6

Kruger Adventure with Grandpa, Gran, Simon and Shan – Day 4

5 January 2018

Yesterday’s scores were as follows – Simon in the lead with 70 points.  Grandpa has 64 and Shannon 55.  Grandpa was annoyed as at first we scored him the higher score but Si reminded us that we hadn’t entered the Walk points which pushed him ahead. Grandpa hadn’t done the whole walk but he did score for creatures he saw first before he went back to the caravan and none were scored after that!

Today we moved to Skukuza Rest Camp.  It was a beautiful day with temperatures into the thirties.   Packing up the caravan and tent was fast and efficient and we left Berg en Dal at 6:20 and made our way quickly along the tar road arriving at 8:30.  We did not stop much along the way.

Check in at Skukuza was quick and efficient.  We found a campsite next to the swimming pool and an attendant came to help us set up.   We were done quickly and then walked to the shop for ice cream.   It was really hot!  We decided to rest and swim and only to go out after 1 pm.  We were pretty sure the animals would be sleeping in the shade and not showing themselves in the middle of the day.

IMG_1029

Shan enjoying the water – Simon kept hiding from the camera

After the kids and I swam and Grandpa napped we set off to see what we could find.  Today turned out to have long stretches with absolutely no sightings – not even a bird!  Of course there were some interesting things and we were thrilled to get the following:

IMG_1079

Black shouldered kite

IMG_1077

White-headed Vulture

IMG_1072

The monkeys had the kids in fits of laughter

IMG_1069

IMG_1043

The baboons behave like humans!

IMG_1063

Elephants are always fun

IMG_1016

The oddest duck ever – Knob-billed duck

Usually it’s okay to do the distance but today it was really hot and the ‘dry spells’ of no sightings began to work on the patience of the un-caged kids in the back seat.   Concentration was lost, giggling and high jinks took it’s place.   How much longer became the plaintive cry.   And then — up ahead a traffic jam.   A naughty tourist was sitting on the roof of her car – Her binoculars were trained on something in the distance.  We were next to a river with a rocky bank.  “There are supposed to be lions here,” she said.  “But I can’t see them.”   Well if from her vantage point she couldn’t, what chance would we have.  We asked some others and they too said they’re here but out of sight.

Grandpa tried to maneuver the car into a better position and then he said, “What’s that walking toward us!”

All attention went from the elusive lions to what suddenly appeared and we were the first to see him!

IMG_1088

The leopard was quite unconcerned about the interest paid to him by the tourists

We watched this magnificent creature of the wild nonchalantly walking past the cars.  He stopped to sniff and spray and mark his territory and the excitement caused was phenomenal. It was 15 minutes to gate closing time so once we’d absorbed the sighting we made our way quickly back to camp.  What a great way to end our day.

Advertisements
8

Spending Quality Time With Friends

We recently had our very good friends, Heather and Peter, spend time with us.  It was an enormously happy time and the Weather Man obliged us with some stunning sunny days.

It was great to show them the improvements we’ve made to our home although they’re not quite finished yet. We enjoyed meals together, immersed ourselves in catching up on each other’s lives and it was a treat to take them to our favourite birding spots.  We have so many shared interests so it was great to have an extended time together to enjoy each other.

The sunny days made it all the more exciting and although winter birding is not as productive as spring and summer we managed to do pretty well each day.   Tuesday found us on the Arniston Road.

IMG_8956

Jackal Buzzard

IMG_8924

Rock Kestrel

IMG_8906

Denham’s bustard

IMG_8895

Denham’s in the foreground – steenbok in the background

IMG_8893

There were hundreds of our national bird, the blue crane in the farmlands

IMG_8871

A malachite sunbird enjoying the aloes

IMG_8868

A bee, his only competition

IMG_8846

Cloud Cisticola?  Not sure about this LBJ’s identity

IMG_8934

The Arniston Hotel where we enjoyed a great lunch

IMG_8932

Arniston

IMG_8925

Arniston fishermen coming in from a day at sea

On Wednesday we chilled at home till later in the afternoon when we set off to Agulhas Light house.  On the way we enjoyed some birds and then went to see the light house museum.

IMG_8964

There were literally dozens of African Black Oystercatchers on the rocks

IMG_8962

A little egret soaking up the sun

IMG_8975

Enjoying the lighthouse museum

After the museum we took a drive to Suiderstrand picking up a couple of birds and enjoying the views.

IMG_9015

The famous “Pietie se huis” which is now part of the Agulhas National Park Rest Camp.

IMG_9013

A Black Shouldered Kite with a hapless mouse for dinner

IMG_8997

Bokmakierie

IMG_9017

In the evening we introduced our old best friends to our new best friends over a stunning braai of ribs, chops and sausage

The next day we took off down the Elim Road and were thrilled with all the birds we found before having lunch at The Black Oystercatcher Wine Estate

P1090525

A gaggle of Spur-winged geese

P1090514

Cape Robin singing happily

 

IMG_9043

A delight to find a fish eagle

IMG_9060

Scores of Denham’s Bustards about

IMG_9035

Flamingos on the Salt Pans

IMG_9068

The Black Oystercatcher

IMG_9067

Lunch was excellent – we all had the sticky chicken salad

The sun was setting when we returned and so we popped in at the harbour to see how the boats had done.  A few fish were caught but not as much as the fishermen had hoped!

IMG_9081

Sunset

IMG_9086

One of the ski-boats returning from a day at sea

Friday’s weather matched our mood as we bade farewell to our friends as they made their way back to Cape Town on a cold and wet day.

What a delight to have been able to share those few days with our dearest friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

Wild Adventure Chapter 14 Last Day

16 March

It rained in the night and it was still dripping when the Grum-Peighs woke up at 5:30 am. Fortunately it stopped enough for them to pack up in relative comfort.

They bade farewell to the Leighs and were ready to exit Mata Mata by 6:30.  They took a slow drive to Twee Rivieren not expecting too much in the way of sightings as after rain the game don’t need to come to the water holes.

However, they were in luck.  They found their Port Shepstone neighbors stopped and staring into the bush. “There’s a lioness on a kill,” they told the G-Ps. And sure enough there she was under a tree chewing away.  To her right Lady G-P spotted another one – obviously she’d had her fill. A few jackal were waiting on the sideline too.

IMG_7497IMG_7501IMG_7504

After watching for a while they pushed on and saw all the usuals including giraffes

IMG_7520IMG_7521

and then her Ladyship noticed something small running across the veld.

IMG_7515

A dassie!

Another unusual sighting for KTP

IMG_7557

A lone warthog!

All too soon they arrived at Twee Rivieren, pumped the types back to their normal pressure and then went to Kgalagadi Lodge for breakfast.

 

Feeling fortified with fresh energy they sadly let the Kgalagadi behind and made their way to Oranjerus, a lovely, shady, grassy campsite next to the Orange River where they spent the night.

IMG_7584

A red bishop seen from the restaurant at Oranjerus

They dined at the restaurant with a fellow camper and so ended their wonderful Wild Adventure.

4

Wild Adventure Chapter 13

333

15 March

Lady Grum-Peigh was first in the queue with the Frend-Leighs close behind.  She raced out of the office, permit in hand and jumped into the Land Rover.  “We’ve beaten our friends!” said the Earl excitedly.  “We’ll be the first to see the lions!”

“Slow down,”said her Ladyship.  “You’ll miss the good stuff on the way!” He ignored her and gleefully overtook the campers from Kalahari Tented Camp who’d got out first.

Then suddenly a wild cat appeared and crossed the road in front of them.   The Earl screeched the breaks and yelled instructions to his poor wife but she still missed the photo! The kitty toddled off into the veld.  The Earl turned the vehicle and said, “Keep the camera on him.” Tufts of grass kept hiding him preventing good shots.  The Earl was furious.   “Why didn’t you get him – he was right there!”

“Did you get any?” asked Lady G-P calmly.

“No!”
“Well, he was on your side of the car!”
“But I was driving!”
“I’m tired of you yelling at me I’m getting out right here!”

“Well don’t let the hyena get you,” said the Earl and there right next to her door she spotted him and they both burst out laughing.

IMG_7381

Come out and play, Lady G-P – I won’t eat you.

IMG_7383

Look at my innocent eyes

IMG_7385

Oh well – I guess I’ll have to find somebody else

Other cars including the Frend-Leighs were now ahead of them so the Earl slowed down and enjoyed the birdlife.

IMG_7400

A secretary bird marching determinedly through the veldt

There were no lions or cheetahs at the waterholes but they saw tawnies on the kill.

 

P1090044

They made breakfast at Kamqua picnic site and then  made their way back.  There was a sleeping lion near Dalkeith but otherwise no big cats.

But the other creatures seen were fun.

P1090092

Rock Kestrel

P1090062

Pin-tailed Whydah

P1090056

Brown Snake Eagle

P1090028

Common Buzzard

IMG_7447

A Journey of Giraffe

IMG_7452

Wildebeest competing with Butterflies for a drinking rights

Back at camp they had a salad for lunch, the Earl had a nap, Lady G-P did some chores and Mrs Leigh prepped lamb stew for dinner. She and Mr Leigh went out again later in the afternoon but the G-Ps stayed to pack up as, sadly, it was our last night in the park.

4

Wild Adventure Chapter 12 Mata Mata Day 2

14 March 2016

Mata Mata Camp offered way more luxury than the unfenced rustic Rooiputs.  Showering in the morning was now possible and Lady Peigh and Mrs Leigh were first up and finished at the ablution block before the other campers awoke.  Now they had to check out of camp and the gate attendant did not open the office till 6:30 on the dot!

Mr and Mrs Frend-Leigh was first out the gate and indicated to the Grum-Peighs that they were following lion tracks.   They followed them to 14th Waterhole but the cats were not there.  A return to Dalkeith produced no luck either.

Clearly the lions had killed the previous night as they found a tawny eagle eating their leftovers.    It then flew up into a tree to join its friend and they got some photos.

IMG_7301

It was also good to see giraffe about.  The leopard was nowhere to be found.

IMG_7349IMG_7374

Back at camp the Earl cooked breakfast.

In the afternoon they all went out again.  Nothing much was seen but a common buzzard was nice to see.

IMG_7361

Other birds gave them pleasure too.

IMG_7364

Red-headed finch

IMG_7344

White-faced scops owl

IMG_7331

Wattled Starling

IMG_7310

Lilac-breasted Roller

So after a rather slow day they returned to camp and enjoyed a meal together before retiring for the night.

0

Wild Adventure Chapter 9 – Where is that Leopard?

99

This morning’s game drive found  Lord and Lady Grum-Peigh back at Kij Kij in search of the lioness and her cubs.  They found them in the company of two adult lions.  One of them was a young male.  They must have been drinking at Kij Kij but by the time they arrived there they were on the Rooiputs side of the WH.  They played for a bit and then made their way over the ridge – the opposite way to the previous day.

IMG_6637IMG_6636IMG_6646IMG_6665

There was nothing much to see other than kori bustards and other birds further on toward Melkvlei.  Then the Earl and Her Ladyship turned around and went to Twee Rivieren to refuel.   On the way they had lovely sightings of the smaller things.  They saw two yellow mongooses hunting and one caught a mouse!  There were also two slender mongoose and the two species didn’t seem to want to share territory.

“What’s that jackal up to,” said Lady G-P He was howling and looking quite agitated. “There must be a cheetah or a lion about – that’s how they behave when they want to get at the left overs from a kill”  The jackal was staring into a tree but in spite of a thorough search Lord and Lady G-P couldn’t see anything so they continued on their way.

IMG_6673

At Twee Rivieren they filled up then went to the restaurant where they took advantage of the internet access and caught up with emails and messages.  The shop had no fresh produce they nipped off to Kgalagadi lodge and bought some cauliflower and broccoli, pattipans, cucumber, tomatoes and sweet potatoes.

The Frend-Leighs decided to pop there too and they met up with them on their way back to TR.   The Leighs reported that there was a leopard in a tree between Leeudril and Rooiputs.   That’s what the jackal must have been agitating about.

On their return trip to Rooipust they found the site of the leopard but were told by Jan (a young man from the Cheque Republic who was camping on their site)  that they’d just missed her in the tree.  She’s jumped down and was definitely in the undergrowth under the tree but she was impossible to see. They waited half an hour but it was very hot so they left her in peace with a promise of coming back later.

At Rooiputs waterhole there were 4 Secretary birds.

IMG_6783

The late afternoon found them back searching for the leopard.   En route they were amused by the meerkats.

P1080889IMG_6790IMG_6794IMG_6815IMG_6816

There were a number of cars looking into the tree but nobody could see anything.  The Earl wanted to move on but Her Ladyship persuaded him to be patient.   Finally they were rewarded when all of a sudden the leopard emerged from his hiding place and began moving.

P1080898

His nap was over and he was off on a mission

P1080899

What a beauty

IMG_6833

I wonder if I’ll find a snack anywhere here?

IMG_6842

Nothing much happening – think I’ll sit here for a while

After walking off along the dunes the leopard flopped down for a rest then got up again and disappeared over the dunes.

“Another wonderful ending to a great day,” said Lady G-P

 

 

 

3

Wild Adventure Chapter 7 The Earl Helps a Distressed Car at a Lion Sighting

9 MARCH

The day started with a lanner.  This is a common bird in the KTP and the Grum-Peighs often see them chasing and catching doves. But this one decided to show off to them on the road.  He was eating insects or getting minerals from the gravel or whatever attracts all the creatures of the park to this habit.  Anyway he posed beautifully.

IMG_6185

After enjoying the lanner they pushed on to Kij Kij and found a beautiful male lion drinking at the waterhole.  They then followed him as he walked off toward the Nossob road.   Several cars were parked facing the waterhole and he flopped down in their shadows.   Eventually they decided that enough was enough and set off in search of other game

P1080697

A kori bustard entertained them by showing them how to take a dust bath.

IMG_6213IMG_6215IMG_6216When there is little game to be seen the G-Ps keep a sharp eye out for birds.  Even the little familiar chat is good to see.

IMG_6240

At Melkvlei waterhole there were lots of gemsbok.

IMG_6243

On their return they found the male lion sleeping in the shade of a tree. Lady G-P aimed her camera but suddenly the car started moving forward.  “Hey – I’m trying to get a shot,”she complained.

“But this guy in front is calling me to chat to him,” replied the Earl.

He pulled up next to the hired four by four.   “I’m so sorry,”said a British voice “But I stopped here to see this lion and now my car is dead!”  There were two men and two women in the vehicle and they all looked terrified.

“Don’t worry,” said Lady G-P, “My husband will fix it.” She has great confidence in her her husband’s MacGyver type skills.

The Earl turned the car around  with a view to jump starting his dead car.  “Just keep an eye on Leo.”said His Lordship as he climbed up and opened a rooftop box to retrieve his tools.  “He’s sitting up!” yelled Lady Peigh. But her hero was not fazed.   He took out all the tools he needed and passed them to her.

“He’s standing up now!” Lady Peigh was getting nervous. Leo sniffed the air and decided the smell of his Lordship was not to his liking and dropped down again and went back to sleep!

IMG_6287

Leo licked his lips as he contemplated an earl for dinner

IMG_6261

Nope – not worth the effort – think I’ll have another nap instead

The Earl decided that caution was the better part of valour and quickly hitched the tow rope to the distressed vehicle and towed him to a safer spot.   The car did not start while being towed but when they stopped the Earl found that it was a loose connection and fixed it pronto.

IMG_6294

The First Earl of Struisbaai using his MacGyver skills

The British tourist were most grateful.  They had no tools in the hired vehicle and were quite unprepared for any mishap.   Lady G-P would never travel without her personal handyman.

They went back to look at the lion and wait for the Frend-Leighs and then took a slow drive home finding a pale chanting goshawk and a few  ground squirrels on the way.

IMG_6298

Isn’t he beautiful

IMG_6308

On guard and ready to warn his friends of pending danger