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Day 2 Morning Drive, Berg-en-Dal, 18/1/16


We had now had time to link the camera up with the GPS and so I can show you our game drive route:



The map output in the camera manual actually had a line joining up the dots, but I wonder if that relates to cities only. There are comments that if there is only one satellite to connect to then less data will be available. Also, I made these maps using the favourite photos, rather than all taken, which would have given more data points. Anyway we left camp on the tar road and then onto the S25 and S114. There were quite a lot of birds. I used the 5D today.




African wattled lapwing




Crested barbet




Red-backed shrike, a new one for us, but we then saw them everywhere......




Swainson's spurfowl




Magpie shrike






And then we found some larger creatures














And some from the OH on the 7D







Fork-tailed drongo




Eurasian hobby




Grey hornbills




Woodland kingfisher




Juvenile bateleur




Wahlberg's eagle


We had never driven on the S25 before as it was closed due to flooding in 2013 and we had attempted it in 2014 but turned around after a few kms as it was so muddy. This lead to our only navigational mistake in the whole trip. We merrily went onwards, as there was a turnoff on the map, where we could do a square to get back to the main road, rather than going back along the same road. Unfortunately what the map did not show was that it was a private road. So we had to trundle a very long way along the road from which we had just come and where there was not much game. Never mind. We know now. And if we had not gone that far, we would never have seen the rare morph of the Wahlberg's eagle....

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Beautiful work on the impala. Common, but photogenic.


With 2/3 of your title comprised the rather unattractive topics of drought and dead hippos, the content of the report is in stark contrast. The woodland kingfisher is just glowing.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Beautiful work on the impala. Common, but photogenic.


With 2/3 of your title comprised the rather unattractive topics of drought and dead hippos, the content of the report is in stark contrast. The woodland kingfisher is just glowing.

I had to call it something.....these were the striking differences to our last visit

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Day 2 Around camp Berg-en-Dal, 18/1/16


I couldn't sleep during siesta time, so I thought I'd do a bit of bird-spotting around camp, where I found some new species, the sombre greenbul




As well as Retz's helmet shrike






and an Ashy flycatcher




And some well known species






Black collared barbet




Grey-headed bush shrike




Arrow-marked babbler


And some non-avian wildlife






And I had to do a double take for this one....



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Day 2 Evening drive, Berg-en-Dal, 18/1/16


Here is a map of where we meant. It was warming up, getting to 29 degrees. There were lion sightings on the board and given the number of vehicles we passed, everyone was doing the same thing. However, we did not find them.


It is probably not that apparent from the photos I have posted so far, but there was a drought. In fact, the area around Berg-en-Dal was the greenest of the areas we visited during this trip. However, it was nowhere near what it should have been. The green in the photos is from bushes, trees and shrubs, but there was very little grass, which is usually the bain of my life when trying to take photos in January. The drought will become more obvious as we traverse the park, but the animals were all pleased to have fresh water, such as these eles. Despite the lack of grass, it was this area which had by far the highest density of rhino. It has always been good, but there seemed to be many more animals and middens than I remembered. I know that SANParks were relocating animals to safer areas, but I don't know whether this included within the park as well as to other reserves or that the animals had "migrated" to the area with the best food supply. Anyway, we saw 10 on this drive and 11 on the previous evening drive.














We had a lovely sighting of a Bennett's woodpecker, who allowed us to get several shots






This marabou roosted just outside camp




And then back to camp for a braai.

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Bennett's woodpecker = gorgeous


Those turtles on the hippo make for a unique shot. That was a live hippo.

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@@Tdgraves Thank-you for this report. It looks as though you mastered the new camera immediately!

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@Tdgraves I just did a triple take on the hippo and turtles! Great stuff.

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Great camera trap results! Also very beautiful impala and kingfisher.

I must say that mapping the GPS data is a great idea.

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Day 3 Morning Drive, Berg-en-Dal, 19/1/16


It was our last day in Berg-en-Dal, so we had to be in camp and out of the room by 10am. So we left camp on the S110 mountain road and joined the H3, where we could use the facilities at the Afsal picnic site and turn around back to camp. Unfortunately, we did not meet the leopard on the mountain road this time!




Our first encounter was with some playful dwarf mongeese






Today I got my first good go with the new 7D mark II. Again we saw lots of rhino, including these sleepy guys








Given the drought, we thought that we would visit the renosterpan dam, as on previous visits it had been deserted. Several other people had the same plan!


There was lots of bird life as well as several herds of elephant.






























There was a malachite kingfisher using the branches of a bush to fish from and as I was driving, the OH was closest to the action, so he was concentrating on trying to get some fishing shots, first with the 5D






Then with the 7D










While he was doing this, the car parked in front started doing some strange manoeuvres. Usually viewing spots are loops rather than dead ends, to avoid people being stuck or causing traffic jams. However, the driver seemed to be stuck. He went forward and back a few times and seemed not to be able to find an exit. This then lead to a complicated manoeuvre of getting the car behind me to reverse out, so that I could let the idiot in front of me out, without letting the new arriving cars into the front of the queue. We all complied, with little thanks from the car driver. Of course, when we decided to leave, there was an exit moving forwards, obviously, it just required turning left then right!


Anyway, we were able to get back into the spot and gave him another change to catch the fast-moving bird.


When we returned to the main road, we were playing leap frog with another car, depending on what each one had stopped for, including this Kori bustard which was quite close to the road




The other vehicle drove off and when we caught up to it, they had stopped for a fairly far off rhino. Given that they can be seen at very close range (see above) I started to drive off. However, when we got level with the car, they looked very surprised that we were leaving the sighting. "It's a black rhino" she said "we have never seen one before, they are really rare!". No wonder they had stopped. So I reversed back and we got a few shots before he left. Lesson learnt - double check before making assumptions. We have never seen a black rhino in the Kruger before either.




A black rhino, out in the open, how exciting!






Back to camp to pack up and breakfast in the restaurant

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The new 7dII did very well, great shots! Enjoying your report - as I always do! :)

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really liked the kingfisher shots and the dwarf mongoose!

Edited by Towlersonsafari
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I love the hippo picture with the turtles, it is really great.

Also the ellies and the kingfisher series are very nice!

Edited by Ladouce
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Peter Connan

Wow! Great timing!

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Excellent mongoose photos, lovely elephant shot, the hippo with turtles is an amazing sight - and a Black Rhino as well.

Very enjoyable!

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thanks @@Towlersonsafari @@TonyQ and @@pomkiwi I barely remember seeing dwarf mongoose before and I certainly don't think I have a photo of one, but we saw a few on this trip, especially in camp at Talamati. That's why every safari is different!

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Peter Connan

Don't know how i missed the dwarf mongoose!


They are one of my favourite animals, so characterful! And yet, somehow i don't have a single photo of one.

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Just found another one of the black rhino



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Day 3 Transfer to Lower Sabie, via Skukuza, 19/1/16


We packed and left our room by 10 and went for breakfast at the restaurant. As we were driving round, I saw a tree in fruit shaking violently and assumed, incorrectly, that it was monkeys, however, as the car got nearer it was clear that it was not monkeys, but birds. Mainly go-away birds, but also...






A purple-crested turaco!! A good sighting and a photo to boot.


After a lovely breakfast, we set off. The temperature was climbing, 29 degrees on the previous day, up to 35 degrees today. As it was a long journey with a full car, we decided to stick to the tar roads, to make the driving easier and ensure that we could stop often for rest/drink breaks and to change drivers.




We found some birds, including a new species for us - black-crowned tchagra








And a close sighting of a tawny eagle






White-crested helmet-shrike




But also some antelope






Including a duiker, of course. I think we have only ever seen one in the Kruger before, but on this trip, we saw several




We had a break in Skukuza and it was already getting pretty hot. We also stopped for an ice cream at a picnic site that we had not been to before, as it was closed due to flooding damage.


We had seen a juvenile bateleur in a tree, but didn't have a great angle for a shot. A few metres down the road, we found one of its' parents...










A great sighting. We arrived in Lower Sabie not long after the check-in time of 2pm, so we had plenty of time to rest and rehydrate before the evening drive.

Edited by Tdgraves
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Great Bateleur photos - well done.

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A great collection of mammals and birds. That Black Rhino was a very special sighting!.You took some beautiful pictures; I love those Bateleur photos!

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Day 3 Evening Drive, Lower Sabie, 19/1/16


We were tired after a long hot drive, so we were happy just to have a pootle about in the 35 degree heat




The first thing we found was actually a new species for us, a Jackobin cuckoo




And another new one, a crowned eagle (but we didn't know it at the time)




we had a lovely green pigeon sighting, our best ever










It's always worth at look at the low level bridge






some vultures






There wasn't much happening at the sunset dam, so we retired to camp



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Peter Connan

Beautiful green pigeon sighting! I have never even seen one. Nice Natal and Openbill as well!

Edited by Peter Connan
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