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 Post subject: Super Mongoose's First time at Tsendze. KNP, March '13
Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 10:38 pm 
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Location: Pretoria North
They say time flies when your having fun, but his year started with a bang and not much fun. So image our delight that we are leaving for Kruger in 6 hours! Me and Skillie will be staying one night at Mopani, just because we've never been there, then 8 nights at Tsendze (on stand number 26 recommend by the Mites) for the first time ever and then back to Mopani for one more night just to make sure we did not miss anything there.

Our previous Kruger trip to Satara in October gave us great sightings and we saw absolutely everything (except Wild dogs, that I've only seen once before near Sukuza when I was 10 or 12 years old). For this trip I know we will see a lot less, but also no traffic jams and I'm hoping for great bird sightings, some lifers and some big tuskers. Mainly we want to get away from the everyday mad rush and what better place to relax and distress than at Tsendze!

So again I will hand out Rhino stickers, take plenty photos and keep a dairy. Once we're back I will start a trip report even before the dust settled!

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_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!
Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


Last edited by Super Mongoose on Fri Apr 05, 2013 9:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:30 am 
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Location: Pretoria North
:hello: to all the Mites!

We got back last Monday night after an awesome trip to Tzendze! What an experience we had!

The only drawback after going away is catching up with all work that piled up while you where away, not even to mention the laundry...... so I caught up on all the work and laundry last week and from today I can spend all my extra time on the forum! Must confess, I really MISSED the forum and all my forum friends!

I kept a short dairy every day on the trip and my intentions was to post it every night, but the vodacom signal was really bad, coming and going and none of the posts I submitted reached the forum. But not to worry, a full trip report will follow!

This was a trip of many many small things and plenty birds (about 14 lifers for us), also plenty buffs and ellies around every corner that always seemed to be in a bad mood, we were charged by ellies three times and once I thought this is how we are going to die............. The first couple of nights I would jump if a big spider or red roman ran across the ground sheet, but later I got used to them and just stood still. Until the last night I switched on my torch after going to bed and a huge spider sat right next to my face on the tent's wall. I made Skillie get up and chase the spider out, but before the spider got to the door he disappeared behind our bags and then I could not sleep!

Hey Rosemary, thanx for the reply! We had a safe trip there and back, took our time and enjoyed driving through Magoebaskloof both ways.

Hey Kaapsedraai, thanx for the reply! We love camping, but the two nights we spend at Mopani was absolutely great! The Shipandani hide was our first and last stop of almost everyday, wish that was my backyard!

Hey Mel, thanx for the reply! I missed the webcams and hope you cammers caught it all!

Hey Manicwalker, thanx for the reply! It was so nice to drive through the gates of Kruger again, but too soon you see the wrong side of the gate again, that's the side when you have to leave.....

Hey Trrrpie, thanx for the reply! Me and Skillie could relax and unwind at Tsendze with all the birds and the Wood-land Kingfishers singing their song for us everyday! The days after being back home, I could still hear them calling in my head and would go outside looking just to make sure, but not WLK's in Pretoria.....

Hey MM, thanx for the reply! We did not catch germs this time, but the bugs and mozzies almost carried us away into the river.

Hey Phillip, thanx for the reply! Me and Skillie had an amazing adventure and we will be back at Tsendze and will explore the north a bit more next time, waiting for Shingwetzi to open again.

Hey SL, thanx for the reply! We had awesome sightings indeed and hope you will enjoy the TR!

Hey Vinkie, thanx for the reply! Glad you will be joining the TR, your turn is also getting closer! ps: will mail your parcel beginning April!

Hey Heksie, yes were back and I really missed you guys! I was so lekker, I would have loved to stay another week!

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_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!
Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


Last edited by Super Mongoose on Fri Apr 05, 2013 9:50 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:50 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:46 am
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Location: Pretoria North
8 March 2013, Day 1

Me and Skillie were already packed the weekend before and we left home Friday morning around 4 o'clock. We drove from Pta-North via Polokwane, Magoebaskloof in the mist, Tzaneen, Phalaborwa. We arrived at the Phalaborwa gate 10 0'clock after filling up with diesel and buying some snacks. Checking in at the gate went quick and smooth and the security company managing the gate was evidently more secure than before, checking the bakkie and trailer for weapons, ect. I gave the guard one of my Rhino stickers and then everybody wanted one and for their friends and I was to happy to hand them out. When we left the park on our last day we saw the Rhino stickers on the staff vehicles and on the security company's vehicle. I was so happy!

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We parked to check in at reception.

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This is the happy side of the gate!

After entering the gate it was already 37 degrees and we took the first dirt road available since we don't like driving on the tar roads to much. Taking the S131 leading to the low maintenance roads north-east parallel to the H14. We did not see much since the mopanies were so dense and our eyes were not in bush mode yet. We did spot a few Impalas and a lonely Ellie bull far away under a big tree taking his midday break.

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It was impossible not to notice all the Golden Orb Spiders seemingly hanging freely in the air. There were millions and millions everywhere, between all the mopanies were huge webs, some with four to eight spiders, some with males and females, some webs were five meters high, some with recent catches neatly cacooned in spider web to eat later.

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Now I really don't like spiders. Any other bugs or insects or snakes I really don't mind, but seeing these huge webs and huge spiders gave me the creeps. While on the dirt road there were no webs across the road, but on the low maintenance two track road the webs were spun across the road and Skillie had to drive through the webs and some of the spiders landed on the wind screen, quietly freeking me out, but I kept my cool.... since the wind blew them off eventually.

Then one spider decided that it must be nicer inside the Hilux. The spider landed on the wind screen and the wind blew it onto the roof and she (the males are a lot smaller than the females) reached the window and made a web down into the hilux. Luckily on Skillie's side (I would have died!!), by the time he saw the spider it was on his knee and without any fuss or panic he picked up the spider web and lifted it out the window.

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This is the spider back out side were she belongs, but not happy being on the ground.

Now you get three types of Golden Orb Spiders: Banded-Legged (yellow and black legs), Black-Legged (Black legs with blueish abdomen) and Red-Legged, like the one above. They are named after the golden colour of their huge round webs. Now what I can't find in the books is what will eat them? There are millions and would be a great diet for some bird or reptile.

Luckily not just spiders along the way, but the real reason we came this time of the year, the summer visitors! European Rollers were every where and pretty over whelming if you've never seen one before and Skillie had to stop for every one of them. Also along the way some European Bee-eaters, Lilac Breasted Rollers and a few LBJ's that I still need to ID. (The Rollers don't eat the spiders, they would sit on the same tree that the web is spun from looking for other insects.)

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European Roller

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Lilac-Breasted Roller

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Saboti Lark

Now these low maintenance roads do not have names or numbers, but what an awesome experience to drive. You feel like you're really far away from everything in the African bush. Driving is slow, nothing more than 10 to 15km/hour and it was hot, 40 degrees, but with the excitement of being back in Kruger, the heat did not matter. Near the Ellie under the tree we met the only other vehicle on the road, the rest of the way it was just us.

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The white roads on the map is the low maintenance roads and is the only ones on the map, except for east of the Lebombo Mountains, meaning other side the border. (That's if my map is up to date.)

Eventually we got back on to the Mopani/Phalaborwa tar road near the Shivulani river cul-de-sac and the temperature gauge was on 43 degrees. We rolled up the windows and switched on the air-conditioner. Other side the Letaba river we saw our only Njala bull, a beautiful big bull right on the side of the road. But he got a fright and bolted off before I could take a picture.

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Before we knew it we were at Mopani, were we stayed the night and then again on our last night. It was to early to check in (check in is only after 2 o'clock) so we went and had the best lunch ever at the restaurant. The restaurant is under new management since sometime last year and not part of the restaurant-chain in the other main camps. The drinks, fancy with straws and cherries in stylish glasses. The food was tasty and delicious and presented in a way I've never seen before. The bill was nothing more, maybe a bit less than what we pay in Pretoria. We were pleasantly surprised and booked a table for dinner....

_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!
Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


Last edited by Super Mongoose on Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:03 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 6:06 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:46 am
Posts: 1967
Location: Pretoria North
Day 1, continue

After a great lunch that could have been served in the best private game lodge, we walked down to the lower deck beneath the restaurant because I spotted something red in the dead hardwood trees now standing in the water since the Pioneer dam is fuller than full. The water’s edge is right up to the fence and some places the fence in standing in the water. To my delight the something red in the dead hardwood was our first Carmine Bee-eaters! A bit far, but there they were!

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It was time to check in to our hut, #54 and conveniently walking distance to everything. We could not see the dam, but we were surrounded by lizards big and small, Tree Squirrels and birds all over. In a nice air conditioned hut we took an afternoon rest and were ready to take a late the afternoon drive just to the nearby bird hides and Mooiplaas waterhole.

The hide facing east was perfect and the sun was behind us. In front of the hide there were Hippo blowing bubbles, grunting loudly at each other and floating up and down, crocodiles basking in the afternoon sun on the opposite bank, Water Thick-knees guarding there nesting sites, an Egyptian Geese couple, Blacksmith Lapwings, Red-Billed Queleas and our first big bird, a Goliath Heron. It was so quiet with no other people at the hide and we spent more than an hour there.

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The Egyptian Geese couple with the Goliath Heron in the reeds.

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The Red-billed Queleas in small groups made turns to fly down to the water for a drink.

We left the Shipandani hide and drove to the Pioneerdam hide. The hide facing west and we looked straight into the sun. We didn’t stay long and decided to go back and give Mooiplaas waterhole a quick visit.

On the way back to the causeway at the Shipandani hide we spotted our first Buffalo way back in between the Mopanies. We thought he was huge and I think one forget how big they are if you haven't seen one for a while.

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When we got to the causeway there were a few Black Crakes catching water bugs and a Crocodile right next to the causeway waiting for something to catch. The water ran over the causeway from north to south so it was not fish he was waiting for. The Goliath Heron we spotted from the hide was nicely in view now.

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The Black Crakes are really tiny but not shy or skittish at all.

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The Croc was so close, his head almost did not fit in my camera's 18mm lens.

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The Goliath Heron we saw from the hide.

As went drove up from the causeway and over the hump a family of Giraffes came to drink water next to the road but I think we startled them. Some were already out on the ridge and some still crossed the road. Some Red-billed Oxpeckers were catching a ride while having their dinner. This was our first long necks and one would think it won’t be a problem to spot them amongst the Mopanies, but the Mopanies are so dense and high and they disappeared completely.

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We drove on to Mooiplaas and still the European and Lilac Breast Rollers perched on the tree tops and luckily they liked sitting right next to the road where they could spot the bugs in the road and on the road’s shoulder were the Mopanies were cleared.

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At Mooiplaas waterhole the Mopanies made way for wide open grassland and a few Zebras and a Blue wildebeest were clearly going to spend the night there. And then just when the light has gone to take decent photos, a family of Southern Ground Hornbills with a youngster appeared amongst the grass and we were very happy to see them on the first day. With the bad light I took a few photos and it turned out these were the only Ground Hornbills we saw. The grass was beautiful green and tall and I could just imagine everything lying in the grass we could not see….

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The Ground Hornbills did not come any closer and the light was not great for these photos.

It was time to go back and turning around this was the sunset over the dam.

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We arrived a little bit late for gate closing time at Mopani, but we were waved off with a friendly warning. We arrived for dinner at the restaurant before sunset. The bats came out and then all of a sudden a small dark hawk was diving and following them, we had no idea what it was, but the friendly couple sitting next to us told us it was a Bat Hawk. Apparently not something you see every day and they hunt only at dusk. But this little guy stayed out later, the lights from the deck overlooking the dam attracted loads of insects and the bats followed and he could hunt in the light coming from the deck.

Dinner was superb with generous portions and all our compliments to the chef! If was still very hot and counted ourselves lucky to be sleeping in a hut with air conditioning tonight, from tomorrow we will be ruffing it. But just after we went to bed the power went out and we had a head start on sleeping HOT. Actually I enjoyed the peace and quiet with no air conditioners running all over the camp, but we had to shower again the next morning.

Tomorrow we will check out of luxury and check in to rustic, just the why we like it.

_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!
Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 8:22 pm 
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Posts: 1967
Location: Pretoria North
Day 2, March 9

After a hot long night we were up early, we were happy to spend our first full day in Kruger! Yesterday we found out that we could only check in after 10am at Tsendze and since there were other campers on camp site # 26 there were not even a chance to pitch the tents before the heat gauge hits 40 again. In the mean time Skillie discovered that the back door of the trailer got damaged yesterday when we had to drive through a very very deep ditch created by the recent rains on one of the low maintenance roads we drove. The spare wheel mounted on the back door hit the edge of the ditch and the door now had a huge gap of 5cm at the bottom. It seemed like the spare wheel is mounted a to low and since its mounted on the door, bend the door. Luckily because we drove so slow on the low maintenance roads, not much dust got into the trailer. So we decided to leave the trailer in our hut’s parking spot since we only have to check out at 10am.

It was still early and we took the road to Mooiplaas waterhole. It was dead quite at the waterhole but this young White-fronted Plover was next to the road glowing in the morning sun.

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We sat a while and still no visitors to the waterhole. We drove onwards on the S50 and spotted our first Ostriches between the Mopanies.

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Along the way just more and more European Rollers on top of the trees.

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The Mopanies were so dense and we saw nothing else all the way to the Nishawu Marshlands. It was so nice to break through the Mopanies for a change and there we saw black lapwings, European and Lilac-breasted Rollers and Grey-Hornbills. We sat in the open a while, but the green-green grass was as tall as the Hilux’s windows and all we spotted were an Ellie in the distance.

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We drove on towards the S143 and along the way the Rollers decorated the trees. We were still in awe seeing these beautiful birds everywhere and stopped for almost all of them taking pictures. I stopped counting European Rollers at 40 that morning. All I can say is: luckily birds fly the skies and like to sit on top of the Mopanies….

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We turned left on to the S143 or better known as the Tropic of Capricorn Loop (the rest of the S50 are closed) and the Mopanies seemed to open up a bit. A European Roller caught a grasshopper in the road a I caught him taking off.

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We always spot Magpie Shrikes and this is the first time I could get any photos of them. They always take off as soon as you stop.

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Then we saw our first Steenbokkie. She was adorable, she was kneeling under some grass and came out to look at us, then went back to her hiding spot again.

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Another summer visitor, a Lesser Kestrel on a tree top, a lifer for us!

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Then another summer visitor, a Lesser Grey Shrike, another lifer for us!

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At last some Carmine Bee-eaters right next to the road and I got the chance to take a million photos!

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The Mopanies opened up and all of a sudden it was like the “Massai Mara” in front of us. We were at Tihongonyeni waterhole, green waving grass with animals and birds everywhere you look, 360 degrees! There were Zebra, Blue-wildbeast, dozens of Ostriches, ELAND and TSETSSEBE! And more summer visitors, dozens and dozens of White Storks, European and Carmine Bee-eaters hovering above the grass and dozens of Barn Swallows. Also Kruger’s resident Egyptian Geese, Comb Ducks and Red-billed Teals, Blacksmith and Crowned Lapwings everywhere and thousands of Red-billed Queleas.

Photos to follow....

_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!
Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 7:42 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:46 am
Posts: 1967
Location: Pretoria North
Day 2, continue

This was our first time ever in the Mopani / Tsendze area and we’ve never heard of Tihongonyeni waterhole before. We were overwhelmed by everything around us not knowing where to look first and what to photograph when. The Mopanies were “gone” and it felt like we could “breath” with our eyes inhaling everything around us.

On the left of the waterhole in one photo Zebra, Blue Wildbeast and Ostriches.

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Both sides of the road were dozens and dozens of white storks wandering through the green grass dotted with wild flowers foraging for insects.

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Zebras were everywhere the eye could see, playing and chasing each other.

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The water's edge were dotted with Zebra, Duck and Storks.

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In the distance to the right of the waterhole Zebras and Eland.

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Also in the distance behind the waterhole, Zebra, Blue wildbeast and Tsetsebe.

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Eventually we had to leave in order to check out at Mopani before 10 o’clock and to check in to Tsendze. We turned onto the S144 and the Mopanies closed up again. But still decorating the tree tops were the Rollers and Bee-eaters. Back onto tar on the H1-6 and we saw our first Leopard Tortoise crosssing the road and Skillie could take a picture of his name sake.

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Back at Mopani we just hooked the trailer and went to check out of Mopani and checked in at Tsendze at the same time.

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By then the temperature gauge stood on 36 degrees and we decided to drive to Letaba on the H1-6 tar road with the air-conditioner on high and to have lunch there. Then when we return the afternoon much later it would be a better time and temperature to pitch the tent at Tsendze.

Day 2, to continue....

_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!
Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


Last edited by Super Mongoose on Sun Mar 31, 2013 9:33 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 7:35 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:46 am
Posts: 1967
Location: Pretoria North
Day 2, continue

By the time we arrived at Letaba the temperature gauge stood on 43 degrees, it was HOT and it felt like we were going to melt. All the way there we saw very little through the lumens green curtain of Mopanies. Along the way we spotted some more Carmine Bee-eaters - at this stage we still stopped for almost all of them to take pictures.

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A welcome break came at the Letaba River’s high water bridge were visitors are allowed to get out of their vehicles between the two yellow lines. There we saw our first Spoonbill, some Egyptian geese, Hippo and Crocodiles, Waterbuck, a Giraffe in the distance and the Letaba Fish.

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The Spoonbill were looking for lunch.

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The Egyptian Geese couple in the shade of the bridge.

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The fish in the river and I have no idea what specie they are.

A few kilometers from Letaba driving along the river we spotted some Ellies in the river, Impala on the river bank, some Monkeys in the trees and a huge Rock Monitor crossing the road.

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Old "One Tusk" is what we call this Ellie, this is the third visit to the park that we saw him near Letaba.

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The Impies were hiding in the shade from the sun.

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The Rock Monitor were in a big hurry, I think his feet was burning on the hot tar.

Arriving at Letaba was like always AWESOME! The huge trees shading the whole camp, the gorgeous view over the riverbed, the resident Bushbuck walking around seemingly without noticing all the ooo’s and aaa’s and clicking of the cameras and a place to sit down, have lunch and something cold to drink. Skillie also found a place to fix the door of the trailer – a really huge Apple Leaf tree did the job.

From where we were sitting on the veranda of the restaurant we spotted in the riverbed: Waterbuck, Zebra, Impala, the same Ellies we saw coming, a pair of Fish Eagles, 2 Saddle-bill Storks, a Marabou Stork, a Pied Kingfisher and White-fronted Bee-eaters.

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The view over the river.

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The Pied Kingfisher also looking to catch something for lunch.

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The Saddle-billed Storks were running up and down the water also trying to catch lunch.

As we were about to leave it was the Bushbuck family’s turn to come and show off with a baby!

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Then is was time to leave Letaba and take the long road back to North and make camp at Tsendze!

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Day 2, to continue....

_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!
Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2013 9:56 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:46 am
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Location: Pretoria North
Day 2, continue

Driving back along the riverbed near Letaba we were treated again, a beautiful Waterbuck, a Giraffe family and “Old One Tusk” was leaving the riverbed.

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Our first Waterbuck Bull and in good condition.

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There were Giraffes on the river bank and then they crossed the road.

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Far in the background next to the road is "Old One Tusk" waiting to entertain us a bit after lunch.

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The pictures tell it all, that was "Old One Tusk's" no entry sign.

We took a little detour to Matabeni Bird Hide on the S62 and saw the resident Hippos and Crocs, White-fronted Bee-eaters and to our delight our first Chinspot Batis pair! When we got the the hide the Hippo bulls were displaying their tusks and grunting at each other, only the camera was still in the bag. After that, I never put the camera back into the bag again.

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The pair of Chinspots was in the tree right in front of the hide.

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The beautiful White-fronted Bee-eaters were getting hot to, but still dived out of the tree every now and then coming back to the same branch again.

Back on the H1-6 we only saw a lone Ellie Bull near Twisapple waterhole, Rollers and some Bee-eaters.

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We took the long Tsendze Loop and really enjoyed the river views. We saw a few Impala and Zebra along the way. Almost at the end of the loop we spotted a Giant Kingfisher looking for dinner. This was a lifer for me, since Skillie was one last year at Swartvlei.

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Not a great picture, but it's my first Giant Kingfisher!

At long last we arrived at Tsendze around 4 o’clock and the temperature gauge still stood on 40 degrees.

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Hot or not, we had to man up and get to work. Before we knew it we were done and could sit down and relax.

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That evening Roger and Elinah came around to meet and greet us. We had a long chat about the forum and the mites that’s been visiting lately and all the sightings we had the day. Roger pointed out for us the calls of the Scops Owl, Pearl Spotted and Barred Owlets. I gave Roger a copy of the new 2013 Kruger Weg/Go Magazine in which there is a nice photo of him in the Tsendze article. Roger is a bit famous already and I thought it would be nice to show his family.

That night we slept hot, but so well. The chorus of the bush and the Scopsies smoothed us all night long. Before 4 o’clock the next morning we were woken by the day bush choir lead by the Emerald Spotted Doves. We were slow to get up and get moving. We made breakfast and enjoyed the beautiful bush surrounding us. Rodger came around again and we talked for a while about the owls and birds. Roger truly loves nature, especially birds and he knows all their names in English and Afrikaans and all their calls. We left camp around 10 o’clock straight to the “Massai Mara”.

To follow, Day 3.

_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!
Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:15 am 
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Location: Pretoria North
Mites, please feel free to copy and to use the message below as a signature, wallpaper, stickers or posters to spread awareness! If you like send me a PM and I will forward you the artwork.

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Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2013 9:00 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Pretoria North
Day 3, March 10

After another hot night we woke up to a much better overcast sky and the temperature gauge never went over 26 degrees. For the rest of the trip we had the same great weather, what a huge relieve! This turned out to be a day for the birds, literally!

We were out the gate around 9 o’clock after a nice breakfast and just sitting in camp listening to the birds singing from dawn. We were still in awe of everything we saw at Tihongonyeni and went straight back the “Massai Mara”! We took the H1-6 North and near the Tropic of Capricorn we saw a Marabou Stork sitting in a tree. Now my Dad use to call them “Ashoop-voëls” (translation Rubbish dump birds), so I had to take a pic as Marabous always remind me of my childhood visiting Kruger. Marabou’s legs are actually black, but they urinate on their legs to cool down and the ammonia and saltpeter stains their legs white.

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We turned east onto the S144 and then the S143 and before we knew it we were at Tihongonyeni!

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We were not disappointed and first to great us were Zebra and White Storks. But then we noticed the Carmine Bee-eaters following the White Storks catching the bugs that fly up when the White Storks walk through the tall grass. They were hovering above the Storks in the breeze and dive down in a split second catching a bug.

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All round us were huge flocks of Red-billed Queleas.

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Today the Eland were a lot closer.

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Also the Tsetsebe were a lot closer and made better photos.

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A small herd of Buffalo were to east of the waterhole, but Zebra and Blue Wildebeest were everywhere.

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The huge herd of Ostriches were still there with the young ones lying in the grass and the older ones were in a good mood and dancing. Right in front of the Ostriches sat two Blonde Tawny Eagles.

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The waterhole’s edge was a "Bird Feast"!

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To follow, more of the little "Massai Mara" including a huge pink lifer for us, also a red one and a .............

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Last edited by Super Mongoose on Sat Apr 13, 2013 9:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:33 pm 
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Location: Pretoria North
Day 3, continue

Looking around at all the birds all around us, we spotted our first lifer for the day: Collard Pratincoles! (Afrikaans: Rooivlerk Springkaanvoël) There were 2 of them near the edge of the road.

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Collard Pratincoles are rare migrant breeders during our summer months and are now considered near-threatened in Southern Africa. They are always found near a large water body or on flood plains. What is incredible is their wingspan: 60 to 65 cm! Their wings are long and pointed like that of a seagull and a rusty red colour underneath the wing only visible when flying Their nests are only little hollow scrapes in the ground and the eggs look like little rocks for camouflage. They mainly feed on insects early morning and around dusk again and will follow cattle or game disturbing the insects. That’s why we found them here in the little “Massai Mara”.

Looking through the binoculars at all the animals behind the waterhole we saw another lifer: Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest! A bit far away and not great pics, but there they were, two of them.

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The Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest has very poor smell, but very good eye sight and are often found on ant hills surveying the area. They were hunted to extinction in the late 19th early 20th century in South Africa and a total of 18 were reintroduced from Malawi into Kruger during 1985/86. They were kept in breeding enclosures and 91 were released in to the park between 1990 to 1994 in Northern Kruger and another 31 in the South in 1994. About 40 free-living Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest survived between 1994 to 1998. It would be interesting to know what their numbers are at the moment.

The lifers did not stop, at the edge of the water sat a huge Great White Pelican!

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Great White Pelicans are classified as near-threatened in Southern Africa due to the ongoing degradation and human disturbance of wetlands, lakes and lagoons. They are normally found in big flocks up to a several hundred. Males can weigh up to 11kgs and females 8kgs, but impressive is their wingspan: 2.5 to 3.6 meters! They spend a lot of time sleeping during the day and diet not only on fish, but regularly scavenge and eat other water fowl’s eggs and chicks!

There were dozens of little Barn Swallows sitting in the road trying to warm up a bit and now and then they flew up to go and sit half a meter further.

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Right in front of the waterhole was an old Elephant carcass that’s obviously been there for a long time. Two Hooded Vultures was still looking around for some left over scraps. They pair for life and are classified as vulnerable in Southern Africa.

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A Lesser Grey Shrike came to sit on a branch right next to us. They are common to uncommon non-breeding summer visitors to South Africa and are not under thread, but mostly found in protected areas. They diet on insects, mainly on beetles.

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To our delight the 2 Tawny Eagles took off and gave us a little show, they were either courting or fighting, not to sure. Then they landed on the other side of the waterhole as if nothing happened. They are resident and move locally depending on the food available like the Red-billed Quelea colonies. They are predators, scavengers and pirates! In South Africa they are classified as vulnerable, but in Namibia they are endangered!

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The White Storks were in abundance all around us and these two Storks took off just to go and land on the other side of the road.

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White Storks are non-breeding migrants during our summer months October to March. They were formerly classified as rare in South Africa, but they are no longer a concern, which is great! They like open woodland, grassland and wetlands and that’s why they just love it here at Tihongonyeni. What is impressive is their size: 100-125 cm tall, weighs around 3,5 kg and a wingspan of 1.55-1.65 meters! They mainly feed on insects especially caterpillars, but will also eat mice and small reptiles.

The Plovers were all in abundance too, Three-banded Plovers and White-fronted Plovers, along with the Crowned Lapwings and Blacksmith Lapwings. Since the grass was so tall it was hard to get nice photos of them, but this White-fronted Plover sat in a small clearing not too far from us.

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We stayed there at our “Massai Mara” AKA Tihongongeni waterhole for more than 4 hours just soaking up everything around us. It was time to leave this place of wonder and see what the rest of the S143 and S50 would show us today. Our day was far from over!

_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!
Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


Last edited by Super Mongoose on Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:07 pm 
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Location: Pretoria North
Day 3, continue

It was time to leave this place of wonder and see what the rest of the S143 and S50 would show us today. Towards the east end of the S143 the Mopanies are not so dense and more thorn trees are present. Here we saw Zebra, Waterbuck, Giraffes and a few far away Ellies. Because it was still overcast there were more raptors in the trees and Bee-eaters hanging like Christmas trimmings on thin branches.

A beautiful Zebra fowl against the lush green African bush.

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A of the Carmine Bee-eater balancing in the wind on a thin twig.

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The European Bee-eaters also hanging onto the thin branches in the breeze.

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The two Waterbuck cow's brown coats stands out against the bright green background.

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A small herd of Giraffes were both sides of the road.

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A beautiful Wahlberg’s Eagle sat hidden in a tree but Skillie was quick to spot him. Wahlberg’s Eagles can be seen in three colors: pale, intermediate and dark. They too are summer breeding migrants to Southern Africa and not currently under threat, but some populations are decreasing due to habitat destruction in Limpopo Province and Zimbabwe.

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On the S50 going south the Marshes are to the east and the Mopanies to the west are still spaced out with open grass patches. Here we saw Impalas, Giraffes, Blue Wildebeest, a Kori Bustard with some Bee-eaters, another raptor sitting in a tree, more beautiful Rollers, a scattered heard of Buffalo, Ellie bull in the tall grass and lots of Skillies.

At last we saw some Impies! You miss them it you don't see them everywhere....

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Some more beautiful Giraffes crossed the road right in front of us.

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Lots more to come on the rest of this road...

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Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:22 pm 
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Day 3, continue

Still on the S50 more than two hours after we left Tihongonyeni we only drove 10 or 12km. Near a small herd of Blue-wildebeest, one of the world’s largest flying birds, a Kori Bustard were being harassed by tiny Carmine Bee-eaters. The Bee-eaters where hovering in front of his head in order to catch any bugs flushed out by the Kori Bustard moving through the tall grass and he was clearly very annoyed with them blocking his way.

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This is a very tall bird and males could reach 1,50m and could weigh 12,4kg with a wingspan up to 2,5m. They diet on insects and love eating dung beetles, but will also feast on small reptiles and other bird’s eggs and nestlings. Interesting fact is that they love eating the gum from the Acacia trees and will eat roots, bulbs and flowers. The Kori Bustard is resident to Southern Africa and are classified as vulnerable due to habitat loss, accidental poisoning and poaching by snaring them under the Acacia trees were they eat the gum.

Buffalo were spread out both sides of the road and some were resting in the tall grass.

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Then another raptor in a tree, a Martial Eagle, one of my favorite raptors! Overcast windy days are great for us twitches because the raptors are then in the trees or on the ground.

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Martial Eagles are not threatened globally, but are considered vulnerable in South Africa, especially outside protected areas and considered endangered in Namibia due to persecution on farmlands. What a shame, these are magnificent big birds and it’s only when you see them up close how big they really are. Males weigh around 3.3kg, 78-83cm tall with a wingspan between 1.9-2.4m. Because they are able to catch small antelope, jackal and baboons, they will catch farmer’s lams, goat kids and chickens if nothing else is available. They are excellent reptile hunters and many monitor lizards has fallen prey to a Martial Eagle.

On the road sign to Nshawa No.2 waterhole sat an European Roller and he did not mind a bit when we stopped right next to him snapping 100s of photos!

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Our best Ellie of the day feeding in the middle of the marsh at Nshawa No.2.

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Along the way we found a few Leopard Tortoises crossing the road including a tiny one.

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We turned west towards Mooiplaas waterhole and the Mopanies closed up again into a solid green curtain, but then just before we got totally board, we were at Mooiplaas waterhole where ones eye can “breath” again over the open march and grassland.

More to come and another lifer back at camp! :tongue:

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Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 6:00 pm 
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Location: Pretoria North
Day 3, continue

We turned west towards Mooiplaas waterhole and the Mopanies closed up again into a solid green curtain, but then just before we got totally board, we were at Mooiplaas waterhole where ones eye can “breath” again over the open march and grassland.

There, right next to the road was a small heard of Tsetsebe! It turned out to be a great day for rare antelopes. A couple of Ostriches joined them and made a nice seen with the windmill in the background. A little Wood Sandpiper was in the mash looking for a snack.

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The Ostriches and Tsetsebe at Mooiplaas waterhole.

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Almost missed this little guy, a Wood Sandpiper in the march.

It was time to go back to camp and relax, all the way back we did not see anything, except the beautiful Rollers on top of the green Mopanie wall. We were out all day and were overwhelmed with everything we saw, especially all the birds that included a few lifers. Little did we know there was another lifer waiting for us just on the other side of the fence.

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We hardly sat down and Rodger came to call us to come and look at something. We walked to the other side of the camp to number 14 and other side the fence in a big Apple leaf tree. In the tree sat a beautiful Verreax’s Eagle Owl with his catch, a Small-spotted Genet. The Eagle Owl is a lifer for us and what a great sighting just other side the fence. He sat dead still like a statue and it almost looked like he grew a tail. We did not stay to long in order for him to eat his dinner, just wish he caught a rat and not a genet.

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The Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl are resident and widespread in the north and east of Southern Africa. They love well-wooded savanna and woodland areas and are currently classified as vulnerable because of their large size, low density and low reproductive output. This is a big bird weighing in at 1,7-2,3 kg, 58-65 cm. The females are slightly bigger than the males. They mainly hunt at night on a wide range of prey up to half grown monkeys and warthog piglets. They also prey on other birds from small ones to big ones like herons and other owls including the Pel’s Fishing Owl. They like to take over large platform stick nests, but will nest in tree hollows or holes.

We had an early dinner since we planned to drive to Phalaborwa tomorrow via the low maintenance roads and come back via Sable dam. Up to know the Ellies had been very friendly, but tomorrow will be a whole different story…..

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The Tsendze bush just other side the fence.

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Our "home" at Tsendze....

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.... and a great bush dinner almost ready!

End of Day 3

_________________
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Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Mon May 06, 2013 8:35 pm 
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Location: Pretoria North
Day 4, 11 March 2013, Part One

We were up early, the plan was to drive to Phalaborwa along the low maintenance roads, get to the gate around midday, do some shopping in town and return via Sable Dam and Masorini Picnic spot.

We turned south on the H1-6 heading towards the Phalaborwa road. It was quiet and our first sighting was not so nice: a dead green snake that got killed on the road not too long ago. Not far from the snake we were stopped by an Tawny Eagle witch just caught a chameleon for breakfast and took off not long after we arrived.

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I think it’s a Green Mamba according to my snake book, but I’m not an expert… The Green Mamba is smaller and more slender than the Black Mamba. The Green Mamba’s head is long and flat-sided with a white mouth. The body is covered is smooth dull scales in a brilliant green colour with a lighter belly. They are rarely seen and are mostly arboreal gliding easily though the tree canopy searching for small mammals and birds. Bites are very rare, but the venom may cause death from paralysis. They are found though out the east of Southern Africa.

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I hoped that the Tawny Eagle would find the dead snake later and on our return later that day the snake was gone.

We turned onto the Phalaborwa road (H14) and at one of the big “puddles” next to the road we spotted a lone female Knob-billed Duck and at the next waterhole was a lone Hippo witch took a dive before I could take a photograph but the dam’s big tree with the little weaver nests made a good picture.

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This is a female Knob-billed Duck. Knob-billed ducks are not threatened and number have increased over the years especially in protected areas.

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Before we got the low water bridge we had to stop for a Zebra-crossing witch we always enjoy. Zebra make the best pictures and the stripes on one of them were very interesting, as if someone messed up the paint job before the paint was dry.

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Along the way a Mopani worm thought the Mopani leaves on the other side of the road must be a lot tastier!

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At the low water bridge we spotted a Woodland Kingfisher, a Terrapin and a lazy old Crocodile. We’ve heard the Woodland Kingfishers since we arrived in Kruger and spotted a few around Tsendze, but this one sat still for a nice picture.

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The Woodland Kingfisher is one of my favourite summer visitors! They are Intra-Africa migrants and have strong numbers. Their call is just synonymous with the bush veld in summer. They prefer open woodland savanna, particularly along rivers, swamps and wetland fringes. They eat almost anything from grasshoppers, lizards, small snakes, frogs and small birds.

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Before we knew it we were at the turnoff for the low maintenance road and the adventure could begin. The best part of driving along these little roads is that we did not encounter any other vehicles, all alone in the African bush just the way we like it!

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Day 4, to continue......

_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!
Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


Last edited by Super Mongoose on Wed May 08, 2013 8:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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