortunately technology let us down. :( Every day, I downloaded some pics from my cameras via laptop onto external hard drive. Arriving back home, I cleared all the blurs and as I tried to copy all my pics onto another hard drive when the hard drive just stopped working. :wall: I later learned that my hard drive had crashed and data recovery not possible. 18 days of Kruger moments just gone – 3 cameras used consisting of 250 GB of pics. We were all extremely disappointed. :x :cry: :cry: :cry:

After we recovered emotionally from this disappointment, SO suggested :idea: that the only way to do some recovery work is that I must return to Kruger alone, but must do this soon. :hmz: Time was not a problem as I went on early retirement on 1 Jan’14 and starting my own business. Well, here we are…managed to spend another 12 days in Kruger as a ‘Lone Ranger’ on a ‘recovery’ trip. :D

As most people returned to work, school and daily lives, the park was relatively quiet with lots of accommodation available, but as I was alone – I opted to do it in low cost style by staying in safari tents, hide and huts – which I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed. 8)

Well, I flew in from Cape Town to Lanseria where I hired a Toyota and travelled to Skukuza via Nelspruit on Monday, 27 January 2014. I was greeted in Nelspruit by heavy rains and on the road via White River to Hazyview saw two serious motor car accidents taking place :shock: . Arriving at Phabeni gate and rain cleared up a bit, I was happy to arrive safely just before 17h00 :whistle: .

On this :note: , :hello: everyone who is joining in to see what happened during the 12 days while visiting various camps: Skukuza – one night in Sabi Sands – Tamboti – Shipandani hide – Mopani – Satara – Lower Sabie – Crocodile Bridge & Bush walk – Skukuza. :thumbs_up:

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These three African architectural style huts embody the spirit of the new South Africa and interestingly, this entrance at Phabeni (meaning ‘shelter’ in Sotho) is relatively still new as it was only built in 2002.

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As I crossed the Phabeni stream, I just cannot forget about the great Kingfisher pics I took during our previous trip, but on this day it was very quiet, so I pushed on for my first stop – Lake Panic before booking in at Skukuza.

Now, what will my first sighting be :whistle: . Driving along the S1, I heard an interesting quark-quark- sound which gets loader as I scanned the sweet veld. At first I thought that there is something under tyre making the sound as the surface touched the tarmac, but then I saw it….
“Hey, you in the champagne coloured Toyota, could you please move along, can’t you see I am busy to impress a mate and denote my territory? Quark – Quark…”
“Ok, Mr Black-bellied bustard, but before I move along and as you be my first sighting on my visit just arriving from Cape Town, will you please be nice to me and do another quark for me so I can show it to the other forumites on SAN Parks website as we all are nice people, you know - please!.”
“OK - Only one, then you must go as I got some serious business to attend to. I will do for you a nice guttural quark followed by bloated throat and show you how high I can stretch my neck. But then you must go – only one take!“
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The weather prospects for nice bird photography at Lake Panic did not look good with these clouds rolling in over the southern region of the park as I progressed along the S1 greeted by Impalas and Zebras.
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Approaching a small herd of zebras, it seems the one looking at me intensely, whispered to the others, “Fellows, you just keep on grazing and I will keep an eye on this alien. Wait, he stopped, seems he also got one of those barcode scanner which goes click-click. Ok, he is finish and seems to be harmless - there he goes.”
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Tufty:“Hi Zebbie, I do not want to gossip, but what is that guy’s plans? Why did he stop?”
Zebbie:“Tufty, you are just overly nervous, he is not speeding and got a camera – surely just an admirer.”
Tufty:“An admirer you say?! Does my hair look ok? Oh dear, do not tell me he took a photo with my tuft looking like this?”
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It began to drizzle slightly as I turned off to check out what is happening at Nyamundwa Dam doing the lollipop cruise. There he is – the Fish Eagle.
Fishigle:“Were you not here a month ago? I thought you had taken enough photos! You must get this done quickly as my feathers are getting wet and I will rather fly off than you taking a photo of me as wet Fish Eagle – I got a reputation to look after you know…”.
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Next stop – even if it rains, I urgently need a dose of Lake Panic’s beauty and tranquillity… 8)
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Re: Kruger NP – Jan/Feb 2014: Lone Ranger on a recovery trip

Unread postby Kaapsedraai » Sat Feb 22, 2014 10:20 pm

Reaching the Lake Panic turn-off about 5 km from Skukuza on the H11, I scanned the bushes and trees for the resident leopard which we had the privilege of seeing twice during our Dec visit – once parading on the tarmac at the intersection one early morning and again as we exited the gravel road, posing for us in a tree about 20 meters away, got down and walked in our direction and took position right in front of us to quence its thirst from one of the water puddles in the road – it was just one memorable moment. :D

This time round, no sight of the allusive one as I arrived at Lake Panic with only a few minutes to spare before gate closing. Aaagghhh, it was great to be back at last - Now I am in Kruger!
Overcast with occasional drizzle, the area was very quiet, with the Fish Eagle spotted on the far back of the Lake.
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On the right-hand side of the hide, our most photographed model with its beautiful rusty brown feathers and powder blue beak – African Jacana was getting ready for the night.
“Hey, Jaca, what are you up to? Where are the others?” - I asked
Jaca replied: “I don't know, I guess they all getting ready for a rainy night. I am still here as this is my home and taking my late afternoon bath, get my feathers nicely preened and then getting some of the smaller ones nicely in place – see!, like this!.”

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Jaca walking around restlessly with its long toes looking around: “Just, look at this? Must I also do all the gardening around here? I have bathed already, and now must do the cleaning as well? ,...but I guess, someone has to do the dirty work! Tomorrow there will be plenty of photographers visiting from all over the world, and then the place must look neat. Let me move this dead leave out of the way - maybe there is a snack hidden here...mmm.”

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“Well Jaca, it is time to go, but tell the others that I will be back here tomorrow morning early and they must come and say hello. Enjoy lilly-trotting” - I replied.

Arriving at Skukuza, I settled in one of the Safari tents located on the perimeter. Very hungry, it was time for something to eat, so I set off to the nearby Selati Restaurant to enjoy one of my favourite chicken dishes topped with mushrooms, avo and feta accompanied with some sangria. For SO’s sake, I enjoyed a delicious crème brule. The station restaurant was relatively busy, but to my surprise, I found completely new management here. During Dec'13, I had a nice chat with the new franchise manager discussing various service related and networking matters and even gave him advice to consult the SANParks Forum and take the feedback seriously for obvious reasons. This time round, the new manager and me had a very interesting discussion on what had happened which was quite interesting. I do not want to get into the detail as it appears to be a very sensitive matter, but will give some further information at the end of my TR when I visited the Selati restaurant again. :cry:

After enjoying a scrumptious meal and the waiter, Excellence, once again giving great service, it was time to get some rest. With the tent's side flap open, allowing the night sounds to enter, a hyena started to make its presence felt close by with it’s characteristic whooop-whooop - sound which travels far at night. Far away I can hear some bush babies which brings back memories of the nice bushbabies pic I took on our first night here in Dec'13 when our friends from Nelspruit treated us to a very nice potjie-kos. The bushbaby family was playing around in the tree just above us allowing for some nice pics. :whistle:

During the night it started to rain and was hoping it clears up by day break…tbc :thumbs_up:
Last edited by Kaapsedraai on Sat Feb 22, 2014 10:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Kaapsedraai
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Re: Kruger NP – Jan/Feb 2014: Lone Ranger on a recovery trip

Unread postby Kaapsedraai » Sun Feb 23, 2014 10:48 pm

It is Tuesday, 28 Jan’14 and the plan was to firstly go to Lake Panic, but as it was still overcast and hyenas being active close by, I decided to do the circle route via the Sabie and Sand River low water bridges and head up the H1-2 – H12 back over the Sabie River returning via H4-1 to Skukuza and then to Lake Panic.

The water levels at both the bridges were rising, but it was still safe to drive over. At the Sabie lower water bridge, the ‘Old Man - Marabou’ was preening himself while some others were minding their own business.
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Arriving at the Sand River low water bridge, it was also relatively quiet and only spotted a lonely Hooded vulture on one of the trees busy scanning the area.
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The H1-2 was very quiet , but as I turned off onto the H12, I met an interesting family. Well, as the leader slowly walked past my car, I tried to pick a conversation with him: "Hello, what is your name? You got a nice large family here….”
He replied by saying: "ôgôg-Bobbiegggmmm” , then stopped, looked behind him to see if everyone is ok and still following. I must say, he was not very sociable, not interested in further conversation at all and just walked off without making any eye contact what so ever. :roll:
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The family followed slowly when I saw some teenagers approaching a water puddle.
Bobbin, the one in front, said to the others: “Hey, chaps, let me show you how to drink water in style! You bend over like this -tail slightly up to keep your balance, your left hand between your legs which must not touch the water. Look like this! The trick is that you must bend your hand upwards…See!”
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Bab-Oon looked at him and said: That is nothing! I can do it even better. Check this out –handstand style, Bobbin- handstand style.! ÔG-ÔG…”
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While Bobbin and Bab-Oon were challenging each other, Babsy ran past them observing their acrobatic manoeuvres with interest. :hmz:
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As I was enjoying these sights of Bobbie’s family, Betsie walked slowly past the car, but Babono ran to his mother, grab her mother and gave me an intense look: “This is my mother, not yours. I love her as she gives me nice food, catch my fleas and grooms me, so do not think about it!“ They then moved off slowly. What a stare that little one was giving me. :shock:
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Followed by Betsy and her Babono, another mother and baby followed - it was B’abby with Babino on her back. Just look at that face – only his mother could love him. Then Babino shows me how it is done: “You see, you grab with your hands on mothers hair on the side, but grab enough hair to get a grip, With your feet and toes you grab on the upper back legs like this. Now you are ready for a ride, even if a leopard chases us, I will have a firm grip. That is how they teach us from early age in survival class.”
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Further down the road Betaday was lying in the road after a heavy night taking a quick nap. I guess he must have been on security duty the whole night in the rains: "Can't they just wait a few minutes so I can take a power nap. those hyenas kept me awake the whole night, then it was not pleasant sitting in the rain either, but I guess someone had to be watchman. I do it for Baboonhood..."
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It was really interesting meeting Bobbie’s family as they moved up the road towards the H1-2 when I decided it is time to move along to see how things are looking from the Sabie River bridge.
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Kaapsedraai
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Re: Kruger NP – Jan/Feb 2014: Lone Ranger on a recovery trip

Unread postby Kaapsedraai » Mon Feb 24, 2014 11:38 pm

Reaching the Sabie River bridge with its beautiful view over the confluence of the Sabie and Sand Rivers on the western side and on the eastern side, only spotted two Saddle-billed Storks in a distance on a sandbank. These were the only 2 Saddle-billed storks I saw the entire trip.
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As the sun was trying to make its way through the clouds, I turned right on the H4-1 towards Skukuza. Who would I find a few meters down the road, Bobbie’s nephew – Vervie.
“Hi Vervie!” – I called. He looked the other way and then started to search for a flea that must have not sit still on his stomach and irritating him.
“I just met your half-brother, Bobby, and family” I said to him – when he rolled his eyes and flipped the eyelids so I can clearly see the white eye-shadow on the lids. I guess he was trying to tell me to get lost.
Sitting up-straight on the rock as if it is specially cut and placed for him there, he responded “Look, do not insult me! If you know what is good for you, you better take a hike. See these teeth – well …you do not want to find out. I am going nowhere, this is my pozzie, so you better get going.”
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Well, with those teeth, I decided to rather leave Vervie alone and in peace.

After few kms further down the road, suddenly I saw something moving in the bushes next to me. I stopped, reversed some distance back and then waited. Well, the tactic worked as Mr Whoopie appeared from the bushes as the sun started to stick its neck out through the cloudy skies.
“Thank you for the welcome sounds last night which I enjoyed listening to” – I commented.
Whoopie looked at me as he lifted his head for a second and then stood still: “That was a pleasure. Did you like my new whop-whoo-hoop version of the sound last night? Well it is a new sound track I released in the wild.”
"Well, Whoopie, I thought it is bit different. I do not want to gossip, but I guess, you had Betaday worried last night as he was watchman for Bobbie’s troop and I just saw him taking a power nap on the H12 – very tired -so this new sound-track must have caused a stir.”
Whoopie look to the back and then replied: “Then the new sound track version must have worked as I got their attention – yippie. I cannot chat with you further as the other might think I am not all there talking to humans. By the way, you do not have a left over bone for me? Whooobye” .
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Another car was approaching fast and he decided to rather take cover and disappeared into the bushes.
As I moved along, I could hear a Purple-crested taraco calling and stopped to try and locate it. Then quiet…ai, wish to get a nice picture of these beautiful birds – maybe later or another day.

Close to Skukuza, one of the Park's CIA agents was keeping an eye on my movements. On every road you find them sitting as if they are policeman watching quietly what you are doing…or is my imagination running away with me.
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Next stop, Lake Panic….
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Re: Kruger NP – Jan/Feb 2014: Lone Ranger on a recovery trip

Unread postby Kaapsedraai » Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:00 pm

The sun started to shine through the cloud cover and I am on my way to spend some time at Lake Panic. As I reached the turnoff to the staff village, I started scanning the bushes for some leopards, which we spotted about five times before from this point to the Lake Panic's turnoff. Still no sight of Spotty :( .

Arriving in the hide, I scanned the area and there we are..., 'hilda's favourite' sitting high up in the tree. Just a pity there are so many branches to get a nice clear shot of this beautiful bird. It is also a favourite of my friend, ICEMAN. 8) :hmz: I just wonder where the Fish Eagle's partner was as they are always two sitting in this tree or at the back of the Lake.
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In front of the hide on the opposite bank, two crocodiles were enjoying a bit of sunlight.
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In the mornings, it is time for the Water Lilies to open up, and some Busy Bees were eager to collect some of that yummy stuff.
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It was time to move to the left of the hide to see who was visiting. I recall in Dec'13, a Thick-billed Weaver was busy building its nest in the bush, but this morning, no sign of him. (One of the pics I loaded at the time of visit in Dec)
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Suddenly a chirpie and friendly visitor landing on the reeds next to the hide: "Hallo Mr Prinia"
Prinia looked at me with his head turned to the side and said: "Hey, there is another chap that also sit here often and I posed for him a number of times - I think his name is Jan...Did he share my poses with you on the Lake Panic thread?"
I responded: "Yes, Prinia, you were looking lovely and he has some brilliant pics of you posing for him. Can I take a pic to show the forumites? Jan will not mind.."
Prinia open his mouth and said: "Ok, but quickly as I must go - just check all the bushes are wet from last nights rain - hope to get something to eat now, but before I go, give my regards to Jan van Wyk."
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That was now a friendly fellow. I scanned the Lake a few times and suddenly saw something bluish flew across to the bushes on the island. It is our colourful friend, Mr Mala-Chite. I was glad to see him around, now he must just come closer. Now it the patient-game one needs to play. :D

A few minutes later, the patience was rewarded as he came and sit on the same bush where Mr Prinia sat earlier.
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"Hello, you beautiful birdy" I said.
He turned around and looked at me and then to the side at which point I could not resist to take a :cam: of his pose. :dance:
"Good morning", he said by making that up-and-down movement they always do. Then he asked me: "Have you seen any fishies in the water as I am very hungry. I make you a deal as I saw you here yesterday afternoon also and in Dec'13, so you must be a good guy. I will in a few minutes, after checking another spot, fly to the other perch on the other side of the hide, perhaps there is something to eat, but then you must be ready for the action."

He flew off and after a few minutes I noticed he flying to the perch on the other side. Fortunately, there were not a lot of people and I quickly went to the other side to get a nice position.
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"Yippy, here are some fishies! Are you ready! After I have done a 'poop', then I am taking a dive - ready!" :idea: Tip - before the kingfishers take off, they will most of the time 'poop' and then you get ready to take an action shot of the 'take-off'.Image

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"Thank you Mala-Chite, that was a great catch and hope you enjoyed your breakfast as I have enjoyed photographing you"
"Well I must go now, hope to see you soon" - Mala-Chite responded as he flew off.

I have been in the hide for nearly 2 hours, and I got an appointment in White River at 11h00, so I had to leave. As I walked out of the hide along the pathway to the cars I saw some beautiful birdies in the bushes. Look at that - Blue Waxbill busy collecting seeds or something.
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Close-by in another bush a family Green-winged pytilia was busy preening and enjoying the sunny period.
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On this lovely note, and a great time at Lake Panic, I left and making my way towards Numbi Gate along the H1-1...next episode some sightings along this road. :thumbs_up:
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Kaapsedraai
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Re: Kruger NP – Jan/Feb 2014: Lone Ranger on a recovery trip

Unread postby Kaapsedraai » Wed Feb 26, 2014 9:36 pm

Nine days later I will be returning to Skukuza for a 2 night stay when I will share some more Lake Panic beauty and also a ‘new guest’ that was revealed to me. I can guarantee it will be the new photographic model in days to come, but on :hmz: :note: , I had to leave to be in time for my appointment in White River.

I decided to head down to the S1, take the S65 to H1-1 heading for Numbi gate. I was hoping for some wild dogs as we saw them Dec’12, but the S1 section and S65 were quiet with some game, but all far and overcast weather not helping either. In reaching the H1-1, I turned off to see what is happening at Transport dam. In Dec’13 we spotted some endangered ones here and other great sightings.

Reaching Transport dam, a flock of White faced ducks were sitting on the one sandbank and some waterbuck grazing in the distance.
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In the tree standing in the dam was full of weavers and other birdies while a Great white egret minding his own business and busy with preening.
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Nothing further happening, so I head down to the Numbi gate and took the S11 to have alook at Napi rocks.
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Further down the road, a nice view of Ship mountain on a cloudy day.
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Time became important and with no great sightings on the road, I pushed to get to the gate. It started to drizzle again and had to concentrate very hard on the very bad 24 km road from Numbi to White River as there are a lot of potholes and some large trucks. I was actually exhausted when I reached White River from all the concentration.

After my meeting, I took the R40 to Acornhoek which is slow going due to all the people and cattle on the road, but the road condition was great. From Acornhoek I need to get to a Reserve in Greater Kruger for 1 night as I had some other meetings scheduled in the area. The road condition was just unbelieveably poor and was literally driving at 10km/hour. I reached my destination just in time for a night drive and hopped on immediately. I had a great time here and got some nice kitty cat sightings the evening. The next morning early we went on a morning drive which was an amazing experience as we met leopard of 9 months and saw him meeting up with his mother - how they play and then followed them till we reached a waterhole. From here they jumped into a dead tree and this was brilliant for photography. We were entertained for quite some time when they both walked off and disappeared in the thick bush.
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On this note, I departed and after having other meetings, I left for Orpen gate to book in at Tamboti for 1 night. So, coming up next, some Tamboti sightings…
Last edited by hilda on Tue Sep 02, 2014 8:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Edited to comply with rule 1.
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Re: Kruger NP – Jan/Feb 2014: Lone Ranger on a recovery trip

Unread postby Kaapsedraai » Fri Feb 28, 2014 7:03 pm

DASSIEDELIGHT, I am glad you are enjoying the animal conversations approach I am using in this TR. Let see if I can keep it interesting. Thank you for kind words. :dance: :D

Next episode slightly delayed due to other priorities.... :whistle: :whistle: :whistle:

In the mean time some more pics of my special moment with the leopards...
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Re: Kruger NP – Jan/Feb 2014: Lone Ranger on a recovery trip

Unread postby Kaapsedraai » Sat Mar 01, 2014 10:23 pm

It is Wednesday, 29 Jan'14 and after an exiting morning and time spent with the leopards and some meetings, I arrived at Orpen gate at about 14h00 to book in at Tamboti where unit 25 allocated to me.

Here is also a view of the accommodation outside - just love the bush feel and view over the Timbivati river from the deck.
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During Dec'13 we stayed in the ones with the bathroom attached and the river was dry, but just look how it looked like end Jan'14.
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On this point I want to share a Tamboti experience or scare we had in Dec'13. We took an afternoon siesta and SO was lying on the bed with my daughter on the couch on the one side of the room. We got a nice box where we pack all our groceries in like coffee, sugar, 2 min noodles, porridge etc. This box was standing on the floor in front of a microwave which is placed on a small table inside the tent. We kept the door open for fresh air and enjoy the bird sounds. I went for a body break when it happened. I suddenly heard a loud scream as SO called for help :big_eyes: , I ran out of the bathroom, finding a massive baboon running out of the room, over the fence, when it go and sit in the dry river bed looking at us while enjoying the packet of sugar and 2 min noodles - biltong flavour (nogal). SO got such a fright when she looked up straight into his eyes right at the end of the bed....After this we packed out laughing and we poured ourselves each a nice strong one.... :lol: :lol: :lol:

Well, back to my solo trip. After I unpacked, I took a circular route down H7 - R106 Rabelais and back on H7 to the camp hoping to spot some cheetah, wild dogs and leopard. At the T junction from Tamboti with H7 some Wildebeest with their young were grazing.
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On Rabelais road, I stopped at the Rabelais hut. Currently, I am reading Tol Pienaar's book 'Goue Jare' (Golden Years) and think back to the time when this hut was at some stage the gate before Orpen gate was build. It is just interesting to read up on the history on how the Park developed over the years. :thumbs_up:
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Along the road I got a road block of the Park's models - those with the 'long legs and beautiful eyelashes'. They were very friend as I moved slowly closer and closer. Although they were looking down on me, it was not intentional, just their way of looking at you suspiciously.
"Hello Gerry" I greeted softly. He gave me a stare while busy chewing on some leaves and not moving out of the way. On him a few Red-billed oxpeckers were busy and doing what they do best.
"Gerry, please do not go as I want to take few photos of your companions busy keeping you clean"
Gerry replied - "OK, I will stand still so they do not fly away and also let one come and sit on my head, but then you must take a photo of my face for 'model of the year' entry."
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"That was now very nice of you and thank you." and on this note they moved out of the way so I can continue with my drive.

While trying to spot some African green-pigeons, as spotted on our previous trip, I saw about four Southern yellow-billed hornbills in the road. It appears that some were fed by the mother. But the one that caught my eye was this one trying to pick up a millipede. He struggled quite a bid as the millipede kept on curling up and moving resulting it falling out of the hornbill's mouth. I guess this must have been a youngster practicing. For me it was one of those comical moments while observing this situation. :D :D :D
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No cheetahs, no wild dogs on the road as I made my way back on the H7 to camp. However, there were a few posers for me along the road worth sharing - European roller and also a Southern carmine bee-eater.
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Close to the intersection back to Tamboti, a Black-backed jackal made its appearance from the bushes walking past my car.
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On this note another great day came to an end as I lit the fire for something on the coals and enjoying a glass of red vitamins.

I was hoping for the regular Tamboti visitor to arrive as my daughter had such a great time watch the Honey Badger enjoying some avo on the balcony, lying flat on his stomach with avo between its front feet and hear him enjoying himself "schew-schew-schew-schew". Her is a pic from cellphone we managed to capture in Dec'13. Unfortunately, he did not visit me at Tamboti during my one night stay over. :cry:
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The next day, I took the road up north to Mopani, but will go via Satara, Olifants, Letaba, Sable hide and then book in at Mopani for first night in the Shipandani hide (with uninvited mozzies :D ). So the next few episodes will be a slow drive up north... :thumbs_up:
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Re: Kruger NP – Jan/Feb 2014: Lone Ranger on a recovery trip

Unread postby Kaapsedraai » Sun Mar 02, 2014 8:06 pm

Thursday, 30 Jan'14 - another cloudy day and well rested, but missed the roaring of lions we experienced in Dec'13 while staying at Tamboti. This day I must do a 270km trip to Mopani, but let see what the first leg to Satara on H7 produced. :D

At the Tamboti-H7 intersection, the wildebeest with their young were spotted some distance from the road. Two Black-backed jackals were lying in the grass and now and then the one lifted its head with its ears pulled backwards to concentrate on the noises around him (by the way :roll:, it was not me responsible for the noises.:) Not to far off, I met this friendly Red-crested korhaan (I think) although a bit shy to show a bit more of himself by coming our of the long grass to the road.
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Another neighbour was also parading the grass fields next to the tar road a few meters further "A very good morning, Mr Crowned lapwing" - I greeted friendly. He first turned around and walked away and then came back, stood still and gave me a stare. "I just met your neighbour, Mr Re-crested korhaan".
"Did not tell me he is still around as this is our territory!"- Mr Crowned lapwing uttered a loud grating 'kreep'. "Let me call the others so we can sort this out."
I was so surprised by upsetting him that I had to correct it "No, he was on the other side of the road, not your side. Sorry that I have upset you this early in the morning. By the way, just want to warn you, some BBJ's lying further down at the intersection."
"You want give me a heart attack ('kreek'), as long as that korhaan stays on that side of the road, then it is ok, but thank you for the warning about the BBJ's" ..... 'kreek...kreek' the Lapwing while I managed to get a nice pic of him and said good bye.
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I continued on the tar road as I went past the S106 and the near the thick trees section of the road a few km before the Look out point over the Timbavati river, Mrs Nyala came strolling over the road as she followed a smallish herd that already went into the thick bushes.
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I stopped on the bridge where the breach occurred with the Jan'13 floods and enjoyed a view of the Timbavati river. In Dec'13, we had an amazing sighting of more than 30 wild dogs lying in the dry river bed after PetraJ told us about it when we were at Satara. Although, I lost all my pic, my daughter of 9yrs managed to take a few wild dog pics with her Canon Powershot camera which I could share. It was an amazing sight to see so many Wild Dogs together.
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After this trip down memory lane of our Dec'13 visit I and made my way further down the H7. Well, I met a large thick skinned one busy minding his own business and grazing next to the road. I spend a few minutes admiring this large endangered one. Come to think of it, that they can charge at a speed of 40km/hour if they need to. :shock:
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The White Rhino was not alone and was accompanied by Red-billed oxpeckers looking for some ticks and parasites to fill their tummies and giving the rhino a free grooming session. :D
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Besides the large ones, some of the smaller creatures were also making their way safely across the busy road. With the wet weather, these Giant snails made their presence felt and one cannot miss them on the road - 'going nowhere slowly' it appears. :D
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This Giant snail was not alone, as this Terrapin (I guess) also wants to cross the road, but he was 'crossing over' to the opposite side as that of Mr GS :hmz: . I guess the two could have share some notes of the territorities if they met on the road... :hmz:
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Close to the S12 turn-off, some Impalas were grazing and the veld full of these beautiful red flowers when I heard a snorking-noise. It was one of the Impalas trying to get my attention "Hey, you in the hired Toyota, where in Kruger will you see a pose like this of an Impala between the flowers?" - he 'snorked' and looked at me in a posing posture.
"Well, Mr I, you are correct and what a beautiful setting this is - let me take a photo and will share it with the other Forumites as they will enjoy it as well." - I replied before taking a few photos. He stood for a while posing for me and then turned around looked at me and off he went to join the herd.
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The stretch between Nsemani dam and Satara a Wahlberg's eagle was sitting on top of one of the trees scanning the area for some breakfast. Well he had the same idea for a cup of coffee and something to eat 'on the move'.
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Arriving at Satara I went to the Day visitors are for that nice cup of coffee and something to eat. After a leg stretch, it was time to explore the H1-4 on my way to Olifants camp...tbc :thumbs_up:
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Re: Kruger NP – Jan/Feb 2014: Lone Ranger on a recovery trip

Unread postby Kaapsedraai » Tue Mar 04, 2014 4:27 pm

On my second leg from Tamboti to Mopani, I took the H1-4 tar road from Satara to Olifants and enjoyed a variety of birds, animals and some smaller creatures. :D

The first stretch of road is open grassland where one will spot some grazers. It is then also no surprise that I encountered a roadblock or should I rather put it kindly - a Zebra-crossing
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After they gave me that suspicious glance, they slowly let their head down and then made their way across the road as if they were not concerned and I being harmless (not sure if it was the colour of the car or the make?). As usual, I slowly cruised past them and got a very thirsty Philly being nourished by mom-Phyllis while keeping a watchful eye on me - just in case.
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Further up the road, saw a car stopping and as I did not see anything, I enquired -well, there he was walking behind the bushes as the grasslands made a slight dip - one of the Kings. My waiting of a few minutes did not pay off as he assumably went to lie down and I needed to get going, anyway.
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Cruising along slowly scanning both sides of the road and field, I saw a number of White Storks in the field. Then just a few meters further, well another roadblock - this time some more White Stork.
As I pulled the car sideways and stopped to take a few photos, I can see they becoming nervous.
"Hey, Storkies, I do not trust this machine that stopped there! What should we do?" - commented Red-legs.
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"Well, I am not going to take any changes! You know me, I had some scary experiences from speeding machines, so..." - and Whitey took off.
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"Now where should I land as I do not like those other Storkies that much in the grass and I also, I do not want my feet wet - jik."
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"Lovely, here is a nice tree, far enough from those machines and I can have a nice bird's eye view of what is going on"
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Well, all the others started to follow Whitey and I was allowed to continue my cruise. Just before Ngotso-dam, two Blackies were backing each other in search for something to eat, but not before some marking of the territory needs to be done, so by the way.... 8)
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Turning off to Ngotso-dam, which was full and rather quiet, I spotted this Weaver busy building a nest.
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Back on the road, some impies were grazing and some standing under the trees resting, but these two had some extra energy and busy with their own challenge which I enjoyed and they not minding me taking a few photos. :D
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Well, just went past some White Storks a few km away, something moved in the road, so I had to stop and check it out - "Well, well, well - Quarcky, you must get going as I have just been past a whole flock of hungry looking White Storks"
"Quarck, are they here? Then I must head for the vlei. Sorry I cannot talk further - as I had to get going" - he replied in low voice.
"What is your name?..because I had never seen you before?", I asked.
Do you know what he told me....even after I gave him the friendly warning of danger lurking - "Check with your friends on the Forum. There are few bright forumites that will help you!. I am sure they love a quiz to guess who I am?" Now, I ask you.... :hmz:
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On this :note: I arrived at the Olifants River bridge....tbc :thumbs_up:
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Re: Kruger NP – Jan/Feb 2014: Lone Ranger on a recovery trip

Unread postby Kaapsedraai » Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:58 pm

Continuing from Ngotso dam to Olifants camp, spotted a Black-shoulder kite on a tree in the veld.
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Near the Olifants river bridge, this Lesser Kestrel was relaxing on a tree and scanning the area for prey.
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The Olifants river was full and flowing strongly as could be seen from the bridge..
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I decided to take the gravel road, the S91, to Olifants camp as this road has been a good road sighting wise in the past. I crossed a causeway over a nice flowing stream and enjoyed a Pied kingfisher catching fish.
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I switched off the car standing there on the causeway for a few minutes just enjoying the sound of water flowing and the scenery around, especially this lovely Rock fig tree while the Pied was busy searching for food.
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The view of the dam wall in the Olifants river.
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A pair of beautiful giraffes were grazing near the road.
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At some point, as one moves up to the tar road, one gets a nice elevated view back of the Olifants river when I noticed two elephants enjoying a bath.
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Arriving at Olifants camp, this Elephant statue located near the shop was sponsored by a company I worked for.
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At the bottom of the restaurant area, there is a nice viewing area and the two elephants were still enjoying a bath and seems playing in the water. One could only see two black dots in the river at the back.
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After a quick stop at Olifants camp, I proceeded along the S93 and S46 along the Letaba river to Letaba camp for my next stop on my way to Mopani...- where I also got to spot the first YR during my recovery trip ...guess who this could be... :hmz:....tbc
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Re: Kruger NP – Jan/Feb 2014: Lone Ranger on a recovery trip

Unread postby Kaapsedraai » Sun Mar 09, 2014 11:21 pm

Still on day 4, 30 Jan'14 travelling from Tamboti to Mopani via Olifants. I took the S93 gravel road and then along the river on the S46 to Letaba for my next stop.

The S93 is well known for its abundance of giraffe and I found one lying with its head up and alert while the others were browsing. Some other general game was spotted along the S93 when I reached the beautiful scenery where the road passes through two trees - the Von Wiellighs Baobab and Leadwood tree. It remains a very special spot with the view of a few years ago when we saw some giraffe in the road reaching for a leaf - such a memorable and rare moment , for me. :lol:
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The view we enjoyed during our Dec'11 trip. :D
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I reached one of the streams, Mfuleni, which was flowing strongly and some activity attracted my attention. A Green-back heron came flying over from the one side to the other and sit in the shade of a tree scanning the strong flowing water underneath it.
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While enjoying the Green-back heron's movements, a Malachite kingfisher flew past and sat on a low hanging branch, my heart skipped a beat from excitement and as I just managed to get the camera to focus, it flew off again. :wall:

...But I was not disappointed as I was rewarded with some other action at that time - Mr Hamerkop.
"Keep that noise levels down, can't you see I am trying to concentrate on catching fish" - he whispered while giving me the stare.
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"Sorry, I did not mean to cause any disturbance" - I replied in a soft apologetic tone.
"You see, it is a lot harder for us to catch fish than to just wading in shallow water stirring the mud with our feet and probing in the water with our bills until a frog moves which will then give their position away when it is tickets for that froggy." - he educated me.
"But, Mr Hamerkop, may I ask as to why you are then hammering yourself by struggling to get a small fishy when you can get a nice juicy large froggy?" - I wondered.
"Look, man, I am different to the other birds around, if I may say so myself- for example who got as strong and big head like me? and above all, I can also do some acrobatic manoeuvres with this large beak of mine. Let me share with you my secret, seeing that you appear to be a regular on this route and a bit ignorant." - he responded with his big head.
"I guess me, and our forumite friends, will be very much interested to hear this secret and I can assure you, it will be safe with us" - I replied.
"You can share this only with the forumite friends, ok! Well, for me it is like a three course meal, these tasty fishies are like the first course - Hors d'oeuvre before I will go my favourite shallow muddy pool for the main meal, nice juice tadpole after which some desert at another secret spot for some sort of invertebrates. Enough said, I am hungry, but let me first show you my acrobatic manoeuvres- seems you are not believing me" - sharing it in a soft secretive tone.
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"Howzthat!" - he responded proudly. "Now that I have convinced you, it is time for you to leave as you are making the fishies nervous in the water and nervous fishies in my stomach can give me cramps, so, it was nice talking to you, drive safely and be careful for the BigFoot in the area ." - bidding me farewell.

Driving along the S46, I slowly approached a car, and guess what! A car got a YR on. I first went past, then stopped and reversed to find out who it was. It was Crested Val and the Chick! Can you believe it. We had a nice chat and then I had to explain why I have been naughty :naughty: by not having a YR on my window. :roll: The truth is, my YR I used during the Dec'13 trip, my daughter cut up in two i.e. the one end being used for her dolls and the other one to play with the cats. So, I bought another one, but when I got home, I realised it being a light green and not yellow. :( With the limited time, I thought of getting one in White River and completely forgot. :redface: So, Crested Val was so kind to offer me one of her spare ones. :clap: Thank you Crested Val - and it was really nice meeting you.! On that note I set off to Letaba.

I went through another two streams where some more birdies were posing nicely for me. A really friendly Woodland kingfisher sitting still for a change close by allowing me to take a few :cam: . :dance:
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Not far away, some White-fronted bee-eaters were sitting on top of some branches.
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Just as I was starting to relax, as in the past we often had some elephants on the road, one large and beautiful elephant appeared from the bushes making his way to the river.
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After another wonderful drive from Olifants, I arrived at Letaba to get some refreshments for my trip to Sable dam and then the H14 to Mopani. I love Sable dam and as I received some sightings via BB for a few days at the time of lions on a zebra kill near Sable dam, the decision was made to check this out...tbc
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Re: Kruger NP – Jan/Feb 2014: Lone Ranger on a recovery trip

Unread postby Kaapsedraai » Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:57 pm

Day 4, 30 Jan'14, continuing ...last leg from Letaba to Mopani via Sable dam and H14.....

As I exited Letaba camp, some large birds were circling the sky and when reaching the four-way junction, one of these birds came down and I managed to get a photo to see what it was - Marabou.
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The H9 was extremely quiet, but managed to spot some more ellies in a distance.
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Further down the road, while relaxing in cruise control mode resulting from the quietness, I suddenly had to slam on brakes. ... :big_eyes: :wall: :wall: too quick across the road it went....a near 2 meter long beige coloured snake, perhaps a Black mamba or Olive grass snake. This is one of the creatures I love to spot when in Kruger, but one is enough per trip.

Now awaken and adrenalin levels up, alertly I set off to Sable dam following some BBM's sightings that some lions were spotted on a zebra kill few days ago and they still spotted in the area. Close to where one can start seeing the different koppies, another Wahlberg eagle near the road.
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Arriving at Sable dam, the dam was the fullest I have ever seen it.
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Driving the back loops to get a different view of the dam, some buffalos were lying in the water enjoying and cooling off. On the dam side, some more buffalos entering the dam for a quick dip.
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No sign of the lions on the zebra kill yet, so I took a drive towards Phalaborwa gate and then spotted some cars parked next to the road. Something was down in the dry river bed and at first I did not know what it was when one car moved off allowing me to get a better view...and then I saw it...a female lion relaxing. I did not see the others nor any signs of a dead zebra i.e. vultures, hyenas etc.
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After I had spent a few minutes at the lion sighting, I turned around and took the H14 tar road to Mopani. Along the road, some more koppies located on this road which provided an opportunity to spot a beautiful Klipspringer overlooking the fields from a large rock.
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At the H14 - S131 intersection, I was hoping to spot some hyenas as we have done in the past, but no sign of them this time round. However, I saw a car next to the road which I approached slowly as the ladies in the car was looking at something in the tree. They were just arriving in the park and booking in at Shimuwini Bushveld camp for a birding weekend.

Along the tar road, I encountered another :shock: , this time a green snake which appeared to be a Boomslang, moving very fast across the road and again, too late to get a photo of this scary creature.

A few km's before the S133 intersection, a beautiful scenic view of the Shivulani river could be enjoyed with some hippos in the pool far below.
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Crossing the Letaba river, seems the annual Blacksmith lapwing meeting was taking place with a large number of them congregating on the sand bank.
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The Letaba river was full and flowing strongly.
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On the other side of the river, a Goliath heron was slowly walking from pool to pool in search for something to eat.
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Along the road I saw more cars with 'bird watching' signs on them. Tempted to took the S136 Boulders camp road (which is only for Boulders residents) to Mopani via Shipandani hide road, I decided to rather obey the rules by keeping to the tar road to Mopani. Reaching the turn-off to Shipandani hide, the road was closed with cable and no entry sign. I was very :doh: surprised as I was booked to stay there that night and really looking forward to this experience.

What happened next, to be shared in the next episode - did I managed to sleep in the Shipandani hide that night or not... :hmz: :hmz: :think:
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Re: Kruger NP – Jan/Feb 2014: Lone Ranger on a recovery trip

Unread postby Kaapsedraai » Sat Mar 15, 2014 10:21 pm

Reaching the turn-off to Shipandani hide, the road was closed with cable and no entry sign. I was very :doh: surprised as I was booked to stay there that night and really looking forward to this experience.

As it was late afternoon, I immediately headed to the Reception, but along the stretch between hide and camp turn-offs, I drove extra slowly hoping to spot the cheetah again we spotted in Dec'13 very near the camp turn off. I still managed to have a pic of that cheetah on the cell phone....this happened to be one of those special moments as he was walking with us and then went and sit scanning the area. :D
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Arriving at Mopani reception - the question:"will I be able to sleep in the hide or not. :hmz:" Well, the very helpful staff at the Reception contacted the maintenance section, who phoned back to report that the water levels on the causeway had dropped and they will open the road - so - I can sleep in the hide :dance: :dance: When the reception staff saw that I am going to sleep in the hide alone, they were very surprised :sup: and just shook their heads and smile at me as they were saying "You must be crazy".

They then told me that the bedding with lantern will be delivered to me at the hide. The next question will be what will I eat? As SO enjoyed a delicious pizza in Dec'13 ordered from the Mopani restaurant, it thought it appropriate to get myself a nice take-away. While waiting for the pizza, I relaxed in the lounge area overlooking the Pionier dam with one of those cold bottles 'filled with vitamins'. It is interesting that when visiting Kruger, I am drawn to buy beers that I had never tasted, to educate myself in this field. :D YUMMY

After my 'vitamin-shot', having relaxed a bit and pizza delivered, it was time to make my way slowly to the hide. With a pizza-smelling car, I first made a turn at the Mooiplaas waterhole. The area was surprisingly quiet, but saw a few birds on the gravel section. (I stand to be corrected on the id of these birds)
Seems to be a female Violet-backed starling...
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...and a African Pipit.
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Back on the tar road before turning off on to the S142, I was forced to stop as one camouflaged creature was strolling across the road while :roll: rolling his eyes as if he was saying: " you dare...I am watching you!."
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The chain at the entrance of the S142 was removed and could not wait to see what is happening at the Shipandani causeway. The first sighting I got was these beautiful heart-shaped nose waterbuck. Seems they enjoyed some peace and quiet for a while when the road was closed, and now I have disturbed the peace - "Sorry guys, I know I am the first to drive past, but promise to respect your space and the peace you enjoyed. I am just sleeping at the hide, if you want to come and visit" - I replied in a calm sympathetic tone.
All the heads lifted and turned towards me while chewing on some grass - "Yeah, your are ok, we just scared of those other hairy and bushy bullies around here. By the way, what is that cheezy smell coming from your car makes us nauseas - please go as we enjoying our grass."
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I arrived on the hill overlooking the causeway through the Tsendze river and was treated with this scenery of water levels and that of the hide.
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On the one tree, a juvenile Black-crowned Night heron was resting as I made my way over the causeway.
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Arriving at the hide, the bedding and lantern was already delivered, so I started to get ready for the interesting night ahead. After unpacking the bedding, I noticed that there is no mosquito net as they have at Sable hide which one hangs up in the roof and then covering the bed. I enjoyed some pizza, then suddenly heard a load commotion coming from a tree next to the hide. I peeped out of the hide and saw these Arrow-marked Babblers were responsible for this 'noise'. They then flew off and sat on tree in front of the hide when I just sat and looked at them while listening to this Babbler choir babbling away... :D
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The hippos decided to join in with their grunting sounds - just so Kruger. :thumbs_up:
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It started to get dark and although I was tired after a long drive, I was alert and did not want to miss anything. My senses must have worked overtime the night....but also my hands trying to deal with a few mosquitos and itching where some managed to get a bite of me. :cry: But it was not that bad - see I am writing this TR now, so I survived the mozzie-attack that night. :D :D :D

You probably want to know if anything happened the night..... :whistle: :whistle: :whistle: let me say this, I was wide awake to determine where some of the sounds were coming from .... :shock:...tbc
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Re: Kruger NP – Jan/Feb 2014: Lone Ranger on a recovery trip

Unread postby Kaapsedraai » Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:48 pm

It started to get very dark in and outside the Shipandani hide, while the lantern produced some sort of light during the night inside. The tabard – candle was also lit in an attempt to keep some of the mozzies away. Because it was so dark outside, quite humid inside the hide with no breeze and the hippos seemed to have taken to the bush to graze, I crept in for the night. 8)

Although I dozed off slightly, an hour or so later I was awaken by a far-away growling sound :shock: . Then I heard it again…and again…silence for a short while as I was trying to locate the direction from where this was coming from :hmz: . The next growling was closer and then another even closer :shock: . My heartbeat started to increase as I eventually realised it was lions – probably a mating pair. The problem I was having, was that I could not determined the exact direction from where the sound was coming from as it seemed at point behind the hide and then again on the other side and then across the river. The roaring sound was so load as it made a slight echo sound in the hollow hide. Now, the thought crossed my mind, perhaps they smelled something coming from the hide and making their way here - I will become lion food tonight :pray: .

Eventually I realised, they to be on the other side of the river and moving in the direction of the camp. It is documented that one can hear a lion’s roaring for about 7km away. These lions were roaring and growling the whole night. I tried to record the sound on my cellphone while enjoying the sound of the king of the bush – it was such an amazing experience. :dance:

The one sound I did not hear was that of any animal being killed, as it is definitely not a nice one and stirring up some emotions as I have experienced in Lower Sabie a few years ago. I treasured this moment of being so close to nature with lions so close by and roaring the night away – definitely one of my memorable moments in Kruger. :D

Early the next morning, I packed up ready to go and search for the lions as I wanted to firstly thank them for the beautiful night music and secondly to meet them. As the sun was rising and still cloudy with possible rains forecasted for the day, I enjoyed this spectacular sunrise.
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Naturally, having listened to the lions the whole night and they to be on the other side of the river, I was extremely cautious opening the gate to load my bags into the car. All safe and clear, I took off over the causeway disturbing the Black-crowned Heron as it flew off to the nearest tree. Slowly I took the gravel road to the tar road scanning all the bushes, and then on the tar road, about half way towards the camp turn off, I found them. WOW. :dance:
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I just wanted to jump out and give him a hug to thank them for the beautiful music the night, but :hmz: rethinked my actions –“ I might be crazy sleeping alone in the hide, but not that crazy to hug the roaring one". Stopping near the sleeping lion, I scanned the area for the other one, and then an amazing thing happened that will stay with me forever. The lion raised its head and roared when the other one replied from the other side of the road close to the car realising I am standing right in the middle of them with one on the one side of the road and the other one on the other side slightly in the bushes. This is the other lion.
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Some more roars followed by both of them at the same time and it was as if I was listening to the lions roaring in stereo – one amazing sound close-by :clap: .
About two years ago we spotted two brothers at Mooiplaas waterhole, which made me think that these could be the same two as both of them are male lions and not a mating pair as originally thought. The one’s manes was a lot darker than the other one.
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With no cars in the area, I managed to spend the whole morning with them. The one next to the road got up and walked to the other one after which they moved further into the bushes.
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A healthy looking lion.
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I followed them while making their way in the direction of another pool of water close by. While observing them, some impalas and zebras were making their way across the road in their direction, but the lions were not interested. Must also add that the impalas and zebras also realised some danger lurking and they stopped, stared at the bushes where the lions were for a while and then turned around.
He picked up some potential prey approaching...yummy
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While enjoying the lions, my camera auto focus stopped at something close-by – and Golden Orb on its web.
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Some cars started to arrive and more with bird watching signs on them – all from Shimuwini Bushveld camp who were attending the birding weekend.

The two male lions walked further into the bush, but still staying apart - wished to get a nice pic of the these two beautiful beasts together.
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On this note, I enjoyed a memorable night at the Shipandani hide and an excellent lion sighting early morning. Later the morning, in need for a refreshing shower, I took a chance to visit the Reception asking them if there is a chance for me to book into my unit, although booking-in time is only 14h00. The staff said, no problem as there were nobody in the unit the previous night. The first thing, I made a nice cup of coffee :lotsocoffee: , enjoyed a shower and then I was ready to make my way back to the Shipandani hide to experience the morning activity and to see what is happening at Pionier dam… tbc
Now active - TMNP: Table Mountain's mood today
Now active - KRUGER Dec'14: 14 days appreciation of nature & wild company
Currently - Wildernis Ebb & Flo: 24-27 Apr'15 :lol:
Future trip - Kruger: 10-25 Dec'15


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