xelas

Namibia 2017: Two Cats on a hot Tin Roof

307 posts in this topic

3 hours ago, xelas said:

 

With pleasure, Peter! You are still much better birder than I will ever become. 

 

I very much doubt that. You are certainly better at identification than I am.

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1 hour ago, Peter Connan said:

 

I very much doubt that. You are certainly better at identification than I am.

 

Definitively not, Peter! I am almost useless with LBJs ... and without a good book, and Google images to confirm my ID, my rate is closer to O then January temperatures in Slovenia ;).

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1 hour ago, Zim Girl said:

@xelas

 

Beautiful set of Flamingo pictures.  Loving all the red rocks and big scenery.  

 

Thank You, Zim Girl! No more flamingoes or red rocks, I am afraid. But much more animals :)!

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I also would have said Batis at first glance, but have read now that the White-Tailed Shrike is closely related to them - so the confusion is understandable.. I also despaired about Southern Africa´s LBJs after my trip but would take a guess as follows:

 

1.) A bit too brownish for female Cape Sparrow (which should also have darker legs and bill). Lark-Like Bunting?

 

2.) I don´t see why this could not be same species as #1. Cape Bunting would have a more "masked" appearance.

 

3.) Agree with Marico Flycatcher.

 

4.) A Lark, I think - bold supercilium and no streaks on breast, no malar stripe - Fawn-Coloured? Sabota should be faintly streaked on breast.

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1 hour ago, michael-ibk said:

I also would have said Batis at first glance, but have read now that the White-Tailed Shrike is closely related to them - so the confusion is understandable.. I also despaired about Southern Africa´s LBJs after my trip but would take a guess as follows

1.) A bit too brownish for female Cape Sparrow (which should also have darker legs and bill). Lark-Like Bunting?

 

2.) I don´t see why this could not be same species as #1. Cape Bunting would have a more "masked" appearance.

 

3.) Agree with Marico Flycatcher.

 

4.) A Lark, I think - bold supercilium and no streaks on breast, no malar stripe - Fawn-Coloured? Sabota should be faintly streaked on breast.

 

Thanks for your work on LBJs, @michael-ibk . 

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Wonder #4: Wild Life

 

 

Over almost 3 days we have seen enough wildlife to keep us on our toes ... and with camera ready :). The pick of the crop in chronological order:

 

African Red-eyed Bulbul

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Stripped Skink (??)

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Speckled Pigeon

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Rosy-faced Lovebird

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Red-billed Spurfowl

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A moth (??)

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Two butterflies (??)

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Spotted Desert Lizard (??)

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(to be continued)

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Pririt Batis - male

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Pririt Batis - female

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African Paradise Flycatcher

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Egyptian Goose

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Blacksmith Lapwing (Plover)

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African Cuckoo

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Rock Monitor Lizard

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Damara Dik-dik

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Springbok

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A nice and varied collection of wildlife, with birds, mammals, reptiles and butterflies! Unfortunately I do not know much about butterflies, but I think your moth is a butterfly, due to the antennae. The second ones may be Large Orange Tip (Colotis antevippe). We have the small ones here in Holland and they do look a lot like those.

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Great sightings!

 

African Paradise Flycatchers seem to follow you around. The only time I have ever acheived half-decent photos of them was with you at WSNBG!

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Posted (edited)

Day 10: Up North, Into Damaraland

 

Time to move on. Damaraland ... sounds like a name from a fairy tale. Whoever was there once, cannot forget the beauty of the land. But it does not start immediately. First we have to drive dusty and uninspiring D1930. Even birds did not want to show their best to us :(.

 

Karoo Long-billed Lark

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Female Red-crested Korhaan ...

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... and its cousin, Northern Black Korhaan

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Not very cooperative, eh?! In Uis, it was time for a lunch break. Unless 3 years ago, the town was almost deserted. Even in front of the local store there were no mineral sellers :huh:. They all must have moved to Swakopmund, and around :rolleyes:. Once again our watering station was Cactus Coffee Shop. They got new owners, and opened a campsite. Place is still lovely, nice shade, sweet pancakes, spiky cacti.

 

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Even birds here were nicer to us. 

 

Southern Masked Weaver, immature ...

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... and mature

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Next segment was on C35; still uninspiring but at least in decent shape. More traffic also.

 

Local version of 4x3 (or is it 3x4??)

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Juhu, there is a car!!

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Shopping mall Namibia style (hey, do I know these words :unsure:)

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Gab river or is it Ugab trickle ?

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Edited by xelas
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Left turn from C35 onto D2612; narrower and a bit rougher road yet the scenery started to improve. Grassland dotted with trees, and a kopje here and there. But we were already a bit tired and our cameras (OK, the ladies cameras) were having a rest. Not far is Madisa Camp. Located on the bank of another dry riverbed, the Goantagab, Madisa is a small, very nice camp with well equipped private sites where both toilet and shower are built on an elevated platform, and water for shower is heated by a donkey boiler. Each site has electricity (when generator is on).

 

Reception

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No cliff diving!

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Our private site with a view over the riverbed

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Crowned lapwing from below

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More red rocks ...

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... and more silhouettes after the sunset

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Day 11: Doing nothing in Madisa

 

 

Day 11 was a day to relax. Not entirely planned, of course. On arrival, we have asked about activities offered in that area. Only one was desert elephant tracking. As Aba Huab is quite far away, the cost of this activity at 1200 NAD pp was steep for me, but since we have saved so far, I agreed. Later we have been informed that the driver has to go to Khorixas next day, to fill up the tanks, so my budget was saved. Later on, we found it was a blessing in disguise that we have not done it.

 

Next thing was the crew went on strike. After the breakfast there was no willpower to dismantle the roof top tents, in order to drive out of the camp. Was it due to pure laziness, or was it the fact the crew has not received any tipping so far, it remained a secret. 

 

So, the camp it was. While some folks said there might be elephants roaming the dry riverbed, the sun and heat effectively kept us under the thick shade of the trees in our campsite. For Zvezda there were birds willing to be photographed.

 

Cape Glossy Starling

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@Peter Connan is right, the African Paradise Flycatcher do follows us :)! These two photos are for you, Peter! A juvenile one, its beak not yet blue, and without specific ring around the eye.

 

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While Zvezda (and Tanja) were chasing the birds, I have decided to climb the kopje above the reception. The fact that in reception there was an ice box filled with cold Windhoek beer had nothing to do with that decision :rolleyes:. It is a very short hike, and easy one. On top is a nice view over the Damaraland plains, and a small manmade pool, mostly used by birds as a waterhole station. There is another set of rocks above this one, which is also accessible for those more into rock climbing then me.

 

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The weather station African style

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One more Striped Skink?

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After an early lunch (if there is not much to do, I become hungry easily), there was more birding for Zvezda, and some scientific work for me. With birds, again I need reader's comments. Below are two Thrush photos. The first one is a Groundscraper Thrush without any doubts. But the second one, with the white wing bars, looks like a Spotted Ground Thrush. Only it should not be in this area?! So what is it? A juvenile Groundscarper Thrush?

 

Groundscarper Thrush

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?? Spotted Ground Thrush ??

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These two are obvious to ID, with their piercing colourful eyes :)

 

Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill

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Bare-cheeked Babler

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Then this one is again giving me some problems. The top bird on the branch is Southern White-crowned Shrike. But bottom two birds? Juveniles? I am adding one even more mysterious photo as the beak is completely yellow!

 

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For those asking what kind of scientific work I have been into, guess no further :D

 

Nam2017-326.JPG.462ee82a47f200bd629fec295a8d4cd9.JPG

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You certainly saw a greater variety of birds than we did in roughly the same area. I would go with Juveniles in both cases, mainly because I am a pessimist, but that does not include Yellow Bill.

 

At Aba Huab, they tried to get us interested in elephant tracking by telling us there had been tracks spotted in the river-bed just a few hundred meters from camp. What they did not know is that I had driven up that river-bed just minutes before, and had seen no elephant tracks...

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More of local fauna. Butterflies are so not my thing so please add the ID!

 

Nam2017-327.JPG.3ce84a2ed9f9580d1388dbbbc075f5f9.JPG

 

Boulton's Day Gecko

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Female Rock Agama

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After a short nap I have climbed to the kopje once again (with a quick stop by the icebox) to make this pano shot:

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Occasionally there is a local type of food prepared by the camp stuff. It was a stew of a kind; they have started to cook it mid-afternoon, and it took well into the night time before it was ready to be served. Tasty yes, but it was more about the folklore then about the quality (and quantity) of the food that justifies its cost. 

 

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2 minutes ago, Peter Connan said:

At Aba Huab, they tried to get us interested in elephant tracking by telling us there had been tracks spotted in the river-bed just a few hundred meters from camp. What they did not know is that I had driven up that river-bed just minutes before, and had seen no elephant tracks...

 

Thanks, Peter. About elephant tracking, do not miss Day 12 ^_^!

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I will not miss any of this report!

:D

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Posted (edited)

And so do I....wonderful report :-)

Edited by Levante
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Just catching up with this report after being out of town.  As always, fabulous photos of a place I'm eager to go! I am sorry I wasn't here to help with some of the bird ID's but I think @Peter Connan and @michael-ibk and others had you covered ;) 

 

As for that mysterious yellow-billed bird in post #164, it had me stumped for a bit because the Sinclair guide does not show the juvenile nor does a quick image search show a yellow bill, or that triangular shaped patch on the neck.  But I did finally find justification! In this link to the book Shrikes and Bushshrikes, the image of the juvenile White-crowned Shrike matches! (See image 2b)

 

http://tinyurl.com/whitecrownedshrike

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, janzin said:

As for that mysterious yellow-billed bird in post #164, it had me stumped for a bit because the Sinclair guide does not show the juvenile nor does a quick image search show a yellow bill, or that triangular shaped patch on the neck.  But I did finally find justification! In this link to the book Shrikes and Bushshrikes, the image of the juvenile White-crowned Shrike matches! (See image 2b)

 

Thanks for link, @janzin ! I have found 1 photo on the web with similar eye-patch but the beak was already black.

Edited by xelas
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Day 12: Tracking Desert Elephants

 

 

We said good-bye to Madisa camp. It is a very scenic camp, withe well equipped private campsites, but there is really not that much that can be done, or explore, around it on foot. And for visiting nearby attractions, I think there are other camps better positioned.

 

D2612 took us past many cattle farms where free grazing cattle enjoyed the juicy and abundance of grass. Farms mostly hosted basic homes for owners, and very basic shacks for workers.

 

Happy cows

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Like car like house

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Still on D2612 we arrived at the turn-off to Twyfelfontein. It was coffee time for me so detour was obligatory.

 

A few words about coffee. We have brought our home coffee with us ... but I have forgot to bring also the đezva. The aluminium kettle looked so unhappy that I did not want to put it on the fire ... and there was no other pot adequate to make our coffee in. Thus we have skipped coffee at breakfast, and have had to stop for it whenever possible. Lesson learned for next visit.

 

There are several attractions along the road and close to Twyfelfontein Country Lodge: Damara Living Museum, Burnt Mountains, Organ Pipes and rock art. The museum was still closed when we have passed by, and although we drove all the way to the parking lot for Organ Pipes, we only turned around. Caffeine deprivation was stronger, and the sun was already high on the sky.

 

Twyfelfontein Country Lodge impressed me! I have read some bad reviews in the past, and also some good ones, after the management has changed. The location is as scenic as it can be, the lodge itself (at least the main building) very impressive, and service top notch. Coffee was good also.

 

Main building with pool area

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View from the open but covered porch

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Even before we have parked the car, a guy approached us asking if we are interested in tracking down desert elephants. He gave us his price (280 NAD pp) but let us go for coffee first. The starting point for driving the dry Aba Huab riverbed is where the workshop is (just follow the sign from parking lot). The man saw us driving past the airport, and he quickly descent the game vehicle, and entered our car. Because driving my own car was half the attraction for me; it is possible to drive there on your own, but with a guide it is much safer, both because there are elephants there, and because one can get stuck easily in soft sand. The recovery party is never too far away, but the costs must be much higher then what I have paid to the guide.

 

After first cautious few hundred meters on the sand (L4 engaged) guide spotted the first group of elephants. Yet before I was able to position the car properly, a group of horsemen spooked the elephants! Herd ran away, and our guide tried to warned the head horseman about elephants and horses not being the closest friends. I don't think he understood the message.

 

Another 15-20 minutes of cruising along the riverbed and we have found another (or maybe the same) group. This time no horses to ruin the experience. These elephants really look different to those we have seen later in Etosha. But do judge by yourself.

 

Thinner and with longer legs

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Family protects their heirs

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I want to look like a lion

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Happy childhood

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Eye-to-eye

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So many memories, so much wisdom

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Decision to stop at Twyfelfontein was absolutely perfect! We have seen the specialty of the place, I have accumulated a few more off-road driving kilometres, and the cost of this activity was only 1/3 of what we would pay to the operator in Madisa camp.

 

Going further north, D2612 reaches C39, and scenery started to became more spectacular. Unfortunately, the road became more corrugated with each kilometre :(C43 was in no better, if not in a worse shape. 

 

What surprised us on this section of our trip were the sand dunes! Still in the beginning of its formation but clearly visible! 

 

Baby sand dunes

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Water is life

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Long and corrugated road

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Iconic table top mountain

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Looks like ancient lava flow

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Green oasis ... or pure luck with rain pattern

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Around midday we came close to Palmwag. As we knew the restaurant there is OK, and we all need a pit stop, decision was easy. Only slight problem was crossing the vet fence just before Palmwag Lodge. Unprocessed meat can go north, but cannot go south. Our fridge was inspected and all items not conforming with regulations were put in a plastic bag with my name on, so we will be able to retrieve it on return.

 

Palmwag Lodge is a green oasis ... with palms. Some new cabins were constructed, and campsite was enlarged, but I have not seen it so cannot report on how it looks. The burger, yes, for that one I can report it was tasty! And they have draft beer !!

 

Tasty burger at Palmwag Lodge

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After retrieving our food bag, and driving the worst section of the road, from Palmwag till Grootberg Pass (man, the corrugation was so deep at times I was afraid the steering wheel will broke my hands) we came to Hoada. That is a community camp, operated by same people as Grootberg Lodge. The camp, and its surroundings, are nicer then Madisa, IMO. A huge plus point is that one can walk around it (in a company of a staff member). But that is for next instalment.

 

Clearly signed entrance

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A pool is built in kopje

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View over the campsites

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Our campsite with donkey boiler

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Crimson sunset

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#166 : I think they are cooking Potjie, going by the iron pot and the long cooking time you mentioned. Type of stew indeed and I actually loved it. But agree, it takes too long for someone who can't even wait for two ninety seconds microwaved pop-corns:P:P

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More beautiful photos, @xelas and a good trip to the desert elephants! That certainly was a good deal compared to the first offer! It's a shame you still have to do so much scientific work during the trip, but, judging from the photo, you do not complain and just get the job done :)!

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