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 Post subject: Re: kesheshe-Extended Visit to KTP-Sep 2011
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 8:16 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 9:44 am
Posts: 556
Location: Pretoria
Day 16 – September 22 – Morning – Continued

We continued north and got a nice opportunity to observe these red hartebeest digging in a hole in the river bed.

Red Hartebeest

They are diurnal and spend the morning and late afternoon eating. Herds contain five to twenty individuals but can occasionally contain up to 350. They have a good sense of hearing and smell, which make up for their poor sense of sight. Whenever hartebeest are alarmed, they get panicky and look around in confusion before running away from any danger. Once running, the hartebeest can reach a speed of 55km/h, in a graceful zigzagging motion. They have an unusual sense of direction and will locate water and good grazing great distances away. Males are highly territorial and will fight viciously to keep their mates. After a gestation period of 8 months, pregnant females will leave the herd and find a safe shelter where they give birth to a single calf. Lifespan is in the region of 15 years.

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Pygmy Falcon

Pygmy Falcons occasionally engage in polyandrous relationships, where there are more than two adults living together and tending nestlings. There are four potential reasons for this behavior: defense, co-operative polyandry, delayed dispersal of offspring, and thermoregulation (warmth). Corroboration for the last is that in winter African Pygmy-falcons nest further inside the nest of Sociable Weavers, where there is better insulation.

In southern Africa, they are found around Red-billed Buffalo-weaver nests but predominantly nest in the vacant rooms of Sociable Weaver nests, which are large and multi chambered—even if the Sociable Weavers still have an active colony in the nest. Despite being bird-eaters and bigger than Sociable Weavers, the Pygmy Falcons largely leave the latter alone, though they do occasionally catch and eat nestlings and even adults.

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Red-Headed Finch

This bird forages for food on the ground. This bird eats insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. These invertebrates are usually hawked aerially, killed and then eaten.

The Red-headed Finch is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 2 to 5 eggs and they are coloured brown. The bird builds its nest on the ground with figs, straw and leaves. The nest is placed under a bush to protect the young from predators. The Red-headed Finch is mainly found in light and densely wooded forests, where there are Mopane trees. The bird is found in the arid and semi-arid regions of Southern Africa and it can withstand high day and night temperatures. The bird is mainly found in the Savanna grasslands where it breeds and feeds. You can see the Red-headed Finch bird on coastal regions and on the sea shore where the bird will be foraging with other birds.

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Bird (can someone help with ID)

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2011 September KTP - 17 days

I am against hotels in KNP


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 Post subject: Re: kesheshe-Extended Visit to KTP-Sep 2011
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 8:51 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 9:44 am
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Location: Pretoria
Day 16 – September 22 – Afternoon

We arrived back at camp and were told that the water issue had been fixed that we reported this morning. We were excited and looked forward to having a bath but to our surprise when we turned the water on we had the same problem hot then cold – very frustrating.

We had been advised that they were working on the units not before we arrived in KTP but only when we booked into KTC. They were working on the unit next to us so it was quite noisy. We decided to have a light lunch of cheese and biscuits then peaches.

It was now hot so we decided that a sleep would be a good idea. We awoke and left camp around 3pm. We travelled south as per normal stopping at each water hole which were all fairly quiet. We then decided to go and visit the barn owls and boy had they grown in the last 2 weeks. While SO was taking some photos of the owls my attention was caught by the following:

African Wild Cat

Eats small mammals, birds, reptiles and insects are their main prey. Generally African Wild Cats have a litter of 3 kittens after a gestation period of about 56 days. Adults could be killed in fights and by other predators, while eagles and pythons are a danger to the kittens.

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It was amazing to think that it was just lying on the opposite branch. Now we fully understood the value of the barn owl having the nest in a safe place.

Windmill

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Landscape

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We got back to camp and unpacked all the camera equipment as we had decided that tonight we would give everything a good clean. While SO was doing this I lite the braai and started by making fresh bread.

It was so nice to sit on the patio area with a glass of red wine as the final animals departed from the water hole and the sun slowly disappeared to be replaced by the sounds of BBJ’s.

SO eventually finished cleaning the equipment and we had ribs and chips for dinner. After cleaning up we both were fast asleep by 10h15pm.

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2011 September KTP - 17 days

I am against hotels in KNP


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 Post subject: Re: kesheshe-Extended Visit to KTP-Sep 2011
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 8:54 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 9:44 am
Posts: 556
Location: Pretoria
Day 17 – September 23 – Morning

We got up early and followed our normal routine before collecting our permit and departed KTC at 6h30am. Today we bumped into Tony T and had a few nice sightings on our morning drive.

Our first sighting was to be a special one. We spotted to cheetah on the ridge overlooking the riverbed walking north at a steady pace. They were very far away but as they were on the move we decided to turn around and follow then.

After about 45 minutes they got within a reasonable distance of a group of springboks and we thought they might stalk them. To our surprise they walking down into the middle of the river bed so they were now clearly visible to the springbok who ran away a little. We thought that is the end of this. The one cheetah stayed there and the other came to the road and started to walk in the springbok’s direction. This appeared to be working as the springbok were focus on the one visible in the riverbed. The other cheetah got to within say 50-100m of the springbok and charged. All we could see was dust and when the dust cleared the springbok had managed to escape. It was exciting to watch the activities and after this the cheetahs both disappeared over the dune.

Cheetah

Cheetah mothers spend a long time teaching their young how to hunt small live antelopes are brought back to the cubs and released so they can chase and catch them. Unlike most other cats, the cheetah usually hunts during daylight, preferring early morning or early evening, but is also active on moonlit nights. Cheetahs do not roar like lions, but they purr, hiss, whine and growl. They also make a variety of contact calls; the most common is a birdlike chirping sound.

Once a cheetah has made a kill, it eats quickly and keeps an eye out for scavengers lions, leopards, hyenas, vultures and jackals will occasionally take away their kills. Although cheetahs usually prey on the smaller antelopes such as Thomson's gazelles and impalas, they can catch wildebeests and zebras if hunting together. They also hunt hares and other small mammals and birds.

Although known as an animal of the open plains that relies on speed to catch its prey, research has shown that the cheetah depends on cover to stalk prey. The cheetah gets as close to the prey as possible, then in a burst of speed tries to outrun its quarry. Once the cheetah closes in, it knocks the prey to the ground with its paw and suffocates the animal with a bite to the neck.

With a life span of 10 to 12 years, the cheetah is basically a solitary animal. At times a male will accompany a female for a short while after mating, but most often the female is alone or with her cubs. Two to four cubs are born in a secluded place. Their eyes do not open for a week or two, and they are helpless at first. When the mother is hunting, she leaves them hidden, but by 6 weeks of age they are able to follow her. They are suckled for 2 to 3 months but begin to eat meat as early as 3 weeks. By 4 months the cheetah cub is a tawny yellow and almost completely spotted; the tail has bands of black and by adulthood a white tip. The greyish mantle disappears more slowly; the last traces are still visible when the cubs are adult-sized at 15 months.

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2011 September KTP - 17 days

I am against hotels in KNP


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 Post subject: Re: kesheshe-Extended Visit to KTP-Sep 2011
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 7:34 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 9:44 am
Posts: 556
Location: Pretoria
Day 17 – September 23 – Afternoon

After the cheetah episode we explored the water holes which were quiet. We turned and headed north back to camp and on the way had a nice sighting of 5 BEF’s foraging in the river bed for about 30 minutes.

We arrived back in camp just as heat was getting intense and as SO was preparing lunch I took the opportunity to walk around and managed to get the following photos:

Yellow Mongoose

The ranges of males will overlap, but those of females do not. The alpha male will mark members of his group each day and the boundaries of his range with anal secretions, urine and faeces. He will also rub his back against objects in his range leaving behind hair as a visual marker of his territory.

Mating occurs between July and September and after a gestation period of 42 - 57 days, 2 young are born in a cleared out underground den. They are weaned after 10 weeks and are fully grown by the time they reach 10 months old.

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We departed late in the afternoon after a rest hoping to catch up with the cheetahs from this morning. It was not to be and the drive was the quietest of the trip.

Kori Bustard

Kori Bustards are omnivorous birds, although they tend to be more carnivorous than other species of bustards. Insects form a large portion of their diet, especially when they are chicks. They also eat a variety of small mammals, lizards, snakes, seeds, and berries of plants. They have been observed eating carrion. They are purported to eat the gum from the Acacia tree. Discrepancy exists however, as to whether they are eating the gum itself, or the insects that might be stuck to the gum. Kori Bustards are one of the few species of birds that drink water using a sucking motion rather than scooping it up as most birds do.

Kori Bustards are considered to be a Polygynous species. Males often gather in loose lek-like formations on top of low hilltops and display for females. During the height of display, the esophagus in the neck of the male is inflated to as much as four times its normal size. The tail feathers are cocked so as to reveal as much of the white under feathers as possible. The wings may droop down so much that the tips of the primaries touch the ground.

During direct courtship of a female, the male will bow toward her with his neck inflated and bill snapping. He may also emit a low-pitched booming sound. Actual copulation lasts no more than a few seconds, and once over, the male leaves and resumes displaying to attract another female. He plays no part in incubation or in the rearing of chicks. As with all bustards, no nest is made. Rather, the clutch of one to two eggs is laid on the ground in a shallow scrape the female has made. The eggs are pale olive in color with splotches of brown. Incubation is 23-24 days. The chicks are Precocial and able to follow their mother around several hours after hatching. They remain with her well after the fledging period, which is at about five weeks. Sexual maturity is reached (at the earliest) at two years.

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Lanner Falcon

The lanner falcon feeds mainly on small to medium-sized birds, ranging from larks up to the size of ducks and GuineaFowl, and sometimes takes domestic poultry and even other falcons. Hunting often takes place where prey congregates, such as at waterholes or colonial nesting sites, or at grass fires, where up to 20 lanner falcons may gather to feed. Small mammals, such as rodents and bats, may also be taken, along with insects, reptiles, occasionally carrion, and even spiders and scorpions in deserts. The lanner falcon usually, though not always, hunts during the day, chasing or seizing prey in the air or sometimes from the ground, and occasionally stealing food from other birds of prey. Food is sometimes cached to be eaten later, and lanner falcon pairs often hunt co-operatively, with one bird flushing out prey for the other to catch. Some lanner falcons have even learned to follow human hunters, taking prey that they flush.

The breeding season of the lanner falcon varies with location. Breeding pairs perform acrobatic aerial displays during courtship, and build nests on cliffs or rocky outcrops, in quarries, on buildings or on the ground, or use the abandoned nests of other large birds, often in a tree or on top of an electricity pylon. The female lays between two and five eggs, which are incubated for 30 to 35 days. The young fledge at around 35 to 47 days but are dependent on the adult birds for up to a further three months. Lanner falcons are thought to breed from about two to three years old.

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Windmill

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Clouds

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After taking photos of the sunset we starting backing the van as tomorrow was a moving day to TR and we decided to back what we could tonight as we waited for the fire. We then sat and had a very pleasant evening with steak and salads for dinner.

After showering we had a nice sleep.

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2011 September KTP - 17 days

I am against hotels in KNP


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 Post subject: Re: kesheshe-Extended Visit to KTP-Sep 2011
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 8:11 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 556
Location: Pretoria
Day 18 – September 24 – Morning

We were up earlier than normal to pack the remainder of our stuff in the van and have coffee / rusks on the deck as another glorious day started in KTP. It really is a nice place to wake up and enjoy the early morning. We managed to get organised on time and after collecting our permit we departed just after 6h30am.

Our first sighting was cheetahs but they were far away and going away from us. We followed for a while but eventually we completely lost them. We continued with our routine and checked every water hole on the way down south.

Our first sighting was giraffe which came very close.

Giraffe

These long legs allow giraffes to run as fast as 35 miles (56 kilometers) an hour over short distances and cruise comfortably at 10 miles (16 kilometers) an hour over longer distances. The 21-inch (53-centimeter) tongue helps them pluck tasty morsels from branches. Giraffes eat most of the time and, like cows, regurgitate food and chew it as cud. A giraffe eats hundreds of pounds of leaves each week and must travel miles to find enough food. Female giraffes gives birth standing up. Their young endure a rather rude welcome into the world by falling more than 5 feet (1.5 meters) to the ground at birth. These infants can stand in half an hour and run with their mothers an incredible ten hours after birth.

Have the longest tail of any land mammal – up to 8 feet long, including the tuft at the end. They have the highest known blood pressure of any mammal in the world – up to 280/180mm Hg when prone at heart level (approximately twice that of an average human).Their heart beats up to 170 times/minute. Their tongues are black. The life expectancy of giraffe is 25 years in the wild.

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2011 September KTP - 17 days

I am against hotels in KNP


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 Post subject: Re: kesheshe-Extended Visit to KTP-Sep 2011
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 8:33 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Pretoria
Day 18 – September 24 – Morning – Continued

We had entered the loop to 13th when we spotted a leopard walking at the far side of the river bed but heading to the water hole which was about 2km’s away. We decided to drive to the waterhole in the hope that she would be on her way there.

We arrived at the waterhole and nervously waited to see if we were correct. Time seemed to stand still as we waited. After a while we thought we had got it wrong as we could see nothing in the direction she should be approaching from. Just as we were giving up hope she surprised us by approaching from the other side coming straight for the water hole.

Leopard

A litter includes two or three cubs, whose coats appear to be smoky gray as the rosettes are not yet clearly delineated. The female abandons her nomadic wandering until the cubs are large enough to accompany her. She keeps them hidden for about the first 8 weeks, giving them meat when they are 6 or 7 weeks old and suckling them for 3 months or longer.

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2011 September KTP - 17 days

I am against hotels in KNP


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 Post subject: Re: kesheshe-Extended Visit to KTP-Sep 2011
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2012 9:15 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 9:44 am
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Location: Pretoria
Day 18 – September 24 – Morning – Continued

Leopard

When a leopard stalks prey, it keeps a low profile and slinks through the grass or bush until it is close enough to launch an attack. When not hunting, it can move through herds of antelopes without unduly disturbing them by flipping its tail over its back to reveal the white underside, a sign that it is not seeking prey. Leopards are basically solitary and go out of their way to avoid one another. Each animal has a home range that overlaps with its neighbors; the male's range is much larger and generally overlaps with those of several females. A leopard usually does not tolerate intrusion into its own range except to mate. Unexpected encounters between leopards can lead to fights.

Leopards growl and spit with a screaming roar of fury when angry and they purr when content. They announce their presence to other leopards with a rasping or sawing cough. They have a good sense of smell and mark their ranges with urine; they also leave claw marks on trees to warn other leopards to stay away. Leopards continually move about their home ranges, seldom staying in an area for more than two or three days at a time. With marking and calling, they usually know one another's whereabouts. A male will accompany a female in estrus for a week or so before they part and return to solitude.

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2011 September KTP - 17 days

I am against hotels in KNP


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 Post subject: Re: kesheshe-Extended Visit to KTP-Sep 2011
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2012 9:27 am 
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Location: Pretoria
Day 18 – September 24 – Morning – Continued

The leopard we found out on our return was the same female we had caught drinking early on in the trip at a different water hole. I do not know what the odds are on this but we were very lucky as both sightings were around 10h45am.

We continued with the drive and spotted at Kamqua for mid-morning break. We came across a Hilux with a hole in the radiator and it was nice to help them out as we had 2 bottle of radiator fix. After having yoghurt we departed north heading for TR.

Spotted Thick Knee Dikkop

The species hunts exclusively on the ground, feeding on insects, small mammals and lizards. It also nests on the ground, lining a scrape with grasses, feathers, pebbles and twigs. The female typically lays two eggs, and males and females rear offspring together, with both bringing food back to the nest. The birds will even fake injuries to lead predators away from the nest.

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Spotted Eagle Owl

The Spotted eagle-owl is a familiar bird in many parts of southern Africa, and lives in a wide range of habitats. It has an extremely varied diet, eating anything from poisonous snakes and carrion to falcons and insects. It breeds in most months in the year, nesting in a variety of different places. There are usually 2-3 chicks in one brood, up to 6 chicks in good years. Juveniles are only fully independent 4 months after leaving the nest.

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Lion

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