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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 11:27 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thought you would like those, folks...
:mrgreen: :clap: :dance:


Day 7: Shingwedzi to Olifants

So we turned back. These birdies didn't want us to leave the far north of the Kruger... :cry:

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And neither did this Sharpe's Grysbok! (still on Mphongolo loop) - this was our 4th Grysbok for the trip - and all of them were nice and close... :dance: :thumbs_up: :cam:

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We got back onto the H1-7...and this big boy was browsing for breakfast...

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A young Bushbuck came to investigate...

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We cruised around Shingwedzi to the Kanniedood/S50 road. The plan was to take this less-traveled dirt road to Mopani and then on the main roads to Olifants.

A kudu crossed the road...

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And around the next bend there was a car standing in a very strange position. A family was inside, scanning the bushes...

Me: "What did you see?"
Them: "Leopard! Mom and cub, they must've sat next to the road here for an hour."
Me (in my head): "F@#!$@#$%$%^(#^!!! F#$%$%^^%$#@)!@*!!!" :wall: :wall: :evil:
Me (to them): "Where did they go?"
Them: "Deeper into the thickets. They're gone now..."
Me (to my SO): "Lovie...use those good eyes of yours (she's an excellent spotter)...and stare into the bushes..."

The other family starts turning their car around to move off...

...but then...

:popcorn: :popcorn:

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 9:58 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Okay, okay, I'll cut the string on which I left you hanging :lol: :wink:

(thanks for the kind words too!)


Day 7: Shingwedzi to Olifants

...as the other family left, my wife said - "THERE IT IS!"

She had spotted the youngster - it seemed that mom was off hunting and had left the juvenile in the safety of the thickets... :dance: :clap:

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Getting any sort of photographic proof was a challenge here...but I still tried...

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After manoeuvring to-and-fro for a better look at the young cat, it got up and walked right into an even thicket palm thicket...my hopes were dashed... :doh: :cry:

Following my instinct (an important rule for me in the bush)...I stuck around. I moved to a spot where I could see just past the outer edge of the palm thicket, given the direction the young leopard had moved into...

Soon enough...

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"Hellooooo! Peeping out because I'm a curious little kitty!"

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We didn't get to see more of him, as he slipped back into the shelter of the palm thicket after this...
but I quite like this shot. To me it's different from the crisp clean portraits you see of leopards (typically taken in the Sabi Sands - yes I've been there and done that)...it shows something about the elusive and secretive nature of this feline...

What do YOU think? :hmz: :cam:

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We pushed on after waiting another 15 minutes for the leopard to show himself again...long road ahead!

Yet this wasn't the end of our leopard frustration on this trip... :wall:

Close to Nshawu no 2 waterhole near Mopani we came across this...

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The folks standing there told us the leopard had been lying in the tree ALL morning...and only 5 minutes ago got down and slunk away... :big_eyes: :doh: :evil:

We spent some time at the waterhole, hoping he would come for a drink...to no avail... :wall: :roll:

...we pushed on...

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:33 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
So glad you guys like that leopard image... :dance: :mrgreen: :wink:


Day 7: Shingwedzi to Olifants

So we left the Mopani kill-in-tree in despair.

We stopped by Malopenyana waterhole en route to Letaba, some ellies were taking a "lekker" bath... :hmz:

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This giraffe was crossing the Letaba river...

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And a pod of hippos were enjoying the winter sun...

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Close to Letaba we saw 2 LARGE ellie bulls in the river (opposite bank though). One appeared to be a formidable tusker with one tooth...any ID here Aat?? :rtm: :cam:

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We reached Olifants without further incidents...and checked into our bungalow and took some siesta time before it was time for a short afternoon drive...
:tongue:

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:32 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thank you Mel!! :lol:


Day 7: Olifants

So we took the dirt road round to the Balule low water bridge for the afternoon drive. I wanted to do some time on the S90...and besides the bridge still existed then :wink: :lol:

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This ellie crossed the Olifants river...

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The road was quiet, except for the Kori Bustards who are ever-present in this area...

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A big elephant bull was slaking his thirst at Bangu waterhole...

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I like the fact that you can get a nice low perspective on your photos at this waterhole, not all Kruger waterholes are like this... :rtm: :hmz:

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On the way back to Olifants via the S91, Ngotso Weir and the H1-5 we saw some more ellies in the river...

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Sunset!

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We got back to camp and started the fire for the braai...

I had a VERY interesting discussion with my neighbour that night... :hmz: :big_eyes:
They had come up from the south...and he told me about an untouched impala kill in a tree right by the roadside halfway between Olifants and Satara... :rtm: :dance:

So I knew where I would be headed first thing in the morning... :whistle: :thumbs_up: :cam:

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:37 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:41 pm
Posts: 620
Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks for your very kind compliments, everyone!! :P :lol:
We had a great trip with great sightings all around. It helps if you appreciate all the little things and don't just chase from "big5 to big5", eh? :hmz: :dance:

I hope you are READY for what happened the next day... :mrgreen: :whistle: :big_eyes:


Day 8: Olifants to Satara

I made sure I was first out of the gate of Olifants camp the next morning. My SO was going to sleep in and get the stuff packed up, as we had to check out by 10AM and head to Satara where we would be spending our last evening.

I took the winding tar road down to the main road (H1-4), and soon found some kudu...

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A spotted hyena ran across the road before sunrise...

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This giraffe was enjoying some breakfast!

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At last, as I approached the approximate spot where I was told the kill was...I saw some cars standing. Seems the Satara residents got here quicker than me... :hmz:

Alas - the kill was in the tree - with NO leopard... :cry:
The good thing was that the kill was largely uneaten...which meant that the leopard would hopefully return sometime today. I made a decision to drive by here frequently.

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The setting was great - if the leopard was in the tree everyone would be able to spot him... :cam:

I sat there for about 20 minutes, with no kitty showing up. Someone told me about some male lions close to the road a little further South, so I decided to head that way in the meantime...

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 10:50 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks folks...a little more patience needed, as the day was quite eventful! 8)


Day 8: Olifants to Satara

I pushed on in search of those lions...and found them! :mrgreen:

Great lions. Great scene. Great light. What more could you ask for? The wind was gently tugging at their manes. :D :cam:

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I turned around and headed back up to the tree to inspect the kill again...didn't want to miss that leopard! :whistle:

Some zebbies were around...

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The kill was still as I left it. Dang... :wall:

I also saw the species-that-will-not-be-named-and-publicly-posted which was great. :clap:

I heard about some more lion activity on the Roodewal-Timbavati road and decided to head back to Olifants Camp that way and pick up my family.

At the turnoff on the S127 I met someone who said a young leopard had JUST crossed the road here, headed West... :wall: :evil: me and my leopard-misses!! :sniper:

These guys had no sympathy for me:

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Ratelpan hide had the usuals:

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This Fish Eagle was the last exciting thing I saw before picking up the SO and the LO. :whistle:

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...to be continued...
:popcorn: ready?

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 9:51 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 620
Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thank you all so much :k :gflower:

Tobieo wrote:
Morkel, I have no :popcorn: (and nails :twisted: ) left, give it gas .........


I'm getting there! :mrgreen: :whistle: :thumbs_up:


Day 8: Olifants to Satara

So I picked up my wife and 6-month old daughter and headed south again on the H1-4.

The kill in the tree was again exactly as I left it. No leppie in sight... :hmz:

This Spotted Hyena was cooling off at a waterhole (I think it was Ngotso South)...

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It got out and walked towards the road.

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The lion kings were also still lounging around. By now it was becoming overcast, and the air was feeling a bit moist... :big_eyes:

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This lovely Kudu Bull was hanging around close to the turnoff to Timbavati picnic spot.

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The rest of the trip to Satara was less eventful.
We arrived at about 12pm and checked in. It was starting to drizzle slightly.

My SO and I had a quick discussion.

We had 2 options for the afternoon:
1. Have nice siesta. Take afternoon drive later and explore some of our favourite Satara roads a bit.
2. Get refreshments, and immediately go stake out the kill in the tree.


Guess which one we chose??? :hmz: :mrgreen: 8)

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 12:06 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Okay, okay...I will break the suspense...systematically :big_eyes: :mrgreen: :hmz:


Day 8: Satara

So, you guessed it, we quickly unloaded most of the baggage...took a bathroom break...stocked up on some cold drinks and snacks from the Satara shop...and headed north...to the tree!

It was about 13h30 when we got there, and we were the only car there.
I knew which spot I wanted. There was one spot where there was a break in the roadside shrubs and you could see the entire trunk of the tree. Anyone stopping at the sighting would be able to see the kill at the top of the tree, and by definition the leopard, once it was in the tree.

In photography, it's important to pre-envision what you want to achieve (which shots you would like to get), and prepare yourself in every way possible to get them. I knew I wanted to have images of the leopard scaling the tree en route to the kill. Every time I have seen this behaviour it was in cluttered vegetation which just makes for messy images. This was different...the background was nicely separated from the tree. The surroundings were open and "clean". I knew that IF the leopard arrived and IF it chose to get in the tree and IF I get the settings right, that I would have the winning shots.

My hope for golden afternoon light was down the drain - it was still heavily overcast and drizzling on-and-off.

I had picked the one spot where I could execute my vision...and parked there...and I was not going to move from here... :cam: :tongue: :hmz:

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We waited from 13h30 to 17h00. Nothing. I knew we had to leave by the latest 17h30 in order to make the 18h00 gate closing time at Satara. We were exactly 25km north of camp, and at 50km/h it woudl take us 30 minutes - no stopping. :big_eyes: :rtm: Throughout the afternoon cars came and went...my SUV and the dead impala and the slight drizzle were the ONLY constants at this sighting...

A highlight of the afternoon was somebody stopping me and asking what we are looking at. Seriously?? You can't see the dead impala in the tree as clear as daylight next to the road?? :big_eyes: :wall:
And then, after I showed it to them, someone else stopped next to them and they explained excitedly:
"There's a buck in the tree, but it's already dead!"
SERIOUSLY? You mean, the impala didn't actually climb the tree, decided to have a nap, and had a stroke in its sleep?? :mrgreen: :naughty: :big_eyes: :wall: :slap:

At around 17h10, something happened. A few cars had stopped around us, by now...and it seemed that there was a stirring behind us! We couldn't see! All we could see was the open spot in the brush next to us. I decided to wait right there and not give up my spot. If it was the leopard...it would be hungry cause it was out all day...it would have to at least come close to the tree. I was watching my watch carefully - if the leopard was spiteful and waited until dark to scale the tree, the afternoon would be a waste!!

:popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:

I could just barely make out something through the foliage...was it the leopard???

What do you think??

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Now, I would be a terrible blogger if I didn't tell you upfront that I wrote an article about this sighting on my own blog in immense detail and vivid descriptions, even going into the gear choices and camera settings I was choosing to try and capture this difficult piece of action in the worst possible light...

So...if you want to see how we came from HERE...

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To HERE...

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...then you will need to click

HERE - just right-click so you can open it in a new window!

:mrgreen: :clap: :dance: :popcorn: :thumbs_up: :cam:

I promise you it will be worth it! :lol: :k :gflower:

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:14 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Again, thank you all soooo much for the very kind compliments... :lol:


Day 9: Satara to Crocodile Bridge

We got up to an overcast, rainy morning.

The previous night we had a visitor in camp - African Wild Cat! :dance:

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Today we head out of the Kruger...but true to my style we don't choose the closest gate. In December 2009 we drove from Punda Maria to Kruger Gate (and then home) in ONE DAY! This time, we opted to head to Crocodile Bridge via the H10 past Nkumbe lookout point.

Our first sighting - wet cheetahs!! Just a few km south of Satara...

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They weren't going to move...so we moved on... :whistle:

Wet Hornbill

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Wet Fish Eagle (for photo enthusiasts this is at ISO-8000!! :big_eyes: )

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At the waterhole - juveline Saddle-Bills...

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Closer to Tshokwane, a wet pride of lions on the riverbank!

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We stopped for a body break at Tshokwane, before hitting the H10...
:thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 11:02 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks folks...yes the latter part of our trip seemed to be all about cats! :mrgreen: :clap:

Let's get this over with...I've got TWO Kgalagadi TR's in the wings that are even better than this one... :big_eyes: :dance: :cam:


Day 9: Satara to Crocodile Bridge

Well, lots of driving now...we went past Nkumbe without even getting out for the view (raining too much in this section of the park).

Once we got to Lower Sabie, we went up the H4-1 to Skukuza just for a short distance past Sunset Dam, as we were told by someone at Tshokwane to look out for the mother leopard and her cub feeding on a kill in a tree. Well, the sighting was easy to find as there was one maaaaassssiiiiivvvvveeee traffic jam...I took a quick look, it was drizzling and I saw the cats moving in the tree (lots of leaves in the way) and knew this was not a "photo sighting" and that I would spend hours to get out of the mess of cars once I'm in it...so turned around. We were then told of a fresh zebra kill by a pride of lions on the S29 Mlondozi loop back the way we came...so we headed that way. Saw some heads in the long grass, but it was clear the feeding was done and the cats were lying low.

We headed down towards Crocodile Bridge on the H4-2 tar road. Soon we came across more cars...kitty lovers!! :dance:

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She wants him...teases him...entices him...

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He says: "Been there. Done that (excuse the PG-16 pun haha :mrgreen: ). I'm bored"

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She sharpens her claws...

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They move off and get jiggy again in the thicker bushes. We push on. Long way home still! :whistle:

Just before Crocodile Bridge we come across a family of Giraffe...

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With a little one to bid us farewell as we hit the road home...
:cry: :(

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...

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