Trip report: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, December 2012 (Weekend edition)

Well, as you can see, I’ve spent my Eastern week at home doing some catching up with my photo development processes. So I decided to do my next trip report which was another weekend spent in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in December 2012. The wife and I stayed at Nossob for the weekend but unfortunately we did not have a “productive” weekend when it comes to sightings and photo opportunities. At the end of the day, we took more landscape photos than any other photos – Hougaard would have been proud of us and my brother in law will enjoy the photos (lots of trees!). We’ve spent some time at Cubitje Quap waterhole but no activities whatsoever. Maybe it was because there were a few rain showers/falls during the past few days and water puddles were found everywhere.

As we’ve entered the park, between Samevloei and Leeudril, we came across this raptor. I was not sure what it was but later on I’ve asked one of our fellow bird club members and he was of the opinion that it was a juvenile Southern pale chanting goshawk. I also posted the photo on SANPARK’s forum with an ID request and the members came up with the same answer.

Raptor 1 Raptor 1 – turn out to be a Kalahari hoender (SPCG)

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens with 1.4 convertor – 850mm, ISO800, f5.6, 1/3200, exposure comp = -0, WB = sun, Aperture mode)


On our way to Nossob near Kji Kji water hole, we’ve met up with this group of wildebeests and there were a few young ones amongst them. This one trying to keep up with mum.

Keeping up with mumKeeping up with mum

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens with 1.4 convertor – 850mm, ISO800, f5.6, 1/3200, exposure comp = 0, WB = sun, Aperture mode)


The rest of the journey to Nossob was uneventful – little did we know, this was how it would be for the rest of the weekend.

During the weekend, just pass Marie se gat, we found four spotted eagle owls. The first two were sitting “almost” in the open next to the road – so I had to remove my 1.4 convertor from my 600mm lens. It was around 18H00.

Spotted eagle owl 1Spotted eagle owl

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens, ISO800, f5, 1/1000, exposure comp = -0.7, WB = sun, Aperture mode)


The other two we found were young ones and one was very noisy. This one was quite relaxed and I got a little bit of backlight/sidelight as a bonus. Not very often that one gets such a nice sighting of a spotted eagle owl. We had to wait a few minutes for the sun to be at the right angle and to get through the branches. The owl was also next to the road – so off with the convertor. It was around 18h46 and the sighting was just before the southern split in the road leading to Marie se gat (coming from the south).

Spotted eagle eagle late afternoon 1Spotted eagle owl with backlight

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens, ISO200, f4, 1/250, exposure comp = -0.7, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

I’ve already entered this photo in three international salons and received 1 acceptance. I was a bit surprise with the acceptance because the photo has a very “busy” background but I like the light on the owl. I did not think it is a salon photo but I decided to give it a try


Also just around the corner from Marie se gat, we found two very young jackals wondering around in the early morning. One jackal walked straight towards us and I saw the opportunity to get some interesting eye-level shots with the bushes providing the natural environment of the jackal. Beforehand I decided I would not be able to get a clear shot – so I decided to get some photos of the jackal with blurry background/surroundings. I was not sure whether it would work or not but decided to give it a go. Unfortunately the sun was not yet over the dunes, nevertheless, I got the interesting shots I was hoping for. The first image as the young jackal approaches around 06H03:

Curious young jackal 1 768 500k 300d sRGBYoung curious jackal 1

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens, ISO400, f4, 1/160, exposure comp = -0.3, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

I’ve already entered the photo in one international and two national salons – two acceptances and awaiting the outcome of the third national salon.


And just before the jackal realises that our vehicle is in its way at 06H04:

Young jackal walking

Young jackal walking

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens, ISO400, f4, 1/200, exposure comp = -0.3, WB = sun, Aperture mode)


And then it stops and was just standing there wondering what is going on/what is this in its way? Only a few meters away from our vehicle around 06H07.

Curious young jackal 2Young curious jackal 2

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens, ISO400, f4, 1/125, exposure comp = -0.3, WB = sun, Aperture mode)


And then both crossed the road and disappeared into the grass on the other side as the sun rose above the dunes – around 06H10. One of the young ones decided to give us a last look from the grass in the first sunlight of the day – the first golden hour of the day. If the sun could have risen just a few minutes earlier but such is life/nature/photography – you cannot always have it all your way.

Curious young jackal through bushesCurious young jackal through bushes

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens, ISO400, f4, 1/500, exposure comp = 0, WB = sun, Aperture mode)


And what  surprise to see a duck in the desert – this Cape teal (Teeleend) at Kousant waterhole. We also came across another one at Dikbaarskolk on our way leaving the park.

Duck in the desertDuck in the desert

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens, ISO320, f4, 1/6400, exposure comp = -0.7, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

We waited for the teal to fly away (and catch it in flight – the reason for the high shutter speed) but it stayed and at some stage it was lying down on ground waiting for us to leave – just to return to the water around the waterhole and the parking area next to the waterhole.


And then the highlight of the trip – two Gabar goshawks both taking a bath in the parking area next to Langklaas waterhole. As we drove into the road leading to the waterhole, one of the goshawk decided not to trust us and it flew into the tree next to the waterhole. The other one decided to continue with its bath and entertained us for about 10 minutes. I was too anxious to move the vehicle – afraid it might scare the remaining goshawk form taking its bath. So we stayed parked as we came to a sudden halt – in a very awkward (photographic) position taking photos of the action. Afterwards my neck muscles were in some sort of spams.

The bath:

 Gabar goshawk bath 2Gabar goshawk taking a bath 2

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens, ISO800, f5.6, 1/4000, exposure comp = -0.7, WB = sun, Aperture mode)


Looking for its partner to share some quality time in the bath:

Gabar goshawk bath 3

Gabar goshawk taking a bath 3

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens, ISO800, f7, 1/2500, exposure comp = -0.7, WB = sun, Aperture mode)


And then the remaining goshawk decided it had enough and left the bath to join its partner in the tree:

Gabar Goshawk After the bath

Gabar goshawk After the bath

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens, ISO800, f5.6, 1/5000, exposure comp = -0.7, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

Image already entered in 4 international (3 acceptances) and 1 national (1 acceptance) salons.


And that was the sightings and actions for the weekend. Like I said in the beginning, we turned to landscape photography for the rest of the weekend as there were not other sightings. The clouds provided us with some great opportunities for landscape photos. Just a pity all the photos were taken from our vehicle – it is really difficult to get the composition of the photo spot on with a wide angle lens through the window of your car. Nevertheless, here are a few examples:

Tree in Nossob River 3Tree in Nossob River 3

(Nikon D700, 17mm-35mmf2.8 zoom lens @17mm, ISO200, f11, 1/1250, exposure comp = -1.3, WB = sun, Aperture mode)


Dead tree Kgalgadi 1Dead tree Kgalagadi

(Nikon D700, 17mm-35mmf2.8 zoom lens @30mm, ISO200, f11, 1/100, exposure comp = 0, WB = sun, Aperture mode)


We also had some thunderstorms as well as dust storms – this one around Marie se gat

Kalahari tree in sand stormKalahari tree in sand storm

(Nikon D700, 70mm-200mmf2.8 zoom lens @102mm, ISO200, f11, 1/320, exposure comp = -1.0, WB = sun, Aperture mode)


And that was our weekend in the Kgalagadi – not really a photographer’s paradise this time around but boy o boy – what a turn around I’ve experienced during my week long stay the Kgalagadi in February 2013. But more about that in the next trip report.

Message to take home:

I read this message a few weeks ago in an article: “There are always days when you want to take photographs but you feel that there is nothing to shoot. The key here is to get out of your house and go somewhere where there will be something to shoot.” I think it is also applicable to our December 2012 Kgalagadi trip. There wasn’t really anything to photograph but still it was an enjoyable experience and if one looks carefully at one’s surroundings in the park, there was something interesting to photograph.

Until my next trip report – keep on shooting!!!

  1. #1 by puppy1952 on April 1, 2013 - 9:12 pm

    Even the bad times are good. Beats being anywhere else in the world! Love to Gabars bathing.

  2. #2 by whk139 on April 2, 2013 - 2:41 am

    I agree – thanks for reading my blog.

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