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Sunday, June 30, 2019

Kruger Holiday 2018 1 of 3 - Phalaborwa to Punda Maria

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature
Alex Enjoying the view after a 4km trek to the mouth of the Lanner Gorge in Kruger National Park

Going on holiday to the Kruger National Park without a camera is a sin. But then this holiday we all decided to take the bare minimum and focus our holiday more about the venues, the walks, and the small stuff. The small stuff that make up the big stuff - we found pleasure in everything but the animals. We of course LOVED seeing the animals, but they were not our main focus. We saw the big 5 and more, and it was truly an amazing experience for the whole family.




Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild,
Driving around in Hans Merensky Club, Phalaborwa

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate
Kruger National Park, Phalaborwa Gate

What made it even more fun was the Volkswagen bus that we rented. The space, automatic gearbox, tinted windows (a must for Africa!) and a decent air-con was shear driving pleasure and fun for the whole family.

First we stopped over in Phalaborwa to visit some friends and old familiar places, then 2 days later the big drive up to Punda Maria Rest Camp, Limpopo, South Africa. En route we stopped at Shingwedzi camp - Kruger National Park for a break and a snack.

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Baobab Tree
One of the many magnificent and icon African Trees, the majestic Baobab

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Scops Owl, Tsendze Rustic Camp
A scops owl resting in a tree at Tsendze Rustic Camp near Mooiplaas Picnic site.  Thank you Rodgerth for showing us your amazing owls.

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Shingwedzi Camp Gate
Shingwedzi Camp Gate

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Maroela Tree, Mahoni Loop
A Beautiful maroela tree on the Mahone Loop around Punda Maria

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Buffalo,
Buffalo cooling off in the Levuvhu River

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Mopani Camp Gate,
Mopani Camp Gate

Pioneer Dam, Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate
Consider Stopping over at Mopani Camp for a view of their beautiful Pioneer dam and iconic resident baobab 

Finally upon our arrival at Punda Maria Rest Camp, Kruger National Park, the swimming pool could not be found soon enough. The oldest rest camp in Kruger national park, and still true to form, in style as it was originally built, yet inside our bungalow it was modern and spacious. We drove to Pafuri to visit the legendary Crook's Corner and enjoyed a special bush walk in the Lanner Gorge and the Levuvhu River.

Punda Maria Camp, Punda Maria Bungalow, Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate
Punda Maria Camp Bungalow

Klopperfontein Dam, African Elephants swimming, Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate
Elephants loving the water at Klopperfontein Dam in Kruger

Punda Maria Camp Swimming Pool, Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate
Punda Maria Camp Swimming Pool

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Game Drive, Lanner Gorge
Driving to the start of our bush walk in the Lanner Gorge

Lanner Gorge Mouth, Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Game Drive, Lanner Gorge
A well deserved rest stop after a 4km trek to the Lanner Gorge Mouth

Baobab biggest, Lanner Gorge Walk, Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Game Drive, Lanner Gorge
Biggest Baobab on the walk to the Lanner Gorge

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Game Drive, Lanner Gorge
Another beauty

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Game Drive, Lanner Gorge, Crooks Corner, Border of South Africa
Crooks Corner : bordering South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Game Drive, Lanner Gorge, Crooks Corner, Border of South Africa
Beautiful Cloud formations over the Kruger bush veld

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Game Drive, Lanner Gorge, Crooks Corner, Border of South Africa
Impala grazing on the bushveld of Limpopo

Alex Aitkenhead, Levuvhu River, Lanner Gorge Mouth, Kruger National Park, Bush Walk, Hiking in Africa, Punda Maria, Parufi, Limpop, South Africa, Nature, Beautiful Nature, Phalaborwa, Hans Merensky Golf Club, Golfing in the Wild, Phalaborwa Gate, Game Drive, Lanner Gorge, Crooks Corner, Border of South Africa
Looking down the Limpopo river from Crooks Corner

Stay tuned to view more footage of the rest of our trip down south ...

Sunday, June 9, 2019

March Owl Hunting near Cape Town

Marsh Owl | Vleiuil | Asio capensis

Frieda and Jan Prinsloo were on walkabout when they noticed a Rock Kestrel diving into the reeds.  It was clearly disturbed by something.   We first read about this sighting of a resident Marsh owl at the Rietvlei Nature Reserve in the Western Cape. 


When they approached they managed to get a few photos of a marsh owl.  This was soon circulated on social media and had the local birders scrambling to get this one ticket off.



We have seen almost all the local owl species and we were very excited after learning about this new find close to home.  Adding this one to our list became high on our agenda as this would be another lifer for us.




We were no different and after a quick check on the weather and obtaining a pinpoint on where to view this uncommon owl species here in Cape Town, we loaded our camera gear and hoped for the best.




As luck would have it, the weather turned out to be perfect with bright sunlight and a light wind blowing, we spotted owl.




The Marsh Owl has been recorded on a regular basis from about 16h30, when it starts to hunt and we were all ready waiting for the action to unfold.



Thanks to Trevor Hardaker who knew the lay of the land and got us into the best possible position to obtain these images.  It was not easy, rushing around in the scrub with our gear, but we were very fortunate and grateful for a wonderful one hour display of this magnificent owl hunting.



35–38 cm; 230–370 g
A plain brown, medium-sized owl with a buff-coloured or greyish face, small ‘ear' tufts and dark brown eyes. In flight, wings broader than African Grass Owl, with much larger buff ‘windows' in primaries, less contrast between coverts and flight feathers, and pale trailing edge to secondaries and outer primaries. Underwing has dark carpal marks; tail barred. Voice: Harsh, rasping ‘krikkkkrikkk', likened to sound of material being torn. Status and biology: Common resident and nomad in marshes and damp grassland; avoids dense reed beds. Often circles overhead after flushing. Less nocturnal than most other owls; sometimes roosts in flocks.  - Source: Sasol eBirds