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The B.O.F heads north, gets very hot and makes an Observation

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Albert
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The B.O.F heads north, gets very hot and makes an Observation

Unread post by Albert » Thu Feb 02, 2017 4:05 pm

Otherwise known as our (fairly) recent Kalahari quest. Anyhow, this member of the O.F club, having survived, with my SO, the furnace of the Makuleke mission in the company of (inter alia) two other members of the O.F club managed (several months earlier) to book 3 nights at Nossob in the last week of November. My SO and I planned to hit the road at 5 a.m sharp for the 1 000-odd km trip north.
So at exactly 6 a.m we were on our way; north. Unknown to us, the Temminck’s Stint was heading south-east to Strandfontein at the same time. But that’s another story.
I swear it is uphill all the way from Stellenbosch to Askham. Nevertheless, we crested the last dune-hill north of Upington at around 3:45 pm and swung off towards the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Actually we were going to the Kalahari Gemsbok Park (which, together with the Gemsbok Park in Botswana forms the KTP). We reached our overnight stop at the Kgalagadi Lodge, just 5 km outside the park gates at around 4:30 pm, unpacked the necessary, and lit the fire. I think there may have been beer involved. As I recall the temperature was a balmy 42 degrees, so it is quite likely. As I settled at the fire in the gathering dusk, the first lifer for the trip parked itself on a bush a few meters away. Lark-like Bunting. We looked at each other for a bit, then the bird flew off. I remained seated. No camera, no photo.
I do have a photograph of the fire.
IMG_0699b.jpeg


Actually, two other lifers also made their presence known during the same period, but as I was sure that we were going to see plenty of them in the days to come, I pretended not to see them. As I said, there may have been beer involved. I almost forgot, when we checked in there was a Groundscraper Thrush hopping around, which I somehow did not associate with such an arid environment. There is a photograph of the Thrush, but only much later. The temperature did not really dip much overnight, but we did have an aircon in our chalet; I am not really a big fan of them (little did I know what was to follow). This particular model had a little display on the front that lit up when it was on; the display was blue. The result was an eerie blue glow in the chalet; reminded me of a movie that I saw as a kid called “From beyond the grave”, where the appearance of one of the undead was presaged by a similar blue glow….so to keep the undead away I turned off the aircon. But I digress.
More drivel will follow
Latest lifers: Double-banded Courser, Temminck's Stint, Red-necked Phalarope, American Golden Plover. Yellwo-throated Sandgrouse, Whiskered Tern, Sandwich Tern, Knysna Woodpecker

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Hugh
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Re: The B.O.F heads north, gets very hot and makes an Observation

Unread post by Hugh » Thu Feb 02, 2017 4:58 pm

More please
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Karin Mitton
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Re: The B.O.F heads north, gets very hot and makes an Observation

Unread post by Karin Mitton » Thu Feb 02, 2017 5:07 pm

I'm onboard!

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Re: The B.O.F heads north, gets very hot and makes an Observation

Unread post by billyf » Thu Feb 02, 2017 5:21 pm

I'm definitely on board :dance: :dance: :dance: :thumbs_up:
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Re: The B.O.F heads north, gets very hot and makes an Observation

Unread post by Cape of Storms » Thu Feb 02, 2017 5:22 pm

I am hoping on this bus!
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It will be two years since our last visit but our 2017 Trip is booked 8)
25-27 July Biyamiti
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Albert
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Re: The B.O.F heads north, gets very hot and makes an Observation

Unread post by Albert » Fri Feb 03, 2017 8:51 am

Welcome to the trip, Hugh, billyf, Karin Mitton and Cape of Storms :thumbs_up:

As time permits we will meander our way to Nossob and beyond..... :twisted:
Latest lifers: Double-banded Courser, Temminck's Stint, Red-necked Phalarope, American Golden Plover. Yellwo-throated Sandgrouse, Whiskered Tern, Sandwich Tern, Knysna Woodpecker

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Re: The B.O.F heads north, gets very hot and makes an Observation

Unread post by isinkwe » Fri Feb 03, 2017 9:21 am

No better way to start an adventure than with a braai :D :D
Very entertaining drivel , keep it coming :thumbs_up: :D
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Re: The B.O.F heads north, gets very hot and makes an Observation

Unread post by salamanda » Fri Feb 03, 2017 9:23 am

Looking forward to the trip!

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Re: The B.O.F heads north, gets very hot and makes an Observation

Unread post by hilda » Sat Feb 04, 2017 7:25 am

Can't wait to read all about this trip! Please keep your cameras at hand Albert and SO! :dance: :dance:
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Albert
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Re: The B.O.F heads north, gets very hot and makes an Observation

Unread post by Albert » Sat Feb 04, 2017 10:52 pm

So, after having survived the night of the undead, we had coffee, packed breakfast and the luggage, and headed for the Twee Rivieren gate; rather late I thought. However, when we arrived, it turned out we were early, visitors could only enter at 07:30 (we were about 5 minutes early). Reception was efficiently ahndeld by very friendly SANParks staff, and we entered the park. Then there was an episode involving deflating the tyres on the Fortuner…it involved a slightly inaccurate tyre pressure guage, bad eyesight , sweat and ignorance on the part on the part of the B.O.F, but that’s another story.

Anyhow, after a visit to the air-conditioned shop at 2R, we had breakfast at the day visitor’s site and headed north towards Nossob.

Now, my good friend and Kalahari veteran Willie Engelbrecht told us: “the reason why creatures survive in the desert is because they do not live IN the desert”. He qualified this by pointing out that the Kalahari is not a true desert; but the point is valid; this is evidenced by the arid region ecology. Animal behavior and adaptation allows mammals, plants and birds to survive in this seemingly inhospitable and arid landscape.

I need to backtrack a little at this stage; my only previous visit to KTP was about 15 years ago, and then we were only in Twee Rivieren for about 3 nights (and in a vehicle patently unsuited for the KTP roads. This trip, therefore, was as good as a new experience. Reading and listening made the names of the sites and waterholes somehow familiar, Leeuwdril, Melkvlei, Dikbaardskolk …..Now we were here and heading to these places.

The first on the list was the waterhole at Leeuwdril, where we encountered this jackal, who rather wisely was staying out of the desert and in the shade.. At just after 08:30 the temperature was already heading to the mid-thirties…

Image

And of course, birds: One of the two lifers I ignored the previous evening returned for a photo-op: White-browed Sparrow-weaver

Image

I then spotted a smallish greyish bird with a rufous vent flitting around the bushes…binocs confirmed the tick (lifer); Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler. Now this was not an easy subject to find in the viewfinder, never mind focus. I had the bird; took the photograph….the red arrow points to where he had been.

Image

Now if you look carefully to the right and lower down, you can see the fellow; and if you crop and manipulate brightness, exposure and colour you can actually see the Tit-babbler (that’s my story and I will stick to it; this has to be the worst “record” photograph of any bird in recent history).

This Marico Flycatcher was more accommodating:

Image

Time was marching on, so on we went; and we found this Sabota Lark (which turned out to possibly be a Fawn-cloloured Lark once I looked at the photograph), so at that time it was not supposed to be a lifer. But I only got excited about the Fawn-coloured Lark the next day, when I positively ID’d the bird before photographing it. But I digress. Note that the lark is in the shade and on the ground (where it could find shade of the low scrub next to the road)

Image

So, where were we? At this time, around Melkvlei. It was either just before or just after Melkvlei that I photographed this mouse (in the shade, same as the lark).

Image

Then we came across this juvenile Pale Chanting Goshawk. To me the juvenile PCG has the most fascinating plumage; like many juvenile birds they are still very trusting (or stupid), and will, like this one, sit stationary right next the road and allow one to approach to almost within touching distance.
Camouflage….

Image

Look at the plumage…(flashback to the Monty Python parrot sketch…)

Image

Bedtime for the B.O.F, more tomorrow…
Latest lifers: Double-banded Courser, Temminck's Stint, Red-necked Phalarope, American Golden Plover. Yellwo-throated Sandgrouse, Whiskered Tern, Sandwich Tern, Knysna Woodpecker

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Re: The B.O.F heads north, gets very hot and makes an Observation

Unread post by Meandering Mouse » Sun Feb 05, 2017 5:29 am

Great to see you back, Albert. :D

I do love your PCG :cam: Of course, the field mouse wins first prize... :thumbs_up: I think the PCG would agree with that assessment.

:popcorn:
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Re: The B.O.F heads north, gets very hot and makes an Observation

Unread post by hilda » Sun Feb 05, 2017 6:57 am

I love your storytelling Albert! :dance: :dance:

Really great shot of the Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler! (I am very familiar with shots like that!) :tongue: :lol: :lol:

The inhabitants of KTP certainly know about keeping to shady places! Cute little Mouse! :clap: :clap:

Awesome pictures of the other birds! I agree, the juvenile Pale Chanting Goshawk is beautiful and very well camouflaged! :clap: :clap:

Looking forward to more please! :popcorn:
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Re: The B.O.F heads north, gets very hot and makes an Observation

Unread post by salamanda » Sun Feb 05, 2017 10:00 am

A great episode, and lovely pics. The striped mouse is great but the juv PCG is my favourite (second pic); what a beauty.

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Re: The B.O.F heads north, gets very hot and makes an Observation

Unread post by manicwalker » Mon Feb 06, 2017 5:43 am

Albert,
I am on the bus.... maybe a little late, but I have found a super window seat :thumbs_up:
What a great start with lovely photos to match :clap: ...and looking forward to more :thumbs_up:

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Re: The B.O.F heads north, gets very hot and makes an Observation

Unread post by Karin Mitton » Mon Feb 06, 2017 7:31 am

Albert wrote:
I then spotted a smallish greyish bird with a rufous vent flitting around the bushes…binocs confirmed the tick (lifer); Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler. Now this was not an easy subject to find in the viewfinder, never mind focus. I had the bird; took the photograph….the red arrow points to where he had been.


This made me laugh - the first time I saw this bird and more recently a sighting in MZNP were exactly the same experiences for me! These guys are so difficult to photograph!

Wonderful episode with gorgeous birds though!


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