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 Post subject: umtali1's Nuggets from a trip to Mokala and KNP, Oct. '13.
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 2:38 pm 
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This tale is a set of reflections on our trip to SA to celebrate our Wedding Anniversary (we didn’t REALLY need an excuse though).

You might like to climb aboard. We don't mind if it gets crowded.


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Why Mokala?
My SO and I decided that this trip should include a part of SA that we have never visited in the past 30 years from the UK. So, after doing some research, we chose Mokala as the reports and description of the park on the forums made it very appealing.

After driving from Benoni for about 7 hours with the usual N12/N3 hold-ups, and having picked up supplies in Kimberley, we set off down 25kms of dirt road from the N12 to the Mokala Park and its Mosu Lodge. On reaching the lodge we found this little green oasis in the middle of a still quite brown landscape with attractive thatched buildings and friendly warthogs mowing the grass.


The chalets are arranged alongside a waterhole so you are not overlooked. Vehicles are parked near reception so guests aren’t disturbed by the early birds. Inside we found ours very comfortable and well equipped.

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We had chosen a self-catering chalet with a good view of the waterhole which was lit at night.


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The camp also boasts an excellent restaurant where food is locally sourced from within the park and where we enjoyed some delicious food. (Gave my SO a break from braai-ing!). The view from the stoep outside could while away an afternoon...


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We even had our personal stoep swallows.....

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We were definitely looking forward to what we would see in the next couple of days....

u


Last edited by umtali1 on Sat Nov 23, 2013 11:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Nuggets from a trip to Mokala & Kruger in October 2013 # 2
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 6:03 pm 
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Rare breeds

Mokala is a reserve where Sanparks is concentrating on preserving some rarer breeds, mainly antelope and rhino. There are no large predators in the park (not a BIG5 park), so the animals are more relaxed, concentrating on eating rather and drinking rather than looking and listening, but quite scared of vehicles since they see so few - they do run off fairly quickly.

We were lucky enough to see most species, including:

eland,

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roan,

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gemsbok,

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red hartebeest,

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black wildebeest,

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(they are really strange looking creatures with their horns pointing forward.)
and springbok, but they were toooo quick for the camera :(

They also have a herd of disease free buffalo. Sable eluded us (we would see several in the Kruger).
While on a sunset drive our guide pointed out a black springbok!

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doing what it really had to do. Not sure the tree was big enough for its modesty tho...

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White rhino were sighted as well.

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The enjoyable feature of this sunset drive was that we got quickly taken off the tourist roads which enabled us to see an area which is not accessible to the visitors. During this drive he explained more about the work inside the park. This included the reason for the rather pale looking zebra we had seen – a breeding programme in the park to get as close to the dna of the now extinct quagga.

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as opposed to those with more normal markings, also in Mokala

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We haven’t mentioned everything that we saw in Mokala as these species are quite common in other parks. They may have their chance to shine in a later episode….


Last edited by umtali1 on Sat Nov 23, 2013 11:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Nuggets from a trip to Mokala and Kruger in October 2013
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 5:10 pm 
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Wrong picture published earlier - it was a tsessebee. (Thanks arks :thumbs_up: )

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This ought to be the red hartebeest :pray: .......

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Last edited by umtali1 on Sat Nov 23, 2013 11:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Nuggets from a trip to Mokala and Kruger in October 2013 #2
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:55 am 
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Thank you Kaapsedraai and Pumbaa for your comments :clap: :clap:

It's great that so many of you are interested in these antelope :thanx:

We have added a few more photos for you to enjoy.......

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The next pikkies were taken in the Kruger. Both breeds can be seen in Mokala but we were not lucky enough to find them there :(

The mountain reedbuck was around Pretoriouskop.

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This magnificent sable was at Talamati

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Only on one occasion in all our visits to the Kruger have we seen roan antelope and never seen eland. So going to a park like Mokala you could almost guarantee spotting most of the rarer breeds.


Last edited by umtali1 on Sat Nov 23, 2013 11:14 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Nuggets from a trip to Mokala and Kruger in October 2013
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:25 am 
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Ok....... have found a bigger bus :dance:

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and more vittles......

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They should be ready for when we get back...no carbon......cooked by solar.......


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 Post subject: Nuggets from a trip to Mokala and Kruger in October 2013 #3
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 2:04 pm 
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Picnic sites and bird hides

We love finding a picnic site so that you can get out of the car and be ‘in the bush’ – well, as close as you can get to it without breaking the rules.

Mokala has two such places.

Kammeeldoring - Not another person in sight. We have the bush all to ourselves – apart from the animals. The picnic tables have been well spaced out; you are never on top of the next group while enjoying a drink or snack, looking at and listening to everything going on around you.

Tucked away on the Kammeeldoring loop this picnic site also has very clean loos.

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And if you obey the rules you can get out of your bus..

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but please always look behind you !

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Not far away is a small waterhole which was very busy with animals crossing just metres from you.

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We discovered the Stofdam bird hide, also in Mokala. A reasonable large hide, with a loo :clap: , is set up close to the water. Such a fantastic place to see all creatures, great and small, come down to drink. It’s a bird lover’s paradise.

Posted as Egyptian Goose but subsequently ID'd as African Shelduck and ducklings

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Yellow-fronted Canary :hmz:

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Red-eyed Bulbul

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Even a violet-eared Waxbill

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Blacksmith plover

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There are mousebirds here as well as others we couldn’t ID at the time

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This bird is …….?

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And to show Stofdam’s not just all birds there was this handsome gemsbok on the opposite bank.

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Swallows and swifts were scooping over the water for a drink every few minutes
(sorry toooo swift to keep in the frame).

There was something happening all the time. We can totally understand why people suggest you take your flask and munchies and sit for hours – and we did :D

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When we are in the Talamati area in the Kruger we love to pop into the Muzandzeni picnic spot on the S36. The chance for a cool drink from the fridge or cup of tea from the kettle.

On this occasion some elephants were grazing close by while another two were testing their strength at the nearby waterhole. Even a bull twice their size couldn’t stop them!

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Later in our trip we went back to one of our favourites - the Pafuri picnic place, right at the top of KNP, is another place we love. This time though evidence of the damage done by the 2013 floods was everywhere as we approached the site.

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The force of water had really rearranged the vegetation, opening up new vistas. Well done to everyone who has been involved in getting the site reopen. A lot of clearing up had to be done and bridges and road made good. The site was back to normal with Frank's kettle always on the go.

You see something from small
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upwards
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Frank was as cheerful as ever, always ready with his knowledge of the birds and always willing to help ID anything. Like these wood sandpiper and plover..

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He pointed out this croc which we hadn’t seen as we were birding… :slap:

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And we glimpsed a Nyala on the opposite bank

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As we left we noticed a very strong herbal aroma in the area. :hmz: Wonder what plant it was?

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On our way to Letaba from Shingwedzi, we dropped in at Mooiplaas.

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Always a lovely place to sit overlooking the Tsendze river.

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We saw this green backed heron going about its business.

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And some LBJs for someone else to id (we all like a ID challenge)

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After wondering around several of the roads around Afsaal, we were ready for a loo stop and to quench our thirst. We were pleased to see that Afsaal was cleaner and tidier than our previous visit in 2011 although more commercial than it was in 1986 when we first came to the Kruger.

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We just had to call in at Tshokwane on our way to Satara to see how it had recovered from the floods earlier this year. We were amazed at how high the river came – you could see where the vegetation had been dumped. As we were hungry we opted for bacon butties but while my SO was waiting in the rather long queue he saw some freshly baked pies being brought out. As they looked so good he bought pies instead. They were venison and simply delicious.

Talamati’s bird hide will be covered later…..


Last edited by umtali1 on Sat Nov 23, 2013 11:12 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Nuggets from a trip to Mokala and Kruger in October 2013
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2013 6:28 pm 
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isinkwe wrote:
umtali1 wrote:
Posted as Egyptian Goose but subsequently ID'd as African Shelduck and ducklings

Agreed :thumbs_up: my book calls them "South African Shellduck"

Both books I use do not show the whole head as white as in the picture but they do say in the text "female has a white face(extent of white varies considerably)"


Well the fundi :cam: SO has gone looking for the missing photos
(something to do with flash corruption :roll: ) and has come up with these clarifications ...

The African Shelduck mom and her family at the waters edge
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and her mate
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and the ducklings by themselves - now that would make an id challenge 8)
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Now the real Egyptian Geese in that days birdlist ...
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View our 2013 trip report at http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=75574.

Next trip "Cape Town to Namibia border" - Ebb & Flow at Wilderness, Karoo, Mokala, Augrabies, KTP - booked :-)


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 Post subject: Nuggets from a trip to Mokala and Kruger in October 2013. #4
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 22, 2013 2:01 pm 
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Another nugget.......

Sights and sounds from a waterhole

One of the advantages of driving yourselves around parks like Mokala and the Kruger is that you can drop in at a waterhole and stop for as long as you like and just absorb all that is going on around you. The longer you sit the more you see and hear.

One of our favourites in the Kruger is the Matjuli waterhole near Berg-en-dal. There were lots of canaries, bulbuls and bee-eaters twittering away in the bushes, ignoring a young crowned eagle perched on the top of a tree. Alas, the light wasn’t good enough for a photo.

We almost died from laughter when we saw a pair of young ellies being spoofed by some egrets flying in for a drink. They went racing off into the bush, trumpeting as they went! They did return a little as you can see behind this car that went drove around the waterhole. :naughty:

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We can never go past the Kumana dam on the H1- 3 without stopping. In the past it has been a good place to see leopards; but not this time. We had to be content just with herd animals, hippos, baboons and lots of birds.

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A first for us was the Klopperfontein dam on the S61. Much to our delight this ellie was thoroughly enjoying himself.

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Tihogonyeni always delivers for us and this time was no exception. For those who don't know it, it's an isolated waterhole in a dry plain and so the wild life is very varied. It's well worth spending half an hour or more here. We had only been there a few minutes when a secretary bird and some vultures flew in.

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together with some ostrich and a zebra

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While we were waiting for some wildebeest and zebras to come down, we saw this little Klittliz’s plover close to the car.

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A breeding herd of tsessebee nearby with some CUTE newborns.

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A flock of quelias (I think) emerged from some bushes.

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We wondered how this ellie had come to his end. By the size of the bones we assumed they were those of such a fine beast.

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Back in Mokala, when we were enjoying the evening air and marvelling at the African night sky, accompanied by the sound of bull frogs croaking at the waterhole by Mosu Lodge and the churring of a rufous necked nightjar, we were aware of a clicking sound. It sounded like somebody walking very heavily with a stick. We shone the torches in the direction of the noise to discover it came from a small herd of eland coming for their drink!

A little later that evening we heard the clattering of horns at the waterhole. So off we went to investigate….It was a gemsbok locking horns with anything that came anywhere near the water. (The waterhole is lit so we could see this going on.) He was claiming it as his own!

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View our 2013 trip report at http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=75574.

Next trip "Cape Town to Namibia border" - Ebb & Flow at Wilderness, Karoo, Mokala, Augrabies, KTP - booked :-)


Last edited by umtali1 on Sat Nov 23, 2013 11:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Nuggets from a trip to Mokala and Kruger in October 2013
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 10:18 am 
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Malelane Gate –what a wonderful sight

We only had 3 nights in Mokala – alas!

We were really pleased to have visited this lovely little park with its variety of birdlife, wonderful antelope, beautiful scenery and peaceful ambience.So it was time to move on to the Kruger.

A crimson-breasted bush shrike bade us farewell as we departed through the Lilydale gate on our way to the Kruger.

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That will not be the last you hear of Mokala as we shall be showing nuggets of more birds and animals that have not featured already.

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Our travels took us on the new stretch of the N8 between Kimberley and Bloemfontein and then to a B&B in Bethlehem. Then onward to another B&B near Piet Retief. So after a couple of nights and approx. 1200 km we cast our eyes on that wonderful sight that is the Malelane Gate. We knew that we would be in heaven for 14 nights.

Our stay would be taking us to Pretoriouskop from Malelane Camp, Satara, Talamati, up north to Shingwedzi, back to Letaba and out through Phalaborwa.

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If you look closely, there is a little object on top of the Malelane camp road sign. What would have left it? It looked quite fresh!

Once settled in we set off for a late afternoon drive. It was scorchingly hot. We followed this guy as he sauntered to a wallow to cool down. You could just hear him sighing as he sat in the mud, closed his eyes and enjoyed the cooling effect on his nether regions! Aaah! Such bliss!

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Later on that afternoon we had stopped to admire yet more rhino on a very steep rocky incline rising up from a gully on one of the dirt roads. A vehicle came down the hill towards us, stopped and we exchanged comments on sightings for the day with the occupants. Then the male driver challenged me (I was driving) to start off without rolling back…… Of course I did it…. Obviously he thought a woman driver wasn’t capable of such an achievement!!! He had to clap!

The next day we travelled along the same road. This time my SO was at the wheel. I asked him to stop at the exact same spot. He said “No, you just want me to attempt a stop start.”

“Stop!” I replied, “There’s something in that tree!”

It was this.

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It was eating something and you can see how full its crop is.

My SO did achieve a perfect start.
... (unfortunately).....

It was back to camp to have an early night ready for another day…….

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Next trip "Cape Town to Namibia border" - Ebb & Flow at Wilderness, Karoo, Mokala, Augrabies, KTP - booked :-)


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 Post subject: Nuggets from a trip to Mokala and Kruger October 2013. #5 pt
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 12:45 pm 
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The Drive from Malelane Gate to the nearest camp

If you want to revisit the Kruger via the Malelane gate just indulge yourself ...

switch on your favourite music
or better still some Kruger Wildlife sounds,

sit back and enjoy 15 minutes of the drive from the Malelane gate to Malelane Camp and imagine ........



This video was captured at HD - once it starts playing
click on the cog to adjust to match your connection (cost).

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View our 2013 trip report at http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=75574.

Next trip "Cape Town to Namibia border" - Ebb & Flow at Wilderness, Karoo, Mokala, Augrabies, KTP - booked :-)


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 Post subject: Nuggets from a trip to Mokala and Kruger in October 2013 #6
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 12:50 pm 
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That early morning wake up call

The alarm clock goes off as if it were a fire alarm and you just want to turn over and go back to sleep :zzz …..but then you remember where you are and why you’re getting up this early – for nuggets like these.

There is just something so special about early mornings in the parks.

In Mokala the sky was an azure blue –gorgeous!

The early morning sun just touching these steenbok in Mokala

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this ostrich also in Mokala

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this short-toed rock thrush

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this red hartebeest

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We were quietly driving along enjoying the early morning light in the Kruger when we spotted this blackie looking a little sorry for himself. He eventually got up and wondered off. We were so thrilled to see one for the first time. :dance: :dance:

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(Wonder if this was the same blackie as seen by Hilda and Barryels about 10 days later? :hmz: )

Later on our trip that early departure out the gate – obviously behind ebb and flows - gave us the chance to catch mr. and mrs. bateleur preening themselves in the early light alongside the S100.

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and this lilac-breasted roller

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and this young saddlebilled stork

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and this hyena suckling her young in the early morning light on the H6.

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We often smile coming back into camp for breakfast to see others, having just had theirs, leaving for their ‘morning’ drive. They will never know what they missed…..

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View our 2013 trip report at http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=75574.

Next trip "Cape Town to Namibia border" - Ebb & Flow at Wilderness, Karoo, Mokala, Augrabies, KTP - booked :-)


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 Post subject: Nuggets from a trip to Mokala and Kruger in October 2013 #7
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 12:25 pm 
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Some small birds.

A few years ago we visited the Kruger with our family, for some of whom it was their first visit. Watching their reaction as first timers gave us a new insight to our surroundings, especially when it came to birds. As a result, since then, we take many more bird photos than ever before, in particular small birds.

So we had to share some of our sightings with you, especially as some were ‘firsts’ for us. Some we aren’t sure of their ID, so here’s a chance for you who know your birds to shine!!

First seven birds are in Mokala.

Ant-eating chat

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These swallow-tailed bee-eaters

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Kalahari scrub-robin (we think)

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Lark or pipit?

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Another LBJ?

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Greater striped swallow

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These birds were in the Kruger.

Malachite kingfisher at Transport dam

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Golden-tailed woodpecker (we think)

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There will be more nuggets of our feathered friends later in the TR. Next, we’ll be off to Pretoriouskop after we’ve refuelled the two buses…..

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Next trip "Cape Town to Namibia border" - Ebb & Flow at Wilderness, Karoo, Mokala, Augrabies, KTP - booked :-)


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 Post subject: Re: Nuggets from a trip to Mokala and Kruger in October 2013
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 3:40 pm 
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umtali1 wrote:
Do you think the experts will take up the challenge ?:hmz:


If you put it here Identification Help - LBJs, they definitely will umtali1! :D

By the way, your pictures are not bad at all! :thumbs_up:

Also note an ID thread for Raptors and General birds as well. The experts might not read travel tales, but they normally give help when and wherever they can on these threads. :wink:

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 Post subject: Nuggets from a trip to Mokala and Kruger in October 2013#8
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2013 11:13 am 
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Around Pretoriouskop

Pretoriouskop is one of those camps we have ignored in the past, so we thought we should put that right this time. Tucked away in the southwest corner of the park it has somehow managed to keep that atmosphere of what the early Kruger years might have been like. It is so quiet and restful.

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While wandering among the sycamore figs we came across these green pigeons

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And this purple-crested turaco (hiding away so not a very good photo)

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We also saw brown-headed parrots and an African cuckoo but they were not hanging around for any cameras.

During our drives through the thickly wooded area we caught a glimpse of a large herd of buffalo which were using the dirt tracks cut through the bush but we couldn’t get any really good shots through the trees.

We sat watching a few ellies. This guy decided to show his strength by pulling down a branch and revealing his tonsils! Not a pretty sight!

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By contrast this dainty little klipspringer is a pretty sight !

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The real nugget was seeing mountain reedbuck for the first time.
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We glimpsed white rhino quite a few times keeping themselves well hidden in the bush. It’s amazing how easily they melt away, so apologies for the bum shot.

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On our way from Pretoriouskop to Satara evidence of repair work following the floods.

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So ended our time in the southern quarter of the Kruger. However, you never know what might be around the corner……

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Next trip "Cape Town to Namibia border" - Ebb & Flow at Wilderness, Karoo, Mokala, Augrabies, KTP - booked :-)


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 Post subject: Nuggets from a trip to Mokala and Kruger in October 2013#9
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2013 12:56 pm 
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What’s around the corner?

You just never know what each day will bring and what will be hiding or lurking around the corner or the other side of a dip or hill.
You can be driving along quite calmly, not having seen much, then, all of a sudden, chaos reigns as you grab the camera knocking over anything that gets in the way because you’ve seen……

A martial eagle with a kill

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Just look at the size of its crop!

After we had recovered from that episode and were driving along the Matjuli Loop enjoying the late afternoon light, we rounded a bend and saw something sitting in the road.

Cell phone cameras came into use first as we realised what it was…..

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We approached very slowly so as not scare it off.
It was a feline friend enjoying an evening stroll, marking its territory.

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We were able to watch it for about 5 minutes all to ourselves as it wandered off into the bush, spraying as it went. It had the most beautiful markings.

That sighting made my holiday! :dance: :dance: There’s a saying in our household that, once I have seen a leopard, we can go home! Needless to say the holiday continued with lots more nuggets to come….

Having had a marvellous day around the Luvuvhu area several days later, we were returning to Shingwedzi along the S56 to see what we could spot in the Mphongolo river bed. We had crossed the junction with the S57 to Sirheni , rounded a bend when we came across this fellow…

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He wasn’t going to share the road with anyone. He was quite placid but just kept coming towards us. So reverse gear was engaged. As we reversed we hoped that he would wonder onto one of the several trails down to the river….but no, he just kept on coming. :big_eyes:

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We continued like this for nearly a kilometre when he finally decided to venture off the road. It was his road and we were on his patch!

As soon as he had departed we stopped to tell some people coming towards us but he had melted away into the bush. They had been held up by a large family going down to the river.

These sorts of episodes always remind me that I am in the animals’ world, not mine.

When in the Satara area, we were returning to camp for breakfast when we came across a traffic jam on the S100.

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Just had to be something big.

It was…

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Mother cheetah with 3 nearly full grown cubs. :dance: :dance:

We could only see them clearly through binoculars. Eventually they moved off. It was clear mum was going to hunt. Luckily we anticipated where they were heading and caught this one on the move.

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And a very short video of them off on a mission …..



We had already had a fantastic morning. The cheetahs were the icing on the cake.

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umtali1

View our 2013 trip report at http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=75574.

Next trip "Cape Town to Namibia border" - Ebb & Flow at Wilderness, Karoo, Mokala, Augrabies, KTP - booked :-)


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