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Central Namibia Self-drive: beauty in a harsh land

Peter Connan

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Peter Connan

@@Peter Connan, thanks for the shooting details. I need to learn how to do it....I have no idea what "lock down the cable release" means.


I'll try to experiment this summer if we get some good storms.

@@xyz99, a cable release has a function where the shutter button can be locked in the pressed position. Thus, the camera takes pictures continuously.

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You had my attention at the word "toddlers" then on to rear ended.... OMG!! After having enjoyed your trailer construction report my heart sank at all of the damage. It's a testament to you to have managed to get it reasonably sorted and push on.


Unbelievably great images....too many to mention. I keep double tapping them thinking I'm on Instagram. Love, love the weather ones.


You must be working on you images from the top down to be able to start on this report....I'm all over the folder and can't seem to stay on course.


Let's keep going, looking forward to more!!

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Peter Connan

Thanks @@PCNW


Yes, I started with a few selected images, but soon realized that was heading for disaster, so then started working from the top down, but specifically aiming at a TR (in other words, not necessarily deleting images yet unless they are useless, of which there are of course many).


Carrying on as per instructions:


Back in camp, I took another stab at getting that perfect Communal weaver shot




But soon got side-tracked by an Acacia Pied Barbet




On all my previous drives, I had taken one of the roads leading east, south of the pan. This afternoon, I went north, aong the western edge of the pan.


On the road to Wolfness, in a light drizzle, I found Ant-eating chats:






And at Okondeka, a line of wildebeest were approaching the water-hole across the pan.



I then turned west. Somewhere past the picnic site, I found the biggest murder of crows I have ever seen. There must have been more than thirty of the nasty buggers.





And also the only Guineafowl of the entire trip:



At Natco, there was a lartge herd of Zebra and a few Springbuck.





Heading on toward Leeubron (at which, incidentally, I missed the lions), some vultures:



And more Zebra along the road:











By now, I was getting seriously late for the gate (I have this habit where I set my GPS to take me back to camp, as it gives me a good idea of how much time I have if driving at the speed limit. In this way, I found I could reliably time my arrival at camp within a few minutes of gate time, but I always try to leave a bit more in case I come across something really interesting). And so I did not have much time to spend with this Jackal



Or this Bataleur:



Or these vultures in a tree:



And this sunset was literally taken at 50km/h. Unfortunately, because I distracted, next thing I knew there was mud everywhere as I missed seeing a puddle in the road.




In the evening, there were some more thunderstorms in the distance.


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After a rocky start, the photogenic fork-tailed drongos signaled a successful trip was underway, with a few puddles in the road. You have to be happy with those drongo shots, plus the rest of the great bird photos, and rain/lightning in the desert! The maps will be helpful for anyone wanting to do what you did and trying to capture those BIFs that you did.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Thanks - time to play with my camera :)

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Wonderful, Peter. So many extraordinary shots, the second Drongo and the afternoon storm-rainbow photos are my favourites so far. So sorry about your trailer, after all that work! But glad you were able to carry on. A "murder" of Crows? Did not know that one.

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But I'm not sleepy... keep going please...

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Peter Connan

Thanks @@Atravelynn and @@michael-ibk


@@PCNW, at this rate, I am going to run out of processed photos soon!

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Peter Connan

Day 6: This morning, Gerrit drove in convoy.


Again, the direction was north, along the edge of the pan to Wolfsnes.


A morning Jackal:



And a Black Crow (another tricky bird, shyer than the Pied and so dependent on soft light):



The road to Wolfsnes was flooded for a few hundred meters, and I felt that this should be recorded for posterity.





I am not sure whether this Double-banded Courser had also had an encounter with Etoshamud, or whether he is partially albinistic?



Then, back a ways to the turnoff to Natco. Suddenly, a fair number of vultures started showing up.



And then, a traffic jam. Of in the distance:



And a ways behind him:



(and I am really not sure how I missed all that the previous night, but I must have, since vultures don't fly at night.


At Natco, some Glossy Starlings gave me a nice show:









And there were quite a lot of Zebra as well.



Heading back toward Okaukeujo, some Giraffe



And a warthog



The meal done, the vultures were getting airborne.










Meanwhile, magic was happening. Between Natco and Sprokieswoud (a distance of nearly 20km), I don't think we were ever not in sight of some Zebra. I don't know how many there were, but it must have been well into four figures. A mini-migration, all walking in the same general direction, towards the pan.




At Sprokieswoud, we saw a few Banded Mongoose between the trees, but really too far away for anything but record.



And, as we emerged on the other side, a slightly broken lioness (why do I always get the broken ones?)



At this point we turned around, and made our way back through the Zebra and the vultures.



at leeubron, there is a small detour. I saw a few cars standing on this and decided to have a look.






And a Grey Hornbil:





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Peter Connan

After brunch, I took a walk to the water-hole.


The Acacia pied Barbet again:



And a White-browed Sparrow-weaver:



And some Martins or swallows (any help with ID would be appreciated):



As well as Wattled Starlings (a new one for me):



And a Shaft-tailed Whydah (also new for me):



Another obliging Drongo:



And the most obliging Crimson-breasted Shrike ever:



After that, it was time for an afternoon drive.


Some Crowned Lapwing hosted a mini airshow for my exclusive benefit





And there were still a fair number of Zebra around.



A Kori Bustard:



In the detour, the Lions were stil present, but this time I actually got to see the cubs, although the bush there is quite dense.








I stayed around for as long as possible, but they remained in hiding.


On the way back to camp, an undertaker.



That night, after dinner, I decided to make use of the little park bench in the camp.


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@@Peter Connan

A fantastic report with drama, beautifullandscapes and stunning wildlife shots. Your Crimson-brested shrike is superb.

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Confess, you have bribed that Shrike! They never stood still for more then 2 seconds, always moving in and out of the shade.

The nightsky photo is excellent, I hope there are more to be posted.

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Elsa Hoffmann

I believe most reading this, including me, are green with envy. What a trip!

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Peter Connan

Thank you very mu h for your comments @@TonyQ, @@xelas and @@Elsa Hoffmann


Alex, i promise, i just stalked him until he gave up!

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Hard to pick favorites: the lion cub, the shrike, the glossy starling, and the stars at night, wow! Keep them coming.

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Peter Connan

Thank you @@xyz99

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Peter Connan

Day 7:


Again, I had Sonja to keep me company. She also wanted to see the Zebra, so we headed back to Natco once again.


Greater Kestrel



At the bypass, the lions where pretty much right where we had left them.





A little further along, our first Elephant, a nice bull but far away on the treeline.





There were still a few Zebra around, but not nearly as many as we had seen the day before.



Cattle Egret:



Coming back, the elephant was now much closer.






At Leeubron, we found a flying banana (Yellow-billed Hornbil)





Namaqua Doves are very common, but hard to get a decent shot of. Which is a pity, since they are one of the prettiest doves, especially when flying.



Back in the bypass, the lions were eventually on the move.




But only to find better shade.


Then an immature Pale Chanting Gosshawk gave me a pretty good show


Only, I duffed the takeoff completely when he did decide to go.


And another Greater Kestrel



Back in camp, this Rock Martin was collecting nesting material in one of the many puddles (for our entire stay, I had to drive through one or more puddles to get to my campsite)



One of the salient points about self-driving and self-catering is that there is a considerable amount of work to be done, cooking and cleaning at least twice a day. If the whole family is into it, the mid-day meal can be taken in the veld, but few are.This also limited my time at the camp water-hole in the evenings.

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Peter Connan

This afternoon was my final drive in Etosha. I decided to head south for a change. I saw virtually nothing until I got to the detour to Ombika.


Black Crow:



And then, what must be the largest Impala ram I have ever seen:





A tortoise crossing:



Another namaqua Dove:



Suddenly, there were a family of Banded Mongoose in the road. At first, they were hiding in the shadows at the side of the road. I manuevered to into a reasonable shooting position and waited.


The Namaqua Doves decided to get their show in first!







But eventually, the Bandies did show themselves.






Another Black Crow came past



A passer-by stopped me and warned me that there were Elephant ahead, being difficult about road access.


But by the time I got there, they had moved quite a distance from the road. I spent 3/4 of an hour there, but they remained far from the road, probably because there were now quite a few cars jostling for position.





By now, the GPS was urging me to go. A few hundred meter further, some Giraffe.



Despite the numerous Korhaan, I have yet to get a picture of one flying towards me. This is the best I managed.



Finally, pretty close to camp, a Hartebees



Back at camp, we started packing up. Removing the awning over the tent, making Padkos and washing up afterwards. Tomorrow could be a very long day!





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@@Peter Connan I'm really enjoying your TR as Etosha is one of my favourite parks.


Interesting to see water on the pan at Okondeka - do you know if the flamingo bred successfully in Etosha this year?

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So many great images Peter. The cub and mom that looks like you've put an artsy overlay around them are special. For a minute there I thought you were stepping out of your editing ethics.


You've encouraged me to get organized and stay on course.


Let's keep on keeping on.

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Peter Connan

@@Treepol, i don't know.


One thing that bothered me about Etosha was how difficult it was to get information.


For example, i asked 4 different staff members what the gate times were, and got four different answers.


Thanks @@PCNW


I need to pace the process now, as i am still busy processing as well. If i don't ration you to one day per day, then i am going to end up with egg on my face!



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the greater Kestrel and immature Pale chanting goshawk get my vote! @@Peter Connan

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I believe most reading this, including me, are green with envy. What a trip!


Count me in! And a bit jealous also, as no one will want to read also mine when the time comes to post it :(

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"One of the salient points about self-driving and self-catering is that there is a considerable amount of work to be done, cooking and cleaning at least twice a day. If the whole family is into it, the mid-day meal can be taken in the veld, but few are.This also limited my time at the camp water-hole in the evenings." So true. And opposed to the Kgalagadi or Kruger, the rest stops in Etosha were all or neglected or closed, so no way one could sit outside the car and enjoy its meal like so many did in Kgalagadi.



"For example, i asked 4 different staff members what the gate times were, and got four different answers." That is strange as the opening and closing times are actually reported on the permit given by the park officials. In our period it was =6:10 am and 17:36 pm. Here is a link where one can download actual times for the whole year of 2017: http://www.etoshanationalpark.org/times-fees . When the gates will be actually opened, well that is entirely different question, and my story will be told in the upcoming TR (sorry, Peter, but I have to do some self promoting :D staff).

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Peter Connan

Thanks @@Towlersonsafari


@@xelas, i promise i will read yours.


Yes, i also resorted to google in the end!

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