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Kruger Adventure with Grandpa, Gran, Simon and Shan – Day 8

What a night!!  The wind got up and blew all night rocking the caravan and preventing us from getting a decent amount of sleep.  There was thunder and lightening too but no rain.   This morning Shan and Simon looked totally wrecked.  “I thought the tent was going to be blown away with me in it never to be seen again!’  she complained.  “Well, ” said I ” You would just have been taken off to the Land of Oz and there you would have met a lion with no courage so you’d have been perfectly safe!”   She was not amused.

“Tonight I’m sleeping in your bed!”  said Si.

Well I was actually waiting for that to happen but no little bodies found there way in.  They were too scared to move!   I did peep through my window to see if they were okay and all seemed well and it seems they did survive!

We left camp closer to 7 than 6 this morning.  It was still blowing and it was overcast and much cooler than yesterday which was a relief.  But the wind was still hectic.  Travelling in the car was more comfortable than staying at the campsite!  We did a short loop, returned for breakfast which Grandpa cooked and then went straight out again, taking our left overs with us for lunch.

On our Before Breakfast Drive we had some lovely sightings of the usual gang but these are the highlights.

We saw first one bull elephant and then another.

Why had it got chunks out of its ears, Shan wanted to know.   And why is the one tusk so worn out.

The wear and tear on the tusks is from using it to dig and if the elephant is right dominant the right tusk will be more worn than the left and vice versa.  I’m not sure but many of them do.

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The second bull, though, had ears and tusks in good condition.  That’s because he takes care of himself and brushes with Colgate – I joked.

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Simon earned more points by spotting brown hooded parrots for us.

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Giraffe entertained us at regular intervals

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A red-crested korhaan caught a juicy grasshopper for breakfast

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A turtle out of water – probably seeking a new pond.

After breakfast we planned on doing a long loop but we were too tired to finish it so took a short cut home.  It was a good choice as we had some lovely sightings on the changed route.

We saw a jeep jockey stopped on the side of the road and asked him what they were looking at.  “A tortoise,” he said.  “But 1km from here you will find  some ‘nice’ lions.

“Drive,”  Grandpa, “Drive!”  yelled the kids.   Much to their disgust Grandpa took off very slowly.  Just look for cars, he said.  Then you’ll know we’ve found them.  Simon saw the cars first and then spotted a sleeping lion some distance before the group of cars and a little way off next to a waterhole.

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First a back view – but it was a male which was a good sign

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Then another male fast asleep

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And another

We moved closer and found a good spot to see yet more male lions.  There were five altogether – a bachelor pride!

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Good Morning Your Majesty

It was time to stop and stare.  I climbed over the seat and got the ice creams out of the car freezer.

IMG_1720Why did I get the deformed one?  You all got healthy ones!

Shan decided to take a photograph of hers – Ice cream in the bush-veld.

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“My grandparents stop for birds.  I stop for ice cream”

After enjoying our lion and ice cream we moved on and enjoyed some more birds

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European Bee-eater

My favourite small antelope is the Steenbok.  They are usually solitary but sometimes mating pairs will be seen together.  This morning we got a pair.

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They are very shy and try to hide

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Mr Steenbok thinks I can’t see him

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Mrs Steenbok showed herself

Soon after this we came upon another traffic jam.   “What do you think we will see?” I asked.   “Wild Dog.” said Simon.  “Cheetah!”  said Shan. “Lion” said Earl.  “Leopard.”  said I.

Simon saw them first and called – Wild Dog.  I saw them second and called Leopard.  Then I changed it to Cheetah. –  Shan was right!    Simon got 20 for spotting them first and Shan 10 for the right guess.

There were six on a kill – A mom and five almost fully grown cubs.  Shan had been dying to see cheetah and they were on my side of the car so I quickly swapped places with her so she could fully enjoy them.

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Shan getting some good shots

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It was quite a feast

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These three had full tummies and were just resting

A driver in a car facing us wanted to leave and tried to start her car.  Uh oh – The battery was flat.  She was devastated and put her head on the steering wheel and looked like she was about to burst into tears.  Her companion too looked distressed.  I put my head out of the window and called, “Don’t worry!  As soon as we can my husband will help you.  We have jump leads.”   She put her hands together in thanks.   I think they were French tourists.

The cheetahs finished their meal and were getting restless.  The Earl opened the door  and climbed up to get the leads out of the box on top of the roof.  Simon and Shannon freaked.  “Grandpa – the cheetahs – they’ll eat you!”   “Don’t worry kids, the cheetahs’ tummies are full – they won’t want to eat a tough old man like Grandpa.”   Other tourists looked on in horror.  I indicated to them that the other car needed help and they all nodded in wonder.

The cheetahs looked on too and started to move away from their kill.  They kept a wary eye on The Earl and the young man from the other car but made no attempt to attack.  They were, I think, more afraid of them than they of the cheetahs.   If you zoom in on the photo you can see a blurred image of them staring at the goings on.

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The Earl fetching the jump leads

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Doing the necessary while the cheetahs look on

Some of the other tourists looked horrified that the assistance happened so near a group of predators, but they were far enough away for the two men to hop back into the cars if they approached.

When got back to camp at around two o’clock, our neighbour approached us.

“Have you done the S100?”  she asked.

“Only yesterday.” we replied.

“Well today a leopard killed a zebra near the waterhole.  Go quickly and you might see it.”

The kids were not keen to go out yet again and The Earl needed a nap so it was after 4 o’clock when we decided to see what was happening on the infamous S 100.   We couldn’t have timed it better.  We came upon the traffic jam at said waterhole.
“Surely the leopard won’t still be here.”  I said.

“It’s a hyaena!”  called Simon and he was right.  No sign of the leopard at all.  We managed to get a really nice position and had perfect views of the hyaena working away at the zebra kill.   In the trees and on the ground there were also vultures waiting anxiously for their turn to get at the carcass.

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This zebra is rather delicious

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The undertakers of the bush

The hyaena was really tucking in and we were enjoying the action when The Earl suddenly said, “Hey, I can see the leopard.”   And he carefully described where he saw some spots under a nearby tree.  How he spotted it, I do not know. It was simply a collection of spots with ears the twitched from time to time.  We couldn’t believe it!

“Why is the leopard allowing the hyaena to eat his dinner?”  the kids wanted to know.  We explained that this often happens to leopards. They make the kill and unless he gets it up a tree quickly other predators steal it from him.  He was clearly exhausted and lying under the tree unable to challenge the thief.

But after about half an hour something amazing happened.  The hyaena dragged part of the kill toward the tree where the leopard was lying.   As soon as he passed the spot, the leopard got up and went to the kill where he started eating, unchallenged by the thief.

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Leopard returning to his kill

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Tucking in to a lovely meal

Then to our immense surprise the hyaena left the piece he’d dragged away.  We expected to see a scuffle between the two predators but instead the leopard allowed the hyaena to join him at the table.   “A mixed species dinner date!’  said Shan.

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Hyaena and Leopard sharing a meal!

This went on for some time and then the leopard left the table and went to chew on what Hyaena had left in front of the tree!

I wonder if these two creatures are friends.  Did Leopard say – Hey, Hyaena – You’re welcome to my zebra – it’s too much for one leopard.  You’ve got good teeth and jaws – make a start on it and I’ll join you later.

There certainly was no attempt by either to chase the other away.  They really were content to share.   Sharing, is after all, caring!   I just wonder if they ended up inviting the vultures to finish it off when they were done.  We didn’t have time to find out as gate closing time was fast approaching.   We were, however, thrilled to see what we did.

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Kruger National Park – Day 15 – Satara

24 November – Birds and Hyenas

There are no words to describe the thrill one has when one is woken in the night or early in the morning by the sounds of the bushveld.   We have heard the shrill laugh of the hyena the howl of the jackals and the roar of lions on several occasions since being in The Park.  This morning the hyenas were particularly vocal and urged me out of bed before 5 am. Pat had heard them and the lions too so was also up a the same rude hour.

We were meant to leave be out the gate by 6 am but it was a little after that before we hit the H1-3

First up was a zebra crossing and then a number of lovely bird sightings.

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African Harrier Hawk – getting his adult plumage

Soon we turned onto the H6

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A Swainson’s Spurfowl in full voice

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Purple Roller

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Isn’t the baby impala too cute

The H6 is famous for hyena sightings and we were not disappointed

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These two were on a mission

They were not the only two we saw – there were many lying fast asleep.  Clearly they’d had a hard night!

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These two opened weary eyes to check us out

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We also met up with wildebeest

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A handsome ostrich

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And this magnificent Martial Eagle

By 7:35 we’d turned onto the S37 where a herd of Impala scared The Earl silly by leaping in front of the car without warning.  Luckily we were going slowly as one must in a game reserve.

At 8:30 we got out at Sweni Hide and had a good time observing the activity there.

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A water buck and herd of impala came down to drink

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This yellow-billed stork sat on its haunches

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Then she lay right down.

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Perhaps standing on one leg gets a bit exhausting

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The grey heron walked post cranky crocodile without a care in the world

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And went to chat to the storks

 

Next we went to Sweni Picnic site which has a hide overlooking the river but there was not much to see.  However, we got a lovely puffback in the picnic area.

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Not easy to get this very vocal bird as he hides in the foliage.  Here he’s nicely puffed up.

We then followed the S41.  The birding was good

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We watched a bateleur catch and eat a mouse

Near the river we observed thousands of quelea swarming and hanging in the trees.  Pat suggested a good collective noun for them – A cloud of quelea.

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There were “Clouds” of Quelea everywhere

We then joined the S100 and had some good sightings along that route.

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Trumpeter Hornbill

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Great to get the pale form Wahburg Eagle

When he flew to another tree we saw this barn owl with its wings hanging down over the branch – very odd.

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Barn Owl acting strangely

We also enjoyed the giraffe and zebra

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We had planned to come back to camp for breakfast but only made it there by midday so instead went to The Rustic Kitchen for lunch.  Pat and I enjoyed a chicken salad and the men had chicken may toasties.

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We went out again at 4 pm and did the S100.

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This male waterbuck was very relaxed

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The Sabota Lark got some dinner

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A puffed up purple roller

It was cool this morning but  the temperature rose to 35 in the afternoon.  Pat and Tony cooked chicken kebabs, butternut and sweet potato on the braai which we served with a Greek Salad.

Ánother ‘lousy’ day in Africa!