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Raptor 142 Fleeting Fur, Feather ...and Fin Jan 2011

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Raptor 142 Fleeting Fur, Feather ...and Fin Jan 2011

Unread post by Raptor142 » Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:58 pm

Having recently returned from KNP, I have this idea that a trip report is in order, but it was a long and eventful trip with much to tell … and show – I'm not sure if I have enough staying power to do the whole report, so here follows a practise run....

Picture the scene … it's about 7:00 on an idyllic Sunday morning – the sun is up but not yet hot - there isn't a ripple to disturb the glass-like reflection of the cat settling down to drink from the clear water of the pool …..

… but I got back from KNP last weekend - the pool in question is only clear because of the soup of chemicals that it gets fed on a regular basis … and the AWC is sometimes Affectionate When Caressed.

DSC_5187 by Raptor142, on Flickr

So there I was contemplating whether to get in the pool and scrub the algae and clean the debris that had been left behind by the fancy-fangled-super-duper-throw-it-in-and-forget-it as-seen-on-TV pool cleaner, or should I work on the sprinkler system that the garden service so expertly adjust with their rakes and weedeaters every time they visit.......

I looked toward the garden and noticed a Cape White Eye with what looked like a yellow bill??? it was at the opposite end of the garden so it was difficult to make out clearly, and (of course) by the time I got back with the camera and long lens, it was gone, but very soon re-appeared, yellow bill and all. A quick look through the viewfinder confirmed that it was indeed a CWE, but the yellow was a small berry held in its beak …. but why was it holding this berry while it flitted from hibiscus bush to sprinkler head and back to the bush again?

DSC_5191 by Raptor142, on Flickr

Of course! Closer investigation showed a youngster stranded on the ground – the howling Southeaster of the past week had dislodged the nest that now lay nearby.

DSC_5206 by Raptor142, on Flickr

Not wanting to disturb the parents too much nor attract the attention of the beloved kitties, I snapped a few quick shots and backed off to again contemplate my duties …..

…... or just maybe I could persuade SO to get up and head off to the beach ….at the Preekstoel in WCNP. She was still Kruger dreaming (on such a summer's day), so it didn't take much more persuasion than a suggestion ...

“shall we …. uh …. maybe take a short drive...?"

”to Langebaan?” she responded without hesitation

so it was set – pack light ….
...cameras ….
... and …acti.... (oops best put in a swimming costume) …..
….and ….action
The little 1600 engine purred willingly into life (the noisy Jeep diesel was taking a well deserved rest after its 6000 odd km trek (and my wallet was taking it a bit easy on the fuel expenses) … and within a few minutes we were cruising north up the R27.

On arrival at the gate, I reached for the Wild card in my wallet …. ooops “Did you pack the renewal confirmation letter?” I asked …. but the able admin manager had everything under control – reaching to the back seat she pulled the sleeve out of the folder and handed it to me as we stopped. The gate official just looked at it and walked back into the office …... HUH??... He returned with a form where I filled in our details and card number, and we were in. It took just a moment to re-adjust to 50kmh and we doddled on down the road.

About 1km from the gate, I saw a tortoise in the road, so made an easy long arc around him, but he still ducked into his shell as we passed – the admin lady still had her head and torso over into the back seat repacking the paperwork, so it was a little difficult for me to check in the rearview mirror if the tortoise had got moving again ….. I immediately recognised the form I saw but was reluctant to believe my first impression. Without ABS, I might have screeched to a stop on roadside and pulled a U-turn to confirm that it was indeed a Lynx strolling across the road at 9:50 in the morning...!! The gaffer was very slow in opening my camera bag and handing me the camera as I aligned myself to get a quick shot at distance so that I wouldn't spook him into the fynbos, but a bakkie was approaching from the gate now and the Lynx just looked at both vehicles and walked off the road.

I cursed (but kept it mild since it was a Sunday and we were, after all, in church).

We gave a friendly wave in greeting as the bakkie passed slowly, and I pulled up to the spot where the Lynx had disappeared …... and there he was!

(Disclaimer: Although actual gender may vary, and without prejudice or favour, this individual feline will be known as “he” or “him” for the purpose and duration of this missive)

DSC_5209 by Raptor142, on Flickr

He looked quite young, and was relaxed but just a bit camera shy so, although I snapped off quite a few shots, this was about as clear as I got …. bummer not being as quick and professional as some of you guys... He just walked off into the bush and we lost him. We waited a few minutes, but heard the ripples of the lagoon calling and continued our trip.

Not 10 minutes later, we crested a rise to be greeted by an oncoming Black Harrier – We see at least one virtually every trip there, but I have yet to get a decent shot of one coursing low over the veld looking for quarry. I again brought the car to an abrupt halt (without even creating skid marks in the gravel verge) and swung the lens out my window, only to have him switch sides and pass close over the car at an angle that prevented me from getting a great close-up. A few more passes backwards and forwards allowed me to get a pretty nice shot, that I will keep for now

DSC_5215 by Raptor142, on Flickr

…. but I will look for a better one next time. The best part about this stop then became apparent – I had driven over some small fynbos on the road verge and that beautiful, unmistakeable smell filled the car (unfortunately I don't know a way to upload it here for everyone to enjoy)
Man's future may look brighter if he spent less time trying to outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority:(EB White)(adapted)

We don't inherit the earth from our parents - we borrow it from our children and theirs

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Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 12:28 pm

Re: Fleeting Fur, Feather ...and Fin

Unread post by Raptor142 » Fri Jan 21, 2011 10:59 pm

OK Ladies ...flattery will get you everywhere .... even into trouble - I just had to find some extra pics that I had failed to upload to Flickr, but now it appears all set.....

Interesting how when we are in nature and get the call of nature, we need to be civil towards our fellows and head for civilisation to answer the call …..?

On our way to Geelbek to answer said call, we found this egg in the middle of the road … no cracks, chips, or dents, no parent birds nearby …..??? It was a bit lighter than I might expect a “fresh” egg to be ….. I would be interested to hear conjecture on how and why it happened to be there? ..and I'm sure there is a dedicated twitcher out there that can tell us what bird might have laid it?

DSC_5219 by Raptor142, on Flickr

We also spotted this cute little bug in the road,

DSC_5221 by Raptor142, on Flickr

some Steenbokkies, Steppe Buzzards,

(when a bird lands on a bush it is said to alight ..... when it takes off is it delight ...? Here's a delightful shot of a buzzard leaving its perch with the remnants of last year's flowers behind)
DSC_5263 by Raptor142, on Flickr

Black Shouldered Kite, and a few more tortoises before we spotted the massive amount of cars already parking on roadside because the beach parking area was full. I was hesitant, but we decided to brave the crowds. We surreptitiously put cameras and laptop in the boot, where they would be unseen and headed down to the beach with just towels and a small bag, to walk about 150m along before finding a vacant spot against the dune (the tide was already almost at peak so the space was very limited). I enjoyed some shade in the bush and the ministry of aesthetics lay in the sun and read a good old book.

Time passed (as always) too quickly and I wanted to visit the Sandsharks before we left, so I took a swim down to the southeast, only to find ….. nothing ….shrimp holes everywhere with no sight or even sign of the Sandsharks that usually squirm out under your feet every 10 -15 metres and often lie three deep. I had gone beyond the area that we normally find them and was beginning to lose hope ….. and then, a few metres ahead … the unmistakeable pair of gill openings in the sand. I approached slowly and knelt beside him (read disclaimer for Lynx), watching him snore just 40cm below the surface. After a while, I reached down and tickled him under the wing and off he went in a wide arc only to settle again a few metres from me, then I saw another one under the sand …. and another swimming … and after a few more, I was satisfied and could head back. I wondered if it was the excessive human presence that had moved them further away ….(or maybe just the jerks that tried to tickle them...?)

(This shot from April 2009 when I had a camera with me...)
DSCF4553 by Raptor142, on Flickr

A quick turn down to Tsaarsbank to see some epic swells pumping spray high over the rocks just off the beach …. of course, while we waited almost 15 minutes for a photo, they just got massive, rather than über massive like they were on our approach. Spotted two nice Kudu bulls in the Postberg section, before heading home (already late to collect YO from friends at 14:00).

We were just about at the gate and as we rounded a bend I began telling SO that this was about where we had spotted our Rooikat in the morning ….. when ….. ag no …. that's not possible Over 4 hours later, he was still there, waiting for us ….. this time, without bicycles, bakkies, or other buggers to distract him, we made our quiet and considered approach ….. and he posed for us so nicely, even stalking some striped field mice.

DSC_5279 by Raptor142, on Flickr

DSC_5269 by Raptor142, on Flickr

DSC_5276 by Raptor142, on Flickr

He actually pounced at one but was barely visible behind a bush at that point, so no shots of that either, but we felt truly special to have had him within 5 and 10 metres for almost half an hour ….. HALF AN HOUR??! …. we had to go. Just before we figured that out a CPUT branded vehicle pulled up to see what our interest was and they were also delighted to have such a beautiful sighting at roadside – we left our Lynx in good hands and, as we left the gate, made a quick call to YO to tell her that we were running a “little” late …... “That's OK” we were told “we've just started watching a movie – I'll call when I'm ready to come home”

(roll credits)
Man's future may look brighter if he spent less time trying to outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority:(EB White)(adapted)

We don't inherit the earth from our parents - we borrow it from our children and theirs

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