It’s great to have our human, and animal friends back in the bush…

Kudus stopped by for pellets at sundowner time.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 1 wildebeest
  • 16 warthogs
  • 17 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 12 bushbuck
  • 2  kudus
  • 1  duiker
  • Frank & The Misses (francolins)
  • A hornbill pecking at the seed container while on the veranda side railing.

A few minutes ago, there were eight bushbucks in the garden. Unfortunately, Mom & Babies (2), the only warthogs that annoy us, heard Tom toss pellets and they chased all the bushbucks away. This particular mom has a nasty personality and she  scares off Tiny and Little and other warthogs, large and small, when they see her.

Bushbucks, gentle and non-combative antelopes, compete for pellets with the larger animals. At times, kudus and impalas will share with bushbucks but not wildebeest and warthogs. The pecking order is easily evident in the bush. We’re always trying to figure out ways to feed the bushbucks without problems from the other animals.

Two young hornbills on the ground by the veranda.

Some locals use a raised trough to feed the various animals, to avoid the pigs from scaring them off. But, as mentioned in past posts, using a trough is dangerous for the animals, a breeding group of disease, including tuberculosis, which seems less prevalent in the bush right now as it was when we were here in 2018.

With the busy weekend over and tourists leaving the park, we’re seeing many more animals this morning. It’s a great start to the week. Speaking of “great starts to the week,” our dear friends Rita and Gerhard arrived as planned yesterday and the four of us met at 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs, at Jabula for dinner. It couldn’t have been more fun to see them. The conversation ran smoothly as if we had been together recently.

A hornbill at the bushbaby house.

It has been over two years since they left Marloth Park earlier than planned to return to the US when a close friend had passed away. We were so used to socializing with them, it was sad to see them go away but we understood. Having them here, maybe for the next few months, is such a joy. In the coming months, our dear friends Kathy and Don will also return after a two-year hiatus as a result of COVID-19.

As the winter progresses here (the opposite season in the northern hemisphere), more and more of our mutual friends, most of whom we met through Kathy and Don, will also return to the park, providing that new lockdown measures don’t impact flights coming to South Africa.

Walter, William and Willard in the garden.

At the moment, the news is reporting a third wave of Covid-19 which could easily impact travel to and from the country. Of course, we’re not wishing for more Covid in South Africa with very few having had vaccinations yet. Of course, we don’t want to see more cases of COVID-19 in South Africa, with very few having ever been vaccinated. We can only wait and see.

Last night, we all enjoyed our dinners, with lively conversation. We had been in contact through WhatsApp for a few years, so it was as if we hadn’t been separated at all. Rita and I have a special sister-like kinship and we couldn’t have been happier to be together once again. Of course, Tom and Gerhard had no lulls in the conversation either when the four of us sat at the bar before dinner.

Other locals joined in on some of our conversations, making the evening all the more memorable. We are so blessed and grateful to be in Marloth Park among our human and animal friends. No complaints here.

Have a fantastic Monday!

Photo from one year ago today, May 17, 2021:

A Belted Galloway cow. From this site: “Belted Galloway cattle originated from western Scotland, a region whose weather is strikingly similar to Ireland’s own damp climate! This makes Belted Galloways perfectly suitable to the wet, cold winters and the boggy soft terrain of Irish farms. Their long, curly outer-coat is ideal for rainy weather, as its coarseness deflects moisture from the animal’s skin. They also have a soft undercoat to keep them warm in colder temperatures. The head of the Belted Galloway has long hair around its ears, preventing frostbite in a case of an extreme Irish freeze. Common nicknames for these cattle are ‘Belties’ or even ‘Oreo Cows’ due to their peculiar resemblance to the popular treat!” For more photos from the year-ago post, please click here.

Zebra day!…A delightful visit by nine of these wonderful animals…

A little cuddle among the dazzle of zebras.

Almost daily, warthogs, bushbucks, kudus, mongoose, francolins and other birds stop by for a visit. However, zebras are less frequent visitors. Since arriving here over 3½ months ago, zebras have only graced us with their presence on two occasions. Yesterday, was one of those occasions and we couldn’t have been more thrilled.

When Tom happened to look out the kitchen window, he saw the zebras in the driveway. He tossed them some pellets. In no time at all, they came around to the back garden.

From this site, here are 25 amazing facts about zebras:

“Zebras are one of the many beautiful creatures inhabiting Africa. Many people know them for their iconic stripes and the never ending riddle about them being black with white stripes, or white with black stripes.

Here are a handful of facts you might or might not know about these striped horses.

  1. The zebra is actually mostly covered in white and striped with black or dark brown stripes, but underneath their coat is black skin.
  2. There are different types of zebra, each with a different stripe pattern. The mountain zebra normally has vertical stripes on its neck and across its torso while horizontal strips cover their legs.
  3. Zebras run in a zig-zag pattern when being chased by a predator making it more difficult for the predator to run after them.
  4. The pattern of a zebras stripes is different for each individual zebra, making them each as unique snowflakes!
  5. The black & white striped pattern of their coats is a good bug repellant, keeping horseflies and other bloodsuckers at bay.
  6. A group of zebras is called a ‘zeal” or “dazzle.”

    It was fun to see two zebras drinking simultaneously.

  7. The Native American culture refers to the zebra as a symbol of balance and sureness of the path.
  8. The Swahili name for the zebra is ‘Punda Milia’.
  9. Romans used Grévy’s zebras to pull two wheeled carts for their circuses.
  10. In Roman Circuses the zebra was usually called a ‘Tiger-Horse’ or a ‘Horse-Tiger’.
  11. When faced by predators, zebras will form a semi-circle and bit, nip or attack the predators if they come too close to them. They will also encircle an injured family member to protect it from further attack if the need arises.
  12. A mother zebra will keep her foal away from all other zebras for two or three days until the foal can recognize her scent, voice, and appearance.

    There were nine zebras in the garden, staying for over an hour.

  13. Zebras form hierarchies with a Stallion (male) in the lead, followed by his Harem (group of females) behind him.
  14. When traveling with his harem, the stallion will lead them with his head low and his ears laid back.
  15. Zebra’s bunch together to confuse colorblind predators, such as lions, which mistake the pattern as grass.
  16. Zebras are one of the few mammals that we believe can see in color.
  17. Zebras are actually pretty short and can be 3.5-5 feet tall.
  18. The Grévy’s zebra is named after Jules Grévy, president of France (in 1882) who received a zebra as a present from the emperor of Abyssinia.
  19. Another name for Grévy’s Zebras are Imperial Zebras.
  20. A zebra can run up to 65 km/h or 40 mph.
  21. To sleep, generally zebras don’t lie down – instead they usually sleep standing up.

    We’re so enjoying seeing wildlife drinking from the bird bath where we continue to add fresh water.

  22. Zebras can rotate their ears in almost any direction; this ability is used to communicate their mood with other zebras.
  23. Zebras have one toe on each foot.
  24. Zebras cannot see the color orange.
  25. A species of zebra are called ‘Asinus Burchelli’ after a conflict between William John Burchell and John Edward Gray sparked. Burchell brought specimens from Africa to The British Museum and the specimens died. Gray felt the need to Embarrass Burchell because of the incident; the name means “Burchelli’s Ass”.”

    They drink from the top section and often drop down and drink from the bottom section as well.

We’ve researched a number of facts about zebras over the years and each source provides new and interesting information about these stunning animals.

The sounds of their hooves pounding on the ground, the whinnying amongst themselves over pellets and jockeying for position in the garden leaves us smiling over their demeanor, rambunctious and determined. Each time we drive on Olifant Road, the only paved road in Marloth Park, we are in awe, when spotting them at the side of the road or crossing.

They waited in a queue, taking turns drinking the fresh water.

We seldom see a solitary zebra. They are social animals who travel together covering many kilometers in a single day. Even here in Marloth Park, which is only 3000 hectares, 6.7 square miles, they find plenty of space to wander, whether it’s in the parklands or in the sparsely occupied residential areas, zebras may be found running fast together, or casually grazing on the grass and vegetation.

Residents of Marloth Park certainly appreciate the zebras offering them carrots, apples and pellets when they stop by for a visit.

At this point, we haven’t been offering apples and carrots, but once the winter comes, when the vegetation is sparse, we’ll begin offering these to our friendly visitors.

They were busy eating pellets for quite some time.

Today, we’ll be working on some research for the future and afterward head over to Louise and Danie‘s Info Centre for a short visit. The school holiday period has ended and now, they have more time for a little social interaction. It will be good to see them once again.

If all goes as planned over the next 24 hours, we’ll be off to Kruger National Park tomorrow for a much desired self drive, hopefully returning with many good photos to share here.

A pretty female profile.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, May 3 2020:

A fish eagle, one of the most prolific eagles in Kruger National Park. For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic night in the bush…A human and animal kind of night…

Big Daddy lurking in the bush staring at the females.

Last evening when friends Alan and Fiona stopped by for sundowners, we all experienced a night we’ll always remember. Not only was the conversation, wine, cocktails, and food freely flowing, but we were all “gifted” with visits by dozens of wildlife. They came, not only before sunset, but once it was dark, when we turned on the garden light, one species after another graced us with their presence.

Lots of zebra butts facing us this morning as they clamored over the pellets Tom tossed into the garden.

It was as if we’d arranged this menagerie for our guests and none of us could take our eyes off the garden. Amid all the enjoyment of seeing so many wild animals, the conversation flowed with ease and good humor. Tom and I joked that the word got out that we currently have five remaining 40 kg, 88 pounds, bags of pellets in a corner in the second bedroom.

It’s not natural for kudus to bend over to eat when they’re used to eating vegetation on trees. But, they do bend for the pellets.

Then, again this morning, even more, came to call including wildebeests (gnus), zebras, bushbucks, warthogs, kudus, including one Big Daddy (the first we’ve had visit) who’d somehow managed to maneuver his way through the dense bush to make his way to our garden.

As I write this now, the Big Daddy stands tall in his majestic wonder as shown in today’s photos. To us, there’s no animal living in Marloth Park that commands more reverence and respect than these special massive males. Sadly, on occasion, a foolhardy tourist will not respect their strength and girth and may become injured when getting too close.

One of the two wildebeest hung around with us all evening, well after dark.

Recently, we posted a video we’d seen on Facebook where a man actually touched the head of a Big Daddy, which resulted in an injury to the man’s face. We were appalled by how idiotic the man was to actually think he could “pet” the massive animal. We never touch any of the wildlife nor do we hand-feed any of them.

See the Facebook link here:

The second wildebeest that hung around last night and returned again this morning.

As it turned out, Alan and Fiona stayed until 11:00 pm, 2300 hours, when suddenly we all realized how late it was. A highlight of the evening we all especially savored was when on four occasions, we heard Dezi and Fluffy roaring in Lionspruit. What a fantastic sound!

The evening flew by. Shortly after they left and we were situated in bed with our laptops, I got to work to complete the day’s corrections I’d never finished during the day.  It wasn’t until after midnight that I finally gave up and decided to finish the task this morning.

It was almost dark when we took this photo.

Well, this morning with six zebras, four warthogs, two bushbucks, and the returning two wildebeest from last night, it took me a while to finally get to the remaining corrections from yesterday. Now I am caught up and can get to work on today’s 10 posts before the day’s end.

Today will be an easy day. I’ve already done two loads of laundry and prepared a few items for tonight’s dinner, a well-seasoned chicken flattie to be cooked on the braai. Most flatties are already seasoned with some spices we don’t use in our way of eating. Soon, I’ll soak the chicken in purified water in the big metal bowl to remove all those spices off and then re-season it to our liking.

Such a handsome male kudu.

Tomorrow, we’ll make the second flattie implementing the same process, when we didn’t have room in the small freezer for either of the flatties. Today is yet another gorgeous day, cool and slightly overcast. We are loving every moment of this cool weather.

Enjoy today’s photos along with us. Happy day to all.

Photo from one year ago today, April 21, 2020:

Taking photos through the fence in Marloth Park was tricky, so we got what shots we could.  At times, we were pleasantly surprised at the finished product. For more photos, reposted, one year ago, please click here.

Will today be a good day for sightseeing?…The consumption of animal products…

The first animal we encountered in the paddock was pigs.  As our readers know, I love pigs.  However, as cute as they are, they can’t match the appeal of a handsome warthog.

Fascinating Fact of the Day About St. Teath, Cornwall*:

From this site: “The village has an interesting history. St Tetha (from whom this village acquired its name) came over from Wales, with her sisters, to this area of Cornwall to bring Christianity to those living here. Since then the village has seen much change with the rise and fall of both mining and the railway. There is plenty of evidence of both around the area.  The oldest part of the village surrounds the village square – the focal point of the annual summer carnival, Remembrance day, Christmas lights and New Year Celebrations.”

So far this morning the sun is shining but we’re noticing dark clouds rolling in.  If it doesn’t rain, in a few hours we’ll be on the road to go sightseeing.  Taking photos on rainy days has become a source of frustration for me and I am determined to attempt to avoid adding rainy day photos to our inventory.  
We were especially enthused to see the pygmy goats.  Unfortunately, the grass was too mushy and wet for us to get closer for better photos.
Yesterday, as I’d promised myself, I finished our 2018 tax prep and forwarded the documents and worksheet to our accountant in Nevada. It was a tedious task but somehow I managed to get through it when I already had a considerable amount of the information in place, ready to be entered into the form.  What a sense of relief that was!
Adorable pygmy goat “baaaahing” at us as we admired him.
Now we wait to hear from the accountant with questions.  Most likely, we’ll chat with him in the next week and wrap this up, putting it behind us.  We have until October 15th to file the return electronically, which he’ll handle for us.

A few mornings ago, after a rainy night, we decided to explore the various paddocks to see the farm animals.  It was lightly misting and still quite cloudy but we couldn’t have been more pleased. 
Beyond this bush are two wind turbines which are prevalent in England.
After a lengthy walk in thick grass, we had to wash our shoes, leaving them outdoors to dry when the sun finally peeked out.  The shoes I wear most days when we’re going out, are actually water shoes.  

With only five pairs of shoes, I can’t take the risk of ruining a pair in rainy weather making water shoes perfect for our travels. They are ideal on rainy days and yet, are outrageously comfortable.  Tom’s tennis shoes were also a mess but he waited until the grass dried and then brushed off the grass using a dustpan brush.  
The countryside beyond the farm is comparable to a patchwork quilt with varying shapes and colors.
As we walked through the paddocks, we realized we’ll have to ask the owners, Lorraine or Graham to escort us so we can take better photos on the next sunny day.  Surely, over the next 10 days, it will be sunny once or twice.
Geese and ducks co-habitat peacefully in a paddock.
Not only do we love African animals but we are also drawn to barnyard animals who have a special charm of their own.  Sadly, some of the animals we saw here will eventually be slaughtered.  I doubt the goats or, the ducks and geese, which are kept for their eggs, will be subject to that dreadful fate.

Yesterday, I wrote about how we eat meat, chicken, and pork and yet here we are having angst about slaughtering animals.  Isn’t that hypocritical?  I suppose some would say it is.  But, the reality remains…we have emotions about this topic.
More beautiful scenery as seen from the farm.
Unfortunately, I can’t be a vegetarian/vegan based on my strict diet nor would Tom, who doesn’t eat vegetables or fruit.  The way I justify this is my mind, which I must do to make peace with it, is the concept that God, a higher power or whatever your beliefs, created an environment with a “pecking order.”  
Every morning and also during the day we hear the roosters crowing.  It reminds us of living in Kauai where there are thousands of feral chickens.
As a result, readily available protein sources (necessary for life itself) is provided to each creature on the planet, including humans.  Living in Africa for two years during the past seven years, placed us in a position of accepting the hard facts about the animal hunt and subsequent consumption of the captured source of food.

No, I won’t get further into a philosophical view of whether or not to consume animal products.  We each have our own reasons, rationalizations, and dietary needs.
The last time we had access to a clothes dryer was in Costa Rica over two years ago.  What a treat!  Our clothes were washed and dried in a mere two hours, compared to a day or two of hanging them in humid weather.
Now, as I wrap this up, we’re watching the weather to see if today will be a good day for a road trip.  

Have an excellent day filled with wonderful surprises!
Photo from one year ago today, September 10, 2018:
Check out those long eyelashes.  For more photos, please click here.

Cow day!…The simple pleasures of barnyard animals…

Note the different sizes of her horns.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland” 

“While Guinness
will always be Ireland’s most famous drink, more of the black stuff is consumed
each year in Nigeria than it is back home in Ireland. In fact, the Brits are
the largest consumers of Guinness, followed by Nigerians, leaving Ireland in
third place!”

From this site with Ireland’s livestock stats.

Livestock Survey 
December 2018 

Add 000’s to the following totals (for millions):

   Cattle  Pigs Sheep
2017 6,673.6 1,616.4 3,981.8
2018 6,593.5 1,572.2 3,743.5
% change -1.2 -2.7 -6.0

Many females of certain breeds have horns.

Without a doubt, our readers are well aware we have an infinity toward wildlife and domesticated animals.  In our “old” lives we had plenty of daily interactions not only with our own dogs but also the neighborhood dogs.  On a private road, there was no enforcement of leash laws and our dogs roamed freely visiting neighbors along the road.

Living on a lake in Minnesota also provided us with frequent wildlife sightings including heron, geese, eagles, wood ducks, loons and many other varieties of birds.  It was truly a bird watcher’s paradise.  

This short rock wall borders the holiday home’s garden.  We saw something move to realized several cattle were very close to us.

In addition, we could count on seeing coyotes and foxes, mostly in the winter when they could walk across the frozen lake looking for “little dog lunch.” Also, in the spring, on occasion, we’d see a moose swimming across the lake.  

The photo ops were outstanding.  At the time, neither of us could take a decent photo, although we had a digital camera.  At the time, neither of us would know that we’d have loved to look back at photos of wildlife, let alone the photos of those we love.  

I was a little too far for using flash when it was almost dark as I took this photo from the living room window.

When a family event was underway someone always yelled out, “take a photo” and we’d all turn and look at one another trying to see if anyone “bit” on the concept.  Seldom was the case.  If only we had photos of those events.  Sure we have a few hundred photos stored on a cloud, but nothing like we have now, thousands of photos each year from our everyday lives of world travel.

We didn’t start taking photos of our travels until we were a few months into it, realizing using our smartphones wouldn’t be satisfactory for our posts.  Over the past almost seven years, we learned a little but never enough. 

This cow was busy grazing in the side yard but picked up her head when we drove toward the main road from the driveway.

From time to time when the lighting isn’t ideal, we struggle to get good shots.  It could be us, it could be our cameras…most likely it’s us.  Thus, we apologize for the lack of clarity in some of today’s photos taken when it was almost dark.  The photo opp happened so quickly we had no time to change the settings on the camera.

Now, in the lush green of Ireland’s summer, we’re thrilled to be able to see barnyard animals and livestock.  After all, 15 months in Marloth Park is hard to beat when at any given moment we had amazing animals standing at the edge of the veranda.

Mom and baby.

A few nights ago we were reminded of Marloth Park when we saw movement outside our living room window.  We jumped up simultaneously, each grabbing a camera, hoping for some good shots.

Alas, as late as it was, close to 2200 hours, 10:00 pm, we were pushing our luck.  As the days are getting shorter since the summer solstice on June 21st, it’s still light here, at least to some degree, between the hours of 5:00 am and 2230 hours, 10:30 pm.  

This morning I awoke at 4:30 am, still needing more sleep, realizing our sleeping problems most likely are a result of too much light in the bedroom with the thin draperies.  Luckily by 6:00 am, I fell back to sleep for a few more hours.

This photo was taken in the evening before the sun fully set.

Thus, when the cows were near the house, although it was still light, our photo taking was marginal at best.  The remainder of the photos were taken during daylight hours albeit with a heavy cloud cover.  Today, it started out sunny but now the dark clouds are rolling in from the sea.  This is common for Ireland.  

Regardless of the weather, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the cattle, sheep, donkeys, horses and occasional pigs we’ve seen while driving on the narrow winding roads.  It seems the cattle and the sheep are most prevalent which, as you can see above, the numbers are obvious.

Soon, when we depart for Amsterdam, it’s unlikely we’ll have many opportunities to take wildlife photos.  We’ll be staying in the city for two nights, taking photos of a different kind of wildlife!  It should be fun.

May your weekend be filled with many wonderful surprises!


Photo from one year ago today, July 20, 2018:

Hippos resting on a sandbar on the Sabie River.  Note the number of oxpeckers on the hippos hides!  For more Kruger photos please click here.

The “Little Five Game” animals…Hard to find…Interesting to see…

A rhino beetle we found on the veranda on Thursday.  They are harmless to humans and don’t bite.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Basket, the Bully, appeared with a terrible injury to his right ear, most likely as a result of a fight with another warthog.

A few nights ago while Linda, Ken, and Tom and I lounged on the veranda after dinner we joyfully spotted what we thought was a dung beetle.  In fact, we were even more excited when we realized it was harder to spot, rhino beetle.  We couldn’t have been more thrilled to see and handle this amazing little creature, a member of Africa’s “Little Five Game.

Unfortunately, we’ve only spotted two of the little five during our past year in the bush which are shown in today’s included photos as indicated.  But in our remaining 26 days in Marloth Park, we’ll be keeping an eye out for the other three little creatures in this select group, hoping to round out this experience.

In any case, we wanted to share with our readers, exactly what is construed as the Little or Small Five, as an adjunct to the familiar and popular Big Five so enthusiastically sought by visitors and locals to national parks and game reserves throughout Africa.

Today we’ll start with a description of the Elephant shrew and continue on from there, ending with our favorite, the infamous rhino beetle which joined us after dinner on Thursday evening.

A considerable portion of the text has been added from this site.  

“In Africa, the little five game animals are:  The term “little five” was brought to life after the marketing success of the big five for tourist safaris in Southern Africa. This prompted a call by nature conservationists for visitors to acknowledge the smaller — less noticed — but still enigmatic, animals of the savanna (callebushveld in South Africa).

The “little five” species are a contrast in terms of sheer relative size to the animals which 
they share a part of their English name with the more well known “big five”.

The”Little or Small Five game” consist of the following animals:
This is an elephant shrew. (Not our photo).

Elephant shrew: a small, insect-eating mammal with a long nose. Elephant shrews are very common in Southern Africa but seldom seen. Elephant shrews also called jumping shrews or sengis, are small insectivorous mammals native to Africa, belonging to the family Macroscelididae, in the order Macroscelidea. Their traditional common English name “elephant shrew” comes from a fancied resemblance between their long noses and the trunk of an elephant, and their superficial similarity with shrews (family Soricidae) in the order Eulipotyphla. However, phylogenetic analysis revealed that elephant shrews are not classified with true shrews, but is, in fact, more closely related to elephants than shrews. In 1997 the biologist Jonathan Kingdon proposed that they instead are called “sengis” (singular sengi), a term derived from the Bantu languages of Africa, and in 1998 they were classified into the new clade Afrotheria. They are widely distributed across the southern part of Africa, and although common nowhere, can be found in almost any type of habitat, from the Namib Desert to boulder-strewn outcrops in South Africa to thick forest. One species, the North African elephant shrew, remains in the semiarid, mountainous country in the far northwest of the continent.  The creature is one of the fastest small mammals, having been recorded to reach speeds of 28.8 kilometres per hour (17.9 mph).

Red-billed buffalo weaver. (Not out photo).

Buffalo weaver:  The body length of approximately 24 cm and the weight of 65 g place rank this as one of the largest of the Ploceidae (weaver birds). Visually the sexes are not greatly differentiated from one another. The red-billed buffalo weaver is differentiated from the white-billed buffalo weaver (Bubalornis albirostris) by the color of its bill.  The feathers of the male are dark chocolate brown in color. The front wing edges and the wing tips are flecked with white. His bill is a shade of red. The eyes are brown and the feet are reddish brown. The female’s body is also colored dark chocolate brown, without the white flecks on the wings. However, her chin and throat feathers include broad white colored hems. Her eyes are dark brown and her legs light brown. Adolescent birds are a lighter shade of brown. The diet of the red-billed buffalo weaver consists primarily of insects, seed and fruit. Particular insects the bird feeds on include crickets, locusts, grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, weevils, wasps, bees, ants, flies, and spiders. Its diet also includes scorpions. Most of these food sources are located in the soil or in low vegetation. As a result, the red-billed buffalo weaver does most of its foraging on the ground. Climate changes have not significantly affected the abundance of prey for the bird.  These birds tend to live in dry savannahs and sparse woodlands. They prefer areas usually disturbed by humans and livestock. In fact, if people living in the community, with a population of red-billed buffalo weavers leave, the birds often depart as well. Thus, at places continue to be urbanized, these birds find more homes. Additionally, overpopulation does not tend to be a problem for the red-billed buffalo weaver seeing as they live in colonies.

This is our photo of a leopard tortoise we spotted in Kruger, shown in this post.

Leopard tortoise:  The leopard tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis) is a large and attractively marked tortoise found in the savannas of eastern and southern Africa, from Sudan to the southern Cape. It is the only member of the genus Stigmochelys, although in the past it was commonly placed in Geochelone.  This tortoise is a grazing species that favors semi-arid, thorny to grassland habitats. In both very hot and very cold weather, they may dwell in abandoned fox, jackal, or aardvark holes. Leopard tortoises do not dig other than to make nests in which to lay eggs. Given its propensity for grassland habitats, it grazes extensively upon mixed grasses. It also favors succulents and thistles. The phylogenic placement of the leopard tortoise has been subject to several revisions. Different authors have placed it in Geochelone (1957), Stigmochelys (2001), Centrochelys (2002), and Psammobates (2006). More recently, consensus appears to have settled on Stigmochelys, a monotypic genus.  There has been considerable debate about the existence of two subspecies, but recent work does not support this distinction.  “Stigmochelys is a combination of Greek words: stigma meaning “mark” or “point”* and chelone meaning “tortoise”. The specific name pardalis is from the Latin word Pardus meaning “leopard” and refers to the leopard-like spots on the tortoise’s shell. The leopard tortoise is the fourth largest species of tortoise in the world, with typical adults reaching 40 centimetres (16 in) and weighing 13 kilograms (29 lb). Adults tend to be larger in the northern and southern ends of their range, where typical specimens weigh up to 20 kilograms (44 lb) and an exceptionally large tortoise may reach 70 centimetres (28 in) and weigh 40 kilograms (88 lb). The carapace is high and domed with steep, almost vertical sides. Juveniles and young adults are attractively marked with black blotches, spots or even dashes and stripes on a yellow background. In mature adults, the markings tend to fade to a nondescript brown or gray. The head and limbs are uniformly colored yellow, tan, or brown.

This is an antlion.  (Not our photo).

Antlion:  The antlions are a group of about 2,000 species of insect in the family Myrmeleontidae, known for the fiercely predatory habits of their larvae, which in many species dig pits to trap passing ants or other prey. The adult insects are less well known, as they mostly fly at dusk or after dark, and may be mistakenly identified as dragonflies or damselflies; they are sometimes known as antlion lacewings, and in North America, the larvae are sometimes referred to as doodlebugs because of the strange marks they leave in the sand.  Antlions have a worldwide distribution. The greatest diversity occurs in the tropics, but a few species are found in cold-temperate locations, one such being the European Euroleon nostras. They most commonly occur in dry and sandy habitats where the larvae can easily excavate their pits, but some larvae hide under debris or ambush their prey among leaf litter.  Antlions are poorly represented in the fossil record. Myrmeleontiformia is generally accepted to be a monophyletic group, and within the Myrmeleontoidea, the antlions closest living relatives are thought to be the owlflies (Ascalaphidae). The predatory actions of the larvae have attracted attention throughout history, and antlions have been mentioned in literature since classical times.

This is our photo of a rhino beetle.  See info below.

Rhino beetle:  Dynastinae or rhinoceros beetles are a subfamily of the scarab beetle family (Scarabaeidae). Other common names – some for particular groups of rhinoceros beetles – include Hercules beetles, unicorn beetles or horn beetles. Over 300 species of rhinoceros beetles are known.  Many rhinoceros beetles are well known for their unique shapes and larger sizes. Some famous species are, for example, the Atlas beetle (Chalcosoma atlas), common rhinoceros beetle (Xylotrupes ulysses), elephant beetle (Megasoma elephas), European rhinoceros beetle.  (Oryctes nasicornis), Hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules), Japanese rhinoceros beetle or kabutomushi (Allomyrina dichotoma), ox beetle (Strategus aloeus) and the Eastern Hercules beetle (Dynastes tityus). The Dynastinae are among the largest of beetles, reaching more than 150 mm (6 in) in length, but are completely harmless to humans because they cannot bite or sting. Some species have been anecdotally claimed to lift up to 850 times their own weight. Their common names refer to the characteristic horns borne only by the males of most species in the group. Each has a horn on the head and another horn pointing forward from the center of the thorax. The horns are used in fighting other males during mating season, and for digging. The size of the horn is a good indicator of nutrition and physical health. The Dynastinae are among the largest of beetles, reaching more than 150 mm (6 in) in length, but are completely harmless to humans because they cannot bite or sting. Some species have been anecdotally claimed to lift up to 850 times their own weight. Their common names refer to the characteristic horns borne only by the males of most species in the group. Each has a horn on the head and another horn pointing forward from the center of the thorax. The horns are used in fighting other males during mating season, and for digging. The size of the horn is a good indicator of nutrition and physical health.  The body of an adult rhinoceros beetle is covered by a thick exoskeleton. A pair of thick wings lies atop another set of membranous wings underneath, allowing the rhinoceros beetle to fly, although not very efficiently, owing to its large size. Their best protection from predators is their size and stature. Additionally, since they are nocturnal, they avoid many of their predators during the day. When the sun is out, they hide under logs or in vegetation to camouflage themselves from the few predators big enough to want to eat them. If rhinoceros beetles are disturbed, some can release very loud, hissing squeaks. The hissing squeaks are created by rubbing their abdomens against the ends of their wing covers. Rhinoceros beetles are relatively resilient; a healthy adult male can live up to 2–3 years. The females rarely live long after they mate.”

Tomorrow, we’ll continue with more from yesterday’s outing to Kruger National Park with more exciting photos, focusing on some unusual shots of hippos, up close and personal.

Please check back tomorrow for more.  

Have a stunning weekend!


Photo from one year ago today, January 19, 2018:

A colorful exterior of an ethnic restaurant near a park in Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina.  For more photos, please click here.

Summer’s coming…hot, hot, hot!…Humans and animals feeling the heat…How do we manage in over 40C, (104F) temps with no AC?…Giraffe traffic…

It’s important to always stop and wait patiently when wildlife is crossing the road.  No honking necessary!  They’ll move on.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

After eating a good-sized share of pellets, Baby Bushbuck needed a drink from his mom.  Soon, she’ll wean him since most likely she is pregnant again.  Bushbucks can give birth twice in a one year period.

First, let me clarify the air conditioning situation in the “Orange” house (see link here for the listing).  There are wall air conditioners in each of the three bedrooms and two units in the living room high up the wall on the massive vaulted ceiling.

If we move forward gently, they’ll usually move on.  This giraffe had no intention of getting out of the way.  We waited patiently and finally, she moved along. 
When we first arrived here last February 11th it was still summer, which ends around March 21st.  It was very hot, comparable to August heat in the northern hemisphere.  
She joined her “tower” of giraffes on the other side of the road.

During the first few nights after we arrived, we tried using the air con in the living room after we were done sitting outdoors, usually around 9:00 pm.  The inside of the house felt like an oven.  The air con was no help whatsoever. The massive room and high ceilings made it impossible to cool down at all. We haven’t used it since.  

They went about their business eating leaves from the treetops.

When we go to bed we use the high-on-the wall air con unit and it works well regardless of the temperature, to keep us cool while sleeping.  This is all we need.  During the days, we tough it out.

Right now, at 10:45 am it is 34C (92.3F).  It’s expected to be a high of 39C (102F) today peaking at around 1500 hours (3:00PM).  Since it’s not summered yet we’re still experiencing many cool and comfortable days of perfect weather.

Cape buffalo cooling off on a hot day.

Once summer arrives and the rains come, we’ll experience both heat and humidity.  Now, the humidity is very low with no rain in many months.  Thus sitting outdoors all day on these high temp days is rather tolerable.

When we were here in 2013/2014 (December through February) it was during the peak of summer and it was very hot and humid every day with hardly a day’s relief.  We managed then.  We’ll manage now.

Elephants gathered at a waterhole by the river.

I’m not attempting to allude that this heat is easy. Even in dry desert climates such as Nevada, our state of residency, anything over 39C (102F) is definitely hot and uncomfortable.  

Elephants digging holes for fresh clean water.

When we were in Henderson, Nevada in July 2017, the temperature reached as much as 47C, (117F), if not more.  We still managed to use son Richard’s pool and sit outdoors for a few hours each day, mostly in the shade. At most, we each spent 20 minutes in the sun for the vitamin D.

The sun is so hot here we haven’t been sitting in the sun at all although we do quite a bit of walking in the sun when we visit the fence at the Crocodile River.  To purposely sit in the sun here is extremely uncomfortable especially right now.

As hot as its been lately, its still spring here and birds are preparing their nests. A pair of blue African starlings has taken over the formerly unoccupied bushbaby house from a pair of hornbills. 

Regardless of how hot it gets, we always know, if we need a 10-minute break we can go into the bedroom, turn on the AC and get cool.  A better alternative is jumping in the little car and going for our usual drive in the park during the high-temperature peak mid-afternoon.   

Each day the female and male each bring bits of dried brush and other vegetation as they build their nest inside this house.

Tom’s already washed the little car’s windows which he must do each day before we head out when the windows are covered with dust, like every surface around us both inside and outside the house.  Everything must be dusted daily in order to feel some semblance of cleanliness.

No, it’s not easy living in the bush but the amazing aspects are well-worth the inconveniences.  Last night was exceptional when wildebeests Dad & Son stopped by as well as warthogs Tusker and his girlfriend, Seigfried and Roy, frog Loud Mouth, francolins Frank and the Mrs. and, Mr. Frog (who visits the light fixture on the veranda every night).

We expect to hear the chicks before too long. Incubation: lasts about 12 days. It begins with the next or next to last (penultimate) egg. Both sexes develop an incubation patch and brood the eggs, but incubation is mostly by the female (70% during the day and all night long).”

Before we went inside two kudus visited which we hadn’t seen in days since the school holidays began.  By this Sunday the school holidays will end and we can expect to see many more visitors and once again, enjoy the peace and quiet in the park.

Also, one week from today, our friends Tom and Lois will be arriving from the USA to spend three weeks with us.  Tomorrow, we’ll share some of the preparations we’ve begun for their arrival.  How exciting!

May your days be peaceful and fulfilling!


Photo from one year ago today, October 2, 2017:

It was one year ago today we posted about the horrific shootings in Las Vegas, Nevada.  For more on this sorrowful event, please click here.

Bird lover’s paradise…Animal lover’s paradise…

This morning’s four hornbills loving our birdfeeder.

“Sightings of the Day in the Bush”

A typical day at “home,” drying a little laundry in the sun and a zebra stops by.

We can hardly describe ourselves as expert bird watchers. But as enthusiastic animal watchers, birds certainly provide us with considerable entertainment as witnessed in many of our posts over the years.

Whether it was hand feeding kookaburras in Fairlight Australia, setting out seeds for our all-time favorite singing red cardinal in Hawaii or observing the nesting and hatching of albatross chicks in Kauai, we never failed to take the time to observe and enjoy our feathered friends.
Laughing doves are frequent visitors to our feeder.

Here in Marloth Park, we can enjoy a wide array of birds in our garden or when out on frequent drives through the park or during any foray to Kruger National Park for the day.

Louise recently loaned us a bird book for common South Africa’s birds arranged by color but I still continue to struggle to find the names of birds we’ve seen in the garden and when out.  

This is a streaky-headed seedeater, aptly named, loves the birdfeeder.

In part, I blame myself for becoming frustrated when I don’t properly pin down the bird’s features efficiently enough to find the photo in the book.  At that point, I’ll look online and then as a last resort pester our bird-enthusiast friends Lynne and Mick, who live in the UK and part-time in Marloth Park and friend Louise in Kauai, Hawaii.

When they go to Kruger, they’re searching for birds while reveling in spotting other wildlife.  For us, it’s the other way around…we’re looking for other wildlife and happen to come across birds in the process.

Ostriches tend to hang around a certain territory in Marloth Park.  We’ve yet to have any in our garden this time.  However, when we were here in 2013, we had an enthusiastic visitor.  To see those photos, please click here.

I suppose it’s a matter of personal preference.  Also, it’s not as if one can’t be enthusiastic and expert in both areas.  For us, it’s a matter of where our attention is focused at any given time and although we aren’t experts in either aspect of wildlife viewing, we easily can wrap our minds around appreciating both.

In other words, it revolves around the lyrics from the old song, “Love the One You’re With” which I guess applies to many areas of life including wherever we happen to be at any given moment, loving the one you’re with, the place we’re living at the time, the scenery we’re embracing, and the wildlife we’re incorporating into our daily lives.

Early morning dewdrops on the back of the head of a helmeted guinea fowl, permanent residents in our garden.  Typically there are dozens of these birds hovering in the bush waiting for us to toss pellets to other animals.  They peck at the pellets to break them up into bite-sized pieces.

Perhaps, that’s what travel is all about, getting outside your comfort zone, seeking the unusual, the new, the unique and the enchanting to expand one’s horizons and furthers our personal growth.

The difference for our way of life, essentially as homeless drifters, nomads or wanderers, we’re always seeking to learn and grow through our surroundings whether it’s rich with birds or other wildlife or exquisite scenery and vegetation.

On any given day, there may be as many as 60 of these turkey-like birds hanging out in our garden.  They wait underneath the birdfeeder for other birds to drop seeds while they eat.

The world is a magical place, filled with rife, worry, war, and disharmony.  We can only pray and play whatever role possible in striving to keep our exquisite surroundings intact…one day it could all be gone. 


Photo from one year ago today, August 7, 2017:

Early morning view of low lying clouds in Atenas, Costa Rica.  For more photos, please click here.

Where are all the animals?…Holiday time in Marloth Park changes everything…What’s the difference between a tourist and a traveler?…

A calf is born weighing 100 to 150 pounds and measuring in at 6 feet tall. A calf will begin to forage at about four months old.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A dove standing on the edge of our birdfeeder.

It’s a quiet day in the bush.  As of this moment, at 10:00 am, we’ve had no visitors except the bothersome Vervet monkeys who attempt to knock down our birdfeeder in order to eat the seeds and a few birds

Ostriches in the bush.

These smaller-than-baboons monkeys, although appearing cute and inquisitive can wreck havoc in a house or garden as we’ve mentioned in prior posts.  It’s been an issue only over the past few weeks and we’re wondering why they’re hanging around our garden now as opposed to month’s earlier.

We’ve discovered a few areas in the park where we’ll often find flocks of ostriches.

We’re patiently waiting for visitors to stop by but our expectations are in check when there are so many tourists in the park right now, continuing through the month of August.

We can’t wait until it makes sense to go back to Kruger sometime in the near future.  We’ve seen photos of cars, bumper to bumper on the tar road in Kruger including some of our own similar experiences lately and we prefer not to deal with the traffic.

These parents have one chick as opposed to the seven we spotted a few days ago seen here.

Every few minutes a car drives down our street when weeks ago, an hour could pass before a car would.  Its an entirely different world right now and we’ll be glad when it’s over for awhile. 

We’re amazed by how often we see elephants from Marloth Park, actually more than we usually see while in Kruger National Park.  Tourists driving through Kruger are unable to see this area of the Crocodile River and are not allowed out of their vehicles.

Last night, while cozy and comfortable on the veranda with the gas heater on, we could hear loud voices, loud music, and yelling.  The noises were so loud we couldn’t hear when visitors made their way through the bush as they approached the garden. 

There’s nothing quite as exciting as close encounters with giraffes.

Even with Tom’s less-than-ideal hearing after years of working on the railroad, he could hear the loud sounds in every direction.  The “school holiday” ends on July 17th but more tourists will arrive during their summer holidays throughout the northern hemisphere.  Hopefully, by mid-August, all of this will taper off.

No other wildlife eats the leaves at the treetops than the giraffes making their food sources more readily available during the dry winter months.

Yes, some may say, ‘Who are you to complain about tourists?  Aren’t you tourists as well?”

The difference to us is clear…we are travelers, not tourists

The definition of a tourist is:

A person who is traveling or visiting a place for pleasure. Example: “the pyramids have drawn tourists to Egypt” 

synonyms:  holidaymakertravelersightseervisitor, excursionist, backpacker
globetrotter, day tripper, tripper; explorer, pilgrim, voyager, journeyer. vacationist, out-of-towner

The definition of a traveler is:

A gypsy or other nomadic person.  A person who holds New Age values and leads an itinerant and unconventional lifestyle.

synonyms: gypsyRomanytziganedidicoi, nomad, migrant, wanderer, wayfarer, itinerant, drifter, tramp, vagrant, transient, vagabond,
I won’t say that gypsy, tramp, vagrant, didicoi or transient necessarily apply to us but surely we fall into the category of the other synonyms to one degree or another.  Nor, do I imply there’s anything wrong with being a tourist.
Scratch that itch!

Tourism is the lifeblood of countries throughout the world and we feel blessed and honored to visit these countries, their points of interest and to mingle with their people.

Wildebeest Willie and his friends returned late on Friday night after our dinner guests had departed.
But, as we all know, there are those who have little regard for the culture they are visiting, who continue in their loud and boisterous ways, upsetting the fine balance of peace and purpose wherever they travel, whether they are tourists or travelers.
Blue wildebeests, regardless of gender, have horns. 
No doubt, when peace, quiet and safety for the wildlife (and the people) returns to Marloth and Kruger Park, we’ll comfortably settle back into the routine we’ve come to know and love in this magical place.

May your day bring you peace, quiet and time to revel in your surroundings.

Photo from one year ago today, July 8, 2017:

Tom’s taco salad at Lindo Michoacan in Henderson, Nevada where we all dined the day we arrived.  For more details, please click here.

Twelve animals hit and killed the roads in Marloth Park in past two weeks…

This hippo was very far away from us when we took this photo.  It was only after we uploaded it that we noticed how many oxpeckers were on his hide.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Yesterday, we spotted this ostrich family near this vehicle.  It was over four years ago we saw our first ostrich in the wild in Marloth Park.  It was on December 7, 2013, that we’d spotted an ostrich standing next to this exact same vehicle at this exact same property, looking at himself in the window of the vehicle.  Click here for that post.  See photo below from that date!
From the December 7, 2013 post:  “While on a walk in our neighborhood Tom spotted this ostrich that had wandered into a homeowner’s yard appearing to be fascinated by looking at himself in the window.”

Its heartbreaking to see in a post for Marloth Park in Facebook that 12 wild animals have been killed on the roads in the park.  Certainly, some of these horrible incidents have been unavoidable.  But, the remainder may be attributed to visitors driving too fast on the tar road that runs from one end of the park to the other.

There are two 24-hour a day guarded gates to enter into Marloth Park, the only access points.  Entering via Gate #1 requires a very long and bumpy ride on a dirt road from the N4 highway but is technically shorter (distance wise, not time-wise) than driving the extra distance on the highway to Gate #2.  Rarely do any locals attempt to drive to Gate #1. 

Each time we’re near the Crocodile River we see waterbucks. They live in herds of 6 to 30 animals, with one male who defends his territory.

It’s hard to say who these careless drivers may be and how they’ve entered the park.  They could be renters living in a holiday house or others entering the park to explore and see wildlife or…others with dinner reservations at any of the local restaurants or…could be troublemakers up to “no good.”

With all the traffic and noise we heard last night, loud voices, loud music, and engines revving we can’t help but wonder if they have somehow made their way into the park with little to no regard for the quality of life here.

We’ve been lucky to see elephants along the river road most days we go out for a drive. Yesterday was no exception.

In yesterday’s post, we addressed some of these issues that crop up during the busy school-holiday season and other holidays times.  Please see this link here.  It’s possible the commotion will continue until well into August. 

Lately, we’ve heard about major criminal incidents in and around the area.  We stay on constant alert to protect ourselves and our belongings.  Luckily, most of the homes here have alarm systems, like ours but we all know they can be compromised.

Whether we spot one or 30 elephants, it’s always awe-inspiring.

We can only hope and pray that those who’ve rented holiday homes will offer the utmost of kindness and concern for the peaceful and pleasing way of life only found in Marloth Park.

Yesterday afternoon, while driving along the river, we spotted a 5 or 6-year-old kid steering an SUV while sitting on his dad’s lap. What was this guy thinking?  This scenario could be one of many careless cases and causes of wildlife being killed on the roads.  Careless driving.

“The elephant’s trunk is able to sense the size, shape, and temperature of an object. An elephant uses its trunk to lift food and suck up water then pour it into its mouth. elephants cry, play, have incredible memories, and laugh. Elephants can swim – they use their trunk to breathe like a snorkel in deep water.”

For our worldwide readers who are not located in this area, we apologize for continually bringing up these topics.  We’re hoping that if only one person staying or visiting Marloth Park sees our posts, maybe one animal will be saved.

On a lighter note, we’re doing quite well.  With a 90% improvement in my health since eliminating dairy from my diet, several weeks ago, I am literally on Cloud 9.  To finally not have an awful stomach ache after over two years, I’m enjoying everything we do 10-fold. 

“There are three distinct species of elephant left in the world: The Asian elephant and African elephant which are the forest and savanna elephant species.”

As we drove through Marloth Park yesterday, I described to Tom how wonderful it feels to be free of the constant pain and discomfort while riding on the very bumpy dirt roads in the park.  Also, the freedom of not constantly worrying over what the problem could be has been equally liberating. 

“The elephant’s gestation period is 22 months, longer than any other land animal in the world. A newborn human baby weighs an average of 3 kg (7 pounds) while a newborn elephant baby can weigh up to 118 kg (260 pounds)! The baby can stand up shortly after being born.”

In addition, as of today, after one month, I’ve lost 3.6 kg (8 pounds) from eliminating dairy while watching portions and my clothes have begun to fit better.  

Cape Buffaloes may be referred to as the mafia, not only because of their strong character but because they never forgive and almost always seek revenge. They have been recorded seeking revenge on someone years after being threatened by them.

I plan to continue on this path of a slow weight loss so that by the time summer begins on December 21st, with temperatures in the 40C’s (104Fs), I’ll finally fit back into all my shorts. It’s too hot in the summers here to wear Capri-length or long jeans all day while sitting outdoors on the veranda.

This appears to be a blooming aloe vera plant.  Please correct me if I’m wrong.

As for today, soon, we’ll head to the post office with our tracking number to see if they can track our missing package.  It was sent on May 23, 2018, and has yet to arrive.  This is not unusual as we often find ourselves waiting for a shipment for upwards of two months.

After the post office, once again, we’ll drive through the park, continuing our search for the lion (to no avail, thus far) and of course, any other wildlife that graces us with their presence.

Have a peaceful and meaningful day!


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

One year ago today, I joined Maisie, Madighan, and daughter-in-law Camille at The Stages Theater in Hopkins , Minnesota where the four of us saw a local production of Shrek.  For more photos, please click here.