Jump to content

Kgalagadi September 2016: raptor kills and roadside rescue


Tdgraves
 Share

Recommended Posts

As we had proven that it was possible to drive the 1100 km to get to the park, to cater for ourselves and yet still have a holiday back in January 2015 (http://safaritalk.net/topic/14432-kgalagadi-summer-self-drive-and-self-catering-in-south-africa-january-2015/), we decided it was time to return. South Africa has been our September safari destination for the past three years, due to the strength of the Pound to the Rand. Now we have Brexit, it may be the sole destination for years to come....

 

I have also worked out the best use of air miles and had managed to book the flights with a one way upgrade to business using miles (no availability in the opposite direction).

 

September is peak safari season in South Africa and supposedly the best time to go, so it would be a nice contrast to our summer and "wrong" time to go trip last year. Given the ever increasing popularity of the park, especially with locals, with the huge bang for small buck (Rand not Spring-) and the ability to camp and self-cater, booking was going to be the main issue. For our January trip, I just booked a few months out online and took what was available (3 main camps and 1 wilderness camp). It was not an issue. The idea of being so organised 11 months in advance is a bit of an anathema to me, but needs must. There are tales of people queuing in person at the SANParks offices at the crack of dawn and still not getting the dates and camps they wanted, so I was very nervous. The SANParks booking system opens 11 months in advance on the first weekday for in person, phone and email bookings and on the following day for web bookings. With the time difference, using the phone was not an option as this would coincide with my commute to work. So email it was. No-one could really answer how they prioritise these, so given my friend is a Travel agent, we figured that his email may get priority over one from me. This may be completely false, but it was worth a go. I gave him our dates and preferred camps with alternatives and crossed my fingers. To my joy, we got rooms for all the nights we wanted and mostly at the right camps! Wilderness camp availability was an issue, so they substituted my desired Kieliekrankie or Urikaruus with Mata Mata. Given that we had Kalahari tented camp, this was a bit annoying, as we would then have 6 nights in the same small area, however, at least this would be separated by 3 nights in Nossob. C'est la vie. When the online bookings opened the next day, there was almost zero avilability. A few campsites here and there and some nights at TR but nothing at all at Nossob. Good job we didn't wait for this! Almost immediately I was able to change the Mata Mata hut to a riverside room and grab one night at Urikaruus, reducing to 5 nights the stay in the area. That was the last change I was able to make though, despite checking a few times a week, including after the deposit deadline (when some people lose their bookings) and at payment deadline (the one that I nearly missed - http://safaritalk.net/topic/16555-nearly-lost-my-sanparks-ktp-september-reservation/).So our itinerary was:

 

Joburg (1 night)

Upington (1 night)

Twee Rivieren (2 nights)

Mata Mata (2 nights)

Urikaruus (1 night)

Nossob (3 nights)

Kalahari Tented Camp - Honeymoon tent! (3 nights)

Upington (1 night)

Joburg (1 night)

 

With 11 nights in the Park, we managed to fit in one more than our last trip. Just had to wait for the 11 months to count down....

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So the trip got off to a good start. We arrived in good time to Heathrow (traffic was surprisingly light) and proceeded to check in. The desk clerk started to put priority tags on the luggage and I twigged - we had been upgraded! The leg where I could not spend my miles to upgrade as there were no seats, we got a free upgrade anyway. Result! Having never been upgraded in my life before January, this was now twice in a row and on the same flight too! Unfortunately the flight was delayed by over an hour, which is very unusual, but I didn't care.

 

Arrivals at OR Tambo was busy, as now seems to be the norm. An hour plane to car rental desk.

 

We caught up with our friends with whom we were staying the night and then off to the supermarket and wine shop to stock up on supplies.

 

Next day off to a B&B in Upington. We were a bit blase about leaving and had a leisurely breakfast beforehand. We soon regretted this as the distances are huge. Unfortunately this meant we arrived into Upington in the dark (something I like to avoid in South Africa) but we made it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Day 1: Twee Rivieren, 11/9/16

 

As there is currently no unleaded petrol in Twee Rivieren, we stopped in Upington to fill the tank and get a few last minute supplies. It was a Sunday and we were therefore very surprised to see that Checkers was open. We were able to buy a poitkje (but pretty poor quality) and some salad ingredients. I was given a free bunch of flowers in the petrol station as they were out of date, so every customer got some. I think I must be one of the few people to arrive in the KTP with flowers!

 

It was a grey, overcast day and we did not see a single raptor on the telegraph poles parallel to the road. In January there were loads of pale chanting goshawks. We did however see lots of road kill:

 

Bat-eared fox 3

Cape fox 1

Western barn owl 1

Slender mongoose 1

Unidentified mess 4

 

Not so good :(

 

We filled up again just outside the park as instructed by SANParks and arrived at the park in good time. Check in was smooth. Just needed to unload the entire car.....

 

We decided to drive up the Nossob, as we had mainly avoided that side last time, as they were constructing the new road.

 

One of the first sightings was of black-shouldered kites. I was driving so didn't have a good angle. However, this is one the OH managed - his self-proclaimed best shot of the holiday, on the first drive!!

 

gallery_37950_1607_3595809.jpg

 

I managed to tick off a new bird - desert cisticola (you can see how overcast it was it got up to 27 degrees though)

 

gallery_37950_1515_5403217.jpg

 

And we saw some sociable weaver building their nests

 

gallery_37950_1515_621747.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1515_228544.jpg

 

a female red-headed finch

 

gallery_37950_1515_4409877.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1515_1006363.jpg

 

We turned around to head back towards camp, where we found this beauty (well, it is in the eye of the beholder)

 

gallery_37950_1607_3212501.jpg

 

She was on a mission, presumably to get to her cubs and the way the road bent, it meant we could keep going ahead and wait for her to approach again (once the other 2 vehicles got the general idea)

 

gallery_37950_1607_1954615.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_7642288.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_7200773.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_616119.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_1189070.jpg

 

We had a really long sighting, but we had to tear ourselves away to get back to camp before gate closing time. A good start!

 

And then we found these guys...

 

gallery_37950_1607_7620782.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_1216470.jpg

 

Glad to be back!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Day 2 Twee Rivieren, morning drive, 12/9/16

 

It was still very cloudy and we decided to go up the Auob valley. I had the 7D mark II and attached it to the 100-400 mark II, given it is quicker.

 

On one of the viewpoints we found a herd of wildebeest and springbok that this jackal had his eyes on...

 

gallery_37950_1607_10364788.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_2119959.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_5804619.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_3028957.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_4264030.jpg

 

Lots of birds

 

gallery_37950_1607_3768626.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_676148.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1515_4506152.jpg

 

Including a new one for us - a rock kestrel

 

gallery_37950_1515_5861621.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_1432498.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1515_7275331.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_1828167.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1515_967046.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_6006033.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_1466422.jpg

 

And this tawny eagle who was either practicing or thought this stick was a snake

 

gallery_37950_1515_4424457.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1515_6586242.jpg

 

Eventually the cloud burnt off

 

gallery_37950_1607_7979148.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_4217627.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1515_3021386.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1515_631778.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1515_5963628.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1515_3531945.jpg

 

And we saw a pair of Gabar goshawks

 

gallery_37950_1515_2971633.jpg

 

And a black-shouldered kite trying to warn off a black kite - look at the size difference!

 

gallery_37950_1607_2155247.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_5178496.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_806662.jpg

 

A closer view of a black-shouldered kite

 

gallery_37950_1515_1959222.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1515_1806751.jpg

 

Lots of bird action!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Towlersonsafari

Hurrah! another KTP trip report-love the kestrel and black shouldered kite close ups! @@Tdgraves so having been at different times of the year, what is your favorite?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@@Towlersonsafari what a tricky question! It was very hot in the summer, so sitting still at sightings was difficult (no air flow/air con) but it was nice to see green and flowers. Gate opening times are longer as well. In the spring there was a wider temperature range but the park was much busier. AM gate times too late for nocturnal creatures this time. Both nice but different I'd say....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@@Tdgraves - Lovely pictures of the black-shouldered kite - a beautiful bird.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ahhhh, Kgalagadi! Bring it on, @@Tdgraves ! BTW what model of car have you rented that is using unleaded petrol?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ahhhh, Kgalagadi! Bring it on, @@Tdgraves ! BTW what model of car have you rented that is using unleaded petrol?

Glad to see you are back @@xelas I hope the Kruger was good to you

 

It was a Toyota RAV4 automatic (booked a manual but they had none in stock) so like a 4x4 but only 2WD - the consequences of which will be seen later in the TR.....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Towlersonsafari

Looking at the Tawney Eagle @@Tdgraves we were there in September 2015 and also saw a Tawney Eagle stick wrestling and adding them to its nest. We always play safe and go for a 4x4 although part of that is cos we have never driven an automatic! Now you have added a note of "mild peril" to your report!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looking at the Tawney Eagle @@Tdgraves we were there in September 2015 and also saw a Tawney Eagle stick wrestling and adding them to its nest. We always play safe and go for a 4x4 although part of that is cos we have never driven an automatic! Now you have added a note of "mild peril" to your report!

Did you not get that from the title?@@Towlersonsafari

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Such beautiful pics!

 

Maybe I will change my destination to Kgalagadi next time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Towlersonsafari

DOH! sorry @@Tdgraves ;looking forward to hearing all about it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The tawny eagle must be practicing since an eagle is obviously too smart to mistake a stick for a snake. I think that those photos of the two kites facing off are just fantastic. I just love this trip report.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

offshorebirder

@@Tdgraves -

 

Add my kudos to the portraits of the Rock Kestrel and Black-shouldered Kite!

 

And neat behavior shot of the Tawny Eagle practicing with the stick.

Edited by offshorebirder
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Day 2 Twee Rivieren, in camp and afternoon drive, 12/9/16

 

I am obviously out of practice at this safari lark as I was unable to have a siesta. So I kept myself occupied finding birds around camp

 

White-backed mousebird

 

gallery_37950_1515_1047074.jpg

 

Groundscraper thrush

 

gallery_37950_1515_1433794.jpg

 

Common scimitarbill

 

gallery_37950_1515_2796621.jpg

 

Brubru

 

gallery_37950_1515_3408816.jpg

 

And a non-bird

 

gallery_37950_1607_1191820.jpg

 

We go off for a drive up the Nossob. It is fairly quiet and only reaches 22 degrees.

 

gallery_37950_1607_5404981.jpg

 

Black-headed heron

 

gallery_37950_1607_13046468.jpg

 

More goshawks

 

gallery_37950_1607_2869592.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1515_8892187.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_7092794.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_2455489.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_2606598.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_7373403.jpg

 

Several vehicles were parked at the Rooiputs water hole (including an OSV from the lodge about 200m away - I'd be pretty annoyed if that were my "game drive" from a lodge) and they remained there until we drove past again. We could not see anything on both passes, but clearly they knew something was about, our guess was the cheetah mother and 4 cubs.

 

gallery_37950_1607_14235568.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_12188170.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_10238033.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_31315.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_18256442.jpg

 

A striped mouse

 

gallery_37950_1607_1419282.jpg

 

Fork-tailed drongo

 

gallery_37950_1607_4217627.jpg

 

Wahlberg's eagle

 

gallery_37950_1515_975501.jpg

 

And back to camp for dinner.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here are some pictures of the cheetah mum with four cubs you assumed you missed out on - her name is Corinne and this is her second litter, the first litter of four left her earlier this year.

 

post-6901-0-99725900-1478800443_thumb.jpg

 

post-6901-0-45006000-1478800479_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a photo to start a trip report on! Wow!

 

And it seems to just get better too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@@Tdgraves, I will echo @@Peter Connan about the opening photo - totally amazing. Many more nice photos thereafter, in general - great safari trip to KTP. Looking forward to seeing the rest of the report...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Glad to be back!

 

@@Tdgraves with some outstanding sightings already superbly documented I can see why...

 

Those black-shouldered kites studies are wonderful. Matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Day 3 Twee Rivieren, morning drive, 13/9/16

 

We were changing camps today, up to Mata Mata, so we decided to go up the Nossob valley in the morning. It was minus 1 when we set off. Brrrrr. Unsuprisingly, it started off quiet as everyone was trying to warm up!! I had the 5D today.

 

Lots of vehicles were hanging around Rooiputs again, but there was no sign of whatever was supposed to be there. However, while we were going slowly trying to see what they were apparently seeing, we were attracted by movement on ourleft "it's a jackal" said the OH, au contraire, this little Cape fox was digging a hole....

 

gallery_37950_1607_3333722.jpg

 

to find some breakfast!

 

gallery_37950_1607_5569898.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_212619.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_4744518.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_4440851.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_6468398.jpg

 

It was quite far away, so I didn't take that many photos. My attention was drawn back thorugh the windscreen, where a tawny eagle was chasing a flock of doves. So we drove a few metres down the road and found this, the first raptor kill of the trip.

 

gallery_37950_1607_3846827.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1515_30551.jpg

gallery_37950_1515_2808630.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1515_8104918.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1515_1474100.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_3271594.jpg

 

And from the 7D

 

gallery_37950_1607_6870773.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_1916830.jpg

 

We had to turn around to get back to camp and pack up to check out. We had a quick stop at another waterhole, where sandgrouse were drinking

 

gallery_37950_1515_5006217.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1515_3009711.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1515_5864924.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1515_4617983.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1515_639834.jpg

 

And back for breakfast and packing

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great trip so far - love the Cape Fox, and the Tawny shots are fantastic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to say that I've never seen a Cape fox myself,and they are high on my list of animals that I'd like to see. I'm looking forward to seeing one for the first time

among many other things when I stay for a full ten days at Tswalu Kalahari Camp next year. Hopefully I'll even see a caracal,and a pangolin for the first time. I have only seen a bat eared fox twice,and I'm looking forward to more sightings. I've only seen both aardvark and brown hyena twice so I can't wait to see more. There are so many birds that I can't wait to see.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@@optig you have a great chance of all of those species at Tswalu, especially with such a long stay. We managed all except the pangolin and caracal (although we saw spoor). All of our previous Cape fox (2) sightings have been at night/twilight, so it was lovely to be able to photograph one in full sun.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Day 3 Transfer to Mata Mata, 13/9/16

 

First, a couple that I missed from the morning drive :(

 

gallery_37950_1607_7336629.jpg

 

Jackal buzzard

 

gallery_37950_1607_2765064.jpg

 

It is supposed to take about three and a half hours to get to Mata Mata, depending on sightings. As it was about 11 when we got going after packing up, buying some fresh bread and eating breakfast at the picnic site, there was not really much about to stop for, but there are always birds! It got up to 28 degrees.

 

Slender mongoose

 

gallery_37950_1607_11225395.jpg

 

Rock kestrel

 

gallery_37950_1607_2283781.jpg

 

Black-shouldered kite

 

gallery_37950_1607_4926326.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1607_3237760.jpg

 

Spotted thick knee

 

gallery_37950_1607_3118816.jpg

 

Yellow canary

 

gallery_37950_1607_10362502.jpg

 

We saw our first giraffe

 

gallery_37950_1607_2336173.jpg

 

These two secretary birds were mating (which looks like quite a feat) but as soon as we stopped, so did they!

 

gallery_37950_1515_6187685.jpg

 

gallery_37950_1515_5993195.jpg

 

We approached a couple of parked cars, but couldn't see anything. As one of them drove off, they pointed out the cheetah cubs asleep in the shade. Of course, as soon as they moved, they were more obvious, if far from the road...

 

gallery_37950_1607_6592980.jpg

 

By the time we got to Mata Mata and unloaded the car, we were pretty tired and just decided to relax in camp, rather than retracing our steps on another drive. I tried hunting out some birds in camp, but that was also quiet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy