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Charbel's Kgalagadi: The Big and Small. KTP, June '13

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charbel
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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread post by charbel » Thu Oct 17, 2013 5:25 am

In June 3rd, it was great to find meerkats and ground squirrels again. The latter were seen by us both together with the meerkats and alone.

Let us begin with a general view of the meerkats and their burrows.

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Here is a pic of a meerkat grooming itself.

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A sentinel taking care of an infant besides the burrow.

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Look how cute an infant meerkat can be, looking so beautifully and attentively to the world around.

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This is one of the ground squirrels we saw along with the meerkats, with its characteristic whiter belly and stripe.

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Eating something, in its usual posture.

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This was a funny body posture, while scratching itself...or maybe a break dancer! These days, who knows... :o)

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These are the ground squirrels we saw in Kamqua, without the company of meerkats.

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Another scene of an eating squirrel. We cannot be tired of them, so curious and beautiful!

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And they also have their sentinels.

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Finally, a very active Slender Mongoose (hey, super moongose!). He was so active that photographing was a challenge. Hence, the not so good pic... But worth showing this magnificent animal!

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Cheers
Charbel

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread post by charbel » Sat Nov 02, 2013 8:50 pm

Now a posting with the raptors we saw in June 3rd this year in KTP, in the area around Kalahari Tented Camp.

First a Tawny Eagle we saw above the cheetah that had captured a Springbok, as posted above. This is an impressive eagle we were fortunate to see many times in this trip to KTP.

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I like this pic in which the open wings allow us to see the feathers beneath.

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Later in the trip I took most of the pics of flying birds, but that day the best such pic was with Pedro. The Tawny Eagle that eventually flew away.

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As far as I remember, this was the only Steppe Buzzard we saw during the trip.

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Pale Chanting Goshawks, in turn, were seen every day. But they are often so beautiful under the sun that it was inevitable to photograph them. Here is a nice pic of a marvelous specimen.

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He was attentive for something in the ground, probably the next meal.

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One thing that always amused us were the Pale Chanting Goshawks eating in the ground. How come? Evolution produces such a beautiful raptor and it ends up eating like a chicken!!! :lol:

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Finally, White-Backed Vultures that were so close that a number of great close-ups was possible.

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They are ugly for some people. For me just superb animals!

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Always looking for food, for sure!

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And finally two nice close-ups!

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Cheers
Charbel

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread post by charbel » Sat Nov 16, 2013 8:51 am

Kori Bustards are, as you all know, quite common in KTP. So, they needed to do something special or to be in a special scenery for us to take a pic, at least after the initial ones. This is one of the first Kori Bustard’s pics.

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A detail of the head of this marvelous bird, one of the birds with the largest wingspan in the world.

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A nice scene was this dust bath by a Kori Bustard.

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Finally, the Kori Bustard simply remained quietly in the ground.

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Crimson-Breasted Shrikes were a relatively common sighting, but a difficult bird to photograph, always very active, jumping from branch to branch, to the ground and then back to a branch, hiding behind twigs or leaves. But at that day, only the second day in KTP, we were lucky enough to get the first good pics of them.

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Not a great pic, but now I don’t remember if we saw a Scaly-Feathered Finch some other time during the trip.

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Again, not great, but I remember we didn’t see many Green-Winged Pytilias.

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As you know, Sociable Weavers are all the time building and keeping their huge conglomerates of nests, even getting trees to the ground with the weight of the nests.

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Here is an inquisitive Sociable Weaver looking at us.

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What I like about this pic is that one bird looks like a duplicate image of the other.

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We got some nice pics of a White-Browed Sparrow Weaver eating in the ground.

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And also in the trees and nests.

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All the best for all the forumites

Charbel

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread post by charbel » Sat Nov 23, 2013 3:47 am

Now, for the last posting for our second day in KTP, June 3rd.

A close-up of a Lilac Breasted Roller. They are not as common in KTP as they are in KNP. Always nice to find them, however, with their shining many colors.

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As a second pic, a Sabota Lark in a nice pose.

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As I told earlier, I was always trying to get good pics of flying birds during the trip. By the end of the second day, I was getting better. Here is a sequence: Cape Turtle Dove, Cape Black Crow, and Southern Yellow-Billed Hornbill.

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We usually saw Cape Black Crows in the soil, eating, but this one was poised in the middle of the branches, kind of hiding. btw, I liked very much the Crows' vocalizations. Quite funny!

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I thought that the Southern Yellow-Billed Hornbills in KTP had less red skin apparent around the eye than those we saw in KNP. Just an impression? What do you think?

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We saw so many signs asking for care to be exercised due to crossing Leopard Tortoise that we were eager to see them, such nice animals! But this was the only 'one' we saw... This was quite different from KNP.

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Cheers
Charbel

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread post by charbel » Mon Dec 16, 2013 7:32 pm

Moving now to our third day in KTP. That day we were going to sleep in Kalahari Tented Camp again. Thus, our plan was to go down the Aoub River Road up to Batulama, and back, so that we could see any remaining traces of the springbok carcass, where we say the cheetah after hunting it in the previous day.

We did not find any clue, however, of the carcass. It was as if nothing had happened there. But it was a worthwhile plan, since we had many good sightings: besides the obvious Springboks, Gemsboks,Blue Wildebeests, Red Hartebeests, Pale Chanting Goshawks, Ostriches, Kori Bustards, Crowned Plovers, Cape Black Crows, Namaqua Sandgrouses, White-Browed Sparrow Weavers, Sociable Weavers, Southern Yellow-Billed Hornbills, Fork-Tailed Drongos, we saw

Gertie and his three youngs again, and they were being followed by the same BBJs.
One male Lion.
Many other BBJs.
Bat-Eared Foxes.
Giraffes.
Ground Squirrels.
White-Backed Vultures.
Tawny Eagle.
Many Falcons, including Pygmy Falcons.
Lilac-Breasted Rollers.
Red-Headed Finches.
Scaly-Feathered Finches.
Swallow-Tailed Bee Eaters.
Marico Flycatchers.
Crimson-Breasted Shrikes.

When we came back to Kalahari Tented Camp, we looked for the guard to ask about the sunset drive we had arranged. Something went wrong and there was no appointment for a sunset drive for us. But what would be bad news turned into very good news. We ended up in a sunset drive with only the two of us, guided by Byron. It was really a great sunset drive, much better than the other one we did, in Nossob, with a lot of people. In the night drive we saw:

One Hyena bathing surrounded by BBJs (just as in the case of the Cheetah we saw, they were probably trying to take advantage of the Hyena's hunting)
An African Wild Cat
A Genet.
Giraffes.
White-Backed Vultures (mating!)
A Tawny Eagle.
Steenbok.
Scrub Hare.

It was a great day, as I said. To begin the report, I will just post here some nice landscape pics.

I particularly like herbivores trails in the landscape, as we can see in this pic of the Aoub River plains.

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Here we can see the trails with a Springbok and a Wildebeest also in the pic.

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A pinkish sky as the evening was falling down, while some placid Giraffes walked by. It was taken in a place everybody here probably knows, the plains nearby Urikaruus, when the road crosses the Aoub River.

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And during the sunset drive, the name reedemed.

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Night calmly falling in the savana, amidst the noises of the animals, mostly Cape Turtle Doves everywhere. Our minds so peaceful....

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Finally, Pedro and myself in Kamqua.

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Cheers
Charbel

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread post by charbel » Sat Dec 21, 2013 9:49 pm

When we arrived in Kamqua, we had the good fortune of seeing this male lion, which was approaching the waterhole under the attentive look of a Springbok.

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You can see in the pic that this was a healthy lion, one of the famous KTP lions with a black mane, just what the ladies lionesses like...

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Here is this beautiful animal just besides the waterhole.

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He drank for a while and then went away. You can see that the Springbook was frozen, watching the male lion go...

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A close-up of the Lion as he was walking towards the dune.

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He just followed his way paying no attention to the frozen Springbok.

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Here is it going up the dunes.

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He reached the top of the dunes, where there was a fence we tried to see what was through the dune road some days later but couldn't find it.

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He followed through the top.

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A final pic of the Lion at the top of the dunes, at a far away distance.

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It was certainly one of the great sightings of the trip!

Cheers
Charbel

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread post by charbel » Sun Jan 26, 2014 12:20 am

A long time with no posting, I know... Heavy heavy work in the last weeks. I will try to do two postings in each TR this weeked, as compensation.

That was the beginning of our third day (only) in KTP and we had already seen so many things... early morning we were leaving Kalahari Tented Camp and our first sighting was...

Elena once again with her youngsters! She was probably going for a hunting day followed by them. The lights were still dim, so the pics are not great. But the scene was everything!

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Here is one of the youngters.

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We were waching the cheetahs and then once again two BBJs were following them. Probably the same from previous night. Yes, our books said BBJs didn't take chances with cheetahs. Those BBJs didn't know anything about it, taking risks for stealing cheetahs' meals.

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Later that morning we found a BBJs just after hunting, with only another car nearby. He was with his prize just besides the road.

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He grabbed the bird to go. Not a small bird. Do you know what it is?

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A small stop to look at this intrusive people watching his meal!

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And there he goes again with his bloody meal.

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He then crossed the road and took his capture away, to eat privately.

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Now it was good, in the middle of the bush to eat.

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Cheers
Charbel

Check also KNP trip report: viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=65025

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread post by charbel » Wed Jan 29, 2014 6:02 pm

That day our plan was to do game drives around Dalkeith, Veertiende Boorgat, Dertiende Boorgat, Urikaruus, and then come back to Kalahari Tented Camp by the end of the afternoon for the sunset drive. It was a day full of BBJs, as it is commonly the case in KTP. They are fascinating animals, and thus deserve another posting for them.

This one was by the side of the road smelling something in the air. Maybe the next (rotten) meal.

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A little swimming in Veertiende Boorgat.

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An inviting look?

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Time to get rid of the water, very dog-like, don't you think?

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A nice pic of a drinking time, also Veertiende Boorgat.

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This was taken during the sunset drive. Caught in action again in dog-like manners, as expected.

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Next time, our first encounter with living Bat-Eared Foxes... After seeing many that on the way from Upington to KTP.

All the best
Charbel

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread post by charbel » Thu Mar 06, 2014 5:19 pm

In June 4th we found our first Bat-Eared Foxes in the trip to KTP. There were four of them foraging together and peacefully, facing no threats in the open field.

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They were far away in the field, but some close-ups were possible.

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In this pic we can see two of them actively foraging in the ground, looking for small burrowed animals.

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The big ears and the masks are such incredible signatures of these animals!

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Finally, a Bat-Eared Fox butt, for the never realized project of the butt calendar!

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During the sunset drive, we were lucky enough to see many carnivores. First, an African Wild Cat. It was lying in the ground under the sunset, showing how it can be camouflaged against the sand background.

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It was hard to get close-ups with the right contrast, but Pedro managed two nice pics. It was such a great animal to see, our first and only encounter during the trip! But we could hear them every night, meowing across the field. In Grootkolk, several nights later, I woke up at night due to a Lion roar, and stayed for many minutes delighted, listening to the meows and roars around the hut.

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Later, when the night had already fallen, Byron took us through a side road and then I saw two shining eyes in a tree. We came closer and it was a Genet. Nice to see that hard to spot cat simply lying down on a tree. Notice how different were the color schemes we were using in the cameras.

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We were also lucky to see a Hyena bathing in a waterhole in the middle of the night and it was surrounded by BBJs, just as the Cheetahs we saw early morning that day and late afternoon the previous day. BBJs always opportunistically following larger predators. So annoying that not even bathing alone was allowed! It was very very dark. So, no good pic since we didn’t have the right equipment for those conditions.

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Cheers
Charbel

See also my KNP TR: viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=65025

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread post by charbel » Sat Mar 08, 2014 2:17 am

In June 4th we found once again, as expected, the usual suspects. A male Springbok always attentive in the middle of its territory. Only females admitted, preferably at a reproductive state. Typical behavior of the species, allowing us to spot the dominant males.

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Here is a nice close-up of the male.

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Gemsboks, so common and so beautiful, living well in those arid environments, not needing water at any time, just surviving from moisture in the grass. Here they are looking at us, as they do when cars approach.

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And then a little scratch to show up.

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At a distance, in the middle of the day, we found the largest group of Giraffes we saw during the trip, nine animals. Not a good pic, really very far away, but curious enough.

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And then the surprise... A little Giraffe was also there, so cute.

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During the sunset drive, we found Giraffes again... and, again, with a little cute one... We didn't know if it was the same group. I like in this pic the feeling of solitude given by the two Giraffes entering the savana, mother and cub, cut against the background, where we can clearly see how the pale sand turns into the red sand.

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Here we can see a larger part of the group walking through the fields as the sun is going down. Look at the beautiful little one!

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Giraffes also need salt. This is why in the beautiful sunset scene one of them is digging the ground with the legs.

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Finally, for today, a typical drinking scene!

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All the best
Charbel

See also my KNP TR (I will post there in the next days):
viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=65025

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread post by charbel » Tue Apr 15, 2014 2:46 pm

Difficult times, lots of work. Coming back to the TR just now....

Still June 4th, here is a trip of a Gemsbok lying down.

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I like the way the horns cross in the upper part in this lying down Gemsbok.

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There is a feeling of solitude that touches me in the photograph.

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Ah, the desperate search for salts in the savana...

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A Gemsbok in Dalkeith, looking at those strangers looking at him.

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A Red Hartebeest also deserves its parcel in salts!

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Just after eating salts, cut against the landscape.

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What a magnificent animal!

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Cheers
Charbel

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread post by charbel » Tue May 06, 2014 7:14 am

It will be a short posting, since it is late now, and I could only make up my mind about these Blue Wildebeest pics, from June 4th.

A panoramic view of the Blue Wildebeests in the landscape. This was taken in Dalkeith.

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We found some Blue Wildebeests moving away quite fast, raising a cloud of dust. Nice pics to take.

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There they go, farther away, still raising dust to the skies.

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They were fading in the middle of the dust.

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I really like this pic of the Blue Wildebeest drinking, nice colors and light.

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And then under the same incredible light, a close-up.

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All the best
Charbel

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread post by charbel » Thu May 08, 2014 6:10 am

Dear Hilda and Anne-Marie
Thanks!

Blue Wildebeests were a must that day, providing several opportunities for good pics.

Nothing like some refreshing in Kalahari mud... And additionally some insect protection.

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It really feels so good!

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And the old man takes the son to a ride.

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A young wildebeest, well it looks asymetric in the front-rear axis...

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This pic shows a lovely moment, Blue Wildebeests placidly among Kalahari flowers.

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Isn't this an enigmatic face?

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oops, did I drink too much? Mirrored wildebeests...

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A landscape to miss from Kalahari with Wildebeest and Springbok.

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While Ostriches take a sand bath, Blue Wildebeests showing off their strength.

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Here is a close-up of the fight.

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All the best
Charbel

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread post by charbel » Wed Jun 04, 2014 7:20 pm

Between planning the next trip to KNP june 2015 and working a lot, a new posting.

As you know, Ground Squirrel are a guaranteed fun... We found some of them in a very active mood, running all around.

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It was fun to adjust the camera to take photos of them while moving, capturing them in a still pic.

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One of them was digging in the ground, looking attentively from time to time.... No plan of being caught by a predator while digging...

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But running was in fact the mood of the day!

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Finally, I like this pic of the Squirrel in the air.

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Cheers
Charbel

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Re: Kgalagadi: The Big and Small - Trip report Charbel El-Ha

Unread post by charbel » Wed Jun 25, 2014 2:40 am

Among the raptors that July 4th we saw White-Backed Vultures, during the day, as this one perching on a tree, looking at what was going on in the veld below.

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But the most fantastic raptor sighting that day was during the sunset drive, where we found a couple of White-Backed Vultures engaged in sex in Craig Lockhart Waterhole. Here are two pics of the act.

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And then a BBJ simply broke the magic of the moment. Poor couple!

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We also did a movie of the moment, which you can check here:

http://youtu.be/PTyv2zdoYdk

We also had some nice encounters of Tawny Eagle that day. We saw one in the sunset drive, with no good pic. But Pedro managed to get one during the day.

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And when we saw those two eagles flying high...

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I moved to fast mode to get them.

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There were more raptors that day, but I will post about them later.

Cheers
Charbel


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