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Chickadee in KNP Dec/Jan 2011/2012

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Junior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:29 am
Posts: 130
Location: Herndon, Virginia
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Thu May 03, 2012 2:09 am Unread post
Hello to all you great Forumites once again. It's Chickadee saying hello from Virginia and waiting to upload 11 days of Kruger pictures taken in late December 2011 and early January 2012. I had a hard time completing my Kgalagadi TR from October 2011, but Ithat's done now and thanks to Lightroom I have since found an easier method on reviewing my pictures and selecting the ones to use. I will be able to give you the goods as fast as you can turn the pages.

Some background. After Jan and mine KTP trip in October I ended up having a stroke here back in the States. This put me in the hospital for a time and with a fear that the Kruger trip I had planned in December would have to be cancelled. I kept that hope alive as I underwent tests and took strong medications. Less than two weeks before I was to leave, the trip was still up in the air. I was sitting in the Doctors office and he was talking about adjusting my medication and check-ups etc. when I said to him…"I guess I need to ask this question, but I don't really want to because I don't want to know the answer if it's no. Still, I better ask it. If we are changing things around, can I still take a trip to S. Africa that I have been planning on for the past year?" Of course, he said, we can make the adjustments when you get home. YAY! With my renewed love and appreciation of life and zest for the best of it, I left his office and started packing…10 sleeps to go!!!

I had a wonderful Christmas Day with my family and later they dropped me off at the airport. I said my goodbyes and then I was on my own, flying to Kruger for 11 days in the park, all by myself. I had been through so much in the past month that I felt a longing for the Kruger roads and what they could show me that cannot be described.

I have usually traveled with my organized sister Janet, so this would be a real challenge. I took pictures and kept the field notes, she did everything else. Could I feed myself, start a braii? Would I remember all my luggage? Would I get up on time, wind my watch, drink too much, buy gas, get lost, get bitten, see anything or remember who I am and where I come from? I missed Janet a lot on this trip, but it all worked out. (I admit I lost 5 pounds.)

And so, after a long flight and an overnight in Jo-burg, I found myself on a flight to Mpumalanga, picking up my vehicle and driving to Nelspruit to buy Jan some Potbread mix. Now, Duke and Sharifa made us potbread on the grill one evening in KTP. We loved it. There's nothing like it in the States. I know you can make it with a recipe, but the mix was what I was looking for. Easy. I drove to Nelspruit but could not find the store that was supposed to be there, so after a sidetrip of a couple hours, I was back on track to KNP. I want that potbread mix so bad!! I picked up my groceries, bought a cooler and headed to Kruger Gate. There were no problems on the way, I checked in and my first animal was an elephant off in the distance. You probably know how happy I was. Once I got situated at Skukuza, I went back out for a drive. The days are longer and everything is green green green. WOW!

Of course there will be impalas and I was happy to see my friends.

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Then the low bridge where we had seen the leopard on our last drive in our last minutes on our last trip in 2009. So green now. I parked the car and waited.

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Soon a few birdies appeared. The first was a fearless water dikkop.

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Then some pied wagtails came for a bath.

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Then I took the turnoff just on the south side of the bridge and crept along at about 5 MPH. It is amazing what you can see when you have patience and plenty of time. I got my first opportunity to photograph one of the woodland kingfishers. They were everywhere and their calls were constant.

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A friendly warthog trotted out of the bushes, noticed me, then turned around and headed back into the bush.

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Look at the spur on the Natal Francolin. I've never noticed them before.

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A yellow-billed kite was soaring overhead.

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Burchell's coucal

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This hammerkopf was hunting bugs by the roadside.

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A small group of vervets came out of the bushes and sat by the road for a while.

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A welcome site after settling into my bungalow, the Selati Bridge. I was exhausted, but I was able to braii and celebrate quietly. I was back.

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Re: Chickadee in KNP Dec/Jan 2011/2012

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Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:29 am
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Fri May 04, 2012 3:19 am Unread post
There was no way I could get up for the gate opening, 0430 was too early for me. But the activity of others generally woke me up and I oftentimes was on the road before 0530. No time for breakfast, always time for coffee. I was heading to Letaba today and it was going to be a long drive. I started out with the intention of staying on the tar, but at S36 I couldn't resist turning off and following a less busy route. Because the roads were busy. I figured they would be because of the holidays. And speeders. Lots of them. I followed the S36 to S34 and rejoined the tar near Tshokwane. The following pictures come from my drive to Letaba.

Marabou stork

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Pied wagtail

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Pied kingfisher

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Frog nest, I'd read about this and was surprised to see the foamy nests. The tadpoles grow in the foam and then drop into the water below.

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Wood sandpiper

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Saddle billed stork

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Grey hornbill

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Tortoise

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Rock monitor

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First rhino off in the distance. I had to photograph because I never know if you will see one again on a trip. Sometimes they are just plain hard to find.

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Odd looking comb duck

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Steenbok

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I came across a huge herd of buffalo.

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I'm looking at this as a brown-hooded kingfisher because the belly is not rusty…on any of these IDs someone please help if I am wrong.

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White backed vultures

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Mongoose

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1st giraffes are spied coming up in back of Tshokwane

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Lappet faced vulture

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Ellie
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Elephants At Tshokwane, it's hard to believe this place flooded shortly after my trip was over.

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I was so happy to be back at Olifants River Bridge, I couldn't stay long as I still had a ways to go and I was booked on a sunset drive at Letaba. Here is a yellow billed stork

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Croc
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Yellow billed stork

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A yellow billed kite was swooping and flying about the bridge coming very close sometimes.

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I got to Letaba and checked in to find the drive was leaving in about 15 minutes. I rushed to my unit and rushed back to the drive. There were some young ladies, a gent, and me. The weather did not look promising as we started out, but we headed out with anticipation. We came upon this old dagga boy and it wasn't until I looked at the pictures that I noticed his friend was a yellow billed oxpecker. My first one!

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We go wind of some lions, so we decided to give up the road we were on and try to find the lions. Then it started to rain. The tarp on the vehicle would fill up with water and the young ladies would punch the top and let the water drench them. We were all soaked and laughing, completely soaked to the skin. But it was so warm and we made it to the spot and there were the first lions of the trip. There were 2 lionesses and 2 males, one of which was quite an old looking geezer type.

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We had gotten there just in time because soon the lionesses got up and moved away. Shortly, the 2 males decided to move also.

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I was so tired by the time I got back and because of the rain, I skipped supper and went directly to bed. Tomorrow is another long day and I will be driving to Punda Maria, new territory. When I planned the trip I started in Punda Maria and hit camps from there heading south. I ended up changing my plans because I could not get a flight into Phalaborwa and had to fight to get the nights in Skukuza and Letaba, but still keep the camps from PM south. I was looking forward to seeing what the north holds.


Re: Chickadee in KNP Dec/Jan 2011/2012

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Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:29 am
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Sat May 05, 2012 11:44 am Unread post
I was up at 4AM, but I spent the first hour drinking coffee and watching the day begin. I was listening to hyenas, lions an hippos plus so many other sounds I couldn't identify. At 0545 I headed north. I made it to Mopani by 9AM and bought 1/2 tank of gas for 400Rand, sarafl, that's about all the detail I had. From Skukuza to Mopani...

Crossing the Letaba River Bridge

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Great kingfisher

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Elephant on road lifting foot

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Ellie herd

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Young warthogs

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Ostrich

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Middlevlei

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Zebra parade

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Black-bellied bustard

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Hellooooo--lalallallllallllallalalala

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At Mopani I stopped for gas and an ice-cream bar. I found my first Mopani worm.

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SA Python

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Chameleion, one step forward, 2 steps back, left foot right foot, oops right foot left foot, no left foot right foot, front back back front, how did I make it this far? Don't run me over please, I stayed watching the chameleon until another car arrived to take on the guard.

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I spent a bit of time with this herd on alert, I kept hoping for some predator to appear, but the outcome showed the impalas were spooked by a Kori bustard in the distance. Moving on…

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I took a sidetrip on Shidayengwenja loop and found a few nyala on the loop. So remote and peaceful. I was really starting to relax. Everything from the past months were melting away.

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At the end of the road by the river I spied a Malachite kingfisher. 1st one.

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I pulled into Olifantsbad Pad and met a car coming out. As I drove in, I saw cat tracks that had walked over the car tracks of the car that had just left. I hunted for the animal with a serenity that would accompany me the rest of my trip and never saw the cat. Here is an excerpt from my log at this point "I am so f-ing happy!" Everytime I stopped I saw a new bird for my lifer list. The day was a bit dismal, but I was in the best of moods and loving every minute of my life.

Blue waxbill, 1st one.

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Lesser masked weaver, 1st one.

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Long-tailed Paradise Whydah, 1st one.

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Violet-backed starling, 1st one.

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Red-billed Firefinch, 1st ones. (love these 2)

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Sharpe's Grysbok but didn't know it.

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Weird roller, it this a racket-tailed roller without the racket-tail (molting)?

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Another Sharpe's

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Woodland kingfisher

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As I neared Punda Maria, I came upon some cars that were being held up by a large bull elephant. He was ornery and chased the cars as they tried to pull forward. I had a conversation with the folks in the white van. I had been waiting my turn to get by but had to do a reverse and drive as fast as I could backwards at one point with the bull chasing me down. I didn't like it much. Another car slipped through. Finally it was my turn, I said to the guy in the white van "I'm scared, here I go", but dumbo let me me and I proceeded on to Punda Maria.

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I fell in love with Punda Maria. I was given #5 which turned out to be quite a haul of my stuff up the wooden walkway, but it was totally secluded in the bush, high above all the other tents. And the shower was unbelievable. I had a nice braii and listened to hyenas very close. What a wonderful day this had turned out to be.

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Inside

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Preparing for a filet of some kind of "bok" can't remember.

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So this turned out to be a very good day. I was getting further and further from my stress, tomorrow would take me even further as I would be heading to Crook's Corner to see what I could see.


Re: Chickadee in KNP Dec/Jan 2011/2012

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Sun May 06, 2012 3:14 am Unread post
Woke up early again while it was still dark. The neighbors had left their lights on all night. I don't understand this but I found that this is common in all the camps. It only brings bugs and bats. It was a very cool and pleasant day to begin and I'm thinking how nice to not have to pack up and move. I have a sunset drive planned for later, but for now I have Crook's Corner to head towards. First off I come across a pack of hyenas along the road. This turned out to be a heart-pumping experience as they surrounded the car ahead of me and then came to check me out. I don't often roll up my windows, but I did this time. It's an experience to know a hyena is purposely smelling you.

Hyenas on road

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Go away bird

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What kind of snake?

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I was on the S60 when I came across this huge snail.

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I'm thinking this is a Wahlberg's eagle.

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I spent a little time watching for action at Klopperfontein, but it was quiet. Off across the water I noticed movement. A dassie! I was surprised.

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There were some baboons near Klopperfontein.

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I cut off the H1-8 to drive on S64 and was pleased with the big trees and red earth. I was so alone. It was so peaceful.

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Now the one disappointing part of the day. It was the absolute worst for photography. The sky was overcast and trying to point my camera up at the birds because a lesson in frustration. There were bee-eaters everywhere but I had so much trouble trying to photograph them. What were they hunting? White butterflies! There were millions of white butterflies floating from west to east like blossoms of the earth. The bee-eaters were darting after them and returning to their perches in a feeding frenzy. It was one of the most beautiful experiences and I had to put down the camera and photograph the memory with my mind.

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Looking up the lovely Luvuvhu

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Egret on the river

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Lesser masked weaver

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European bee-eater

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Nyala buck crossing S63

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Lots of nyala in this area.

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fever trees

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A mud puddle yielded some nice sightings including this 3-banded plover.

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..and this pin-tailed whydah.

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Butterflies

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At 3 corners
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Forest
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White-faced ducks across the river
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I stopped and watched the vervets for a while as something was causing them alarm. I guess it was me because I never saw anything else. Agitated calling and gathering of the troops went on for about 15 minutes before they all got together and moved away.

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mom and little one

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Mr.

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Female nyala

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European bee eater

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Baobaob hill

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Female ostrich

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Returning to PM I came upon another Maribou stork

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I was booked for a sunset drive, but there was no guide. I was told that the drive was still on but the group of us waited a good hour and a half before a guide showed up. Something unexpected had happened I never knew what. Well, it was an interesting trip. Several students made up the rest of the group and they chatted, laughted and sang the entire trip. The driver was happy too and all this was taking place in a language I didn't understand. It was good and bad. For a drive to see animals, not good. From being with a group of lively people, a nice experience. We did see an African wildcat off in the distance, but it was quite dark by then and too far away.

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Lilac breasted roller in sunset

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Spitting cobra
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This hyena was watching the snake very closely.

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We got back around 8PM due to the delayed start, just in time to order a pizza which I gobbled down with wine. I batted my first mosquito and listened once again to some very close hyenas.


Re: Chickadee in KNP Dec/Jan 2011/2012

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Sun May 06, 2012 10:38 pm Unread post
Without Janet to direct me, at this point in the trip I'm not sure what day it is or where I am supposed to go, so I have to look up my notes to see where I am and where I am going. I'm lost in Kruger and don't care about anything other than the minute I am in. I determine it is December 31st and I have reservations at Bateleur. OK, when I get packed I head south. But Punda Maria and the north are now part of my Kruger repertoire and I'm sure I'll be back.

The local impala herd watch as I drive away.

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I notice the same Sharpe's in the same place on my way out.

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I make the turn towards the Dzundwini lookout and am delighted to see the flock of crowned guinea fowl and get my first tick of the day.

Crowned guinea fowl
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The loop around Dzundwini is very nice and remote. I took this loop before when I drove up to Punda Maria and I recommend it. Each time I saw numerous Sharpe's grysboks, nyala, elephants, kudu, steenbok and now the crowned guinea fowl. Up at the top you get a very nice westward view that goes for miles and miles.

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Another nice chance for a woodland kingfisher photo op

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Back on the road I get to check off my second new bird of the day, there were 2 black storks in a tree. Here is one of them.

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It was a windy day and I liked how the wind was ruffling this bird's feathers.

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I took the Mphongolo loop but it was very quiet. I have yet to see a leopard to finish my Big 5 for the trip, so I pulled into every lookout and loop along this road. The sights were beautiful and I looked in every tree, crawling along in 1st gear not having to use the gas at all. This is the last day of the year and I couldn't think of a better place and time than where I was.

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The Shingwedzi River was a big change from the first time I crossed it the other day. When I came through 2 days ago it was flooding and dirty, foamy looking. It was back to normal today and there were more animals to see. I stopped at Shingwedzi to stock up for my 2 nights at Bateleur. When I got out of the car I almost passed out. Everything was so bright, like I was walking in an over-exposed photograph. I was glad when I got back into the truck and snuggled into my seat and put on my sunglasses to help deal with this over-exposed world and headed off to the remotest camp in the park.

Around Shingwedzi

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To get to Bateleur, I decided to take the S 52. It is an amazing road. The map I had was a little confusing, at Red Rocks the road actually crosses the river and becomes a loop. I wasn't sure where to go, because the way forward had a fallen tree blocking access. Cars had been driving around and through, so I decided not to cross the river and carry on, but I felt I was really getting deep into the bush. There wasn't another car to meet the entire way.

Sharpe's
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Giraffe
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Soon it became apparent I was on the right track and my apprehension level went down a little bit. This drive is worth it. People who are not staying at Bateleur can go as far as Shigomane viewpoint which is an extremely remote get out point. The return trip would take you on the other side of the river with different views.

Zebra peeking out

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There were a lot of hornbills around Bateleur. I got to see as they made their odd sounds. Now I know what that sound is from past trips!!

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I got to reception and found Frieda and Paul. What wonderful friendly people. Paul explained he had a night drive going out that night and did I mind going on that. I had a drive booked for tomorrow, but I was the only one. Of course I decided, but my dizziness had returned. I took my blood pressure and was shocked to see it was 82/40. Well, that explains things. Kruger was doing what my medicine couldn't do, bring my blood pressure down. I was so relaxed I was almost dead. I had instructions from the Doc if this happened and I lowered my doses of meds. I have had no problems since.

Paul picked me up for the drive and there was a family of 5 going along. I left the lights on at the bungalow, outside and in the bathroom, when we left as we would be coming back quite late. DON'T DO THIS!!

Paul was an absolutely amazing guide. This was the drive of my dreams. If only they could all be like this. If you have a chance to go out with Paul, DO THIS!! He told everyone to be quiet and made sure everyone was.
Paul explained how the hare runs from his shadow and when the spotlights/headlights cause double shadows, the hare doesn't know which way to run away. That is why the hare seems kind of stupid, changing directions and zigzagging and not getting out of the way.

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Here we see a bronze-winged courser, 3rd new tick for the day.

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And then, and then, Paul stops the car and I see what he is stopping for immediately. ClickClickClickClickClickClickClick, like as fast as I could click, hoping I could get at least one good picture. The family in back are going "what?" A caracal is what.

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Paul and I were high from the encounter. On New Year's Eve, what a way to end the year.

Sharpe's

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Nightjar

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Scorpion

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And then Paul impressed me once again by locating this chameleon. I guess if you are trained you will notice a reflective stripe along the chameleon's body, and it is easier to see at night than in the day, but still. Finding a chameleon camouflaged in a tree at night was fantastic.

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We saw the scrub hares, night jars, a small genet, bush babies, impala, nyala, buffalos, I get hit by a sand grouse which flew at the vehicle, giraffes, spitting cobra, scorpion, chameleon, Sharpe's, eagle owl, and our shy little caracal. Again, what an excellent drive.

When I returned I was in dismay. My bungalow was mayhem. Although interesting, bugs had taken over my bungalow. Leaving the lights on was a big mistake. I had to make dinner yet and there were so many bugs I had to include some in my meal.Then worse, inside I found a bat. This was very disturbing. I don't mind bats but this bat was distressing me. It was a little bat and I didn't know if it was a baby or hurt. It wasn't flying, rather it was scuttling around on the floor like a little crab. I trapped it in a glass and carried it outside. When I released it, it continued a frenzied scuttling around the patio and I found myself dancing to get out of its way. Sh!t. Ultimately it scuttled off the patio and got lost into the night. I don't know. I would have helped it more if I could, but it was just plain creepy.

I finally got to bed. Not a minute went by when I felt something drop onto me. Yagh!! The bat was back. I turned on the light and there were 2 of the crab bats now, scuttling around. I packed up shop and closed the door, blocked the crack under the door and went into the other room. I was hoping the bats would find their way out on their own, the same way they came in. Happy New Year!


Re: Chickadee in KNP Dec/Jan 2011/2012

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Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:29 am
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Sun May 06, 2012 11:07 pm Unread post
New Years Day, no bats when I peeked into the other room, but I continued to use the other bedroom while I was there.

I'll share a secret with you. Anyone who has been to Bateleur discovers this secret or at least a little known perk of the camp. I haven't read anyone else mentioning it. The road to Bateleur is closed to non-guests so if you are law-abiding park guest, you will not know there are 2 routes that are available off the camp road. These private areas are fabulous. One of them is Rooisbosrand, a huge dam area, bigger even than Sunset Dam. It's a 6 KM drive from the camp. The parking area is a bit off the water, but the area it encompasses is very large and there are an amazing number of animals and birds in attendance. The second is the lonely Silvervlis. If you dare, because the road in is surrounded by thick vegetation, it is narrow and bumpy, and if you meet an elephant, well, you don't want to meet an elephant. They're there though, plenty of reminders left behind. The road takes you right to a river's edge, looking at the map I can't tell which river because the road is not on the map. When you get there you will think you are in Eden and either Adam or Eve. Bring your own apple.

Hornbill in sunshine
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At Silverflis I parked my truck and melted into space. Peace. The hippo pool was directly in front of me and this protective mama was disturbed by ME! It was quite thrilling to be the object of her threats.

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Fish eagle at Silvervlis

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Steenbok
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Klippie near the lookout at Shigomane, another surprise sighting

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white fronted bee-eater, front

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and back

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white-bellied sunbird

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female

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Monitor in tree, yes, I am looking into trees. Have you forgotten I am hunting for a leopard?

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I came across the small pond that was what I considered a "bird spot", those place where you stop and miraculously, all kinds of birds start showing up.

Female violet-baced starling

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male
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Woodland sandpiper

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Arrow marked babbler

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Green hoopoe

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I came across a pair of Verreaux's eagle owl on one of the turnouts. Another car pulled up and when I pointed them out, the couple was thrilled. I like that.

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Kingfisher
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And so I returned to Bateleur, once again checking my private roads. All was quiet. I had a nice braii. I toasted the New Year with champagne and fell quietly asleep on the patio. When I woke up I had been bitten all over both forearms by something. I would be itchy and scratching for the next 2 weeks, hoping nothing would be growing under my skin and emerging.


Re: Chickadee in KNP Dec/Jan 2011/2012

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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Wed May 09, 2012 2:12 am Unread post
I hated to leave Bateleur, this camp will be included in my list of favorite camps. I didn't have too far to go today, Bateleur to Shirheni so I took my time as I drove to Shingwedzi and had a nice breakfast at the restaurant there. I drove the Shingwedzi roads killing time, but there was not much going on. Nothing going on at Kanidood. I didn't have too many nice pictures to share today. I took the fewest amount of pictures today on any trip.

Along the route I pulled over and was watching the riverbed. A movement off to my right caught my attention. A glance. What? a big baboon or a leopard crossed the river near the Red Rocks. I immediately drove to the spot, but couldn't find a baboon troop or a leopard. This is one of those sightings where all you have is nothing but the moment of recognition of "something". The tail was down, that's all I've got folks. I think if was a leopard but honestly can't claim it. So I am still looking. Then the cutest thing, a bunch of about 20 mongoose crossed the river, again, no picture, just the moment.

Yellow-billed stork

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For sarafl, I got my next gas at Shingwedzi, 3/4 of a tank cost ~ 600 rand. This was from the fill up from Mopani to Punda to Crooks Corner and down to Bateleur and then to Shingwedzi.

Hadeda ibis

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Hammerkopf

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Spoonbills, 1st one
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Big ellie

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I got to Sirheni and I must say I was disappointed. I can't say why, but maybe it was the lack of "new" sightings from the day…I had a great time on the roads, pulling in and watching quietly, but, well, things were just quiet, no fault of Sirheni. It was a friendly check-in, I guess I was a bit disappointed in my bungalow, #8. I had no view. I was still experiencing a bit of dizziness and it was very hot so I couldn't walk around too much. I sat back and rested and enjoyed the animals around the bungalow. I could not get a picture, but I ticked a purple turaco and was surprised at how small they are.

My neighbor

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What kind anyone?

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White-browed robin chat

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I went for an late afternoon drive, but the thick bush yielded no surprises other than, once again unexpected klippies.

I got bit by a mosquito. My rice burned and I had to throw it out. Once again a meal didn't work out. Janet.....????


Re: Chickadee in KNP Dec/Jan 2011/2012

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Sat May 12, 2012 4:14 pm Unread post
It's Tuesday, January 3, 2012. I am heading to Satara 200 KM away and I leave Sirheni at 0540 AM. No time for monkey shines, but I decide to drive the Mphongolo road out one last time. It has been quiet in the past, but extremely enjoyable. It's a nice road to get lost in. The klippspringers are back, where's their koppie? I can't figure out some of the klippie sightings I've seen this trip, they are not where I expect them.

I see the usuals, watching all the trees for leopards, but I am having no luck in that arena. There's a huge herd of buffalo, some waterbucks, impalas, and a huge bull elephant that appeared out of nowhere only 20 feet from me when I stopped to photo a bee-eater. Whoa! Quick acceleration out of there!

European bee eater with an elephant on my shoulder

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I made it to the main road around 0730 and saw more zebras, wildebeests, impala and two lions off in the distance. Two guys I had run into on an earlier day waved me down for the lions. Lions they said, the same thing they said earlier. Earlier they said the same thing only to find the were dreaming. This time tho, as we recognized each other, it was real.

Lion pair

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Around 1030, someone on the road was driving toward me and began waving wildy as they approached. This was 1/3/12 at around 1030, any forumites without a yellow ribbon that were traveling north on the main road from Satara want to chime in? I assume it was a forumite????

Then there was a family of hornbills, Middlevlei was awesome, I came up to Malopenyana WH and was happy to see a 6 tssebe come up to drink, not good pictures tho. Some ostriches, warts, at Letaba Bridge at 1225 came across some nice views. Time to put the camera down and remember. Then on and on, crossing the Olifants, taking in the scene that I love, swallows, ellies, hippos, giraffes and buff, on an on, to Ngotso North, in the past scene of hyenas, through leopardville , memories from other trips are flooding my brain, our PJ drive, the lions mating…all from other trips, this was familiar territory for me. I checked into Satara in #169 at around 1530 took my drive down the S100. Boy, was it good to be back on this road.

Zebra

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Rhino

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Ellie

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I came upon a crash of rhino. Here's one.

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Some nice zebras

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I am signed up for a sunset drive, guess where we go? S100. I see some of the same animals I saw earlier.

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Rhino crash, there were 7.

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Kruger sunset

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As the night closed in, we came across 3 hyena. They were very agitated our driver said, but we couldn't tell why. We had to get moving because it was getting late and the night drive would be using our vehicle. As we moved forward, it was apparent why the hyenas were upset. We stopped again. A big male lion was at their den! He was waiting. The hyenas were watching him and making sounds, all upset. As we watched a little hyena came out of the den wondering at what was going on. The lion crouched. I held my breath…..Yikes, the little one thought and ducked safely back into the den. We hated to leave, but we were late. The lion laid back down and I wonder what that night drive saw when they returned to that den later.

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Re: Chickadee in KNP Dec/Jan 2011/2012

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Junior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:29 am
Posts: 130
Location: Herndon, Virginia
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Sat May 12, 2012 6:13 pm Unread post
It's Wednesday I think or Thursday, but the trip is almost over. But, there's a lot you can see in 3 days. Today I plan to get away from the tar roads and drive the S-40, hit S-39 at Timbavati and make my way to Tamboti. Ahhh, Tamboti. I love that camp and can't wait to sit on the deck over the river. But first, a stop at the corner lion spot. Cars are stopped to watch a couple of lionesses with cubs. They're are in the sun and I suspect they will be on the move before too long, but I have places to go, roads to travel.

Morning lionesses near Satara

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Some zebras

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Carmine bee-eater, 1st one

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Waterbuck

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Kori bustard

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There is so much game about the plains of Satara, this waterhole had so much activity.

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Steenbok

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Ellie a Ngirivane

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I came across this Martial eagle with a duck. I could tell that because in one of my pictures I can see one gruesome webbed foot.

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Magpie shrike

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Snake eagle

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White stork, 1st one

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I make it to Timbavati and turn south on the S-39. It is a pleasure to be know where I am and still be lost to the rest of the world. As I turn a corner, there is a tree, and as I have with every tree, I scan for leopards. YES!!! I can still shake my head and smile. It was so sudden and she was just there. Our encounter didn't last long. She was very nervous and almost took off immediately, but settled down for a few moments. I was able to get off a few quick shots. She posed a bit, then jumped out of the tree and was hidden in the tall grass. It was awesome.

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About 5 minutes later I met a car full of folks, kicking up dust and going way too fast for a gravel road. Well, if that's how they want to drive don't expect to see my leopard lady.

Tamboti was awesome upon arrival. I kicked back to enjoy the peace and the second to last night in the park. Here's where I have to complain. The people next door were part of a group that were in a couple tents at Tamboti. It turned out to be the party tent. These people had no respect for the others in the camp and carried on until late, past 11, laughing shouting and being generally drunk and obnoxious. They spoiled that evening for me.


Re: Chickadee in KNP Dec/Jan 2011/2012

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Junior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:29 am
Posts: 130
Location: Herndon, Virginia
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Sun May 13, 2012 12:45 am Unread post
I was up early and turned to the left. Oh, I meant to go right. Here's a good spot to turn around, right in front of my neighbor's tent. Better turn around here. I backed in with lots of trouble, forward back, forward back forward back, lots of gear changes, really I am a better driver than that, but for some reason, I had a lot of trouble turning around. What??!!, there goes my security horn! Oh my so sorry. How did that happen? I hope I'm not disturbing you folks after your late bachanalia. I managed to stop it after about 20 seconds (oopsie), then casually drove off to Skukuza via S-140 to the S-36, another favorite road of mine.L Bye bye baby goodbye.

Just before the main road I came upon some young jackals. Everyone else was seeing wild dogs but me. The jackals were nice though.

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Jackals and zebra

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Here was a little wildebeest still with umbilical cord.

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Roller

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There was a group of hyenas on the road…

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I came across another rock monitor.

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I passed Talamati, things were quiet. There was no one on the road. I was nearing Lugmag when something caught my eye close to the road. I really need to stop looking so far away. Just off the road was a group of lions and I was all by myself. They weren't doing much, but they were awake. We had seen lions near here on my last trip.

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Jan and I saw a huge herd of sable in 2008, so I was on the lookout. Sure enough, I spotted one lone male. By the time I got my camera up, he was turned away and the opportunity was lost.

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I arrived at Skukuza. This has been a great trip. I can't wait to come back. It was late afternoon when I headed out and made my Final Drive. I made a quick trip into Lake Panic, did a walk near the golf course, then checked out the bird hide.

jacana

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dragon fly

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Then I ended where I began, the little dirt road, just south of the bridge.

I was stopped along the road watching the bee-eaters when a car approached. They were respectful of me, not sure what I was watching. Was it a lion or leopard I'm sure they were wondering hopefully. Then it became apparent to them I was watching little birds. The bee-eaters were entertaining, two of them. A white-fronted and a carmine sharing the same perch. Hunting. Darting after insects, back to the perch and then deciding to both move on. Show over.

White fronted bee-eater

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2 bee eaters at end

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And so after watching the bee-eaters, the car moved up and asked in the local accent, and so what were those little birdies? And without a blink of the eye, I replied, the one with the white throat is a white-fronted bee-eater, they are here all year while the other is a carmine bee-eater, a summer visitor. They thanked me and drove off. I thought, are you kidding me, what just happened? Do I belong here or what? It was so ironic. Thousands of miles from home --and ID-ing the bee-eaters for a carful of locals. And I do belong here because I love it here and I will be back and I will learn more and give more. Thank you Kruger once again.


Re: Chickadee in KNP Dec/Jan 2011/2012

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Junior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:29 am
Posts: 130
Location: Herndon, Virginia
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Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:44 am Unread post
I just picked up on my TR once again myself today. It will be archived shortly and I wanted to thank you all for reading this TR and all your comments. It looks like Jan and I will be back in Kruger September of 2013 with a couple of Kruger Virgins. The plans will be made by October 1st this year and Janet is in charge. I am going along for the ride.

In the meantime, I will be checking out the Pantanal of Brazil next month, then hoping to capitalize on the solar max and aurora borealis in northern Norway next March, north of Tromso.

@normana53 -- I am a Nikon girl all the way. I used 2 bodies on this trip, a DS300 and a DS700. I had different lenses, my longest being the Sigma Bigma 500mm and then some various Nikon lenses. I alternated cameras with the long lens and couldn't see a difference.

Take care everyone, I have been avoiding the TRs lately because I can't take the lengthy wait. As we get closer to September 2013, I'll be saying hello a lot more. Take care everyone!

Love you all and many happy memories, Chickadee
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