7

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 7 and 8 – Waterberg Plateau

2 November 2018

We were up and about by 7, got the caravan packed and then our hostess, Anthea, cooked us a delicious English breakfast. Her freshly baked muffins are to die for!

Anthea is a perfect B&B hostess and her establishment is delightful.  Each room opens onto the bird friendly garden, the dogs are inquisitive so don’t leave your door open unless you want their company and the bathroom is lovely.   There is a kettle, a fridge and free WiFi,   A perfect place to stay if you are passing through Windhoek.

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We were on the road just after nine and the trip to the Waterberg went smoothly until the dirt road leading up to the resort which is in serious need of grading.

It was 1 o’clock when we arrived and the mercury was well in the thirties.   After checking in we found a suitable place to camp and set up fairly quickly.  It is a site with great potential and in the past has been well maintained but now the paths and roads are deeply eroded and the ablutions, though clean, need a bit of maintenance.  The washing up area is fine, as is the laundry room.  There are no washing machines – so only hand washing.  There is an enclosed courtyard with wash lines which need replacing.

We like visiting The Waterberg because of the bird life.  This time we did not see as many species as in the past but we were pleased with what turned up.

After setting up camp and having a bite to eat we set off to explore the pool and cabin area.

At the cottage area there was quite a bit to see.  Warthogs were mowing the front lawns.

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Mom and Dad dik dik with their baby nearby were also enjoying a graze.

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The bird life was interesting and among others we saw red-billed spur-fowl and a beautiful purple roller

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It was disappointing to find that the pool was not at its sparkling best but we still had a swim in the murky waters.

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We saw and heard the Go Away bird and enjoyed the ground-scraper thrush.

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Back at camp we were delighted to find rosy faced love birds pecking alongside laughing doves.

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3 November 2018

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and Pat and I did a clean up and some laundry.   We wanted to go for a game drive on the plateau but the fee of  $650 is exorbitantly high.  We took a walk to reception to negotiate a discount.  “There are four of us – all pensioners – please can you make a plan,’ we asked.  Unfortunately the manageress does not work on Saturdays and the duty staff did not have the authority to help us.  They tried to phone but told us their boss was unreachable.   We discussed it and decided that we would be seeing plenty of game in Etosha so we’d give it a miss.

In the afternoon we went for our own little game drive around the camp and then thought we might take a dip in the pool.  But there were crowds of people there, loud music playing and children splashing excitedly in the water.   We all decided to leave them to their joyful antics and went to the restaurant for a drink instead.   It was pleasant sitting there and we enjoyed watching a familiar chat, ground scraper thrush and later found a puff back in a tree. At camp we found a Green-winged Pytilia. The paradise fly catchers were around but impossible to photograph.

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Familiar Chat

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Puffback

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Green-winged pytilia – female

The baboon are both amusing and a nuisance.   One has to be very careful to make sure they cannot get into you tent or caravan.  Don’t even leave bags lying around – they will rip them apart to see if there’s food inside.

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Later we found out why there were so many people at the pool – It was a staff function for employees of a furniture company and their families.   A large group of them came to camp next to us. They all dressed up with colourful paper flower chains round their necks, played traditional music and set up their tents.   We found them quite entertaining and chatted with one or two.  Some slept under the stars but four very cute children – two boys two girls between the ages of 4 and 6 were really excited to be sharing a tent which they helped erect.   A parks board employee came round a little later and asked them to turn down the music – No problem – they did!  However, at 1:30 am we were woken by loud talking!  Those sleeping under the stars were calling to each other!

But it was all part of the adventure. They were very pleasant and friendly so we forgave them the night interruption.

Having a view like this makes it all worthwhile.  Each evening we were here the little bush babies came scampering through the trees and warthogs came to mow the lawns.  What a privilege to be able to enjoy all this beauty around us.

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10

Addo Elephant Park – Last Day

I am not lying when I tell you that I saw a lion today but he was far away and lying flat in the long grass – so I’m not even going to bore you with a bad photograph!

There are more interesting things to write about but this will be a short post.  I took dozens of photographs;  too many to post and difficult to know which ones to choose.   So I am going to be brief and hope you enjoy the photo story instead.

In a small park like Addo it’s easy to get around the whole game area in a day.    It’s always wise to try to stick to early morning and late afternoon but as a day visitor this is not so easy.   We might have had a chance to see lions had we stayed on till the end of the day but that would be exhausting.

The main stars of Addo are definitely the elephants. Zebra can be mighty entertaining too and even though the warthogs are everywhere, I just love them and can watch their antics for hours.

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This poaching monitor and his anti poaching dog kindly posed for a photo at the entrance. Dogs like this one are invaluable in keeping poaching to a minimum

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A Pale-chanting Goshawk was more obliging than the lions we saw nearby

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Such an attractive antelope is the male kudu

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So easy to ignore these guys after a while – but they’re really cute

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Hapoor Waterhole hosted a huge herd of ellies this morning

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They just kept coming

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Group Bath-time!

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Breathing with a built in snorkel!

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Fun fun fun

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Here we go again

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Elephants just wanna have fun

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We came across three zebras having a group hug!

At Marion Baree Waterhole another group of ellies were kicking up mud

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Glorious Mud

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Water and mud play is good for kids, Mom

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This little one certainly enjoyed it

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Mommy Pig and Baby Porkie looked on enviously waiting for their turn.

It was our last day visiting Addo today but we will be back another time.  It’s such a fab place to visit.

 

9

Addo Elephant Park – Another day in Elephantasia

Staying outside of a game reserve is not ideal but it’s better than nothing.  We’re loving The Homestead which is just a short distance from the entrance gate.   Day visitors may only enter the game viewing at 7:00 am while for residents it’s an hour earlier.   In the past we would be first at the gate!  But today we only woke up at 7 and entered the park after 8.   Then we had a leisurely breakfast at The Cattle Baron before setting off on our game drive.

There are many different types of antelope in the park and they’re all thriving.   First we were greeted by this beauty.

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Lovely male kudu with another in the background

Addo Elephant Park is one of the few places in the country that is home to the flightless dung beetle. Visitors are warned to watch out for them on the roads as they cannot fly away to safety.

The flightless dung beetles mostly feed on elephant or buffalo faeces, but they have been recorded to also feed on dung from other species such as rabbits, baboons, antelope and ostrich.   Read about dung beetles  here

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We really enjoy the birdlife in the parks we visit but Autumn in Addo hasn’t produced anything too exciting.  These are some of the birds we managed to photograph

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Cape Wagtail collecting nesting material

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Speckled Mousebird

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Cape Glossy Starling

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Red-necked spurfowl

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Southern Boubou

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Capped Wheatear

Tortoises tend to be less plentiful as winter approaches but we did find one who was still quite wide awake

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We found lots of plains animals in the south today.   There are a number of waterholes that attract them and the grazing in also very good.   All the animals are looking very healthy.  We enjoyed seeing a number of different species making Addo look like what one expects Africa to be.  It was lovely to see a mix of zebra, kudu, red hartebeest, warthogs and elephants spread across the veld.

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We learned that elephants were starting to dominate the waterholes and leaving little over for the other creatures.  So the authorities have placed an electric fence around one we saw today.  The wires hang down to a certain height and prevent the elephants from drinking but are high enough for the smaller animals to be unaffected.  No chance of the zebras being squirted by elephants at this waterhole!

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Do you see the wires hanging just above the zebras

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This elephant walked right past – obviously knows what will happen if he goes to this pub!

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Oh the bliss of elephant free water!

BUT at the waterholes where they’re free to frolic there was a lot of fun today.  They swam and played and rolled in mud to their hearts content.

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It’s hot – I need a swim

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Oh what fun

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Look at me!

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Mom – I love this

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What’s going on here?

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Time to get out

 

Most of the waterholes we visited had tons of frisky elephants taking the waters.  It was fascinating to watch them.

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We stopped at Jack’s picnic site for coffee

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And the final excitement of the day was this young hyaena lying next tot he side of the road – not often seen in Addo so we were thrilled.

 

 

 

8

A Visit to Addo – Carol’s Rest is Elephantastic

Today we left Jubilee Farm and headed to Addo Elephant Park. Their camping was fully booked so we had to find accommodation outside The Park.  Our intention was to stay  at the south end near Colchester.   However, we heard on the radio that there was rioting on the N2 and in the village.   Rocks and burning objects were being thrown around so we thought it best to stay out of the troubled zone.    News 24 Report

The other end of the park was not affected so we booked into The Homestead just 10 minutes away from the Addo Rest Camp entrance.   By 2:30 we were set up and ready to go adventuring.

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There were lots of black-headed heron around

After enjoying a variety of zebra, red hartebeest, kudu and millions of warthogs we stopped at Carol’s Rest where one male elephant was hogging the water hole while another two were fooling around and a fourth made a later appearance.  A thirsty zebra was too nervous to drink while Jumbo was taking up most of the space

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Please can I join you for a drink?

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Clearly you’re not sharing with me!

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The cheeky warthogs had no fear and joined right in

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Still the zebra was not too sure

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A jackal decided to make do with a muddy puddle further away

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Thirst drove the zebra to take a few steps closer

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Brave boy – you did it!

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Aaah that’s better 

The zebra got his drink then what the camera missed was hilarious.  The elephant squirted him with his trunk!  We nearly fell out of the car laughing and the zebra leaped out of the pond!

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I think he’s telling his friend all about it

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These two entertained us with their interaction

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They twisted their trunks together

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And seemed to really like each other

We spent ages just watching these wonderful creatures interact, push, pull, chase and scratch each others ears with their tusks – it was amazing.

But as we had to leave the park by six we made our way back to the gate and out again.  On our way home we stopped at Lenmore to shop for fresh veggies at their deli.  We also decided to go to their restaurant for supper.  What a great decision as their lamb shank was to die for.   It was served with delicious veggies too – green beans, cauliflower cheese, creamed spinach, glazed carrots and roasted baby potatoes.

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A fabulous ending to a perfect day

 

 

 

 

6

Kruger Adventure with Grandpa, Gran, Simon and Shan – Day 12

13 January 2018

Last night I said, “You’re doing so well being ready to leave camp by 6:00 am.  Tomorrow is our second last day in the park. Let’s try to get out even earlier than usual.”

“What do you call early?” asked Shan suspiciousy.

“The gate opens at 4:30 – but let’s say 5 or 5:30?

Two pairs of eyes looked at me in horrified disbelief.  “Why?” they asked.

“Because you’re more likely to get the animals in active mode early in the morning.  Lions spend 20 hours a day sleeping in the shade under trees. The chances of seeing them active in the morning is increased if you get out there nice and early.”

They reluctantly agreed.

It took a while to get them to wake up this morning and Simon said, “Gran, how can you do this to me!” But we managed to get out of the gate just after 5:00 am.  Dawn was golden on the horizon and the kids’ cameras were clicking away at the seldom seen, awesome sight.

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Simon took this one through the side mirror of the car

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The hippos were having an early morning swim

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This chap seemed happy to see us

We took the S128 and then joined up with the H4-1 to Tshokwane.  After a few minutes the early rising caught up with Simon and after taking a photo of some buffalo he gave up and fell asleep!

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He woke with a start when Shan called out –  Elephant! and one was right next to his window. Then a really big one stepped into the road behind the car and decided to follow us.  This caused shrieks of “Drive, Grandpa, Drive!”  from both kids.  “Nah,” said Grandpa “I’ll let him catch up first and then drive!”  The kids thought this might be fun and encouraged him to wait till he was really close but Gran reprimanded him. “Don’t you dare be a hero – you never know what he might do!”   Nervous laughter from the kids before they started yelling for him to drive again!

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The big boy just wanted to follow us

Simon fell asleep again but after the next sighting sleep was impossible.  The early rising was paying off.

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Two young lions playing

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We counted six of them but found out later there were 12 but some were hidden

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This chap pulled the bark off the tree and played with it

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Such a handsome lion

We watched these lions playing for a little while and then went on as breakfast was calling.

A car was parked at the next turnoff and we almost rode straight past when Grandpa yelled – oops – Lion!

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A honeymoon coupe!

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She looked sleepy

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But The King had other ideas

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People are watching – to find a room of course

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And she did – well a sort of private spot anyway.

“The children’s education is complete,”  I said.

“What do you mean, Gran,”  said Shan

“That we now know how lions mate!”  said Simon.

Four of the Big Five before breakfast!  Yes getting out early certainly paid off this morning!

But wait, there’s more!   The occupants of the car who had the honeymoon coupe first had moved on ahead of us and were parked next to a tree. They pointed out a Verreaux’s Eagle-owl.  Great!

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Tshokwane serves the best coffee in Kruger and we were ready for ours when we arrived there shortly after our lovely morning.

On our return trip we revisited the honey moon couple and continued to enjoy the regulars.  The birding was good too.  The best was seeing ground hornbill again.

It was almost midday when we arrived back at camp.

Simon has struck up a friendship with the boys camping next to us.  All the kids had a great afternoon at the pool.

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We went out again for a short drive at 4 pm.  Nothing too exciting crossed our path but after the morning’s excitement we were content to enjoy the regulars.

Tomorrow is our last full day in The Park.  We will spend our last night at Berg en Dal and then leave early on Monday morning.

 

 

6

Kruger Adventure with Grandpa, Gran, Simon and Shan – Day 11

12 January 2018

The weather is once again hot in The Kruger National Park with temperatures reaching the mid thirties.

This morning for our  drive we drove to Crocodile Bridge Camp.  There were lots of the usual animals about and we got four of the Big Five.   Four rhino were quite far away so we didn’t take a photo.  There were a few elephant sightings but as we have many ellie photos we didn’t take of them either.   The same goes for buffalo which we saw from camp and from the bridge.  There is no restaurant at this Gate Camp but you can get coffee from a kiosk and ready made sandwiches, pies, muffins etc from the shop.  In the past we have enjoyed their pies but today there were none available so we settled for sandwiches which were also very good.

These are the highlights from this morning’s drive.

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A Bateleur finally posed for a half decent photograph

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The veld was littered with Impala – The kids now call them litter!

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A wildebeest resting in the shade

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Donkeys in striped pajamas everywhere

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A flotilla of white-faced ducks with a female knob-billed duck in the foreground

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An emerald-spotted wood-dove

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Wild Dog about to settle down in the shade for a midday nap

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But we disturbed their peace

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Such gorgeous creatures

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Yes – It’s hot!

When we got back to camp our neighbours told us about lions just three km from the bridge so we went in search of them.

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They were asleep under a tree quite far from the road but The King got up and stared at us

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Then flopped down again

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At the bridge we got this lovely Goliath Heron

We chilled in camp for most of the afternoon and then went out again for a short drive from 4 o’clock to 6 o’clock.  The Amur falcons and  rollers were flocking together and hawking insects which was really interesting to watch.

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Rollers hawking insects

Here are the other highlights of our afternoon drive

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Southern White-crowned Shrike

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Burchell’s Coucal

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Snake-eagle with a reptile of some sort – see the tail

When we got back the kids went for a swim with the neighbour’s kids and later Simon went on another night hike and saw hyaena from the restaurant deck.

It was a beautiful evening and we had a braai.    It was after nine before we were ready for bed.

1

Kruger Adventure with Grandpa, Gran, Simon and Shan – Day 9

The wind died down last night and did not blow us all away to Oz. We all had a good night’s sleep but the effects of early rising for the past week have taken its toll on our teenage grandchildren.  It took a while to coax them out of the tent this morning and it was after six before we went off for our morning drive.

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Shan was out of it for the first hour of the day!!

We did a short morning drive along the S100, checked out the Leopard/Hyaena kill and then went back to camp.  These are the highlights:-

Vultures were feasting on the leftovers of the leopard’s kill.

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We also found some white storks. I imagine they’d just made a delivery of babies to some Park Parents.IMG_2084

We  found a spot where there was a Painted Snipe, Grey Heron, African Black Crake and Fish Eagle.

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Painted Snipe

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Fish Eagle

Some other birding delights of the day were:-

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Finally I got a half decent photo of a Magpie Shrike

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Carmine bee-eaters

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Amur Falcon

Then we had an encounter with a bull elephant in musth.   He owned the road and just kept coming toward us.  “Reverse, Grandpa!”  yelled the kids.  “We’re going to die!”  moaned Shannon.   “Tell my parents I love them!’

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Slightly scary when a giant heads straight for your vehicle

While they were freaking out they both kept their cameras trained on the scene videoing the drama.  There were other cars on the road too and we all just gave the Elllie his space and reversed until he decided he’d had enough fun and went off into the bush.

The commentary on the video was hilarious.  “I don’t know who will see this but at least you will know how I died.   This is freaking terrifying!   Grandpa – reverse faster.  (chuckles from Grandpa)  Don’t worry kids he’s not angry he won’t do anything. (from Grandma)  That’s was the last crushed people said (from Shan)   Lots of nervous laughter.

It all lasted about three minutes and when it was over the kids said – Man that was scary! – But really we were in no danger.   This was no angry, charging elephant.

Back at camp we had breakfast and spent a few hours chilling before going out again at 3.   It was not a very exciting afternoon – probably just as well after the morning drama.  The highlight was coming across a mommy hyaena with cubs

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I was also thrilled to get the African Hawk Eagle

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The weather was cold again today but by this evening we could see that it was clearing.   The Earl cooked a chicken casserole for supper.  An elephant passed by the fence. He was so silent that had the neighbours not alerted us we would not have seen him.   It is such fun being close to the fence.