Dave Williams

Self driving Namibia...the way to go!

134 posts in this topic

@@Dave Williams why don't you post the photo in the SANParks bird ID forum - bound to get a definitive answer from them

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First page is great. You're an observant man and it's fun travelling with you. I love the inclusion of the flops as well as the triumphs of your photography - perhaps the intention is to include as many differnt birds as possible but for me it makes an excellent trip report. Dusty road shots are perfect and my wife has still (10 years on) not forgiven me for my optimistic drive times.

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Thanks for a very informative TR @@Dave Williams.

Super bird shots. I love the blue crane.

Is your buzzard a European Honey Buzzard??

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@@Hads, @@wagtail, @@Tdgraves @@pault

Thanks for the comments everyone my intention in a trip report is to be informative and hopefully entertaining at the same time. I'm more than happy to share my failures as well as successes which is just as well as my reports may be somewhat shorter on occassions!

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Our second day at Etosha Village started at it's usual leisurely pace. Breakfast at the Village is very substantial and there's no need to eat until evening time although when it's hot you don't feel like eating much anyway. I engaged the man at the next table in conversation trying too find out what they might have seen and where if they'd been in the park the day before. As it happened, this was their first morning and they would be travelling through the park and out of the eastern gate where they were basing themselves. The Namibian Wildlife Resorts were in steep decline he assured me, no way was he staying there. Oh dear, we were due to stay in three of them and I'd already seen some really bad trip Advisor reports for the first one, Dolomite Camp. Oh well, too late now. My fear was that everything might go downhill from here with declining standards, and to make matters worse the weather wasn't too good again this morning.

There was a glimmer of hope though, later in the conversation he let it slip he'd never been to Etosha before!!!!

Anyway, breakfast finished and with me chomping on the bit to get going, off we went with Claire at the wheel. This time we took a left turn after the gate which takes you to Ombika waterhole, a mere 2 or 3 minute drive.

We sat there for a while before watching a family of Jackal magically emerge from nowhere.

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They hung around for ages, generally investigating what was in the long grass, having a dig here and there.

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One of them was staring intently towards a certain spot and moments later a pair of Ostrich appeared.

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The Ostrich were under no threat though, the Jackals all made off paying no further attention to them.

We sat there for a good 15 minutes watching the Ostrich get closer, a lone Springbok wandered through the flowers making it a very pretty picture.

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There were a few different birds that were feeding down in the grasses.

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Both the Red-faced Finch and the Shaft-tailed Whydah were frustratingly too far away for a decent shot.

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At this point it might be worth mentioning that as well as reading other peoples trip reports I had , on advice from several people on Trip Advisor, bought the e-book "The Photographers Guide to Etosha N.P.", a £20 investment ! I had read it from cover to cover and printed maps showing the waterholes with appropriate notes on what the author and his wife had seen on their many visits in the past. The book has descriptions of the waterholes, the distance from the car parking area and even the direction of the sun and the best time to visit.

Wildlife isn't guaranteed viewing of course, the author even mentions someone complaining that he'd followed the book and that a specific animal wasn't there were he'd said it was. I'm not complaining in the least but I would say most of the information in the book is based on the dry season and as I was to discover, for me the information was fairly useless on species spotting but it had been very important in my decision on which lens to take, and that was a decision I didn't regret at all. When it comes to birds bigger is better and in general the waterholes are a long way from the car parking.

Anyway, we moved on, this time taking the detour road from the waterhole. Within minutes we realised that we were surrounded by a dozen or more Coursers. Wow, I'd only ever seen a single one in the past and that was a different one too.

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What a little stunner the Temmink's Courser is too.

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Paying no attention to us whatsoever they carried on feeding as I got shooting !

I had distractions too , an African Pipit didn't warrant too much attention.

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Yesterday's lifer is today's also ran, well it is when the competition is so much prettier.

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I love Bee-eaters, they are great photographic subjects as they are so active. This one was looking for breakfast.

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and duly caught it too.

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My best ever Swallow-tailed Bee-eater shots!

By now the sun had come out as this greater Kestrel shot suggests.

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Claire asked if I minded taking her back to the Village and as we were pretty close it didn't take long to drop her off. No problem nipping in and out of the park as long as you have proof of payment you can come and go as often as you want.

Returning on my own I decided to follow the previous days route heading to Gemsbokvlakte waterhole. This was by far the most visited waterhole during my visits to the park both by animals and vehicles!

Along the way though I was to get sightings of my first Tortoise, a Leopard Tortoise I believe.

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This little fella was crossing the road and when I saw another car approaching I blocked the road to give him safe passage. The speed the few cars I had seen were driving I doubt they would notice the difference between a rock and a shell.

One good turn deserves a lucky break and I got one with my only Marico Flycatcher shot of the trip at the same place!

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Further along, an improved shot of the Whydah

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well I thinks so.

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This Namaqua, my favourite dove was too good a chance to miss too.

Generally speaking much of what I saw was the same as the previous day but as I was at the Gemsbokvlakte waterhole for a couple of hours this time, the photo opportunities were a bit better.

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Zebra came down to drink in numbers

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The Springbok were numerous and despite the heat still found time to have a go at each other.

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I don't think it's too serious but those horns could inflict some nasty damage all the same.

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A herd of Wildebeest complete with youngsters was a nice sight.

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All the species got along famously! Nice to see that they all looked well fed too.

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As well as the Kittlitz Plover

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There were also some Red-capped Larks in the nearby grass.

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My Photographers Guide book suggested for those who must photograph during the hottest and brightest hours of the day a polarising filter was a must. Costing a small fortune for a Canon drop in one this at last was a chance to try it out.

Not sure how beneficial it was to me, there again I probably didn't get the most out of it.

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Anyway after a couple of hours the heat had finally got too much for me and I decided to move on to circulate some air around the car. My stay had been epic compared to most who seemed to stay for a minute or two and move on. Mind you, there wasn't that much traffic either.Looking at the exit list on leaving the park each evening there never seemed to be more than a dozen or so vehicles on it. Mind you I was not the last to leave and on this day it was no exception. Just enough time to pay a stop at Nebrownii again. I wanted to improve on my Blue Crane shots if I could.

I was concerned there was no sight of it when I arrived but before long it emerged from behind the man made concrete drinking pool.

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If you visit, it's worth giving it 10 minutes, I think there might be a nest spoon there as I discovered there are not one but two Cranes.

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With the Crane coming towards me I was in danger of it being too close, however, it wandered back out of view before emerging again, unless it was the mate of course.

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There were 4 other birds on the waterhole too. A Wood Sandpiper, a Cape Teal and this pair of South African Shellduck who posed beautifully.

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This is one of those unusual birds were the female is as attractive as the male.

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By now the sun had gone behind the clouds and the light wasn't too good. Springbok were arriving for a drink but that didn't offer much different unless of course there happened to be Lion on the hunt. It was too far from the gate to stay until almost sunset and with the possibility that Claire was now sat in shade I thought I'd better go home.

It had been an interesting day again. A few new sights but nothing really on the mammal side.

I only stopped to photograph some Giraffe along the main tarmac exit road.

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It's an amazing tongue the Giraffe has, Tough enough to use to pull thorny branches yet sensitive enough to taste them.

Further down the road there were three cars parked. I knew they must be on to something but as it was approaching 6.30pm I thought better than to stop. It was pre dinner drinks time and it was only fair not to leave Claire waiting.

At the bar I later discovered a Lion on a kill had been spotted off the tar road. No doubt what I had seen the cars looking at. I wasn't too bothered , the views were very obscured.

Who knows what lay ahead tomorrow. Lion maybe?

T.B.C.

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Dave, I'm thoroughly enjoying your report and hope that you keep us informed about the places you stayed at how you felt they compared with each other in terms of cost and quality of accommodation (like you did with your first couple of stops).

 

Many thanks

Ian

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Will do Ian, moving on soon!

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Great bee-eater shots, they never stick around long enough for me.

Lovely subject separation in your shots, nice work.

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The carpets of yellow flowers, so amazing to be seen (and photographed) in Etosha!

 

Re C-PL filter, I have used it in Etosha, and did not used it in Kgalagadi. The problem when using it was the colour of the sky (vignetting ??). But that was my mistake, probably.

 

More technical questions: which kind of window support did you use when photographing from inside the car?

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More technical questions: which kind of window support did you use when photographing from inside the car?

 

 

@@xelas I bought one of these but unfilled.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Grappler-Camera-Bean-Bag-Pre-filled-Very-Waterproof-Wildlife-Photography-lens-/252573178607?hash=item3ace88daef:g:i5QAAOSwNRdX9ux3

I think I paid about £20. I have read about people buying rice or beans to fill them on arrival but I had a better plan! I filled mine with polyester beads which isn't very environmentally friendly but they are very lightweight. It was too bulky to put in the suitcase so I just walked through check-in at the airport with it without being challenged. It was the best head rest/arm rest I have ever had and I got a great night's sleep on the plane. It wedges in to places beautifully.

Had I been challenged I would have emptied the contents in a bin and put it in my hand luggage.

As a camera support it was fine too particularly needed in the back seat where the window glass doesn't retract fully in to the door.

 

I didn't have a vignetting problem with the filter, it drops in the rear end of the lens not the front. It's a bit hit and miss as you rotate a wheel to decide how much filter you need but I couldn't see too much difference. Ideally you should have the sun at right angles to the camera I'm told, not behind you which is where you would normally place yourself. The colours should appear more vivid when you use one but you do loose light and need to compensate. I'll give it another go sometime.

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@@Dave Williams really enjoying your Etosha journey. I haven't seen Blue Crane in the park before, interesting to know they are there.

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very much enjoying your report @@Dave Williams and very interested in your comments on Etosha vllage and looking forward to your views on the other camps!

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Great work on the Blue crane pics.

Enjoying your report Dave.

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This was my third day in Etosha and today it started out bright and sunny. Claire was happy to stay by the pool so that was that. I was off on my own again.

Once again I took the detour road just after entering the park in the hope of finding the Coursers again. No such luck ! No sign of the Bee-eater either so the African Pipit got a second chance

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One of the most common birds in Namibia seems to be the Cape Turtle Dove , and like other pigeons and doves I often forget to spend time with them.

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Not this time though, I thought this one was posing nicely.

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One benefit of taking this back road was that I spotted my first Hartebeest

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I'd been spotted too and the Hartebeest was immediately in retreat.

My attempts to capture a Crimson-breasted Shrike on camera were frustrated by the number of branches obscuring the subject but as I was near the junction of the tar road another car diverted off to see what I was looking at. With no interest in the bird whatsoever they proceeded to turn around and I too gave up to follow them on to the tar road heading to Okaukuejo Camp and the road junctions therein. Today I was going to head straight towards Okondeka waterhole in the hope of catching the reported resident pride of Lions.

I wasn't wasting any time as I wanted to get there before it got too hot so I was driving at between 50-60kph. That's the maximum speed limit within the park. The car in front disappeared in seconds and must have been doing twice the speed I was. This type of behaviour was not exceptional either. It beggars belief the speed at which some vehicles travel, particularly on the tar roads. The animals don't recognise the danger to themselves and it seems neither do the inconsiderate drivers.

Anyway, I made it to Okondeka without seeing too much on the way worth stopping for.

Not a Lion to be seen although there was a solitary Jackal that might have emerged from the wide drainage pipe.

Instead I spent a bit of time photographing the birds in a fairly distant tree.

Red-headed Finch

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and Lesser Grey Shrike

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I continued on westwards towards Adomax stopping by a huge Sociable Weaver nest.

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The heat by now was blistering and there was little about on the parched grassland. I must have spent half an hour in the company of these delightful little birds who were busy house building.

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It was easier to judge the correct camera exposure when the birds were in the shaded area.

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because in the open it was so bright.

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This Kohraan is typical of the problems of two contrasting colours.

Expose for black

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or expose for whites.

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Hopefully somewhere in between there is an improved version in Photoshop later.

I started to feel I was wasting my time. It was too sunny!

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Still, the Ground Squirrels were posing nicely and with a bit of later correction I have restored some colour.

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An Ostrich caught my attention next as it was grooming itself near to the road.

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They are usually in no mood to pose but this one was an exception.

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I'd never really thought about it before but I noticed how much bare flesh is exposed and how long the quills are before the feathering begins. I guess in this heat it makes for a much better air conditioning system.

I eventually reached the main road westwards, the one I'd be following the next day en route to Dolomite Camp but for today this was far enough. Heading back towards Okaukuejo it appeared to get a bit greener. I came across a rather large herd of Springbok who seemed to be running a creche.

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I was getting a little tired of photographing Springbok though ! There must be thousands in the park.

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One thing is certain, there is an unlimited food supply for predators but they, it seemed, were in short supply.

Trying to capture action shots when you are driving yourself isn't easy either.

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In fact it is very difficult indeed, especially through the passenger side window.

I decided to call it a day and return to base a little bit earlier than planned but stopped off in Okaukeujo out of curiosity to see what their famous waterhole was like.

Four zebra were taking a drink.

I'd be back there in three days time so I was hopeful that the waterhole might give me views of those elusive creatures such as Lions and Rhino. It looked as if there might be a possibility!

Returning to Etosha Village I decided to investigate their bird hide which I have to say was the only disappointment about the place. I guess it was bit early and it was still very hot so there weren't too many birds about. What was there I'd already seen but after following the slightly overgrown path for what seemed a long way, at least a 20 minute walk , I came to the hide which is as much a viewing platform as anything. Very substantial build too. I just felt it was in the wrong place! Well, for photography anyway.

That was it then, we had our last evening in the Village and wondered what lay ahead tomorrow.

TBC.

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Another good read, @@Dave Williams, with some great photographs. A well-described dilemma about exposure for the Korhaan.

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I'm greatly enjoying the details in your report and the expression of your thoughts. This would not be a trip that would appeal to me, lacking as I do, appropriate camera equipment for long distance birds and, so far, lack of mammalian diversity. It's still a very good read though.

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Posted (edited)

Hi @@Dave Williams! Have only arrived at the rhino tracking at Grootberg Lodge but I love your report up until now. My wife and I also did the rhino tracking in June 2014 at Grootberg and the trackers had also found us Elizabeth so I'm really happy to know she is still alive and well almost 3 years later... I've compared images and in your first image she almost poses in the exact same way as in my images so I'm sure it's the same rhino.

 

Just wanted to let you know! Keep up the good work, when time is on my side I will continue reading... :)

 

Cheers,

 

Michel

 

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Edited by MR1980
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Posted (edited)

Hi @@Dave Williams! Have only arrived at the rhino tracking at Grootberg Lodge but I love your report up until now. My wife and I also did the rhino tracking in June 2014 at Grootberg and the trackers had also found us Elizabeth so I'm really happy to know she is still alive and well almost 3 years later... I've compared images and in your first image she almost poses in the exact same way as in my images so I'm sure it's the same rhino.

 

Just wanted to let you know! Keep up the good work, when time is on my side I will continue reading... :)

 

Cheers,

 

Michel

 

 

[/quote

Thanks for sharing that information. Interesting that she still had a full horn then. It's been reduced in size now but I think that is to deter poaching too

Edited by Dave Williams
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Help!

Can anyone tell me why I can no longer post a copy of my blog, complete with the photos ?

I can't change the font size either so makes reading a strain.

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@@Dave Williams What browser are you using?

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Posted (edited)

@@Game Warden That was quick! I use Apple's Safari. Everything was fine until suddenly today I find that when I type in this reply box the font is small and fine and I no longer have the option to change it , make it bold or underlined etc.

When I try to paste a copy of my Google Blog it doesn't paste the photos either.

 

 

The posted reply does appear the same as it always does/did though, it's almost as if I have been blocked from using different settings.

Edited by Dave Williams

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@@Game Warden Hallelujah! I have discovered what went wrong. I must have accidentally turned the light switch icon ( extreme upper left in the option panel above) to the off position without realising it's function. I think I accidentally found it again too!!!

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and so to my continuing blog which is longer than I'd ever anticipated !!!

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Posted (edited)

It was hard to believe we had been in Namibia for 9 nights already, the time had flown by so quickly.Still not to worry we had plenty more time including a potential 8 days in Etosha alone.

Today would be particularly interesting as we were heading west to Dolomite Camp.

Dolomite Camp. I was not sure what to expect as the reviews I had read on Trip Advisor were so bad. The camp is only about 5 years old but it was reported to be falling apart due to lack of maintenance, was manned by miserable untrained staff who cared little for their guests. It was even reported that they ate the food intended for the guests so at breakfast there wasn't a lot on offer.

We were leaving behind the land of plenty at Etosha Village but what would be, would be. I could do with eating less anyway!

It's a long drive to Dolomite from the Anderson Gate, somewhere in the region of 150 kms I seem to recall. My plan of not entering via the Galton Gate after leaving Grootberg had been criticised as not making sense and on paper it didn't but my accommodation bookings were inflexible so that was the way it was. I now had to drive to Dolomite, had a full day there, then I'd drive back again, next stop Okaukuejo Camp. This wasn't like driving on the public roads though , it was driving through the national park. No different to driving around when staying in or near to the park.

We probably were on our way by 9.00am. I don't like to rush Claire through breakfast etc, it's her holiday too after all.

She was in the driving seat but for this trip I sat alongside her rather than in the back. The Photographer's Guide Book suggested that there were a lot of dry waterholes along the way and that the best ones were on the road south leading towards the Galton Gate. I was hoping to check them out as we travelled and we ignored the signs for Grunewald as it was too far off the main track and also got the thumbs down in the book. Suddenly I spotted a bird stood in the middle of the road and asked Claire to slow down.

It was a bird of prey, that much I was confident.

We approached very slowly and on the wrong side of the road to enable me to get a shot. I decided from distance to use the 7D with it's crop factor mounted on the 600mm lens.

It was eating something, what I couldn't tell

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As we got closer I changed to the 1D full frame

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The original mouthful looks like a moth's wing but later shots suggest it has a bone at it's feet. Maybe a birds leg and feathers?

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Anyway, it was immediately obvious to me that this was a juvenile Bateleur. The head feathers give the game away even though I had never seen a juvenile before.

The bird looked quite happy with our slow approach and I was hoping to get even nearer when I heard another car coming up behind us.

The first we had seen in 30 minutes.

Typical! The bird flew in to a nearby tree

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and as the car went past took off altogether. Still, I was happy with the shots I had already got .

We seemed to be driving for a long time and saw little until we arrived at a small dam. It's more a causeway as there was hardly any water but it did hold a single Wood Sandpiper. Where were all these waders that the NP is famous for during the summer months?

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Beyond the dam the vegetation changed quite markedly from the sparsely covered ground to the east and became more dense. It was hard to see anything other than Larks and Shrikes sat on the bushes. When we arrived at Bitterwater waterhole we diverted to take a look. It wasn't dry as had been suggested but it wasn't occupied by much either. What we did see though was a Pied Crow, my second sighting of the trip and this time in camera range.

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Pied Crows are common in The Gambia, not so Namibia from what I saw.

Continuing on we next came across a lot of water to the side of the road. It wasn't marked as a waterhole so it must have been the results of rain that had fallen in recent days. Interesting we hadn't seen any since Grootberg but we were heading in that direction and we had seen storm clouds in the distance on previous days.

The water was well attended too.

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Not only Wildebeest but good numbers of Hartebeest.

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Far more than I had seen previously, it was quite a big herd and they had youngsters with them too.

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Not far down the road we got to Tobiroen waterhole and there were even more.

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In the foreground you can see an Abdim's Stork, there must have been about 50-60.

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They were happy to get very close to the car too.

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I'd seen a single bird previously several days before but now I was spoilt for choice.

Photos captured we moved on but whilst doing so made a mistake. We found ourselves passing a building which seemed to house NP vehicles and we assumed it was some sort of depot for the wardens. It may well have been but we didn't find out until our return journey it's also Olifantsrus Camp, a tenting only accommodation. Opposite the entrance is the road south to Galton Gate and the one we had intended to take. It's totally unsigned, or at least it was in February, and we sailed on past.

Not to worry, it meant we'd get to the Dolomite a bit quicker as it is the most direct route from the east.

Had we not missed it I would however not seen several things we did so it turned out well!

A family of Ant-eating Chats were worth stopping for, here's one of the youngsters.

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but just bit further we found another flock of Coursers and yet another new species.

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This time it was Burchell's Courser.

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and amongst them a Grey-backed Sparrow-Lark.

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The scenery was changing again, the vegetation more sparse once again.

We were just at the turning for Duineveld waterhole when I spotted this beauty.

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I mistakenly thought it was a Damara DikDik.

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It's not, it's a Steenbok. DikDiks are apparently shy, this one wasn't!

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and when I had the opportunity to photograph more in a weeks time I thought I already had the photo in the bag but that's another story. I never did get a photo of a DikDik and consequently I don't know if I saw one!

Anyway, we headed up to the waterhole and there to my surprise were more vultures than I have ever seen before in one place. Certainly a lot more than the two previous single bird fly pasts I had photographed in Namibia.

According to my guide book Duineveld has a resident pride of Lions, were the vultures feeding on the remains of a kills?

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There were definitely Lappet-faced individuals but the majority were White-backed Vultures.

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They weren't eating either, they seemed to be sunbathing!

They were some distance away and the heat haze presented me with problems photographically.

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Or maybe that's just me at fault.

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In groups of two and threes the birds took off.

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There seemed to be less distortion once off the ground.

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and you also got to see the top view as well! That had been an excellent find and it was the only time we saw vultures in numbers. Never did see a Lion there though and unfortunately I didn't have the time to try a second time.

Moving on we were getting ever closer to our destination. Another stop to photograph a Tawny Eagle

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and from what I can recall at the moment the second of only two we saw.

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We had had a disappointingly low count of some birds, raptors amongst them.

Suddenly though we were there! Dolomite Camp laid out on the hillside in front of us.

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The individual huts/ chalets well spaced apart.

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Only one room ( not sure what you'd call them) has a view of the waterhole below but as its 350m away it's too far for photographs. Would I be the lucky one with the view?

We'd soon find out.

We took the wrong turning again and found ourselves actually at the waterhole. It was deserted!

Back on track we found the right turn off and arrived in to the Dolomite Camp car park.

There's a sign informing you that you have been seen and a vehicle will come to collect you but if it doesn't arrive within 5 minutes honk your horn!

I'd heard reports of the vehicle being broken down all the time and sure enough there was a golf buggy with a flat tyre parked underneath one of the canopies. Maybe the reports about the whole camp would be accurate. It's a long haul up hill to reception, maybe 200m or so, maybe it feels longer than it is, anyway I was going to start walking when a vehicle came down the hill to greet us. They loaded us and our bags, well the bags I decided to take to our room, some we had organised so as to leave in the car. I had heard security was an issue too at Dolomite. You couldn't lock your doors. Would things be safe in the car? These are the questions that go through your mind when the seeds of doubt have been planted!

Anyway, the buggy/jeep took us so far and we walked the final 30m to the reception and the grim faced receptionist we had heard about.

I entered with a big confident smile and warm greeting.... and got exactly the same back. We exchanged a few pleasantries whilst enjoying the refreshing drink we were offered on arrival and had a laugh about taking the wrong turn off as others had done before us. It was all very nice indeed. We were given our room keys and carried on up the hill, another 30m perhaps.

We were met by the lads who had driven us up, they had just dropped our bags outside our room.

There was an extremely secure lock on the door and once opened in we went.

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I was impressed. It was lovely.

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Seperate loo and shower rooms, a balcony with a stunning view

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and I'll admit we paid extra for one of the two Deluxe rooms which had your own private plunge pool on the terrace.

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What was there not to like?

As have all NP accommodations, there was a fridge and as you are asked to stay in your room after dinner in case you should be attacked by wild animals ( yes I know but it is an open unfenced camp) I was pleased we had plenty of gin and some tonics too!

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A fabulous spot to watch the sun go down. Well, not quite, we were facing east and we couldn't see the waterhole either but who cares. The biggest advantage was it was nearest to reception, if you are furthest away it's a fair old walk.

How much did we pay for all this luxury? Well in truth I'm not 100% sure. When you book you have to pay up front which I was pleased to do, especially as the £ had started it's free fall. I think it was around 17.85 per £1 at the time. Two nights at Dolomite and two nights in a waterhole chalet at Okaukuejo came to £645. There were cheaper options but this was my treat for Claire as the wildlife was my choice not hers. Dolomite is 50% more expensive than Okaukuejo for those rooms so I figure it must have been approaching the £200 per night mark. ( At today's exchange it's nearer £230 and that's off season) On top of that you have your meals to pay for too and they are 230NR per person per night as well as bar drinks. You can safely add £30pn. Not cheap then! But is it worth it?

Well it was a treat. We didn't need the Deluxe room, we didn't use the pool or the sunbeds, the weather turned out poor! But we did enjoy it. No advantage being inside the park from a waterhole viewing point of view, and we didn't actually see many animals heading that way either. In fact I didn't see any but that's another story too. I was in a hurry to get out and catch the last light of the day. Claire wasn't feeling her best so she stayed behind, I headed off to the nearest waterhole passing a Giraffe and stopping for photos on the way.

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That done I continued on to Rateldraf waterhole, allegedly good for Lion and the possibility of Leopard up a tree according to my book. There were neither but there were quite a few Mountain Zebra there including a young one too.

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I love the stripes on the Mountain Zebra, closer together than the Common Zebra and without the paler brown ones as seen in the photo below.

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There were Burchall's Coursers hunting for food on the ground but not a Lion or Leopard to be seen though and although there were several trees along the turnoff to the waterhole I never did figure out the supposed latter's favourite.

Time was running out as it was getting later in the afternoon. Still time to visit Klippan waterhole though. I'd passed the turn off already so it was on the way back, however, it was a much longer drive to get there. When I'd left Dolomite I'd seen a biggish group getting in to their tour bus and I caught up with them along this road. I decided to pass and what a good job I did!!!

The first vehicle to arrive I couldn't believe my eyes as to what was at the waterhole.

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I edged slowly in to position not wanting to disturb the Rhino.

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I'd driven in to the car park "the wrong way around "so that I would find myself on the right side of the car for photography. The coach followed closely behind meeting me head on, lucky me I had the prime spot though. The perfect angle for viewing.

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The Rhino knew we were there but probably couldn't see us too well. We were about 60m from the waterhole and it did cross my mind that if it decided to charge I was trapped by the bus!

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Fortunately it was more interested in having a drink.

What a stunning view of this formidable beast. It was there for some time, in no hurry and neither was I ! I decided to stick a 2.0x teleconverter on my 600mm lens.

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With hindsight I don't know why as whenever it moved I was failing to get the whole animal in the frame. I think my obsession for detail once again got the better of me!

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You can however crop your shot even further when it's big in the first place.

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Eventually it moved away and I grabbed my 7D which was ready to go with the 100-400 lens on it.

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What an experience that had been. Totally exhilarating , the adrenaline rush you get when you are a photography addict! I could scarcely believe what I'd seen, one of my best wildlife moments ever perhaps. The room at Dolomite Camp might have been expensive but it was now worth the price. I was so disappointed Claire hadn't been with me to see it and I felt guilty at the prospect of telling her as I knew I'd not be able to conceal my excitement!

There was only a solitary Egyptian Goose other than the Rhino so no point in hanging around. The weather had gone quite dull, the wind had picked up, it was all very bleak at stony Klippan waterhole.

Time to head back to camp although I did stop for some Zebras again . Bit ordinary though compared to what I'd just seen!

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For now it was sundowner time, check out dinner, and in the morning I'd investigate more of the local waterholes.

 

T.B.C.

Edited by Dave Williams
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