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Just another boring KTP trip report -Sep/Oct 07

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wanderw
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Just another boring KTP trip report -Sep/Oct 07

Unread postby wanderw » Sun Oct 14, 2007 3:21 pm

20th September 2007 - Catnapped!

In a state of great anticipation, we left CT at 3.45pm and had an interesting drive, spotting some Blue Cranes, Red Bishops, Herons, Ostriches, Black Shouldered and Yellow Billed Kites on the way. The sun disappeared very fast and we arrived at our overnight stop at Van Rhynsdorp at 7.30pm. We were made welcome and let into our self-catering chalet by Anneke and a ghostly white cat! Eagle Eyes immediately doted over the cat and when Anneke left, the cat didn’t. It turned out that the cat was not Anneke’s, but a wanderer who had turned up some time before. We had a relaxing evening (although Eagle Eyes became a bit wary of “Avenger” who was quite a “wild “cat with very sharp teeth and claws) and, at about 7.00am the next morning, we left the little town in a thick mist.. Just before, Anneke came to inquire about the cat’s whereabouts - Avenger seemed to have vanished in the night!

21st September

We took the direct route through Calvinia to Upington, making quite a few stops along the way to test some of the towns’ biltong and droe wors making skills, adding to our “pad kos” for the park. Unfortunately it seems that the truckers have discovered this road now, as we passed many massive trucks, some who seemed to enjoy hogging the road.. Game spotting along the way included Baboons(Van Rhyns Pass), Springbok, Yellow Mongoose, Jackal Buzzard, Steppe Buzzard, Pale Chanting Goshawks, Greater Kestrels, White-Quilled Korhaans, Kori Bustard, and our first Sociable Weavers’ nest 40km South of Kenhardt. On past trips we have always been lucky with Martial Eagles around Kenhardt, but this time it seemed that our luck had run out.

After a quick stop for lunch outside Upington, we were off again to Twee Rivieren and hit ‘THE GRAVEL ROAD’, after trying to deflate our tyres at Molopo with a broken pressure gauge. The road was alright in parts, the worst sections being the detours - we had a very close encounter with a big rig and trailer coming the other way on one of them, a particularly narrow section and the trailer was drifting our way in the sand. Even our teenager ‘WeZL’ surfaced out of his iPod world long enough for him to say “Eish, we are going to be sandwiched!”. The truck driver managed to slow down and went past us at a crawl and all was well! When we started hitting a lot of corrugations, we made a little detour onto the ‘donkey track’ and this made the rest of the ride to TR relatively smooth except for a 45° drift!!!!!!!!!!!!!, and we arrived at the camp just after 4.00pm. Booking in was easy and the staff very friendly, and after unpacking quickly at our ‘family cottage’, we left on our first game drive at 4.50pm.

Just to explain - in our car it is a free-for-all with cameras, whoever is on the ’right’ side grabs the nearest camera (hopefully also the best camera) and shoots, so credits will appear under pics when we know for certain who actually took the pic.

Now over to Eagle Eyes for our first game drive and spotting highlight(s):

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Eagle Eyes
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Unread postby Eagle Eyes » Sun Oct 14, 2007 3:38 pm

Before I even think about our sightings I must say that on that day just past Upington it was 40-45°C. Now I can start. Coming into the park about 20kms from TR, I spotted a colony of suricates in the classic pose. However when dad reversed the suricates took flight so we didn’t get any pics. As soon as we got to TR I checked the spotting board. Not much, just some lions. After dad checked the tires, we went on a game drive. We went along the Nossob side. It was very quiet round Samevloeing but just after it, we saw a giant eagle owl.
There were a lot of cars up ahead so we went to see what was up. Lying down on the dunes were two lionesses. Not bad for our first game drive. The lionesses did what lions do best, lazing around, so we left. On our way back to camp we saw a martial eagle perched in a tree and a tawny eagle. Back at Samevloeing we saw an eland. [our first sighting in the park.] We also saw another one at the TR waterhole. Now for some pics:
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Eagle Eyes' landscape pic of the lion dune
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wanderw
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Unread postby wanderw » Mon Oct 15, 2007 8:10 pm

Just to add - a certain someone lived up to her forum name with the suricate spot! It was certainly the best spot of the day, maybe even the trip! :wink: As hard as we tried,we could not spot suricate again on this trip! :(

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wanderw
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Unread postby wanderw » Mon Oct 15, 2007 9:08 pm

22nd September - Bribery and the Big Chill(Part 1)

This was supposed to be one of our few ‘chilling’ days, again staying at TR that night. After booking 2 nights at Grootkolk a few weeks before, I had to rearrange our accommodation plans and unfortunately it included moving camps every night other than the 2 nights at TR and Grootkolk. So what? Well, we have a teenager who is used to surfacing at noon on non- school days, and the thought of getting up early every morning bar 2 in school holidays was just TOO MUCH! SO and I get very excited when we are in the park and are usually awake at 5.30am, so we would really love to go on early morning game drives. Suggesting an early morning drive on this day would probably lead to a total rebellion! However, there is always a solution to a problem, and the easiest way to solve a male teenage problem is - through the tum! So, at 6.25am we were ready and waiting, 6th in the queue for the gate! (Having promised a full-on brunch of eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms and toast, and a ‘chilling’ period later in the day)

An old gentleman,1st in line, was smiling broadly and said “the early bird always catches the worm’.Ah, but cats catch (out) birds -not the other way round! We got out of the gate 6.35am, with those ahead of us hightailing it up the Nossob to find the lions. After a few hundred meters we had been overtaken by another 4 cars, and after the dust clouds settled, we were ready for our expedition into the Kgalagadi morning. We planned to have a look at Samevloeing, then head out along the Aoub, away from the maddening crowds!

Samevloeing was bathed in gold, with a kori bustard drinking at the waterhole. All was peaceful and we sat for a few minutes enjoying the beauty and silence -all on our own!
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When SO suggested carrying on up the Aoub, yours truly pleaded for a quick drive-by of a certain camel-thorn tree(which jb72 had mentioned was a favourite haunt of a famous dotted duo - thank you jb72). We had found the tree the previous afternoon, but no luck then. Maybe we would be lucky now. A guy in the line that morning had said that the leopard had made a kill at Samevloeing a few days ago, so she was still in the area. We headed up the Nossob road for a few kms, scrutinised the tree but no leopard! SO did a U turn and after being held up by some gnus crossing the road, and us doing some shooting, we headed back to Samevloeing.

Gnu profile!
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Back at Samevloeing, peace reigned..................... for a further 5 seconds!!!!!

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Craig
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Unread postby Craig » Tue Oct 16, 2007 10:01 am

wanderw wrote:Just to add - a certain someone lived up to her forum name with the suricate spot! It was certainly the best spot of the day, maybe even the trip! :wink: As hard as we tried,we could not spot suricate again on this trip! :(


They were very hard to find weren't they?

Just before the photo safari we spotted some quite by chance. One was sitting in a small bush keeping an eye out while his buddies foraged in the scrub on either side of the road.

We made a note of the GPS co-ordinates, and gave them to Madach when we met up. A day or so later he and DuQues went looking for them and found the spot, but none of our suricate friends were around.

A day later we were driving along the same road and spotted another group, we again made a note of the co-ords and told Madach not 10 minutes later (he was on the same road coming in the other direction), but when he got there he had again missed them. It's amazing how quick they can disappear.

Up to the point that we left they still hadn't seen suricate. I sure hope they have managed to see them by now. They're in Namibia at the moment.

Cheers
Craig

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wanderw
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Unread postby wanderw » Tue Oct 16, 2007 2:12 pm

@ Craig - Was it a dune road perhaps? We were told that the suricates had moved into the dunes because of the drought. We did very little of the dune roads, so maybe that's why we weren't lucky with a second spot. :(

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Unread postby Craig » Tue Oct 16, 2007 2:17 pm

Hi,

No this was on the Auob road near Munro waterhole.

We saw virtually nothing on the dune roads.

- Craig

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Unread postby Dreamer » Tue Oct 16, 2007 4:26 pm

Craig and Wanderw, sounds like we were all lucky, pity Madach had no luck with co-ords and all.
We were on our way to Kielie Krankie and just before Auchterlonie had a superb sighting of these gorgeous suricates. One sure does have to be super quick with the camera, however they did obligue!!
Thanks Wander and Eagle Eyes, look forward to more. SO and 'teenager' are very quiet :twisted:

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Unread postby Eagle Eyes » Tue Oct 16, 2007 8:54 pm

An eland drinking at the waterhole, the sign of tranquillity.
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Suddenly, from the dunes, a tawny shape trotted towards the waterhole.
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A LIONESS!

The eland did not even notice. The lioness trotted to about 20 metres away from the eland. It made a run for the eland. Finally the eland looked up and saw the lioness. It started to run but it was too late. The lioness swiped at the eland’s back legs and jumped on it’s back.
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The lioness strangled the eland but then the lioness dropped the eland and walked off to drink.
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wanderw
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Unread postby wanderw » Tue Oct 16, 2007 9:21 pm

Emotions in the car were ambivalent - excitement, horror and sadness. I remember Eagle Eyes saying "but the eland is so young,it hasn't had a life yet". I kept on repeating "oh no!" and started to shake like I'd just come out of icey water. We knew it was going to happen, we could see the lioness getting closer and the young eland drinking, and that time seemed to be in slow motion. And then time stood still until the lioness dropped the eland,and we came out of the daze!

Eagle Eyes was the only one who took a pic of the luckless youngster, other pics by Wezl and SO.

And this was only the beginning........
(Will post the next bit tonight)

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wanderw
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Unread postby wanderw » Tue Oct 16, 2007 10:12 pm

The lioness strangled the eland and suddenly dropped it and went to have a drink. A male youngster bounded up and looked confused, and the eland moved. We then realised that we were slap bang in the middle of "lion school".

Our most emotional pic - the eland and young male looking at one another.
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This lion was alone for a few minutes and clearly did not know what to do.
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Two others joined him,very excited.
Finally the lioness came back, with another adult female, and finished off the job.
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After the eating and drinking and socializing -another lesson - Keep Trying!(this lesson was much easier to watch!)
Stalking!
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(how would you feel if this was coming towards you?)
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And again.....
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And again!
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The young ones sure had a lot to learn,stalking out in the open, but the eland nearly always ran at the last minute!

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Unread postby Bush Baptist » Wed Oct 17, 2007 5:02 pm

Get outa here wanderw & tribe. :twisted: You guys are serial kill watchers :shock: The double kill of cheetah on springbok a while back comes to mind. :naughty: Why do you go there if you cannot handle such action. :hmz: You guys are kill magnets.

Let me also remind sensitive viewers that the big bad beasties eat what they can catch and have to kill it first. :shock: Africa isn't for sissies.
Whatever (according to BB): "You are correct but I don't want to admit it".

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wanderw
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Unread postby wanderw » Wed Oct 17, 2007 8:11 pm

GavinW, timbo and Batsman - thanx for your replies!

Now for BB :twisted: - We can handle the action, and feel strong emotion(s) at the same time! Maybe you should try getting in touch with your :angel: side?( I thought you had after reading your report and listening to your tale of the hartebeest birth at Addo, as well as you being"secretary" of the CT forumites 8) )As for "kill magnets" - we have been extremely 'lucky' on our last 3 trips - just been in the right place at the right time. On all of our previous trips we have seen distant sleeping lions and if we were very lucky - very distant sightings of spotted cats! Gee ,we got so excited in April 2006 because we actually saw a Kalahari lion walk - all of 10 meters - before he flopped down again!

On this trip,there were 'special' circumstances - the drought, the eland herds coming over from Botswana, and the lions staked out at the waterholes!!! :)

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wanderw
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Unread postby wanderw » Fri Oct 19, 2007 4:43 pm

Thanx for the comments p@m and peterbee! :)

Onwards......Some pics to balance out what has gone before!
A killer 5 minutes ago!
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It was great being allowed to watch these moments!
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This was the young lioness who kept on trying the most!
In total there were 7 lions at Samevloeing - 2 lionesses and 5 youngsters, and no big males(at least not visible when we were there - probably sleeping a few hundred meters away :wink: )

And a mellow moment for the young eland as well - bonding!
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Unread postby Eagle Eyes » Sun Oct 21, 2007 9:51 am

Just one more pic :wink: ............
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Taken by yours truely. One of my favorites!
Working on the next part of the report.


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