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Self driving Namibia...the way to go!

Namibia self drive

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#41 Robjwilli

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 01:01 PM

@Tdgraves In a word No! They don't look too different to me so I can't really see what you mean I'm afraid. They all come from Flickr but the shots taken with the Olympus are straight from the camera whereas the others were shot in RAW and processed, re-sized to 5x7 and converted to jpeg. Maybe Flickr has re-sized differently? I know the iPad/iPhone shots can be in different shapes and sizes.
Anyone else see a difference? Maybe screen viewing size changes things too. I'm looking at a desktop monitor.

 
The aspect ratio of the images is perfect when viewed on a desktop, but a little distorted when viewed on an iPad (well, on my iPad anyway)

Same here, images seem to 'squared' when viewed on my ipad.

#42 Dave Williams

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 01:18 PM

@Dave Williams

 

Our run of bad form was finally ended with a superb display.

 

Unfortunately, not the case  :angry: ! Reds can beat the top guys but they underperform with underdogs. Hopefully my words will be put back into my mouth tomorrow  :P .

 

Thanks for showing me the X-Trail. That is what I was afraid of,; those rounded style is just not my style. I will stick tot the Hilux if not able to hire the old style X-Trail. 

 

@Tdgraves it must be the iPad problem as iPad safari has stretched images and iMac safari don't. Go look at the report on an iMac, photos really deserves to be viewed in its full glory!

 

Looking forward to the game tomorrow, my son and I have tickets but i believe it's on Sky too.

 

If you view the report on an iPad the Safaritalk  version does indeed give square pictures that don't look quite right, however, if you look at my blog page where the original is written it looks fine on an iPad.The link is on my signature bit below.


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#43 Dave Williams

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 02:31 PM

We had now  been in Namibia for five and a half days and, despite having a close encounter with the Rhino I felt that the real Africa was about to open up to me. My original plan had been to spend the day locally in and around Etosha Village and their grounds which are substantial. however, my wanderings the previous afternoon after we had arrived had been a little frustrating. The grounds are so wooded, reminiscent of a large English orchard, that what birds I found were difficult to photograph as there was so much cover .

I wasn't totally unsuccessful in terms of record shots.

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The Pririt Batis and the Southern Grey-headed Sparrow were both new species to me.

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I also decided that I'd better takes some shots of the Southern Masked Weaver.

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This was one of many that was nest building and I had had lots of opportunities in the previous couple of days but, as so often happens, when something is so incredibly common, as is this species, you tend to ignore them. The danger is you get home and realise you never got around to taking any shots at all!

Anyway, the previous day's weather had been wall to wall sun. Although much of it was spent travelling Claire had at last had some R&R by the swimming pool which she deserved having done all the driving so far. Even I had taken the time for a quick dip too!

Sadly however, the morning greeted us as being dull and damp as it had it appeared rained during the night.

My mind was made up, I was heading in to the Etosha NP. I was itching to get in there, and with the weather looking as it did Claire decided it was the best option for her too.

The park entrance, The Anderson Gate is actually only about 1Km from Etosha Village so you arrive there in minutes. On arrival you fill in a form with your details and then take it to the reception area in your chosen camp to pay the fees. In the case of Anderson Gate, the nearest camp is Okaukuejo ( and one which's name I never can pronounce!) which is 30 kms away.

Tip. Make sure the form is filled in and signed by the people on the gate, I heard one person being told they had to go back and get it signed which seemed a bit extreme.

Anyway to avoid having to make that journey everyday I applied for entry for the next 3 days. Originally I had asked for 9 days but as we were staying in different camps both inside and outside the park, they told me to re apply after 3 days when we were beginning our stay inside the park. Why I don't know but you don't argue with officialdom, especially as a new arrival.

With the form filled in however, we were free to go and could remain inside the park until just before sunset. Certainly no need to go straight to the camp to pay the fee until later in the day and the nice thing about Anderson Gate is you can turn off the main tarmac road leading to Okaukuejo Camp almost immediately on entering the park and this we decided to do, taking the road eastwards towards the Gemsbokvlakte water hole.

It was still quite early, there was a heavy dew on the grass and I was very excited at our prospects of at last seeing some notable sights! Driving incredibly slowly we almost inched our way through the first 15 minutes. We passed a couple of distant Oryx and a Springbok but our first photo opportunity came in the unexpected shape of a Mongoose. At first I shouted to Claire "Stoat!" as it had the same colour and profile from some distance.

To this day I'm not sure what it is, but it's not a Stoat. They don't exist in Africa.

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We came to the conclusion it was a Slender Mongoose but I'm open to suggestions to the contrary.

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Had we been driving faster we may well not have seen the mongoose ( the only sighting of our trip of this species) but it soon became apparent that the distances within the park are not inconsiderable so we did increase our speed to around 25-30 kph. ( The speed limit is 60kph) because the distance to the first waterhole alone was 27 kms.

I'm not sure what drew our attention to stop , I think it was this Kori Bustard

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but whilst we were parked Claire spotted something in the distance. 

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No mistaking Bat-eared Fox ! Before I could stick my 2x converter on my 600mm lens it had disappeared in to the thick undergrowth. It was another species we were to see just the once. Crazy start with two unexpected sightings!

Birdwise I was seeing a few new species like Crowned Lapwing.


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Cape Crow

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and Larks galore.

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I'm always confused by those little brown jobs or L.B.J's as they are collectively known.

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Depending on their pose they can look so different. I think those last two are probably one and the same, a Sabota Lark. Whatever, there were Larks all over the place!

The other really common species was the Lesser Grey Shrike.

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As with the Masked Weaver, unless the opportunity to photograph was really good you drive on by and as yet I haven't found a photograph better than this which hasn't turned out the best! They are incredibly flighty though and we soon got fed up of stopping the car only for the bird to immediately fly off.

One bird that appeared far more common than it actually was turned out to be the Northern Black Korhaan.

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It's the noise they make that carries a long long way so you think they are everywhere!

Presumably trying to attract a mate !

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It seemed to work.

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A stunning bird, I was delighted to see for the first time and they are very confiding so a photo wasn't too difficult.

With all theses new species to see and record it took us all morning to each the first waterhole.

After all, you realise you will see another Cape Glossy Starling but just in case get the shot while you can.

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Even a species previously seen in another country might be rarer here so grab it while you can.

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We hadn't seen too many mammals by this stage but I had at least taken my first shots of Oryx

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and Springbok

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We somehow managed to miss that the waterhole we were heading for was a left turn and instead travelled another 8 kms to Olifantsbad Waterhole.

It was deserted by mammals but there were a dozen African Openbills lining along the waterhole. 

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In the water some Little Grebes and a pair of Egyptian Geese.

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By now the sun had come out and it was very bright indeed. We continued on to Aus waterhole, yet another 8 kms further only to find that was deserted by mammals too. 

A single bird was in the vicinity of the car park, I think it's an African Pipit.

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so after hanging around for 5 minutes we decided it was a lost cause and went to head north only to find the road was closed. That meant doubling back the 16 kms to Gemsbokvlakte. Not in the plan but we might see something on the way that wasn't there before. Wildlife doesn't stay still !

Sure enough we had some good views of a pair of Double-banded Sandgrouse.

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The male being the one showing the bands.

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We also came across this one.

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It looks most like a Forest Buzzard to me but as that doesn't occur in Namibia it could be something else. A Jackal Buzzard perhaps?

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Opinions very welcome!

Anyway, we found our way back to the waterhole we had originally intended and were delighted to find quite a lot of animals there.

one or two Black-faced Impala

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but mainly Springbok

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By now the heat was quite intense and it was effecting my photographs with the haze distorting the image unless the subject was very close.

Due to the rain the water hole wasn't the only place to drink, there was a large puddle in the car park.

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So the Springbok were very close indeed.!

So too were some small waders which I hadn't noticed on arriving as they are well camouflaged.

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Kittlitz's Plover, yet another to add to my life list!

Moving on again we found some Common Ostrich

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Greater Kestrel

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My first ever Blue Wildebeest

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Common Zebra

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and some better views of the Korhaan.

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After some distance we found the turnoff for Nebrowni waterhole and that too had a fair few Springbok in attendance.

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and more Zebra.

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but best of all was this Blue Crane which I had read was there in someone else's blog from December.

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It was mid afternoon by now so we headed to the camp to pay our fees. The daily rate is a mere 80NR pp plus 10 for the car. Just 170 in total or a fraction more than £10 per day for the two of us.

Whilst I was in the camp I decided to check the visitor log for sightings and I must say, what a disappointment. A total waste of time in fact and such a shame. Instead of meaningful notes the book is full of childlike scribbles and comments like "I love Etosha". Never mind! I had my tips and I'll come on to that later!

I offered to take Claire back to Etosha Village but she suggested it was too late to take in the sun now so I suggested we headed towards Okondeka Waterhole and she agreed. More driving and not too much along the way but we did stop for some shots of Ant-eating Chat that were posing nicely.

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Okondeka proved to be deserted save for these two Shellduck

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but the return journey was more fruitful when we spied this Tawny Eagle sitting on top of a small tree.

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It posed nicely as did a Common Fiscal.

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albeit briefly.

I strained to lean out of the window to get a fly past Lappet-faced Vulture.

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You are not of course allowed to get out of the car in the park but I wasn't going to miss that opportunity.

Best of all though was on the return from nipping down to the Wolfnes waterhole we spotted a second Mongoose species.

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Emerging from it's burrow perhaps, Yellow Mongoose.

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A bit of a stunner to look at too and well worth the diversion.

Time was getting on though, I'd subjected Claire to a very full day of wildlife watching and so it was time to return to our accommodation.

There was just one last stop though, as we headed down the tar road to the Anderson Gate we spotted a pack of our third Mongoose species of the day.

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They had crossed the road in front of us and were all fairly close to the roadside. There were at least a dozen and their behaviour was fascinating.

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Standing on handles to get a view of what was going on you could clearly see why they are called Banded Mongoose.

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Anyway, something they saw made them head back in our direction as they re-crossed the road and disappeared once more.

A great way to end the day though as we headed home for showers, beers and dinner !

All in all we had covered 150+ kms just driving from waterhole to waterhole. We had seen some glorious sunshine and suffered in the heat at time too. Claire had been very supportive although she must have got a bit fed up in the end as we must have been in the park and on the go for 10 hours .

Me ?

I was as happy as the proverbial pig ! Bring on tomorrow!

 

T.B.C.


Edited by Dave Williams, 14 March 2017 - 02:33 PM.

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#44 Peter Connan

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 06:06 PM

I must say, I'd never have expected Open-billed Storks in Etosha!


Ek oefen skelm.

#45 Tdgraves

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 08:13 PM

@Dave Williams immature common buzzard?

#46 Dave Williams

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 08:33 PM

@Dave Williams immature common buzzard?

 

@Tdgraves  Common Buzzard doesn't occur but juvenile Steppe Buzzard is a possibility although the picture in the Sasol guide suggests a darker head and a yellow eye. The one in my shot has neither but does have the attributes of a Forest Buzzard including being rather slender in comparison. 



#47 Tdgraves

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 08:56 PM

Common buzzard is steppe buzzard and Roberts says they occur...

#48 Dave Williams

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 10:20 PM

Common buzzard is steppe buzzard and Roberts says they occur...

 

Common Buzzard  is Buteo Buteo, Steppe Buzzard  is Buteo Vulpinus so they are classed as different . Common Buzzard found in western Europe is a short range migrator or permanent resident, Steppe Buzzard found in the east winters in Africa. That  doesn't alter the fact that there are several key points that don't match for Steppe Buzzard, everything looks spot on for Forest Buzzard other than location but birds do crop up in unexpected places.

The jury awaits instruction !



#49 Tdgraves

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 10:56 PM

Not according to Roberts. More likely than a bird which lives 2000km away I would have thought.....

#50 Dave Williams

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 08:49 AM

Not according to Roberts. More likely than a bird which lives 2000km away I would have thought.....

 

Most definitely more likely but not necessarily impossible. Far from it in fact. We have many instances of migrant birds in the UK that have arrived from America, the Far East, etc,etc.

On Monday I was on the ferry from Holyhead to Dublin and two colleagues watched a Bulwer's Petrel for over a minute. They are only found around  Madeira normally. There have been two records, both around 100 years ago for UK/Irish waters.This record won't be accepted as there is no photographic proof.

I photographed a Caspian Plover in Goa, the first ever record for there, but I had the evidence.

These things can happen hence I await more opinions before accepting the answer as definitely Steppe Buzzard. Not that it makes too much difference to me personally as I'm not really that bothered about lists and such like. Mind you this Biggest Year thing might get me addicted.



#51 wagtail

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 10:42 AM

Hi Dave

 

I've no view either way on the ID of the buzzard, however, if you want to try and nail it then this article might help:

 

http://bryndekocks.com/blog/the-buzzard-problem-differentiating-steppe-jackal-and-forest-buzzards/ 

 

Good Luck!

Ian


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#52 Tdgraves

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 11:16 AM

@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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#53 pault

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 02:05 PM

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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Waiting again... for the next time again


#54 Hads

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 02:27 PM

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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#55 Dave Williams

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 05:32 PM

@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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#56 Dave Williams

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 08:45 PM

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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#57 wagtail

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 09:43 PM

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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#58 Dave Williams

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 10:00 PM

Will do Ian, moving on soon!



#59 Robjwilli

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 06:55 AM

Great bee-eater shots, they never stick around long enough for me.
Lovely subject separation in your shots, nice work.
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#60 xelas

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 08:21 AM

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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