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 Post subject: Morkel777's Pilgrims to the Green Kalahari - March 2012
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:05 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Okay, so I better get this started. I have just finished catching up on my November 2011 KTP report which I titled "Cheetah Fest 2011" (you can read it here: viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=65779).

That particular trip was spur-of-the-moment and slotted in when I could get a quick week off from work before switching to a different department.

THIS trip was already planned and paid for at that time...

We would spend 2 weeks in the Kalahari from the end of February to middle March 2012.
Hop on board and see where this took us...I am starting the processing of the images as I type this.

:mrgreen: :clap: :cam: :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Pilgrims to the Green Kalahari - March 2012
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:15 pm 
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Thanks guys.

Sorry to hear about your trip that was cancelled, Michael!! :cry: :wall:

For those who missed it - here's the previous KTP TR I just finished:
viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=65779

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 Post subject: Re: Pilgrims to the Green Kalahari - March 2012
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:42 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Okay folks, I'll get you started! Thanks for hopping on board.
This will be a short installment, and I'll only be able to continue after Christmas :wink:

Itinerary for the trip:
26,27 Feb - Twee Rivieren
28,29 Feb - Nossob
1,2 March - Nossob
3,4,5,6,7 March - MataMata
8 March - Twee Rivieren

12 nights of Kalahari bliss! :popcorn:
Let's roll :sniper:


Day 1: Twee Rivieren

We arrived after a long drive in a VERY green Kalahari. This was our first time that we came in the rainy season, and it won't be the last.

Our first afternoon drive we set off north in the Auob riverbed. There was a storm that had just passed into the dune fields, which made for amazing light and lungs full of crisp clean fresh air... :dance:

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A rainbow - with a gemsbok...

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Just a springbok - look at that light!

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We came across some Gemsbok males settling a dispute...intensely... :big_eyes:

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We returned to camp without any real noteworthy sightings, and lit the fire for the braai.

SO was suffering from a bad toothache (a side-effect of her being 4 months pregnant) and it looked like we might need to get her to the dentist in Upington the next day... :hmz:

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 Post subject: Re: Pilgrims to the Green Kalahari - March 2012
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:29 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks for following along everyone.
I hope you had a GREAT Christmas and New Year's celebration...

I'm ready to jump back in if you are... :whistle:


Day 2: Twee Rivieren

It had rained lightly during the night and was overcast this morning. We headed out to Rooiputs - with a view of going to Kij Kij and over the dune road to come back to camp via Auchterlonie.

It was quiet going up to about 2km before Leeuwdril when I spotted movement under a roadside camelthorn tree...

Kittens! African Wild Cat kittens! The one was very shy and stayed hidden, but this one was curious. The light was awful - overcast before sunrise...and this first photo was taken at ISO-51200...that's right 51200. :big_eyes: :dance: After that I made some adjustments and had to make due with ISO-5000 :wink:

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I was furious that the Rooiputs waterhole was now closed again after it was open during our November trip. I would be even more furious later on in our trip (on our last morning :evil: :wall: )

We found fresh lion tracks on the Botswana road just past Rooiputs. Soon we found him - a younger male patrolling the territory. The bigger one was just behind this ridge and out of sight :cry: .

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Taking in the scent of another lion...

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...followed by the customary Flehmen response...

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Soon afterwards he also disappeared over the ridge to the Botswana side. :?

We pressed on, but it was a very quiet drive from there on. Here are some highlights:

Immature Gymnogene

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Abdim's Stork

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Lanner Falcon and Yellow-Billed Kites

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Hartebeest

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And a Gemsbok...

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We got back to camp...had brunch...and then I had to leave for Upington with my SO and LO. SO was just past her first trimester with our second LO and had been struggling with toothache since we left home. Eventually she got an emergency root canal and we had to drive all the way back to the park again. At least I came back in time for a quick afternoon drive... :hmz:

Stay tuned...

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 Post subject: Re: Pilgrims to the Green Kalahari - March 2012
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 11:12 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Much appreciated, folks...luckily SO was 100% after the root canal and she could enjoy the trip. :whistle: :thumbs_up: :popcorn:


Day 2: Twee Rivieren

My solo afternoon drive was to Leeuwdril and back. Our friends had stayed behind while we detoured to Upington, and they went up the Auob and found a cheetah (as I later found out when we returned to camp).

Some sightings from my short drive:

Mini Hartebeests:

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Kori Bustard:

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Steenbok:

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Running Hartebeest:

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And this Secretary Bird which was kind enough to take off and fly straight at me! :big_eyes: :clap:

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I went back to camp and we started packing after our braai - headed to Nossob early the next morning! :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Pilgrims to the Green Kalahari - March 2012
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 4:56 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thank you for all your kind comments.

I have been very busy of late, but at last I can continue with this TR.

(BTW our trip buddies were recently registered member Felix999 and his SO, so look out for some of his TRs soon)


Day 3: Twee Rivieren to Nossob

The next morning after a rainstorm during the night, we were out first and en route to Nossob...

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Suddenly Felix999 stopped - a lioness had crossed the road in front of their car...she was in a hurry and didn't even look back...

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This secretary bird was drenched...

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Some more wet wildlife...

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...more to follow...
:popcorn: :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Pilgrims to the Green Kalahari - March 2012
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 1:50 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks for stopping by everyone...


Day 3: Twee Rivieren to Nossob

Some more from our drive up to Nossob...

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We reached Nossob and checked in. Coming up to the camp I noticed hordes of kites (yellow-billed and black kites) perched in the riverbed, brought here by a termite spawn. It provided some great action during our stay at Nossob.

I sat in the hide later that afternoon, watching and photographing the kites coming and going around the waterhole.

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...to be continued...

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 Post subject: Re: Pilgrims to the Green Kalahari - March 2012
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:43 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thank you all very much for the kind words!! :mrgreen: :clap: :dance:


Day 3: Twee Rivieren to Nossob

Last sightings from Marie-se-draai...it was a quiet afternoon...

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Day 4:Nossob

Some more kites in the early morning light

Black Kites

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Yellow-Billed Kite

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The rest of the morning was super quiet... :cry:

Our friends had headed north to sleep in Grootkolk for the night, while we stayed behind with our little one.

This Lanner Falcon visited the hide at lunchtime:

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This Goshawk was perched on the road up north to Bedinkt that afternoon...

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This jackal came to drink at Bedinkt...

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This is the storm we saw towards the direction of Grootkolk while sitting at Bedinkt...

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We drove back and I made one last turn at Marie's. There were 2 lionesses but they were lying obscured in the bushes on the hill. These Abdim's Storks were roosting for the night...

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And a stormy sunset to cap things off...

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Would tomorrow be a busier day? It was quiet today, but still nice to just be in this magical place...

:hmz: :whistle:

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 Post subject: Re: Pilgrims to the Green Kalahari - March 2012
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:46 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thanks guys and girls!! :dance: :mrgreen:


Day 4:Nossob

The following morning I was out solo again, and I was out early in search of lions to the north. I wanted to head as far as Polentswa...

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It was a VERY frustrating morning to say the least!! I found VERY fresh lion tracks just after Kwang - seemingly belonging to a whole pride - but the grass was just so long that they really needed to be IN the road for me to spot them...

:wall: :doh: :evil:

I eventually found 4 young males next to the road close to Kousaunt...

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And I spent a few minutes with the drinking sandgrouse at Kousaunt...

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The light was already bad so I headed back.

At Kwang I noticed another vehicle and they pointed me up the dune side opposite the waterhole where a spotted hyena was scavenging a kill made by lions (too far for photos). That's probably where the pride was lying...

After another relaxing (but hot) afternoon spent resting and swimming...we decided to spend time that afternoon photographing the kites in golden light...

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Some Abdim's Storks joined the party...

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By now our friends, Felix999 and his SO, were back from Grootkolk and our travelling party was fully present.

That night I tried some star photography but I didn't have much time and the moon was up...I would have to get up at 4am to time it with the setting of the full moon the next time.

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What would the next day hold?

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 Post subject: Re: Pilgrims to the Green Kalahari - March 2012
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:20 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thanks a lot guys.
Please be patient - time is not on my side to edit photos...was very busy at work and also at night with our 2 babies :mrgreen:

I am off to the Southern Drakensberg for some family R&R next week, will continue upon my return! :clap:

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 Post subject: Re: Pilgrims to the Green Kalahari - March 2012
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2013 1:11 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thanks everyone for your patience! :redface:
At last I can continue... :dance:

Day 5: Nossob

We were first out of the gate, headed North...and guess what we saw not too far from camp?
A family of spots! :big_eyes:

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Mom and 3 cubs coming from the Botswana side...

They moved quickly and there was only time for a few pics (the long grass didn't help either!) :hmz: :wall:

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This is my favourite from this sighting:

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They disappeared into the long grass on the SA side...and we pushed on...
We were looking for the Kwang/Bedinkt pride again and couldn't find them... :evil:

Yet, a little past Bedinkt we found this...3 brothers drinking from the puddles of the previous night's storm...

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...stay tuned...more to come... :popcorn: :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Pilgrims to the Green Kalahari - March 2012
Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:58 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thank you all... :mrgreen: :thumbs_up:


Day 5: Nossob

We stayed with the 3 cheetah brothers while they quenched their thirst... :clap:

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Eventually they moved off into the dunes, and we pushed on...

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The rest of the drive up to Kousaunt and Polentswa was very quiet, and so was the drive back down...
What would the afternoon deliver? :tongue: :cam:

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 Post subject: Re: Pilgrims to the Green Kalahari - March 2012
Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 11:32 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Dear friends...I am terribly sorry for making you wait so long.
I just couldn't get round to it. Life, work, kids, more safaris :lol: , everything got in the way.

Here I am ready to finish this one up. Still a couple of days to go (7 to be exact) and some great sightings. Hope you're still on board/// :hmz: :whistle: :popcorn:

Picking up after we left the cheetah brothers... :cam: :cam:

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 Post subject: Re: Pilgrims to the Green Kalahari - March 2012
Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 11:56 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Day 5: Nossob

We went all the way up to Bedinkt, and then Kousaunt...with nothing much but some gemsbok and ground squirrels to show us the way.

Back at camp, we had some downtime, some swim-time (it was HOT!) and some siesta time. After that I went into the hide again - the kites were still around...

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That night, we played around with some more starscapes...

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These photos were actually taken at around 4am as we had to wait for the moon to set for better visibility of the Milky Way. We could see storm clouds and lightning to the East.

We decided to head up north quickly to look for the pride of lions that had been eluding us so skillfully, but we had to be back at 9am to check out and head towards Mata-Mata!

What will the day hold?
:hmz:

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 Post subject: Re: Pilgrims to the Green Kalahari - March 2012
Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2013 12:29 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thanks everyone.

There are a lot of tutorials online about shooting "starscapes". The most important tips I can give are these:

1. use a sturdy tripod
2. wait for the moon to set
3. get a wide-angle lens that has a fast aperture, preferably f2.8 (f3.5 will do too but once you go f4 your lens cannot "collect enough light" to really make the stars "pop" without you pushing the ISO way beyond usable).
4. set exposure time between 25 and 30 seconds, but not longer (longer than 30s on a wide angle will see the effect of the earth's rotation more visibly)
5. set ISO high, preferably 2500 to 6400 if your camera can handle it
6. use a torch to paint the foreground - I usually bounce the light off my hand for a warmer tone and more even spread of light

Day 6: Nossob

We set off to the north as the gates opened, hoping to find our elusive Kwang lion pride at last. The sun was rising through a rain storm to the East, it was spectacular...

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Shortly after passing Kwang...we found them at last. Unfortunately, they were doing what lions do best - being useless! :evil: :wall: :doh:

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Luckily this female popped up and gave us a chance for a few quick portraits...

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We had to leave them after about 30 minutes though, as we had to get to Mata-Mata for our next checking in!

On the way there we had some visitors...

Kaspersdraai
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Kamqua
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Urikaruus
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13th Borehole
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We arrived at Mata-Mata without further excitement. Our friends were sleeping in KTC for the night before joining us at Mata-Mata. We checked into the awesome riverfront chalet and had some siesta time...

:thumbs_up:

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