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Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge Letter Q

This week’s Fun Photo Challenge from Cee  requires a photo that contains the letter Q.

Here is my contribution.

2010-04-16 Kgalagadi 020 Earl Ground Squirrels

Ground Squirrels

2011-01-07 010 Addo Quail-finch Earl

Quail-finch

011 Namaqua Sandgrouse

Namaqua Sandgrouse

 

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1

Kruger to Kokstad

It poured on our last night in The Kruger National Park and it was still raining lightly when we woke up this morning.  So packing up was a bit of a mission but we got it done quickly and were on our way by 6:30 am.   Other than impala we saw little else on our way out at Malelane Gate.

It rained most of the way to White River too.   The rain is much needed so we did not complain!   Lauren’s ex principal, Nick who now lives in White River arranged for us to leave our caravan at his friend Dawie’s house.   It was a mission reversing it up the curved driveway and almost impossible to get it under the car port.  But Dawie called on reinforcements from his school to push it the short distance the Everest couldn’t manage.   We are most grateful that we didn’t have to tow it back to Kokstad only to bring it back again in a few weeks time.  Thanks so much Nick and Dawie.

After having a quick breakfast in town we were on the road again at 9:!5 am. We encountered a lot of traffic on some of the roads which caused a bit of angst and stress but then things improved and The Earl got into the trip and didn’t want to stop for anything other than fuel.   We got to Howick at 5:00 pm and I suggested we spend the night there as the next part of the road would be hectic with potholes.  But The Earl refused – he wanted to make it all the way to Kokstad and was not tired.

Uh oh – we should have followed my instincts.  The road was dreadful.  Not only was it hectically misty we also had to play dodge the pothole and watch out for the livestock appearing like ghosts on the road.   There were a few near misses but finally we made it to Underberg by 6:15.  No way was I going to let The Earl drive on in the dark.  I didn’t have to ask twice!  We were both stressed out and exhausted.

Thank you Sani Window for taking us in at short notice.  After a quick freshen up we headed to The Grind for Pizzas which were excellent.

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I needed that glass of wine!

We had a really good night’s rest and enjoyed an excellent breakfast at this most beautiful B&B.

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Wonderful View

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Scrumptious Breakfast

Simon was the only one home when we arrived at the farm.   It was the last day of school for the teachers and Shannon had gone in with Lauren to help finish off.

The weather was lovely this morning but this afternoon it clouded over and Lauren said she thought there’d be a storm and was looking forward to lots of rain.   Well – she got her wish in a big way.   She’d just left to take Audrey (her housekeeper) home for the weekend and I’d just crossed the lawn to our little flat in the garden when the heavens opened.   It sounded like rocks were hitting the tin roof but it was hail!   It went on for half an hour.

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Hail on the lawn – the car seemed unscathed.

We seldom get hail in The Cape so this was an exciting event for us.   Lauren didn’t understand why I was worried about her out in this dangerous weather!

 

 

1

Kruger National Park – Day 27

6 December 2017 – Last full day in Kruger

It rained in the night and it was still overcast and cool when we woke up and temperatures only reached the mid twenties today. As it was our last day in the park we decided to make the most of it and took a long drive stopping first at Crocodile Bridge camp for brunch and Afsaal for afternoon coffee.  We left at 6:00 am and only got back to Berg en Dal at 4:00 pm

It was an amazing last day and our sightings were really special.

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First to greet us early this morning was Mr Waterbuck

 

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The first of the many rhino we came across today

Giraffe are the most elegant of creatures and even when they’re having a confrontation it looks more like a ballet than a boxing match.  It’s called necking when they fight but it all looks so gentelmanly

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They don’t look aggressive at all

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Getting ready to knock each other’s necks

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Elephant spectators look on in amusement

We took a loop to be closer to the river and suddenly The Earl noticed this fellow fly into a tree.  It took a while for me to see him and when I did I was delighted as it’s the first for this trip and one of the less common kingfishers.

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Grey-headed Kingfisher

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He gave The Earl a fright

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A rhino road block

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Mom and baby giraffe

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The wind got into this Martial Eagle’s feathers

After breakfast at Crocodile Bridge we spotted some impala, wildebeest and warthogs just outside the camp.  The warthogs had piglets.

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Too much cuteness here!

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Sweeeet!

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Adorable

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Pretty Piggies

The Earl started moving on – “Wait,” I said, “I’m enjoying the piglets – don’t go yet!”  “We have to find the lions and leopards.” he said.  “No!” I complained. “Let’s enjoy what we’ve got!” But he wouldn’t listen and I was miffed!

But not for long – had we stayed as I’d have liked we would have missed this!

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Lioness on the move

We spotted her coming across an open field.   The Earl reversed and turned into another road where she came right toward us and then passed our vehicle.

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She was heading somewhere with purpose

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She paused when she saw some wildebeest

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She dropped down in the long glass – unseen by the wildebeest – Spot the ears

 

No way could she hunt those wildies on her own.   We stayed with her for a while but then it was time to move on.  What a great sighting.

while later on our drive we came across some more royalty  – this time there were four – one blocking the road and the others lying asleep in the veld.

 

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The King blocking his Highway

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Then flopping down to sleep regardless of the two cars wanting to pass by

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But in the end he got up and moved and joined his friends.

We thought we might get all five of the Biggies today but we dipped on leopard.  Not that we can complain as we have had so many lovely experiences with leopard on other days and who can sniff at two lovely lion sightings in one day!

Other interesting sightings before we finally gave up for the day.

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White-crested Helmet-shrike

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Don’t wander off too far, young one.

 

Toward the end of our drive the skies started to darken and it was raining when we arrived at camp.  We debated about what to do about dinner but it cleared sufficiently to enable us to go with Plan A and braai.  I stir fried some veggies to go with it.   It is still raining now so it will be a wet pack-up tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

Kruger National Park – Day 26

5 December 2017 – Berg en Dal

We are nicely settled here at Berg en Dal at the south end of The Kruger National Park.  Our campsite is right next to the fence and when we arrived yesterday we saw a herd of elephant close by.   Also in front of our site is a tall tree where two yellow-billed kites have built a nest.  It is well hidden but we have seen Mom and Dad in the open a few times – but in poor light.  Hopefully better photos will be possible soon.

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The whole of Berg en Dal rest camp is in pristine condition.  The paths are swept and there facilities are kept sparkling clean. In all the other camps we have found there are issues with maintenance. If Berg en Dal can get it right – then so can the others!

The one problem we are having here is with the monkeys.  Oh my – they are so cheeky!  The problem probably began because tourists insisted on feeding them and now thy take the easy way out and try to steal from the campers.   Our neighbours had a whole loaf of bread taken from under their noses and our butter very nearly went Awol but The Earl managed to frighten the culprit and she dropped it.  A bit of dusting off later and it’s now safely secured in a plastic container in the locked fridge.

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This baby was right outside our caravan  – I yelled at him and he ran to Mom

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“That nasty old lady yelled at me, Mom”  he said.                                                                                                                                         “How could you?!” she looked at me in disgust.

We were out by six this morning and were back for breakfast by ten.   At first we did not see much but then things improved.  Once again today there were more of the biggies and unusual smallies.

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Lovely to see a red-breasted swallow

Gardenia Hide is usually stunning but there was very little there today.  We were also disappointed to find that the path to the hide had been neglected, there were poles missing from the fence and there was an overflowing bin at the gate as well as litter on the path.  Not good enough Sanparks!

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African Wattled Lapwing

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Tree-frog nest built over water so that when the eggs hatch the tadpoles will fall in.  They fend for themselves from birth.

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A well camouflaged Water Thick-knee

Kudu, tortoise and buffalo were next on our list.  We also saw a few herds of elephant but they were hiding in the trees.  Four rhino were also some distance off.IMG_8705IMG_8710P1120459

And finally a leopard turned up this morning – not the best sighting ever but good to see him on a rock. He was fast asleep and didn’t stir for anyone!

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After the leopard we continued to see some lovely sightings – elephants, kudu, tortoise and buffalo until we returned to camp.  We rested until 3 o’clock and then went out for our afternoon drive.

First we encountered a herd of elephants. The babies were adorable

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A ground hornbill crossed our path

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A wainterhole we visited proved to be absolutely stunning.  We found a rhino having a wonderful, wallowing time and when the elephants came down they gave him a wide berth.  I wonder what it was that made them nervous of a rhino – his lovely long horn perhaps?

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Blissfully wallowing in the cool water

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Elephant giving a wide berth

Eventually the elephants left with a great deal of trumpeting.  They chased the poor impala from the scene.   We stayed to watch the rhinoceros complete his beauty treatment. He had a few itches to scratch  and amused us with the solution to his problems!

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Emerging after a lovely muddy bath

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Oooh what a lovely scratch

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Well, nobody’s going to do it for me, you know!

Finally he trundled off to his midden quite a way off but which we could still see.  He sprayed liberally into the midden and then wandered off.

We continued on our way too and enjoyed these other creatures along the way

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A common duiker peeked at us

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A hyena on a mission

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A red-breasted swallow

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And another rhino having a mud bath somewhere else!

It was another perfect evening and we braaied chicken kebabs for dinner.

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Only one more full day left in Kruger – how time flies.

 

 

 

 

4

Kruger National Park – Day 25

4 December 2017 – A Day of Biggies

Today we were packed and ready to set off to our last camp Berg en Dal by quarter to seven.  As usual when we’re towing the caravan we stuck to the tar road for the 67km drive.   Strangely today we did not see all the usual residents. Our sightings were unusual and interesting and the ‘biggies’ popped up a few times

One of our favourite birds of prey is the Bateleur.  We often see him flying and quite regularly in a tree. But this morning he was on the ground.

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He was looking for something

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So hopped up on a log

Next a female bushbuck came along to say hi.

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We arrived at Afsaal picnic site just before the Jeep Jockeys and their clients.   In fact we were the only people there for a few minutes.   I ordered the ‘Toastie” without the toast without expecting to pay less. However when we got the bill we found they’d charged us for only the items I ordered – egg, bacon and tomato.  That is fantastic!

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The Jeep Jockey Clients come with their snack packs and usually only order coffee. They’re not supposed to sit at the restaurant tables but they do.  When it’s quiet it doesn’t matter. I expect that in busy times they’re asked to use the picnic tables.  Nine jeep-loads arrived at the same time!

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Elephants held us up before we arrived at Berg en Dal

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This baby decided to have a little roll

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They were very close – this is taken through the windscreen

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Elephant mum, babies and bums

After we settled in at a lovely site next to the fence at Berg en Dal I suddenly felt quite sleepy and had a long nap – unusual for me – it’s usually The Earl who naps.  He only lay down for a short time and we were up and gone on our afternoon drive at 2 pm.

We saw plenty of impala but only one zebra and no giraffe.  Within half an hour of leaving camp we’d seen four of the Big Five!

First two male elephant at some distance that I didn’t even bother to photograph, then a single buffalo.  Suddenly I spotted them and yelled – stop – lion.  The Earl nearly jumped out of his skin.  There right next to us was a beautiful male lion

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He was resting in the shade

I’m sure I saw two, I said.  Oh wait – there she is – lying down low.

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Lioness wondering why we’re staring at her

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Then the male got up

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And then dropped down again

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It’s oh so hot and I’m oh so tired

We were the only car there and we stayed until they lay flat and went to sleep.  Nobody else came along and when we returned later they were gone.

I am not mentioning the route we took as I’m writing about the rhino we saw.  We had three sightings

Earl spotted the first – a rock appeared to have twitching ears and turned into one then two rhino.   Later we found three adults and a baby and then another four later on our journey.

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Buffalo love the water.  This lot are no exception

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Special birds of the trip were first

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Pygmy Kingfisher

Next we saw a hornbill with a bug in his bill – but he’d already given it to his holed up wife before we could get a photograph

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We watched this chap at the nest hole feeding his wife

Third was a lovely lilac breasted roller with a bug in his mouth

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I have a delicious morsel here

A treeful of black birds with red bill attracted out attention

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Red-billed Buffalo-weaver

And finally a coqui francolin crossed in front of us – We weren’t quick enough for a good portrait

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We’d hoped that we  would get all five of the Biggies in an afternoon – but we dipped on the leopard – Perhaps tomorrow!

Yesterday the temperature reached over 40 degrees C. Today we were grateful to have it 10 degrees cooler.  We braaied chops and sausage and did gem squash in tin foil.  Another delicious supper in Africa.

2

Kruger National Park – Day 24

3 December 2017

We bade farewell to Pat and Tony this morning and they made their way through the park for a few hours before leaving for Witbank where they are spending the night.

The Earl and I decided to have a rest day and do a few things in camp.   Isn’t it great that each rest camp has a laundry with coin operated washing machines and dryers?   Just two five rand coins;  and half an hour later my bed linen was washed and ready for the dryer.  In went the next two coins. I pressed the start button – nothing!  Oh no!  Had it been clothes I could have made a plan to hang it out but Kingsize bed linen – Noooooo.  So I rang the duty manager and within minutes two charming young technicians arrived to sort out my problem.   “It took my money but it won’t work,”  I said sadly.

‘We’re here to help,” they said scratching their heads.  Then one unlocked the machine with a key, did something miraculous and hey presto the dryer started!  “What did you do?” I asked.  “‘Magic,” he replied.

I then put a load of clothing on while the linen dried and when that was done the clothes were ready for the dryer.  By 9:30 I’d done the laundry, cleaned the caravan, watched some birds and had a swim.

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Green-winged pytilia – otherwise known as a melba finch

The Earl and I then went to the restaurant for breakfast.  By this time the temperature was rising but it was cool relaxing on the deck under the trees.  The birding was good too,

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The white-fronted bee-eaters were very active

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The marsh sandpiper was as busy as ever

After sorting out banking and email on his laptop The Earl had a nap and then we did a two hour drive next to the river to Nkulu Picnic Site and back.  The trip there was very quiet with little to see except impala.   On the way back though, the animals seemed to have woken from their naps,

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I rather like this scene of elephant, fish eagle and water buck sharing the facilities

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He’s not called a water buffalo for nothing

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This is the way to travel

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Why are these people staring, Mum?

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I really need a manacure – no time with all this childcare

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Two beautiful male Nyala greeted us

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This elephant was right next to my window

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Aren’t I a handsome chap!

It was too hot to cook tonight so we went to the Cattle Baron Take-Away and got chicken wraps and I made a Greek salad.  A perfect ending to a very hot day!

 

3

Kruger National Park – Day 23

2 December 2017 –

We haven’t seen cats for a few days and were feeling a little restless about it as it’s Tony and Pat’s last full day in The Park.   It would be nice to get one last sighting of a predator for them.

I suggested we drive to Tshokwane for breakfast because lions and leopard had been seen in that area.   Everybody agreed.

Before we left camp we found this chap foraging on the neighboring campsite.

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White-throated Robin-Chat

We drove the scenic route along the river and took all the loops we could.

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Frisky male impala were butting heads and interlocking horns – it seemed more play than serious rivalry

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A hippo still out grazing before going back into the water for the day

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The Earl aways gets a fright when these giants suddenly appear and cross in front of him

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These gentle waterbuck said a cheery good morning

There was a lull in sightings when all of a sudden we jerked to attention.  Something was crossing the road ahead of us.  Leopard, cheetah – No LION!   We all got an eyeful of her and then she was gone.  Maybe some more would follow and cross over too.  We waited a few minutes but nobody came.  Just a little ahead we saw a stationary car.  As we approached I saw them – lion lying under a tree.  A farewell gift for our friends,

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The other car left and we had them to ourselves for a while. Suddenly another lion appeared and then two of them got up together to change position and flop down again

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What an awesome sighting.  But wait – there’s more.  We drove on a little further and spotted two more lionesses lying on a log. There was a lot of foliage blocking them so we didn’t get photos but enjoyed seeing them get up and stretch before settling back down again.

We were thrilled at this sighting which was just before we got to our breakfast stop.  At Tshokwane we were amused when this pied barbet settled on a plate and himself to scraps!  I’ve never seen a barbet do that before.

IMG_8272On our return we concentrated on bird watching and enjoyed seeing a common duiker, giraffe and zebra.   As we approached the lion spot a car stopped us and said there were male lions up ahead.   Our females had left but these boys had settled in close by to where they had been. The one remained asleep but the other gave us a bit of entertainment.

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Why did you wake me up?

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Oh how tiresome – yawn, yawn!

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Don’t you know a lion needs 20 hours of sleep per day?

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Oh well – while I’m up i might as well have a scratch

When we came to the place where we expected to find a leopard on the rocks, we got a klipspringer instead!

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We decided to take a long midday break as it was really hot again today.  We swam in the pool a few times and only went to Lake Panic later in the afternoon for an hour.  I would be quite happy to spend an entire day in this hide as even on a slow day interesting things happen.  You have to sit very quietly in a hide and at first you might think there is nothing there but when you really look you start to see things. It took a while for us to notice that a Jacana at the far end of the pond had four chicks that must have been just out of their eggs.  Father Jacana looks after the kids while Mom goes off to find another mate and another nest in which to lay her eggs.

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Father Jacana wtching his young

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Squacco Heron fishing

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Pied Kingfisher with is prey

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We heard the Water Thick-knees before we them

Once again it was a perfect evening and just as we were enjoying Magnum Ice-creams for dessert I heard a rustle at the paper packet that we use for a bin. I yelled and it ran away. I suspected it was a honey badger but I caught sight of something smaller.  African wild cat perhaps?  The cheeky creature came back again and Pat said – shine your torch on it which I did and saw it was a bushbaby!.  At that moment Pat and Tony’s daughter was Skyping from New Zealand.  Chaos ensued as we raced to see if we could find the intruder.  We found him behind the caravan on the branch of a tree.  He wasn’t at all concerned and just stared at us from his safe vantage point.  Tony was able to show his daughter, Maria, the naughty creature.

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Sorry Bushbaby – We’re not the type of campers who hand out leftovers! Go find your own food!

Sadly tonight is the last one in the park for P&T as tomorrow they will make their way back home.  We still have a few more days before heading back to Kokstad.