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 Post subject: Morkel777 Cheetah Fest - KTP November 2011 Sep'12
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 11:13 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
I am making good on my promise to catch up on ALL my overdue Trip Reports.
These TR's are also a great way for me to catch up on my photo processing backlog :dance: ...

I have just finished my TR of Northern Kruger (August 2011) - see here:
viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=64021&start=270

This brings me to the last 2 on my list (for now).

Itinerary for this trip:
2 nights TWEE RIVIEREN
2 nights MATA MATA
2 nights NOSSOB
1 night TENTED CAMP
1 night TWEE RIVIEREN

Once again it was myself, my SO and our LO (who was now 9 months old, bless her soul :mrgreen:). I promised myself I would start the kids young and transfer my passion for the African wilderness...
:dance: :thumbs_up: :rtm:

I affectionately titled this trip CHEETAH FEST...with good reason! There will be many other co-stars and supporting actors, but this one is all about the speedies... :lol:

Who's on board???

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 Post subject: Re: Cheetah Fest - KTP November 2011
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 7:07 am 
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Hooray, welcome aboard guys. I'm sure more people will join in time... :D

Let's kick this off...

Day 1: Home to Twee Rivieren

We left home VERY early. I always try to leave at 2 or 3 am and be in Vryburg at dawn. I'm not one for sleeping over halfway as that "wastes" a day I could spend in the Park :big_eyes:
Driving like this also ensures lots of sleeping time in the car for the little ones... :clap:

We arrived in Twee Rivieren shortly after 2pm, settled into our chalet, and around 4pm we went for a drive up the Nossob river.

Bokkies!

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We hadn't even reached Leeuwdril yet, when we saw 2 golden ladies on a sand dune! :big_eyes: :dance:

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She gave a yawn...

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She was on old gal...just look at those teeth... :big_eyes:

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This one's teeth was looking better...

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What a start!!!! :clap: :dance:

What would the rest of the afternoon drive deliver???

:popcorn:

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 Post subject: Re: Cheetah Fest - KTP November 2011
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 8:46 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks so much for hopping along, folks.
Welcome to Cheetah Fest...you can get your complimentary cheetah-ears-hat at the door :lol: :wink:


Day 1: Twee Rivieren to Leeuwdril

We left the ladies and headed on to Leeuwdril...

Came across a Cape Fox den under a tree. Mom as out and about, but light was poor (overcast) and the grass around the den was long. :cry:

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We pushed on...but...we hadn't gone far when we saw this lazy boy... :big_eyes:

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The colours of the sky and the red sand were a beautiful complement to the male...

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(this was shot at ISO-11400! gotta love the Nikon D3s :big_eyes: )
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We needed to head back to camp...but we got stuck at the lionesses...who had now moved south and were stalking a herd of Gemsbok! We spent a few minutes there, with great anticipation as they stalked closer...but before they could charge the wind shifted and the herd caught their scent...and scattered... :popcorn: :tongue:

(ISO-25000!!)
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We got back to camp JUST in time...
If this was any indication of the pace/quality of the sightings on this trip...then we had reason to be excited! :big_eyes: :popcorn: :cam:

What would tomorrow bring???

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 Post subject: Re: Cheetah Fest - KTP November 2011
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:09 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks so much folks - glad to have so many of you along for the ride...

BUCKLE UP... :big_eyes: :cam:

Day 2:Twee Rivieren

We were staying another night in Twee Rivieren...so today was ours for exploration.
It had rained over the Nossob river overnight, but not in the camp.

Right out of the gate we had this juvenile Goshawk checking us out.
This was before sunrise...for the photo-fundis: ISO-12800!! :mrgreen:

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Shortly after Samevloeiing (which was quiet) we came across these 2 weirdos...check this out!

:big_eyes:

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What a strange standoff?? It was over before it began (and sadly before I could get any really sharp photos :evil: )

The road was rather quiet...but at Rooiputs waterhole there was some action...well, not action, more lazy kitties, but still! 3rd lion sighting in 2 drives, not a bad start! :cam: :clap:

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It looked like the whole pride was lying behind the dune. They probably slaked their thirst at first light and the Rooiputs campers got all the action... :cry: ...I hoped they would come down again...but they lay down even flatter. We pushed on for a short distance. At this point we had to get onto the Botswana track...

Not even a kilometer on this track past Rooiputs I saw this cute little guy!! :dance: :thumbs_up: :pray:

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He was sitting at the entrance to a den, but no sign of mum or siblings...

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It was starting to drizzle... :cry:...and one last look before he scuttled underground again... :wall:

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I waited for about 15-20 minutes to see if he would show his face again, but to no avail. The rain was falling VERY lightly now, and these Shongololos (millipedes) used the opportunity to drink the droplets from their shells! :clap:

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With the rain intensity increasing, we turned back to head for camp... :doh:

This guy watched us go by...

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...to be continued...

:whistle:

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 Post subject: Re: Cheetah Fest - KTP November 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 12:03 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Wow, I'm so glad you're enjoying it so far....some GOOOOOOD stuff to come....keep the :popcorn: ready in tons!
:clap: :dance:


Day 2:Rooiputs to Twee Rivieren

We were headed back to camp with the threat of rain...

Some Red-Billed Quelea were flocking about from here to there...I played with some slow shutter speed images...
:lol: :cam:

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I tried to capture the ebb-and-flow motion with which these flocks move. What do you think? :mrgreen:

...to be continued...

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 Post subject: Re: Cheetah Fest - KTP November 2011
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2012 11:59 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks folks...wondered if you would like those as they're more 'artsy' and less 'sighting' :lol:
Sophisticated bunch, you lot! :wink: :lol:


Day 2:Rooiputs to Twee Rivieren

As we came to Leeuwdril again, it seemed that same male lion from yesterday had come from the dunes and slumped down again...spot the kitty:

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A couple of springboks were loitering towards Samevloeiing...interesting to note that they had lambed early in 2011, with the lambs already quite mobile by November and rains not having arrived properly yet... :big_eyes:

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After dropping off SO and LO (and having some brunch), I decided that the overcast weather allows for some "later" photography than usual (heat haze pretty much destroys image sharpness for me in the Kalahari after 9am in summer and 10am in winter), so I headed out quickly to Leeuwdril again in search of the lazy lion. :hmz:

This jackal was slaking his thirst...

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He was very on-edge and agitated... :x looking up nervously all the time...

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...with good reason!... :cam:

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The lion was going nowhere. I stuck around for a while but then the sun came out properly...which meant photo-time was over for me.

This LBJ greeted me on the way to camp (ID anyone? Chat of some sort?)

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Stay tuned for our afternoon drive...when the CHEETAH FEST would officially begin!! :dance: :clap:

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 Post subject: Re: Cheetah Fest - KTP November 2011
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:40 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:41 pm
Posts: 606
Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks folks! :mrgreen:

You'll probably get tired of cheetahs (spoiler alert - and lions for that matter - should have named it Lion-Cheetah-Fest :wink: ) throughout this TR... :D :thumbs_up:


Day 2:Triangle: Twee Rivieren to Auchterlonie to Kij-Kij to Twee Rivieren

Given the route I was planning for this particular afternoon (read above) we needed to leave early, so by 3pm we were on the road... :dance:

It had just rained that afternoon, with the sun shining by now...yet the rain clouds were still ominous...

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Tawny Eagle at Houmoed...

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A clan of Spotted Hyenas at Gemsbokplein...

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A wet Black-Shouldered Kite

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I had to stop at a crossing for a Kgalagadi pedestrian who always has right of way... :big_eyes: :tongue:

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We got to Auchterlonie without further interesting sightings...and climbed on the Lower Dune Road to Kij-Kij. I love the landscape on this stretch of road! :popcorn: :popcorn:

This cute Cape Fox watched us coming, but even as I approached slowly, it darted off the road and out of sight... :cry:

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I always anticipate finding Steenbok in the dunes... :cam:

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...to be continued...PhotoBucket is giving me upload hassles :evil: ...

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 Post subject: Re: Cheetah Fest - KTP November 2011
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:50 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:41 pm
Posts: 606
Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks again for all the kind comments.
Photobucket seems sorted now... :mrgreen:

Day 2:Triangle - Twee Rivieren to Auchterlonie to Kij-Kij to Twee Rivieren

Another pic of the Steenbokkie:

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Oh, and here's a Tawny Eagle I missed who was sitting in a tree...

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Some more moody dune scenes...

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We reached Kij-Kij, and it was deserted. We moved south towards Rooiputs, when about halfway between the 2 we saw a car parked. I stopped next to them and asked what they were looking at.

Apparently a mother cheetah had made a kill here (they'd heard it from someone else), but they couldn't see anything. They drove off, and I stopped in the exact spot they were standing in...and looked around a bit...

...and saw...
THIS...

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It was far against the opposite dunes (if we could have been on the South African road that was under construction we could have been much closer :cry: )...

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The kill was rather fresh, I couldn't imagine it being made more than 30 minutes ago. We watched them feed for a while, and then saw that the clock was beating us...we needed to push on back to Twee Rivieren and reckon in some viewing time if we got a nice sighting. :hmz: :cry:

Bye-bye cheetahs! A great first sighting to open the CHEETAH FEST account... :clap: :dance:

...to be continued...

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 Post subject: Re: Cheetah Fest - KTP November 2011
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 12:08 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 606
Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Sorry guys! Busy weekend away from the computer...
:mrgreen: :whistle:

Real life got in the way of virtual life for a change :wink: :shock:

carrying on...


Day 2:Triangle - Twee Rivieren to Auchterlonie to Kij-Kij to Twee Rivieren

We left the cheetahs and drove past this guy still lying on the dunes at Rooiputs waterhole. :P

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This bokkie was still wet but enjoying the last minutes of sunshine...

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The sunset light shining onto the passing storm made for great scenery...

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At Leeuwdril we found this cute little Bat-Eared Fox foraging around for insects... :clap: :mrgreen:

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He promptly decided that he didn't like being spied on by the paparazzi and promptly started to leave, but not before I got a few more shots. The light was completely gone by now so these images were shot at ISO-5000 (the 1st shot) and ISO-12800 (the last 2)! :big_eyes: :cam:

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We got back to Twee Rivieren just in time for gate closure, and had a great braai that evening...
Tomorrow would see us transfer to Mata-Mata...the CHEETAH Capital of this trip...
:popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:

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 Post subject: Re: Cheetah Fest - KTP November 2011
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 12:11 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks folks, so glad you liked the foxy photos :dance: :mrgreen:


Day 3: Twee Rivieren to Mata-Mata

So, a new day dawned...but before we headed North up the Auob, I was up and let the SO and LO sleep a bit more, and took a quick drive. Somehow I found myself favouring the Nossob again - given the fact that we had great sightings here and I would head up the Auob later that morning anyway.

Some Gemsbok were milling about on the pans around Samevloeiing...I played with some moody shots into the rising sun...

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Here all 4 feet are off the ground...

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A little further on I saw some Goshawk action. I immediately thought it was a honey badger on the ground, but upon inspection I saw it was an adult with 2 juvelines. I scanned the area a bit in hopes of spotting a badger...but to no avail... :cry:

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This Kori Bustard was out early looking for breakfast.

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These guys were settling down after a long night...

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I was hoping to spot the Cape Foxes at the first den (about 2km before Leeuwdril) out and about, and wasn't disappointed! :dance: The grass was a bit pesky and I am miffed that VERY few of these photos are usable to me at high resolution due to sharpness/focus issues and just visibility of the foxes... :doh:

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Then one of the little ones appeared with a meal...a rodent (tree mouse perhaps?)

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...stay tuned for more foxy fun...!
:popcorn: :popcorn: :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Cheetah Fest - KTP November 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:49 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks folks!

@freddiebos: I use a variety of Nikkor lenses...most of the Kgalagadi pics were made with either the 500mm f4 VR-II or the 70-200mm f2.8 VR-II :D :cam: (I have a D7000 as well, so have 2 cameras with me all the time in order to not miss the moment).

@Lionspoon: patience is a virtue I would think a salted Sanparks visitor like yourself should have under wraps by now... :naughty: :hmz: Cheetah piccies to pop your eyeballs coming in due time... :big_eyes:


Day 3: Twee Rivieren to Mata-Mata

Carrying on...

First, some more foxes...

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"Stop this tantrum! Get up, we're going now...no more playing!" :rtm:
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...and then some more creative shooting with the Red-Billed Queleas...this time using back-light through the wings... :whistle: :cam:

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A lone Secretary bird searching for a meal...

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A herd of Gemmies...

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I went as far as the cheetah kill site, hoping to maybe spot them in the vicinity...

There were some jackals and a Lappet-Faced Vulture scavenging on the remains...

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...to be continued...
:popcorn: :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Cheetah Fest - KTP November 2011
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 11:04 pm 
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Lionspoon wrote:
And my eyes are gonna pop out in KTP soon, if you don't hurry up a bit. :tongue:

:wink: :wink: :wink:


Shame too bad, LS! :mrgreen:
I wish it was me going to KTP... :hmz: :whistle:

Anyway, I'll try and speed things up for you...though inevitably you will have to catch the back-end of this TR when you get back from KTP...I am no magician :wink:


Day 3: Twee Rivieren to Mata-Mata

I got back to camp and packed everything, and checked out.

Some sightings on the way north to Mata-Mata...

Lazy boy at Dalkeith

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Scops Owl at nest

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Lion pride resting near Craig Lockhart...

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We got to Mata-Mata without further adue, unpacked, went for a swim and a little siesta, and then set out on afternoon drive again...though I went alone as SO wasn't feeling very good... :cry:

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 Post subject: Re: Cheetah Fest - KTP November 2011
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 11:08 pm 
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Day 3: Mata-Mata

First long-neck of the trip!

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The lions at Craig Lockhart had moved further back...

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I had passed a Spotted Eagle Owl nest between Sitzas and Craig Lockhart...and on the spur of the moment decided to rather go back there and see if they would come out to play instead of looking for lions and stuff... :lol:

I was right. The 3 chicks were almost fledging and were VERY inquisitive as only small owls can be. I got some great shots, though the light was challenging. Enjoy!

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I headed back to make the gate time...and saw this guy. For some reason there's always this lone wildebeest hanging around the Mata-Mata gate or just in the riverbed as you come down from the camp. I'm not sure if it's the same guy...but I'd like to think it is...a little scared to venture too far from camp methinks :mrgreen: :lol:

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That night was a rough one! SO had caught the famous Kalahari tummy bug (though she only drank our purified water)... :hmz: :big_eyes: :doh:

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 Post subject: Re: Cheetah Fest - KTP November 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:56 am 
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Thanks so much, folks, knew you'd love the owls :lol:


Day 4: Mata-Mata

So my SO had a rough night, but was feeling better. I had stocked up on Energade at the shop to keep her hydrated. She actually felt up for a game drive, so off we went as the gates opened... 8) :mrgreen:

This scene greeted us at Sitzas - classical Kgalagadi sunrise!! :cam:

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Off the bat the Kgalagadi opened up with this beauty (just past Sitzas over the dune)...African Wild Cat! In the sweetest of light... :clap: :dance:

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A BEF scrounging around in the riverbed...a bit far for good piccies... :cry:

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This guy was checking me out... :hmz:

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First proper Swallow-Tailed Bee Eater of the trip.

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Then I came across a Bat-Eared Fox den, just on the bend before you hit the straight toward Craig Lockhart.

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The grass was pesky and made it nigh impossible to get proper shots of the uber-cute little ones... :evil: :wall:

Most of these shots are going to the bin after this TR - just not up to my usual standards... :cry:

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This Fork-Tailed Drongo sat nearby and watched my antics with the big lens...

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We moved on.

Even from a distance I could see there was something moving at Craig Lockhart. The shape looked distinctly cat-like! :big_eyes: :pray:

As we came closer, I knew that the sleek shape I saw was that of a cheetah. And not just one... :big_eyes: :dance: :clap:

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Mom with 2 cubs.

We had heard about here in Mata-Mata from our neighbours the previous evening. Apparently she was a hunting machine. Killed twice in one day earlier in the week. :whistle: :sniper:

Her name, as I would later find out from Gus Mills, is Gherty. Or Gertie. However you want to spell it.
I noticed there were only 2 or 3 other cars in the sighting, and the light was coming from my right, so I repositioned and parked where the loop is on the southern end of the waterhole (thus, not next to the big tree).

The cubs:

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You could see from her intent gaze that Gherty was focused. There were some springbok further downriver...would we see some action??? :hmz: :pray:

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Soon the cubs came closer for a tender family moment...

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...to be continued...

The key to great cheetah pictures is the light. I know it sounds cliche, but in harsh light (for me this is after 9am, and until 4 or 5pm) you don't get the amber glow in their eyes, because of their large eyebrows/eyebanks there's a shadow that falls on the eyes...making the photos seem lifeless. At this sighting the light and the direction of the light was perfect. :clap:

I took in excess of 530 photos of just this sigthing...so I will try to share only the best ones here!...
bear with me... :big_eyes: :cam: :tongue:

@Lionspoon - eyes popping out a bit now???? :mrgreen: :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Cheetah Fest - KTP November 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 10:56 pm 
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Here is the next sequence of events, just to keep you going through the weekend.
I will only be able to process/update again after Sunday... :redface: :mrgreen:

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:thumbs_up:

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