338 posts in this topic

@@michael-ibk

 

It looks like you had outstanding sightings, even for Kgalagadi standards. You did well with cheetahs so far. The two males you saw on the Nossob side… where did you see them? I saw two pairs of two male cheetah coalition on the Nossob side. I have a sneaking suspicion the ones you saw are the ones I saw at Polentswa hunting.

 

Also, I love the yellow mongoose sequence.

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We stayed with the amorous couple for almost two hours.

 

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And for Lion midday-standards, they really did their very best to entertain us, often looking straight at us. Obviously the lady was not comfortable with us peepers.

 

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The male was very impressive - a proper regal Kalahari specimen. Dantes said that this one was to be watched - he did not like the look on his face when he was giving us the eye. I disagreed - I thought he had an almost gentle expression at times.

 

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Lighting was very tricky, however, they mostly stayed in the shade, and the background was blazingly bright. All kind of exposure compensations and meterings were tried, but in the end, a sighting mid-day will always be a mid-day sighting and cannot be magically changed into a golden hour one.

 

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The couple had quite the stamina - they were mating five times!

 

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In-between they took well-deserved naps, but it was never long until the male became "interested" again.

 

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One of the few moments when the lady lost her slightly bored expression. :)

 

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After this highly entertaining performance we drove back to camp. With a short detour, because we wanted to go all the way up to Union´s End. This is where the road ends. Just ends, this is the border to Namibia, but no border post here. It´s the middle of nowhere, nothing more, but somehow it felt important to get to the end of the road. :)

 

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We had a very relaxed afternoon in camp, some birds, some Springbok, some Hartebeest, some scenery - it was wonderful doing (almost) nothing for a change. Except having a few drinks. And then some. :)

 


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This was the night when we were "going big", as Dantes called it. Apparently he felt we had eaten far too little so far, and so he had to save us from starving. A proper South African braai was in order, and to celebrate we had to have some more drinks with it.

 

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I shudder to think of all the Cyder, Beer, Wine and Spirit I had that evening. We had the camp manager over as a guest, and it was a real fun evening. I then thought it was only the amount of alcohol I had enjoyed that our House Gecko looked so unusual and funny, but my photos prove I was not completely drunk (yet):

 

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We had Fillet Steak (with tons of sides), braaid just on wood, no charcoal. It was amazing, melting like butter, the most perfect piece of meat I have ever eaten. (Sorry, Mum.)

 

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Our resident Jackal was very jealous.

 

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Another day over - Good Night, Gharagab, you most perfect place in the Kalahari!

 

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@@michael-ibk The two males you saw on the Nossob side… where did you see them? I saw two pairs of two male cheetah coalition on the Nossob side. I have a sneaking suspicion the ones you saw are the ones I saw at Polentswa hunting.

 

Also, I love the yellow mongoose sequence.

 

Thanks, @@Safaridude . We saw them somewhere between Lijersdraai and Kannaguass waterholes, so not foo far from Polentswa.

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Did your have two units?

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That lion could be nicknamed The Marathon man! For sure you have tried plenty of exposure modes; but have you tried also using a C-PL filter?

 

As for the braai, wood, wood, and only wood is what should be used in a braai. And those steaks; for sure the best steaks I have ever had the pleasure to eat!

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@@michael-ibk great whistling rat photos and narrative.

 

The braai photos take me back to Gharaghab, such a colourful landscape and so far from anywhere.

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your mongoose sequence is stunning. i liked his look of nonchalance and indifference to you taking the photos while he's contentedly chewing that little piece of bone (or whatever!). What I was surprised by was the horizontal pupils in its eyes - I've never noticed that before!

 

and loved that whistling rat - what cute little creatures. with a key role in the ecosystem, too.

 

that's a handsome leopard, and am i wrong, but is the lioness rather large and mascular? she's a gorgeous specimen of a lioness.

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Posted (edited)

@@michael-ibk

 

You said: "Trying to get pictures of them was not too easy - not only are they tiny but quite nervous too, they only stick out their heads for seconds and then disappear again. I remember a computer game from childhood, it was called "Caddyshack" or something like that, there were a lot of holes, some moles sticking their head out very quickly, and you had to hit them with a hammer. (Don´t worry, I don´t enjoy doing that in a non-virtual way.) Taking photos of the Whistling Rats felt very similar."

 

Sorry for the formatting here, Michael. I'm on my iPad, and the Quote feature doesn't work as it's supposed to, but had to comment before I forget: LOL, yes, "Caddyshack." It's a movie with Rodney Daingerfield, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and Ted Knight. If you aren't familiar with it, you have to watch it. Once you do, then you'll get the thing about the gophers (not moles) and the holes (on a golf course, btw). Completely hilarious in a very juvenile, lowbrow way -- a true American classic from the '80s. We'd walk around school quoting lines from it. The computer game came later. :)

Edited by Alexander33
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What amazing whistling rat photos! I absolutely love your description of their behavior, and I have to say I'm particularly fond of the rolly-polly fat rats at the end -- I wonder if they have trouble squeezing through their own tunnels though?

 

And your drive with the three different cats was just stunning! I feel like each of these sightings were "close call" sightings -- if the lion had laid down, if the cheetahs hadn't come running out at just that moment, if the leopard wasn't so curious, maybe you wouldn't have seen them -- which makes them particularly precious.

 

What a Pygmy falcon too! I am really loving this trip report, and learning lots from it too. Thanks!

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Did your have two units?

 

Yes, @@penolva , we did.

 

For sure you have tried plenty of exposure modes; but have you tried also using a C-PL filter?

 

Would certainly have been useful @@xelas , but I confess I am too lazy for filters. :)

 

@@michael-ibk great whistling rat photos and narrative.

 

The braai photos take me back to Gharaghab, such a colourful landscape and so far from anywhere.

 

Thanks, @@Treepol , they are fun little creatures, and we enjoyed spending some time with them. And yes, the remoteness of Gharaghab makes it very special.

 

your mongoose sequence is stunning. i liked his look of nonchalance and indifference to you taking the photos while he's contentedly chewing that little piece of bone (or whatever!). What I was surprised by was the horizontal pupils in its eyes - I've never noticed that before!

 

that's a handsome leopard, and am i wrong, but is the lioness rather large and mascular? she's a gorgeous specimen of a lioness.

 

The Lioness certainly was very fit and strong, @@Kitsafari .

 

About the pupils - looks a bit weird, doesn´t it? I did not really notice it when watching them but it´s very apparent on the photos. A quick google search tells me:

 

"Like vertical pupils, horizontal slit pupils have evolved independently in many groups of animals. These include even-toed ungulates as well as all equids, mongooses, some rays, some frogs and toads, Japanese vine snakes, and octopi.

The similarities between the members of this group are not as clear-cut as those between the vertical pupil group. The ungulates are large diurnal herbivores, while the mongooses, amphibians, rays, snakes, and octopi are all small carnivores, some of whom are nocturnal. The rays and octopi are even fully aquatic!

 

Perhaps one commonality in all of these creatures is that they can all be considered prey animals, and they all have their eyes located on the sides of their heads. What’s the connection? Well, as in the vertical pupils, the pupil shape and orientation can have an effect on their depth of field. In this case, horizontal pupils sacrifice some sharpness with the advantage of an extremely wide- nearly 360 degree in some species- field of vision.

Obviously, this is useful for a prey animal. They need much less to see the predator clearly than they do to spot the predator at all and run. (In fact, most prey animals would probably prefer not seeing a predator very closely.) Similar to the ways that vertical slit pupils are better at seeing horizontal motion, horizontal slit pupils see vertical motion more sharply, a better way of spotting distant predators.

There are other factors to consider as well: I mentioned earlier that most animals with vertical slit pupils were ambush predators- well, the majority of animals with horizontal pupils are active foragers, whether they are prey or predators. The wider field of vision likely aids with that.

Other uses for slit pupils apply irrespective of orientation- many animals with horizontal pupils also have multifocal lenses, enabling them to see color in many different light levels. Horizontal pupils can also expand to become very wide and round, though they rarely close as tightly as vertical slit pupils. Most of the animals are diurnal and do not need to block out quite so much light.

Again, no single theory fully explains why these shapes have evolved; it’s likely a combination of all of them.

 

(From http://www.koryoswrites.com/nonfiction/the-functions-of-different-pupil-shapes/ )

 

Sorry for the formatting here, Michael. I'm on my iPad, and the Quote feature doesn't work as it's supposed to, but had to comment before I forget: LOL, yes, "Caddyshack." It's a movie with Rodney Daingerfield, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and Ted Knight. If you aren't familiar with it, you have to watch it. Once you do, then you'll get the thing about the gophers (not moles) and the holes (on a golf course, btw). Completely hilarious in a very juvenile, lowbrow way -- a true American classic from the '80s. We'd walk around school quoting lines from it. The computer game came later. :)

 

I think I must have seen that one as a child, @@Alexander33 , the Chevy Chase movies were quite popular on this side of the Atlantic as well. I will probably not watch them again - like the Bud Spencer/Terrence Hill "classics" I have a feeling it´s best to leave these to (dim) memory, I don´t think I would find them as funny as I did back then. :)

 

What amazing whistling rat photos! I absolutely love your description of their behavior, and I have to say I'm particularly fond of the rolly-polly fat rats at the end -- I wonder if they have trouble squeezing through their own tunnels though?

 

And your drive with the three different cats was just stunning! I feel like each of these sightings were "close call" sightings -- if the lion had laid down, if the cheetahs hadn't come running out at just that moment, if the leopard wasn't so curious, maybe you wouldn't have seen them -- which makes them particularly precious.

 

What a Pygmy falcon too! I am really loving this trip report, and learning lots from it too. Thanks!

 

Thanks, @@hannahcat , very nice feedback, really appreciate it. I had to laugh about your rat´s comments, now I have this image in my head with the fat one stuck, and the others pushing and pulling at it. :)

 

Very true what you say about close calls - I´m sure we must have driven by very closely to several predators without ever noticing.

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Kgalagadi Day 7:

 

A very quiet one, without major sightings. We drove down to Nossob camp where we arrived at lunch time and went out for a shorter drive in the afternoon to check out the waterholes nearby, but it was a good day for the herbivores - they were undisturbed by Big Cats this day. In fact we would never ever see a predator at one of the waterholes during the whole trip which kinda surprised me.

 

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The road out of Gharaghab

 

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A Secretary Bird on its morning walk

 

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Back on the main road, Lijersdraai waterhole (I think) - quiet.

 

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Birds, of course, are always there - like these Burchell´s Sandgrouses.

 

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Many termite hills up here North - the area looks a bit like a cemetery. :)

 

Not too many photographic opportunities today, the most entertaining ones would be found at the breakfast stop:

 

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Four-Striped Grass Mouse

 

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Cape Glossy Starling - it looks quite different from the pictures in my bird book but it really can only be this one, can´t it?

 

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Marico Flycatcher - a very common bird.

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Nossob, the third main rest camp, is probably the most popular one for most visitors, it has a very good reputation for predator sightings. There´s a small shop here, and the petrol station, but no restaurant like at Twee Rivieren.

 

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The Chalets are spacious, clean and quite comfortable - and they have A/C.

 

Again, I had fun running after the resident Mongoose, who were pretending to be Meerkats today:

 

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Cute as they may appear they are voracious little predators. Unfortunately a bird crashed straight into our window - it had barely fallen to the ground when it was already in the clutches of the Mongoose.

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The camp has a very cool hide which often delivers very good, close sightings. It was less than two minutes from our room, so we spent quite a lot of time there in the afternoon. No "big stuff" happening, but it was very entertaining watching the Lanner Falcons hunt.

 

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They are very, very fast birds, and I found it very difficult to get them in flight - lots of binned shots.

 

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Many Namaqua Doves kept coming to the waterhole, undeterred by the never-ending attacks of the Falcons.

 

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Swift as the Lanners are, they were bested in this conquest of speed today - they did not manage to catch prey, although they tried at least 20 times.

 

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The frenetic flutter of the fleeing doves was quite noisy. :)

 

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Marie se Gat waterhole - a bit prettier than the usual Kgalagadi stone basins

 

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The animals were enjoying the afternoon´s peace.

 

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Purple Roller

 

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Some Red Hartebeest were posing nicely for us.

 

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The Nossob area was much drier (and "yellower") than the Auob valley and the Twee Rivieren area - no green grass here.

 

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It´s funny how our excitement about seeing a specific animal does not only depend on what animal it is - it also depends on where you see that animal. While always beautiful, in most Southern Africa safari areas you won´t get that worked up about seeing a Kudu.

 

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Here in Kgalagadi, however, they are "special", only found (sometimes) up here in the Northern Nossob valley.

 

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And therefore, seeing one is a much bigger deal than, say, in the Delta. :)

 

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We thought about doing another night drive since the others two had been very productive but ultimately decided to spend some evening time in the hide. Which did not really deliver the goods, a few Springhares, a few Jackals, and - which was cool - two Verreaux´s Eagle Owls.

 

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One was calling - a very interesting soft, almost chirping sound - never heard that before.

 

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really enjoyed your lanner shots in particular-and the Kudu close up. As for the Nossob hide-we have spent time there in the evening on about 5 times-and have seen I swear the same Thicknee/Dikkop, a large number of jackals-or the same one a great number of times, and the odd springbok, oh and a border stone just in range that you look at very 5 minutes and think it just might be a lion! And we have heard a lot of barking geckos.

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@@michael-ibk, really enjoyed the Falcon doing his thing, exciting, meals don't come easy out there.

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you said you didn't see any predators and yet you had a hunt, and a flying hunt at that! Love the shots, although I felt for the falcon, in a sort of a way.

 

I always get excited over kudus, wherever they may be, and that close-up somehow reminded me of my cat (don't ask me why, it just did.)

 

and i also love that first shot of the red hartebeest, with the golden light falling on its side profile, accentuating its red rusty coat.

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I just love the shots of the falcons in flight. The photos of the mongoose trying to act like a meerkat.

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@@michael-ibk

Great shots of the falcon in flight, I love the Kudu, and particularly liked the Whistling Rat sequence. I think having the time to watch and appreciate a less well known and less "charismatic" species brings real depth to a safari. Focussing your attention on them helps you appreciate the significance of all the creatures.

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really enjoyed your lanner shots in particular-and the Kudu close up. As for the Nossob hide-we have spent time there in the evening on about 5 times-and have seen I swear the same Thicknee/Dikkop, a large number of jackals-or the same one a great number of times, and the odd springbok, oh and a border stone just in range that you look at very 5 minutes and think it just might be a lion! And we have heard a lot of barking geckos.

 

@@Towlersonsafari

 

That makes me feel better about the underperformance of the hide for me. I´ve often seen posts on FB with lions or even Cheetahs coming to drink, and Dantes also told us he has seen some great stuff at the waterhole. And in fact, just next morning (when we weren´t there of course) several lions would come to drink!

 

@@michael-ibk, really enjoyed the Falcon doing his thing, exciting, meals don't come easy out there.

 

 

you said you didn't see any predators and yet you had a hunt, and a flying hunt at that! Love the shots, although I felt for the falcon, in a sort of a way.

 

I just love the shots of the falcons in flight.

 

Thanks, @@optig , @@Kitsafari and @@elefromoz

 

For quite some while I could not get a single proper shot of the Falcons whooshing through - I was trying to catch them with the Autofocus. Hopeless! Then I just focused on the waterhole, fixed that focus, gave it some depth of field and just took shots when the Lanners were attacking. Much easier that way!

 

@@michael-ibk

Great shots of the falcon in flight, I love the Kudu, and particularly liked the Whistling Rat sequence. I think having the time to watch and appreciate a less well known and less "charismatic" species brings real depth to a safari. Focussing your attention on them helps you appreciate the significance of all the creatures.

 

Absolutely, @@TonyQ , I agree. It´s something I become more and more interested in, but I guess that´s just a pretty natural evolution of the safari learning curve.:)

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We´re getting to the end of this - Kgalagadi Day 8 (the last full one):

 

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I checked out the hide again early morning, but nothing was happening.

 

The plan was to head out straight South, to get back to Twee Rivieren for lunch. But Safaris have their own way with plans, and this day was no different. Dantes had heard a pride of lions had walked past the Northern side of the camp, and so of course we were heading out exactly the other direction than we had intended to first thing in the morning.

 

No complaining - we soon found the Cats!

 

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This was probably the most hectic sighting we had in the park - lots of people had heard about the lions, and since it was not far more and more cars were arriving - soon we were boxed in, no way to get back or forward. The way it´s supposed to work is that everybody stops at one side of the road, gets a good look, and then moves forward in order to give others a chance. Well, some people did not, and thereby it became a bit chaotic. Still, a very nice way to start a day - especially when the first sunrays finally came out.

 

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The lions soon disappeared. Since we were out in the North anyway we decided to check out at least the next waterhole before returning South. Nothing would be there but we found a very cool animal on the way! A Goshwak was flying very low over the grass, and Dantes had already explained to us a few days ago that this often meant - Honey Badger!

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And indeed, there he was. A difficult sighting photo-wise, the badger was quite far away, and only sometimes would stick out his head through the sea of grass he was moving. But so cool to see one - they are one of my favourite animals! :)

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On the way back to camp we spotted one of the Lions again. As mentioned before the otheres had walked to the waterhole where they would drink, we just missed them there - bad timing. Or good timing, since missing the Lions meant finding the Honey Badger - a fair deal!

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This is why it is a good idea to wear good shoes in the Kalahari - these Scorpions (found in camp) are very venomous. Dantes told us he had been stung once, and nearly died - he was paralyzed for a few weeks!

Finally we went South!

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