For adults only, please…Mature theme…Plus, a little of this and that…

Little Wart Face gave it an honest effort, but he couldn’t get it quite right.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Although Tom has to take down and refill the bird feeder several times a day due to the monkeys eating the seeds, we thoroughly enjoy watching the birds partaking.

We’d hoped to head to Kruger today but have decided to go another day. The sky is cloudy and doesn’t appear it will clear in time for us to go. Instead, today, we’ll make our usual run to Komatipoort and Lebombo for groceries and carrots and apples for the wildlife and head to Kruger on the next sunny day.

Yesterday, I called Obaro, and it appears they now have pellets in stock, and we’ll load up enough for the next few weeks until it’s time to go to Zambia and Botswana on August 16th.

Little Wart Face attempting to mate with this young female.

Although neither of us particularly loves to shop, we find the weekly trips interesting and diverse. The townspeople are friendly, the culture fascinating, and generally, we can find most of the items we need to purchase, forgoing thoughts of those items we can’t find.

Since I’m no longer eating dairy, my options for meals are limited.  Most of our favorite dishes include dairy in one form or another. It appears I have no trouble with butter, but all other dairy products must be excluded from my diet to maintain this high level of feeling so well.

This occurred after dusk, and thus, the photos aren’t as straightforward as we’d hoped.

Day after day, I’m aware of how great I’m feeling for the first time in over two years. From the time I contracted the bacterial infection in Fiji and later the injury in the pool in Bali, I was plagued with constant pain and discomfort.

To be free of pain is such a blessing, and I never forget how important it is I don’t consume a slice of cheese, a dollop of cream, or a smear of cream cheese on a celery stick. It takes no willpower whatsoever. The excellent end result of feeling good keeps me highly motivated.

Snack options are limited so I avoid snacking. I’m slowly losing weight and will share details when I reach my goal in the next few months. Surprisingly, it hasn’t been that difficult. 

He’d been making the train-like noise up until he actually tried to make contact. The bowl in the dirt was left after we’d fed eggs to the mongooses a few minutes earlier.

We now have a hearty breakfast each morning, with two eggs and sardines, which are high in calcium to compensate for my lack of dairy products, while Tom has three eggs and bacon. We don’t eat again until dinner on the veranda around 7:00 pm. This schedule provides us with approximately 11 hours of intermittent fasting which works well for both of us.

As for today’s warthog mating photos, I’d like to stress, we do not include these or other mating photos for any shock value. Our intent is purely to illustrate the magic and mystery of nature at its finest. Having the opportunity to observe the “cycle of life” in nature is truly a gift.

It’s evident in this photo that contact wasn’t fully executed.

In many months to come, we’ll see the park filled with babies from this mating season. For an interesting article in Africa Geographic regarding warthog mating, please click here.

The gestation period for warthogs is 152 to 183 days. Generally, piglets are born between October and February. It won’t be long before we see entirely new batches of youngsters coming to call with their moms (occasionally dads), aunts, and siblings from past litters. 

It’s a rare opportunity to see mating in the wild, but this appeared more to be “practice” than anything.

Warthogs may stay with their family group, a sounder, for a few years, eventually finding their burrows for rest at night. However, they often stay in the same general territory as other family members.

When we see them at night, they tend to wander off by 2100 hours (9:00 pm) to return to their burrow for the night. Moms will place their offspring in the burrow first and follow behind facing the opening to guard the family unit.

Not a night passes without an opportunity to watch these adorable bushbabies enjoy the yogurt we place on their little stand.

Intelligent animals, pigs of all breeds are rated #2 of the top 25 most intelligent animals on earth. See this list for details. This is clearly evidenced to us daily as we carefully observe their behavior. Dogs are rated #6.

That’s it for today folks! Have a fabulous day! We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Photo from one year ago today, July 31, 2017:
Here were our total expenses for the 25 nights we spent in Henderson Nevada.  Please click here for more details.

 Expense   US Dollar 
Housing (Richard’s home)   $                         
 Gifts & Misc.   $                  299.00
 Airfare    $               1,137.00
 Rental Car & Fuel  $                  926.00
 Groceries   $               1,245.30
 Dining Out   $                  402.52
 Supplies & Pharmacy   $                  609.32
 Entertainment   $                  310.25
 Total   $               4,929.39
 Avg Daily Cost 25 days   $                  197.18

In the realm of things, it just doesn’t matter…

This morning we opened the door to find 19 kudus in the garden, breaking our prior record of 17 at once. The one closest to the veranda is the girl that constantly licks my toes. She is identifiable by an oval notch in her right ear.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Yesterday, this “Grey Go-Away” bird stopped by. The name was as a result of the song this bird sings that sound like, “go-away.”

It’s imperative that one must temper their expectations when staying in Africa, especially when coming from cities throughout the world that are highly developed and have an abundance of literally everything, for example; in any big city in the US and other parts of the world.

There were all moms and babies some of which were males.

When we say abundance in the US, we mean going to a market, a superstore, or a shop and finding anything you may conceive of or anything special on your shopping list. 

Do you have almond extract on your grocery list? No problem. You will find it in the first grocery store you visit. Are you looking for a particular brand or popular style of jeans? No sweat. You’ll find them in a number of locations in exactly your size and chosen fashion.

Tusker, last night in the dark of night, hung around for a few hours,

But, in Marloth Park and surrounding areas, certain items are difficult to find often requiring a more than an hour drive to be presented with a few less than ideal options.  

A pair of hornbills sharing the bird feeder.

Sure, one could drive to Nelspruit, (where the airport is located) but still not find what they’re seeking, certainly not, the style, the price or the size. We don’t bother to make the long drive unless we’re flying somewhere as we will in 17 days to make the “visa run” to Zambia, required every 90 days.

In the realm of things, for us, none of this matters. There’s always a workaround of one sort or another. Last week, when we grocery shopped on Thursday, the Obaro store where we purchase pellets for wildlife was totally out of pellets.

In attempting to recognize different animals within a species, we search for variances in their markings. In this case, of Ms. Bushbuck, her lower facial marking is a round dot as opposed to an oval dot. Another identical-looking female bushbuck has two white dots similar to the upper dot in this photo. Now we can distinguish between the two females.

We usually purchase three 40 kg (88 pounds) bags which will last a little over two weeks with all the visitors we have here. There were other options if the stock never returned for a while. We could pay a higher price (as much a 30% more) where they were available at other locations. 

Very distant photo taken a few days ago at the overlook entitled “Two Trees” across the Crocodile River and up the hill to Kruger. 

We’re slowly doling out our last bag of pellets, instead focusing on tossing the carrots and apples.  This morning, I called Obaro and the pellets are again back in stock. We’ll head out in a few days to purchase more.

One week there will be celery at the market. The next three weeks there won’t be any. It’s the ways it is. We’ve learned to accept these situations and be flexible in our meal planning.

Big Daddy was drinking from our cement pond.

Over the weekend, I opened two bottles of my favorite low-alcohol red wine, called Skinny Red by Four Cousins, a South African brand which also carries many wine options that aren’t low-alcohol, to find both bottles had gone bad (turned bubbly and vinegary). This has happened at least ten times in the past several months.

In each case, we’ve returned the bad bottles to the Spar Supermarket in Komatipoort where we’d purchased the wine and were quickly given a refund without a receipt, no questions asked. In the realm of things, it just doesn’t really matter. We’ll purchase more when we return to Spar in the next few days.

He seemed content after pellets and a few big gulps of water.

In certain instances, expiration dates have long past on some items in the market. No worries. We don’t purchase those. Also, most recently, we’ve been dealing with the fact that the package we had sent from the US on May 28th has yet to arrive.

Wildebeest Willies stops by almost every evening.

There was a strike slowing it down. Right now, it’s still “stuck” in Pretoria. We have no idea when and if it will eventually arrive. This is probably the situation most likely to cause a certain degree of frustration.

There are power outages every few weeks some lasting a short while and others lasting for several hours. In the realm of things, it really doesn’t matter, as long as our food doesn’t spoil. It hasn’t as yet.

We can always count on a visit from Tusker and friends.

However, we don’t forget that in the US during the stormy season, we could be out of power for days. We don’t forget that fe had trouble with the TV cable company for years, often requiring service once a month, never seeming to be resolved. 

We recall dealing with incorrect statements for medical bills, utilities, and more. We easily recall the difficulty in handling specific insurance claims, often requiring tremendous time and effort.

Mom, babies, and Tusker seem to get along while nibbling on pellets.

Now, we don’t have medical bills (we pay cash when we have an occasional doctor or dentist appointment). We don’t pay for utilities or cable bills (we don’t watch TV). And, we don’t handle any insurance claims. In many ways, this life is easier even amid occasional incompetency and slow service.

Wherever one resides, there are inconveniences, annoyances, and frustrations. I suppose it is how we handle these situations that determine the overall quality of our lives. We chose to take an attitude of “it just doesn’t matter.”

If we have our health, well being, safety and financial stability (by sticking to our budget) and, each other, the rest is of little cause for worry or concern…in the realm of things.

Be well. 

Photo from one year ago, July 30, 2017:

Tom’s Reuben sandwich with chips (fries) when we were out to dinner and movie with son Richard and friends on our last night in Henderson, Nevada. For more details, please click here.

The kindness and generosity of special people…

Louise and Danie dropped off this beautiful knife set this morning which fits perfectly into a space in the kitchen drawer where the flatware is stored.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This is a black-eared seedeater was awaiting her turn at the bird feeder.  This morning I used the bird book Louise dropped off to identify this bird.

Today’s late start was as a direct result of many distractions this morning.  I was anxious to use my new knives, a gift from Louise and Danie as shown in the above main photo, along with beautiful Africa shaped hand-carved cutting board, South Africa bird book, and delicious little dark chocolate coffee bean nibs.

How did we get so lucky to become friends with our kind and generous property managers, a friendship that started four and a half years ago?  Over the years, we stayed in touch and there was no doubt in our minds that we’d rent one of their properties when we arrived in February.

This beautiful hand-carved cutting board is made into the shape of Africa indicating
“my heart belongs to Africa.”  So true.

We’ll certainly rent from them again when we return to Marloth Park in 2020 for a 90-day visit, knowing we’ll never get these fine people and this extraordinary experience out of our minds.

But, it’s not about “gifts” for us since these items and others, we’ll have no choice but to leave behind when we leave in February 2019, a mere seven months from now.  We’ll be delighted to return them all to Louise and Danie along with numerous other items they’ve provided for us since we arrived.

This bird book from Louise and Danie will help so much when trying to identify birds for our posts.  This way we won’t have to pester our birding friends quite so often.

When it comes to these two fine people, they have an uncanny way of getting cues from conversations that often result in a gift.  Going forward I must be careful to avoid mentioning anything we may need or want since these two dear attentive people never miss a beat. 

Last night I asked where we could buy some knives or a sharpener since the knives here in the property have become dull with all the cutting I do as shown in the photo below. 

This stainless steel bowl is larger in diameter than the average dinner plate and quite deep.  Each day I cut up no less than two of these bowls with apples and carrots.  Having sharp knives really speeds up the process.

Each day I cut up no less than two, sometimes three of these big bowls of carrots and apples.  Also, with our low carb home-cooked meals often requiring lots of fresh vegetables, side dishes and salads, I spend a lot of time each day chopping and dicing.

In our old lives, I had a variety of kitchen gadgets that aided in the cutting process including a food processor and various “As Seen on TV” handy choppers and dicer all of which I used regularly.  Over the past few months, I struggled to cut up the carrots, apples and other vegetables for meals using the dull knives.

Danie made these little coffee bean treats made with 90% chocolate and brought me a package last night. Now, I am totally hooked on these tasty little morsels for a special sweet morsel.  Check out the pretty packaging.

In this life, there’s no space in our luggage for knives (not good to pack anyway) or any other items of any weight but having these special items to use over these next months means the world to us. 

We were particularly interested in this young male kudu who’s horns have begun to sprout.  See photo below for detail.

Once we leave here in February and then Kenya in March, we won’t be cooking again until we arrive in Ireland in May 2019 where we’ll stay for 90 days where we’ll see what’s available in that holiday home.  

We usually make-do with what’s on hand at holiday rentals but Louise and Danie have made this stay extra special for us with their thoughtfulness and consideration of our needs.
Male kudus have horns, females do not.  At about 15 months the horns begin to take on the shape of the first spiral.  See adult male below.

As for last night’s evening, the weather was so warm we didn’t need to bundle up or turn on the outdoor gas heater (another item they presented to us for our comfort).  The food was good, the ambiance perfect, the conversation lively and animated…along with a handful of visitors that stopped by from time to time.

All of our wonderful friends in Marloth Park are considerate, thoughtful and generous, as were all of our friends back in the US.  We feel so blessed to have been able to experience such kindness from all of our friends over the years.

Big Daddy, one of many adult male kudus in Marloth Park.

But, we must admit these two special people go over-the-top in ensuring we have an exceptional experience each and every day in this property and in sharing this exceptional friendship.

Thank you, Louise and Danie.  Wherever we may be, you’ll always be in our hearts and minds for being the special people that you are.  If any of our readers ever decide to come to Marloth Park for a holiday rental or to build your dream home in the bush, these are the people to contact.  Their kindness, creativity, and thoughtfulness carry over into everything they do.

Yesterday morning Mom and Five Babies stopped by for the first time in a few months.  My, how they’ve grown!

Quote from this site:
“The strong bond of friendship is not always a balanced equation; friendship is not always about giving and taking in equal shares. Instead, friendship is grounded in a feeling that you know exactly who will be there for you when you need something, no matter what or when. Simon Sinek”

May you life be rich with friendship!


Photo from one year ago today, July 29, 2017:

Opuntia pinkavae, common name Bulrush Canyon Prickly-pear is a species of cactus which originated in northern Arizona and southern Utah which we found in Nevada for this photo.  For more, please click here.

Blood moon..Full view of total eclipse of the moon…We had a full moon party!…

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Even the bushbabies were curious as to what was transpiring last night.

Most of today’s blood moon photos don’t include any captions.  The moon speaks for itself. 

From this site:

“JOHANNESBURG – South Africans are in for a treat on Friday with the longest total lunar eclipse of the century taking place. According to the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa, at around 19h13 pm, the moon will start moving into the penumbral (partial) shadow of the Earth. Less direct sunlight will reach the eastern (lower) side of Moon, and you may notice the Moon dimming slightly from that side.”

We knew we’d be in for quite a treat with the announcement over the past month regarding the rare appearance of the ‘blood moon” and a total eclipse of the moon clearly (weather providing) visible in South Africa.

With the weather forecast predicting a cloudy night, we were thrilled when the sky was apparent by nightfall. We set up our usual routine, including the light to see the wildlife arriving for a visit, the burning repellent candle on the big wood table, the coil repellent at our feet.

The vegetable container for the animals was freshly chopped with carrots and apples. The container for pellets was ready to go, and the birdseed bin was ready for Frank and the Mrs., who never disappoint. The cup of yogurt for the bushbabies was filled to the brim with the fruity treat and placed on their little stand.

At 1730  hours (5:30 pm), Frank and the Mrs. sounded their nightly alarm as they headed into the bush to make their usual announcement that darkness is imminent. They never fail to sound the alarm at night and again as the sun rises in the morning.

Within minutes, the bushbabies appeared on the little stand, ready to share the tasty yogurt, flying through the trees for taste after taste. It’s a stunning ritual to observe night after night.

Our dinner was ready to go into the oven. The salad was made and tossed. Tom made a brandy and Sprite Zero cocktail, and I poured myself a glass of my new favorite low-alcohol red wine. The table was set with flatware, plates, and napkins. The two-person full-moon-blood moon-total-eclipse party was ready to begin.

Both cameras had fresh batteries and were set identically for nighttime photos. Of course, our lack of expertise didn’t necessarily result in the most professional-looking photos. Still, in our laid-back manner, we did our best and decided against editing the photos. We share them here as they were taken, except for cropping as mentioned above.

The evening was so whole and busy we were on our feet most of the time. We started at 1700 hours (5:00 pm) as we always do and never went inside for the night until 2230 hours (10:30 pm) when the moon had done most of its magic.

It couldn’t have been a perfect evening. We sat down to dinner, but we jumped up time and again to toss pellets and veggies when visitors came. There was no way we’d ignore our usual visitors when they have faithfully provided us with so much entertainment night after night.

Between taking photos of the ever-changing views of the moon, trying to finish dinner, and feeding our friends, it was quite an active event. By the time we headed indoors, we were ready to call it a night. Tom did the dishes while I cleaned the kitchen; neither of us could wipe the smiles off of our faces.

Speaking of “feeding our friends,” this time humankind, Louise, and Danie are coming for dinner tonight. I did most of the prep yesterday, so today will be easy with only a few side dishes left to prepare. We love spending time with this beautiful couple.

Ah, it’s a good life. We don’t have a complaint in the world, other than the pesky monkeys who won’t leave us or our birdfeeder alone. Several times a day, Tom has to chase them away. Monkeys generally don’t respond to women doing the chasing as if to mock us. Go figure.

Have a great day! 

Photo from one year ago today, July 28, 2017:

These two birds were too busy preening to look up as we passed their habitat at the wildlife center in Henderson. For more details as we wound down the time in Nevada, please click here.

Power outage today…

A Great White Heron was standing in the water at Sunset Dam in Kruger National Park.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This is our friend Tusker.  He is the sweetest guy who comes to visit several times each day, particularly after 1600 hours (4:00 pm).  He’s so comfortable here he often lies down for a short nap.

While midway through making one of our favorite low-carb meals, and before I started working on today’s post, the power went out at 0945 hours (9:45 am). We weren’t too concerned when most often, it comes back on within a few hours. 

Tom read a “paper” book we borrowed from friends Lynne and Mick about the history of Marloth Park while I’m typed the text on the offline app for our site on my phone, which I often use during power outages.

We never get tired of seeing these wondrous animals, both in Kruger and in Marloth Parks.
Unfortunately, I’d forgotten to plug in my phone when I got up this morning, and the battery was almost dead. I typed fast and furiously to be prepared when and if the power came back on today.

Power outages are common in Africa, as are other areas of the infrastructure. For example, we had a package shipped from the US on May 28th, almost two months.  Due to a strike, it’s been stuck in Pretoria since June 6th.
Zebras were crossing the road in Kruger.

We check package tracking and often call to no avail. Yesterday, I was told the “network was down” and to call back again. I called again, and there was no answer.

But, as everyone always says…this is Africa, and we can’t expect such services to be comparable to that in the US and other more developed countries in the world.

A bloat of hippos at Sunset Dam.
Expectations must be kept in check. Our friend Kathy (and Don), while home alone at one of their other homes in Pretoria, South Africa, was without power from last Friday until late Sunday. She couldn’t leave when the electronic gate wouldn’t open without power. We could only hope that type of scenario doesn’t happen here. 
From this site: “Hippos can stay underwater for up to 5 minutes without coming up for air, according to National Geographic. When they sleep in the water, their bodies automatically bob up to the top of the water so that they can take a breath, and then they sink back to the bottom. Hippos’ eyes and nostrils are on top of their head. This allows them to breathe and look around while the rest of their body is submerged. “

We’d grocery shopped yesterday, and the extra freezer is full of meats and other items. The refrigerator is all fully stocked. If the power didn’t come back on, we’d be out a lot of money.

OK, folks, here’s a new one for you…This is a “bask” of crocodiles!

I finished making most of the meal and quickly opened and closed the refrigerator door putting everything perishable inside. We decided the best course of action was to embark on one of our usual drives through Marloth Park, hoping the power would come back on while we were gone. 

We returned several hours later, and we have power. That’s why today’s post is so late. We had an eventful drive, including spotting two lions on the river and other wildlife, and yet, we’re happy to be back at the house with power.
Another “bask” of crocs at Sunset Dam.

No doubt, we’ll have another good night in our blissful surroundings, grateful for even the little things; a good home-cooked meal, lots of visitors to the garden, and of course, having power back on.

Three giraffes at a distance in Kruger National Park.

Tonight, clear skies providing, we’ll be able to see the entire total eclipse of the “blood moon,” which is only fully viewable in certain parts of the world,  South Africa included. It should be a good night!

As winter continues, there’s less and less green vegetation for the wildlife in Kruger and Marloth Park.

Hopefully, wherever you may be, tonight, you’ll get a glimpse of this special moon!

Photo from one year ago today, July 27, 2017:

Too distant for close-up photos, we spotted these two Cormorants sitting on a rock in a pond at the Henderson (Nevada) Bird Viewing Preserve. For more photos, please click here.

What’s it really like?…

This giraffe was having a “bad hair day!” The hair on the female giraffe’s ossicones is usually short and straight up. 

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Cape buffaloes on the Sabie River in Kruger.

In 2012, when we booked our first holiday home in Kenya and then Marloth Park, it was hard for us even to imagine what it would be like living in this type of environment. 

Unaware at the time as to the degree of potential risks, inconveniences, and challenges we might face spending three months in the bush, we forged ahead tentatively optimistic, hoping to fulfill my lifelong dream of visiting Africa. 

A dazzle of zebras hanging out near the road in Kruger.

Although Tom was somewhat skeptical and fearful of the unknown, he willingly agreed to visit the mysterious continent. We spent almost nine months on the continent living in three countries; Kenya, South Africa, and Morocco.

Many travelers never consider visiting Africa due to their fears. The distance is also a factor, along with the high airfare costs from many parts of the world. But, fear seems to be the most significant deterrent based on conversations we’ve had with travelers from all over the world.

And yet, millions of tourists visit Africa each year, statistics for which may be found here. Tom had never known anyone who’d visited Africa in our old lives, and I only knew a handful, all of whom had an extraordinary experience.

A crocodile was lounging on the bank of Sunset Dam.

And now, almost six years have passed since we arrived in Kenya in September 2013, which we’ll soon visit again in less than seven months. It feels as natural for us to be in Africa as anywhere else in the world, if not even more.

Over and over, we’ve mentioned the challenges and inconveniences; the insects; mosquitoes; malaria, and other disease risks; rampant crime in specific areas; the excessive heat in the summer months; and a small but realistic risk of injury from wildlife (snake bites, insects bites. poisonous vegetation and close encounters with dangerous animals).

Yellow-billed storks and other birds are not easily identifiable due to the distance when taking this photo across the lake at Sunset Dam.

We’ve even heard local stories of residents in Marloth Park unwittingly being “stabbed” by the horns of male kudus, male bushbucks, and wildebeest when they got too close. These animals generally don’t attack humans unless injured or provoked.

Then, of course, we all proceed with caution when lions or leopards have been spotted in the park, which poses the most risk at night in the dark. There are curfews imposed against walking on the roads at night. Logical, eh?

We surmised this elephant might have been ancient based on its size and its bright white tusks.  Scientists can better gauge the age of an elephant by its teeth, as described on this site.

All of these aside, we do not live in fear under any circumstances, although we use reason, caution, and care in many situations that could pose a problem. 

Yes, when walking through the heavy bush on our perpetual search for photo ops, we watch where we’re walking not only to avoid spraining an ankle from the uneven terrain but always on the lookout for snakes.

Hippos on the bank of the Sabie River.

On the positive side, nothing, anywhere in the world, can compare to the joy we experience every day. From watching the birds enjoy our bird feeder to the nine kudus who visited first thing this morning to the many trips to Kruger as shown in today’s photos.

This morning while we had breakfast on the veranda (which we now do each morning), we delighted in the kudu’s presence, totally entertained by their interactions and gentle antics. I stand at the edge of the veranda, and my favorite kudu licks the toes of my stocking feet.

This was the first time we’d seen giraffes at the Vurhami Dam, located about 10 minutes on the paved road from the entrance to the park at Crocodile Bridge.

It’s cool here now in winter. Most days are sunny and comfortably warm, not hot. There aren’t many insects buzzing around our heads in the winter months, which will end in September. 

We aren’t dreading the onset of the hot and humid summer. We experienced it in 2013/2014 and knew what to expect.  

Wildebeest lounging in the savannah.

Soon, we off to the hustle and bustle of busy, cultural Komatipoort and Lebombo, the streets packed with locals selling their wares and others buying them. Even shopping day is an adventure unto itself.

We continue to be grateful and humbled by this life. We pray good health will keep us traveling for as long as possible.

Several giraffes attempting to drink at the Vurhami Dam.

May each of you have good health and fulfillment!

Photo from one year ago today, July 26, 2017:

Two Mallards sitting on rocks in one of the eight ponds in the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve in Nevada. For more photos, please click here.

Vulture Day!…What?…Are vultures deserving a day of their own?…Most certainly!…

Classic scene of three vultures on a limb.  We were thrilled to get this shot from quite a distance. From this site:  Vultures are, however, great ecologists, having a high sense of personal hygiene and are a manifestation of the adage of patience as a virtue. They clean the veld of carrion, thereby minimizing the impact of animal disease, and they bathe regularly in rivers after gorging themselves at a kill.”

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Whoa, Mr. Zebra!  Why are you climbing the steps to the veranda?

Each visit to Kruger National Park seems to result in the focus of one particular species or another. It may be rhinos, elephants, giraffes, zebras, or wildebeests. 

Oddly, and much to our surprise, the focus of yesterday’s foray in the park seemed to highlight vultures. After about 45 minutes on the tar road from the Crocodile Bridge entrance, we noticed several vehicles tightly pulled into an overlook area. Of course, we had to stop to see what was going on.

This appeared to be the most common vulture we spotted, the white-backed vulture. From this site: “To watch the interaction of vultures at a kill is like witnessing the unbridled nature of food politics. The Shangaan proverb that translates as ‘where the vultures assemble, there is a kill’ refers to the fact that there is always a purpose in mind when people gather together. The White-backed Vulture is the most common in Kruger. There are approximately 2 000 pairs in the Park, concentrated mostly in the dry, lightly wooded grasslands of the east and mopane veld of the north. They are the most gregarious of vultures, often roosting in large communes where they sleep with their heads tucked under their wings. They often soar at great heights during the day and depend on either the Bateleur or other vultures to lead them to a kill.”

One’s hope in these situations that lions might be the reason for the gathering of vehicles. We hoped it was lions for us, who have yet to see lions while driving through Kruger but have experienced several sightings from Marloth Park overlooking the Crocodile River from this side of the fence.

Most photo safari participants long to see lions above all other wildlife in the massive national park, whether self-driven or in a guide-driven and assisted safari vehicle.

This vulture appeared to be a different species from the others shown.

Months ago, we let go of our burning desire to see lions in Kruger National Park since we’d seen them on the river, and we didn’t want our focus on lions to distract us from other wildlife we’ve thoroughly enjoyed sighting on our almost weekly visits to the park.

As we entered the tight overlook area, where no less than a dozen vehicles were crammed, we searched and searched for a lion, a kill, or a dying animal that may have attracted the many vultures in trees and hovering over the area, to no avail.

There was little information online to help us identify these vultures. Any comments would be appreciated! From this site: Vultures fight unashamedly over whatever scraps they can get, and when they descend on the proverbial trough, their grim determination is evident – these birds can consume a kilogram of meat in a minute and strip a carcass within hours.”

Tom used his trusty Swarovski binoculars while I searched with the viewfinder of the camera, scanning every inch of terrain which wasn’t obstructed by trees and bush.No luck. We didn’t see a thing other than the variety of vultures we’ve presented here today, most of which were sitting in trees rather than eating something on the ground.

Although months ago we purchased the Kruger Park Map & Guide with photos of most birds found in the park, including birds of prey, we couldn’t identify by name any of the specific vultures shown above other than the white-backed vulture.  

This vulture appears to be out of a scary movie or nightmare. From friend Ken (thanks, Ken!): This is the Hooded Vulture. They usually turn on the feast after the Lappet-faced or white-backed has torn into the carcass and had their fill. Details: 65 to 75cms high considered small in Vulture terms.The wingspan of 1.7 -1.8m. From this site: Physically, all vultures appear built for scavenging. They have strong, hooked beaks that can tear a carcass open, but unlike other birds of prey, their feet are not suited to catching live animals. The main exception appears to be the Hooded Vulture – as the smallest and most prone to being bullied off a carcass, it has diversified its diet to include termites and small animals such as lizards.”

If any of our worldwide readers are vulture enthusiasts, please send me an email from the link on the right side of our homepage under the “translate” button and let me know each species numbered them top to bottom, beginning with a photo #1. This would be greatly appreciated.

There’s no doubt. We often search for birds in our garden throughout Marloth Park on our almost daily drives and when visiting Kruger. However, we must admit, the bulk of acquired knowledge revolves around other types of wildlife.

Here in Africa, we love the sounds of various birds pecking in our bird feeder, the constant “trilling” sound of the helmeted guinea fowls, the squawking of hornbills, and of course, any sightings of the most peculiar and fascinating ostriches. 
Obviously, there had been a kill in the area where sighting these various vultures.

While living in Kauai, Hawaii, in 2015 for four months, we were literally obsessed with the nesting Laysan Albatross as shown in dozens of posts such as this one here. Also, during the extended stay on the island, we fell in love with a singing-for-nuts, red cardinal we aptly named “Birdie,” which can be found here.

Lately, our favorite birds have been francolins, Frank, and the Misses, who now respond when we call for them. In the meantime, the not-so-dumb guinea fowls come running when they hear me call for Frank, knowing birdseed is on the horizon.

Then, of course, there were hundreds of thousands of birds we saw while in Antarctica a mere six months ago. See this link for some of those stunning birds, including albatross and a wide array of penguin species.

We got as close as possible but could not see what had piqued the interest of all of these vultures. From this site: “Almost all the vultures in Africa are represented in Kruger, the main exception being the Lammergeyer, which is restricted to the Kwazulu-Natal Drakensberg, and the Palm-nut Vulture, which is found on the eastern seaboard (rarely seen in Kruger). The Park has thus become a vulture sanctuary, mainly because of the predator activity on the ground, and secondly because of poisoning in non-protected areas of southern Africa.”

We’re often dependent upon our friends Lynne and Mick from Marloth Park (now in the UK) and friend Louise in Kauai, Hawaii, to assist us in identifying birds, but we don’t like to take up too much of their time. If you can help, please do.

One thing for sure, wherever we may travel in the world, there are birds, and we’ll always enjoy sightings with opportunities to take photos when possible to share with all of our readers/friends.

Thank you for being on this journey with us! May your day provide you with opportunities to enjoy our flying, walking, and running aviary friends.

Photo from one year ago today, July 25, 2017:

One year ago, while in Las Vegas, I dinged the rental car. How I got it fixed was quite unusual. Click here for the details.

World travel friends inquire…Visa questions…

We took this photo on Volstruis Street. The word volstruis means ostrich in Afrikaans.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Wildebeest Willie and a friend, along with some warthogs at night.

Today, as late as it is, we’re rushing through the post to get it uploaded before 1700 hours (5:00 pm) when the evening’s festivities begin. As a result, there’s no rhyme or reason to today’s photos which include a bit of this and that.

Not only do they gravitate toward the river for food but also for water, where they drink, play, and swim.

We just returned from Kruger National Park for another fantastic day we’ll be sharing in tomorrow’s post, for which we’ll have plenty of time to prepare as opposed to today’s limited time frame.

Trying out a few of the camera techniques I learned from friend Ken, I still see that I have a long way to go.

Over this past almost six months in South Africa, we’ve become more and more interested in visiting Kruger, but it seems to make sense to arrive before noon resulting in our frequent late posting. 

If visitors arrive after midnight, it’s required to go into the building to access the park. This may result in a 30 minute or longer wait during busy days.

This photo better represents what I’ve been practicing. 

As it is, driving through the entrance booths can take as long as 10 or 15 minutes per vehicle. Once we cross the Crocodile Bridge, we’re anxious to get inside to begin our favorite route.

On another note, we can’t believe we’re leaving for our next visa run in a little over three weeks. Where did the time go? These 90 day periods we’re allowed to stay in South Africa are flying by so quickly. It’s undoubtedly frustrating we have to leave, but it’s the only solution we see available at this time.

Speaking of visas, a few minutes ago, we were talking on Skype with friends Lea Ann and Chuck, whom we met while on a cruise, Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Sea, from Sydney to Seattle. We’ve stayed in touch over these past many months.  They had visa-related and other questions to ask.

I’m not a “natural” photographer making it extremely difficult to learn all the nuances, but I’m determined to improve over time.

Soon, Lea Ann and Chuck will embark on their own world travel journey, and of course, they encountered some concerns about visas for specific situations. We suggested they contact one of the many visa processing companies for finite details.

But, we were able to give them an overview of a few situations we’ve encountered along the way, including our experience in being “illegal aliens” in Australia last year due to a closed-loop cruise.

A giraffe near two waterbucks.

For one of many posts describing our illegal alien status in Australia, please click here. Luckily, after considerable time and effort, we were able to work it all out and leave on the cruise where we met Lea Ann and Chuck on our way back to the US to see family.

In speaking with Lea Ann and Chuck, we’re reminded of how vast our experiences have been since 2012 and how grateful we are for every experience, good and bad. We’ve learned a lot from our mistakes and, on occasion, prided ourselves on good decisions we’ve made along the way.

We always enjoy watching elephants crossing a river or a road.

However, continuing to travel the world, which we’ll commence with even more mobility beginning next February, is always a “work in progress.” The learning, along with our personal growth as individuals and a couple, is an ongoing process.

Today, as we drove through Kruger for several hours, we relived many of the details of the early stages of our relationship. At that time, we were the most “unlikely” couple to succeed as anyone we’d ever known. Our differences were many.

The green grasses along the river are pleasing to the elephants.

And yet, here we are 27 years later, and we’ve decided we couldn’t have been better matched in general and for this extraordinary life we live. The likelihood of two people willing to live this life and doing so with love, respect, peace, and harmony is hard to envision.

A lone elephant across the river.

We wish Lea Ann and Chuck, another happy couple, the very best life together as they continue to plan their world travel adventures. We have no doubt they’ll be as content and fulfilled as we have been!

Happy day and evening to all!

Photo from one year ago today, July 24, 2017:

The heat and dust create a haze over the desert, often impeding views of the mountains.  For more photos, please click here.

A Sunday drive in the neighborhood…Pinch me, am I dreaming?…

This was one of our favorite sightings of the day, three giraffes drinking together on the Crocodile River.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

We’ve posted other photos of hornbills in our bird feeder, but we can’t ever get enough of these pretty birds.

After uploading the day’s post and busying myself making a special Sunday dinner, I suggested we go for our drive…in this case, a “Sunday drive.” I recall as a kid going for a drive on Sunday afternoons, and it was extraordinary. 

I grew up in Long Beach, California (except for two years in Boston). A Sunday drive usually consisted of visiting one of many exceptional beaches on the Pacific Coast Highway.

The above main photo is from a distance. 

When Tom was a child, typically, his family would drive from Minneapolis to Winsted, Minnesota (72 km, 45 miles) to visit family. It was often too cool to swim in the ocean in the winter months, but the drive and a stop for an ice cream cone were all it took to make the day special. He, too, had some great memories of those days.

Now, as we’ve aged and are “relatively” retired as world travelers, Sundays are just another pleasant day of the week, especially since we’ve re-instituted our old-fashioned Sunday drive.

Giraffes rarely bend over to the ground other than for drinking. They are highly vulnerable to predators in this position.

However, a Sunday drive in Marloth Park is like none other anywhere else in the world. As always, Tom washed the little car’s windows since, at times, sightings occur in front of us on the road, and we have no choice but to take photos through the windscreen (windshield in the US).

A wildlife wonderland.

We load a newly charged battery in the camera, clean the camera lens with a soft cloth and pack an extra battery in Tom’s pants pocket. We fill our mugs with iced tea, Crystal Lite for Tom, and green tea with cinnamon for me, and we’re off.

Over the past 5½ months, we’ve learned to keep our expectations in check. On occasion, we may see little more than helmeted guinea fowls (of which we have dozens in our garden), impalas, and a variety of baboons and Vervet monkeys.

Zooming in on this “obstinancy” of cape buffaloes, we see where they got this plural name. They certainly do appear obstinate and, in fact, are referred to as the “Black Death” based on the number of people they kill each year.

For first-time visitors seeing the above could be most satisfying. But, now, after a total of 8½ months in Marloth Park, including our prior three months in 2013/2014, impalas, although adorable, guinea fowls and monkeys are seldom subjects of photos unless something is exciting transpiring.

As for baboons, which are destructive and may be dangerous, we have no interest in them at all, preferring to stay away as much as possible. The exception may be if a large troupe came to the garden for a possible photo op. Of course, it’s imperative not to feed them, or they’ll never go away.

In this distant photo, it appeared the many cape buffaloes were piled atop one another.  They do stay close to one another when lounging…safety in numbers.

As for the rest of the wildlife, we’re interested in it all, from the unusual insects to tiny frogs to the massive elephants. I suppose most of the residents in Marloth Park feel the same, except we noticed the next-door neighbors feeding the Vervet monkeys over the weekend. 

They leave for their other home, and then we’re left with the monkeys pestering us. We cannot stress enough how destructive they can be. They can literally destroy every item on a veranda or the inside a house in a matter of minutes.

Elephants are always an exciting sighting.

Side note:  a few minutes ago, a hornbill was sitting on a tree limb squawking at us.  Tom checked and found the birdfeeder almost empty of bird seeds. He refilled it, and moments later, the hornbill was back inside the feeder as content as she could be, with several following her. That precipitated today’s “sighting of the day” photo above.

We began the Sunday drive around 1330 hours (1:30 pm) and never made it back “home” until almost 1600 hours (4:00 pm).  What a day we had while merely on a Sunday drive through Marloth Park, mainly focusing on activity on the river.

As we ended our drive along the river road, we spotted elephants close to the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park. This was a first for us, but Kathy and Don’s friends who live on the river road told us this occurs occasionally.

The areas around the bush houses had few animals since many holidaymakers were still here spending a long weekend or more. But, once we reached the river, the sightings were over-the-top. 

We’d drive a short distance with our eyes peeled toward the river, see something, park the little car on the road to walk through the dense bush at times. I was wearing jeans and socks, but Tom was in shorts, scratching up his legs in the process. 

Wildebeests and zebras visiting holidaymakers. They had a small bag of pellets that tourists often buy when they are here for a weekend or longer stay. 

Some indigenous and invasive plants can cause a nasty rash, infection, or even serious injury, so I always make sure my legs are covered. We’d recently read of a woman who died (in another area in South Africa) by a neurotoxin in a plant that had scratched her leg while walking in the bush. 

One can’t be too careful. Next time, he’ll wear long pants. Also, it’s important to wear insect repellent since we aren’t taking malaria pills this year in Africa except for our visa trips to Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe.

There were giraffes munching on trees in Marloth Park and more drinking on the river.

Anyway, the day was outstanding! We spotted more wildlife in this short period of time than we’d ever seen in Kruger during the same period. It kept coming and coming. Each time we thought we were done for the day, we encountered more sightings. 

Back at our holiday home, a few animals were waiting for us, Ms. Bushbuck and Little Wart Face. We gave them each a little pile of pellets and vegetables in separate areas so LWF wouldn’t chase her away. They happily munch on their treats, both returning in the evening for yet another round.

Yesterday, we saw no less than 100 cape buffaloes at the Crocodile River.

Today, we’ll lay low, enjoying yet another hot and sunny day at 25C (77F) while situated on the veranda, as usual, contemplating our next trip to Kruger and drive in Marloth Park. Of course, we won’t be waiting until next Sunday for either.

Have a warm and sunny day!

Photo from one year ago today, July 23, 2017:

The lights on the Strip at night are always impressive. It’s hard to believe it was a year ago we were in Las Vegas spending this fun evening, among many others, with son Richard and friends. For more photos, please click here.

Lions lounging…Anticipation…Dangerous small antelope…

Difficult to distinguish in this photo. Two male lions are sleeping.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

With the male bushbuck in the yard munching on pellets, this female hid in the bush until he left.

After a pleasant evening out to dinner with friends, we were home shortly after 2200 hours (10:00 pm). I couldn’t fall asleep when I went to bed at least an hour before Tom for some odd reason.

Tom spotted this lion napping across the Crocodile River as we peered through the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger.

Finally, by midnight, I dozed off, only to awaken every hour or so. By morning, I hadn’t slept for more than three or four hours, asking myself what possibly could have caused the poor night’s sleep. Nothing had changed. I hadn’t had any caffeine or eaten anything that would precipitate such a stormy night.

He was at quiet a distance, making me struggle to hold the camera steady for these shots.

Subsequently, I was relatively pooped when I began today’s post, a little later than usual after I’d made breakfast (Tom did the dishes), did laundry (Tom hung it on the clothesline), and prepared the majority of tonight’s dinner. 

I was dozing off sitting at the big table on the veranda on a gorgeous warm sunny day. By 10:30 am, I headed back to bed (an infrequent occurrence for me) to try for a short nap.

Male bushbuck can be dangerous with their sharp horns.  See this article where a farmer was gored to death by a male bushbuck.

After spending an hour and a half in the bedroom, sleeping only about 20 minutes, I felt considerably better and returned outdoors to Tom, who’d stayed in place at the table while I was trying to nap.

Somewhat refreshed, I knew I’d better get going on today’s post, or I’d be sitting here all day. On this gorgeous day, we’d like to do our usual drive in the park, especially after what we’d seen two days ago when we stopped along the river road and walked through the dense bush to get to the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park.

Tourists should not hand feed any animals with horns. 

We’d spotted several vehicles parked on the narrow road and a dozen or so people armed with binoculars and cameras looking across the Crocodile River. We love it when others find incredible sightings, and we follow suit.

The sky changed dramatically while we were in Kruger a few days ago.

But, this is not as easy as you’d think. The terrain and the color of the lions are an identical match, and bringing them into view on a camera is often tricky. Others who’ve spotted them will often say, “Oh, they are near that big bush, next to the tree.”

There are dozens of big bushes and trees on the opposite side of the distant bank of the river. We’ve often seen people leaving in total frustration when they couldn’t see them after trying for an hour or more.

Female bushbuck were preparing for a drink in the cement pond.

As all of our readers so well know, we’re stubborn and determined and will try and try until we get it right. Why is it worth it to go through the angst of trying to get the wildlife in the camera’s lens for such a distant shot?

Tom says it’s like fishing. You sit. You wait. Nothing happens. Time passes slowly. Finally, you catch a fish, only to take a photo, carefully remove the hook from the fish’s mouth and toss it back in the lake, the river, or the sea.

Sugar cane burning at a distance.

Go figure. What’s with us humans? Why do we get such pleasure out of this? The only answer we can come up with is this: ANTICIPATION! It’s a magical thing.

The burning of sugar cane fields is almost daily, often leaving our white tiled veranda covered in soot based on wind conditions.

We’re reminded of Carly Simon’s famous song, found here as we say this word aloud. Yes, it’s anticipation that drives us to make the weekly run to Kruger, the almost daily drive in Marloth Park, and to sit on the veranda when we’re not doing either and wait, morning, noon and night.

A bloat of hippos.

The funny thing about anticipation is that one must occasionally experience “results,” or the interest would fade away in time. Here, in South Africa, in this unusual place, we’re rewarded with results over and over again.

May anticipation bring you the results you’re seeking today and always!  

Photo from one year ago today, July 22, 2017:

As always, we had a great evening at The Elephant Bar with friends while we were in Las Vegas, Nevada, last year at this time. For more photos, please click here.