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Timbits' Kruger in November Means ..... KNP, November 2015

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Timbits
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Location: Toronto, Canada

Timbits' Kruger in November Means ..... KNP, November 2015

Unread post by Timbits » Sun Jan 24, 2016 5:27 am

The last time we were in Kruger was March 2014. It was "somewhat wet" at the time. This would be our first visit in November. What would Kruger be like this time around? :hmz:

On our wish list – in no particular order - was:
- summer migrant birds including woodland kingfishers
- a lush green park
- lots of Kruger babies - especially impalas
- decent cat sightings
- anything that Kruger would show us
- meeting up with forumites in Pretoria and Cape Town
- Rietvlei
- Kirstenbosch on a sunny day
- Intaka Island

We left Toronto on Thursday November 19. I was up at 4:00 am to finish off all the things I hadn’t gotten to the day before. While sitting in the taxi on the way to the airport, I heard on the radio that the daily high temperature had already been hit at 3:00 am, and it was 16 C. That’s crazy for November. At the risk of sounding like an old timer, back in the late 70’s when I started cross- country skiing, we had enough snow to be on the trails by late November. But not to worry, because the evening forecast was around -5 C – with the wind chill. That made me feel better – no point in leaving warm temperatures for hot temps. :twisted:

After being on the move for almost 36 hours, we finally arrived at our hotel in Pretoria. Airline food really isn’t the greatest so we decided to pop down to the restaurant for what we thought would be a quick meal. Unfortunately, our waitress didn’t share our sense of urgency. :whistle:

We finally got to bed around 11 pm, Friday evening. It had been a very long day.

Timbits
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Re: Kruger in November Means...........

Unread post by Timbits » Sun Jan 24, 2016 5:33 am

Saturday November 21
Let the vacation begin!

After a quick breakfast, we were off to Rietvlei where we would be meeting a few forumites at the picnic area.

We spent a wonderful afternoon chatting and laughing.

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In the photo: Nighthawk2, Mads, WendyA and Vlakvarkvrou.

As is usual when you’re having a great time, it ended all too quickly. :(

Our friends had to leave so we explored the reserve a bit more.

Timbits
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Posts: 500
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Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: Kruger in November Means...........

Unread post by Timbits » Sun Jan 24, 2016 5:37 am

Some of our bird sightings:

Little Egret

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Pied Crow

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Red Bishop and Whitethroated Swallow

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Yellowbilled Duck
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Last edited by Timbits on Mon Jan 25, 2016 11:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Timbits
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
Posts: 500
Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: Kruger in November Means...........

Unread post by Timbits » Sun Jan 24, 2016 5:41 am

A few more 2 legged ones.....

Common Sandpiper

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The Darter made sure we got a good view of both sides

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Timbits
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Re: Kruger in November Means...........

Unread post by Timbits » Sun Jan 24, 2016 5:45 am

And a few 4-legged ones

Blesbok

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Hartebeest

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Eland

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We also saw zebra, reedbuck, impala, ostrich, waterbuck, weavers, crakes, coots, crowned lapwings, blacksmith lapwings, rhinos in the distance, threebanded plovers and sacred ibis. Not bad for a single day in a nature reserve that claims to be “the largest Reserve within City borders with wild animals in the world.”

First item on the wishlist was now checked off. They claim to have 319 bird species there and I can guarantee that the next time we are in Pretoria we’ll be heading back there to see how many we can find.

....tbc

Timbits
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Re: Kruger in November Means...........

Unread post by Timbits » Mon Jan 25, 2016 11:45 pm

Sunday November 21

Not only did Barry and Hilda arrange a meet at The Blue Crane Restaurant , but they also picked us up and delivered us back to our hotel afterwards. A huge thank-you to both of them.
We had a lovely time with old and new friends. I spent too much time talking and didn’t remember to take photos until it was almost too late. More photos can be found at http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopi ... s#p2309622

A Blue Crane that just would not cooperate. When it was in the sun, it had its back to me, when it was facing me it was half in and half out of the sun. :(

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Uncooperative Blue Crane, Isinkwe photographing the birds, JanandDave, Davenjan

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Barry, Heksie, Hilda, Graeme

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Leervis, Jesscan, Andy

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Jesscan, Andy, Leervis, Warty, Chirinda, Barry, Hilda

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WendyA, Morecat, Isinkwe

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Another check mark on the wish list. :thumbs_up:

I've often read of The Blue Crane and Reitvlei in trip reports and have always been :mrgreen: :mrgreen: because they seemed like such great places. I found out first hand there was a good reason.

Several of the ‘mites had recently returned from Kruger and the theme was always how dry it was. There was also a lack of summer birds, and no impala lambs yet. Uh, oh, did we pick the wrong time of year to visit? :big_eyes: We would find out soon enough because we were off to Kruger in the morning.
Last edited by Timbits on Sat Jan 30, 2016 5:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Timbits
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Re: Kruger in November Means...........

Unread post by Timbits » Sat Jan 30, 2016 7:38 pm

Monday November 22

Right, must get this TR going again. There is so much to do during the week that this may end up being a “weekend- only” TR. :redface: Apologies, but I will get it done!

We were on the road to Kruger by about 9:30 am. No point in driving thru rush-hour traffic if we don’t have to – especially when we’re not sure where we are. :roll: We had been warned that there were lots of stop and go’s just past Waterval Boven, so we took an alternate route. Arrived in Malelane shortly after 1:30 and did our shopping. Just outside the Pick-n-Pay, we saw a familiar face – Eco-Junkie. :clap: We chatted for a bit and promised to meet up again at Malelane camp. How cool is that to recognize someone outside the grocery store on the other side of the world? :dance: :dance:

With all the shopping done, we were almost there! Gate formalities were quick. :thumbs_up: We crossed the bridge and immediately noticed the low level of the water – and a crocodile in the Crocodile River. :D

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With the groceries unpacked, we went for a quick game drive and the first animals we saw were…….impala. :) We didn’t see any lambs but maybe we just didn’t have our “Kruger eyes” on yet. We certainly did notice that it was very dry, just like everyone had said. We saw some general game, including this magnificent male waterbuck. :dance: :dance:

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EJ dropped by later for a quick chat and told us that she had seen impala lambs on the way back to camp. Must look more closely tomorrow. :wall:

Timbits
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Re: Kruger in November Means...........

Unread post by Timbits » Sat Jan 30, 2016 9:33 pm

Tuesday November 23

Last night we had a few ellies munching away on the other side of the fence. How wonderful to be so close to such magnificent animals. :clap:

EJ had informed us that even though the park gates open at 5:30 am, the camp gates open at 4:30 am for November, December and January :shock: . Well, we didn’t make it out until 5:00 am.

It felt so good to be out on the road taking in the sights and smells of the early morning and watching the park wake up. We saw some general game and then after a while, I saw one of those big greys trotting out of the bush on my side. I called it out at almost the exact same time that SO called out “Dog”! Huh? :big_eyes: :big_eyes: The only thing these two animals have in common is 4 legs. Different colour, different size……. My sighting made a quick U-turn and melted back into the bush. I looked over to the other side of the road, and about 20 metres ahead, was a wild dog standing at the edge of the tar road, and more in the bush. :D :clap: :dance: We counted 8 dogs in total, including one with a collar. They were playing and jumping and running around and generally behaving as wild dogs do.

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They had recently killed an impala because one of them was playing with a leg bone. We had them all to ourselves for about 10 minutes, before a bakkie arrived from the opposite direction. He sat there with the engine running for about first 10 – 15 minutes, before deciding to turn it off. :sniper: One vehicle came up behind us, but only stayed for about 10 minutes.

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After about 45 minutes of playing, the dogs seemed to be getting tuckered out so we took that as our cue to leave.

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Kruger in November means fewer people in the park which means fewer vehicles at the sightings. :clap: :clap: :clap:
It also means fewer eyes to scan the bush, but that’s ok by me. :thumbs_up:

Timbits
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Re: Kruger in November Means...........

Unread post by Timbits » Sat Jan 30, 2016 9:35 pm

Other sightings during the day:

Especially for Vlakvarkvrou :lol: :lol: :lol:

Muddy warthog

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Timbits
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Re: Kruger in November Means...........

Unread post by Timbits » Sat Jan 30, 2016 9:36 pm

An elephant that decided it was much easier to go right to the source, instead of the waterhole

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Timbits
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Re: Kruger in November Means...........

Unread post by Timbits » Sat Jan 30, 2016 9:38 pm

Helmeted Guinea Fowl looking for hidden treasure

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Timbits
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Re: Kruger in November Means...........

Unread post by Timbits » Sat Jan 30, 2016 9:39 pm

I didn't do it!

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Timbits
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Re: Kruger in November Means...........

Unread post by Timbits » Sat Jan 30, 2016 9:46 pm

Kruger in November means babies :dance: :clap: :dance: :clap:

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Timbits
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Re: Kruger in November Means...........

Unread post by Timbits » Sat Jan 30, 2016 11:55 pm

We returned to camp to find a bushbuck wandering around inside. It was a good thing/ bad thing. Bushbuck are not predators, but they are prey……… :hmz:

We finished the day off with a braii and great conversation with Eco-Junkie, and I overcooked her chop. :redface:

Wednesday November 25

We did the same route as the day before. We came across a vehicle stopped up ahead and something on the road. That something turned out to be 3 caracals. As we approached, they took off into the bush. :( :( :(

Not the greatest shots but proof that we did see them.

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Timbits
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Re: Kruger in November Means...........

Unread post by Timbits » Sun Jan 31, 2016 12:03 am

In the same general area as yesterday, the same pack of Wild Dogs, except this time there were 9.

I didn’t notice the yellow ribbon until I was going through the photos :redface: :redface:

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The dogs had sound something to play with

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Play time was over. The dogs headed in one direction, we headed in the other.

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tbc.......


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