|This is a close-up of Mom, not necessarily the cutest face on the planet. Ostriches have the largest eyes of any land animal.|
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
|A giraffes neck is somewhat flexible but we don’t often seem one seated and stretching as in this photo.|
To witness a story of life, love and instinct is truly a privilege. Yesterday afternoon, on our almost daily drive in the park looking for exactly these types of miracles, we were gifted with a sighting neither of us will ever forget
|To see the mom and baby was rather exciting. We’ve seen many larger ostrich chicks since we returned to Marloth but none this young.|
We had a plan in mind when we took off from our holiday home around noon; we’d head to the hippo pools located at the end of the caravan park; then we’d drive down Seekoei, the road that runs along the Crocodile River in Kruger National Park.
|We gasped when we saw this adorable ostrich chick who couldn’t have been more than a month old.|
From there we’d return to a special spot we found a few days ago where we had a most exciting up-close experience which we’ll soon share. Along the way, we’d stop at the overlook with the brick structure where we always check for activity along the river.
Even with a plan in mind, we’re always looking for any potential diversions that may take us in another direction should nature present a situation we find interesting. Yesterday’s drive presented us with exactly one of those situations, one neither of us will ever forget. Who knew?
|They decided to take a turn off Olifant and head down Volstruis Road.|
As we drove on Olifant Drive, the main paved road in Marloth Park (there only are a few paved roads in the park), as usual, our eyes are peeled for any type of movement in the bush, along the road or in the yards of bush houses along the way.
|Mom kept a watchful eye for traffic or intruders. as they crossed Olifant and headed down Volstruis. Of course, traffic stopped for them while onlookers were equally entranced by the special sighting.|
We’ve both developed a keen eye for any action and Tom’s expert driving is quick to get us into the right position for the maximum viewing and photo taking opportunity.
|Finally, they were away from traffic and moseyed on down the road with ease and confidence.|
This almost daily ritual consists of realistic expectations. We could drive for two hours and never see a thing but with our penchant for safari luck, invariably we find something spectacular in one way or another. At times, we’re amazed by our own good luck.
|Mom walked with determination straight down the center of the road.|
At other times, we shrug our shoulders acknowledging that this is Marloth Park, after all, and it is what one can expect if they stay diligent, consistent, patient and determined. That’s us for sure
|Apparently, from what we’ve read, ostriches keep their mouths open when they in protection mode. The youngster has already developed this characteristic.|
When we first spotted a female ostrich walking along Olifant Drive, it took only a second to spot her adorable chick, cheerfully tagging along with his mom. She kept out an experienced watchful eye for traffic or any other potential hazards, while her youngster followed her lead or often walked in front of her.
|Then, they saw Dad coming their way. The chick’s pace picked up the moment she spotted him. Look at the far end of the dirt road to see him coming! His feathers are dark.|
We could have taken our photos of the two of them and been perfectly content. A sighting of a mom ostrich and her chick certainly could have been enough for the day and in essence, the highlight of the day’s drive.
|As we watched, even he had picked up his pace to get to his family.|
But, for some reason, we decided to hang back as much as possible and follow them for a bit, as they took off on Volstruis Road, a quiet side street with less traffic and activity. We stayed out of their way never blocking them or getting so close enough to cause any stress.
As she and her chick proudly made their way down the quiet road, we were in awe of the elegant command in their demeanor as they walked to whatever their destination may have been. We soon found out what that would be!
|Dad must have wanted time alone with his chick as he headed into the bush as shown in this photo while the chick followed him, running as fast as he could. Mom maintained watch on the road.|
Parked at the side of the road, at quite a distance, we spotted something dark moving toward them. The longer we watched, we realized it was a darker feathered male ostrich. Was it a coincidence he was approaching or, in their mysterious means of communication which we’ll never know, were they actually planning to meet at this spot?
|Look closely to see the chick next to him in this photo.|
We’d only know when they came face to face. Would she and the chick head into the bush in fear of an unknown male? Would they merely walk past one another without acknowledgment? Or was there some connection we’d witness right before out eyes.
The closer he came, the chick watched him and then…much to our delight, the chick began running toward him “Dad!” We could literally see the enthusiasm when they were upon one another.
|Mom preened her feathers during security duty. Ostriches generally mate for life.|
Dad chose to engage with his chick in the bush, while Mom held back on the road, checking for predators, cars or any other annoyances or threats. From time to time she watched them, appearing to have a smile on her less-than-lovely face.
How they managed to plan this rendezvous escapes us but we decided to take it at face value…they had a plan. Marloth Park is 3,000 hectares, 7,413 acres. This was no chance encounter.
|Dad and chick never left each other’s side.|
We watched the interactions for quite awhile and finally decided to be on our way. If we never had another animal encounter for the remainder of the day, we’d be fine.
But, shortly thereafter, we spotted a hippo on the river, several warthogs and herds of impalas in the bush and a lizard crossing the road. It was a good day. Back at home later, we couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces.
|The chick was nestled in the grass close to Dad’s legs as shown here.|
We had a relatively quiet evening at home, dining on leftovers from the prior evening and around 7:30, the power went out, not returning fully until 11:00 am this morning.
We weren’t interested in sitting on the veranda in total darkness so we wandered indoors, watched a show on my laptop and finally hunkered down in bed with whatever battery life we had left on our phones.
|If all we’d have seen in the entire day was this one hippo on the river with oxpeckers on its back, we’d have been thrilled. Little did we know…|
We both tossed and turned all night without AC but luckily it wasn’t outrageously hot although it was very humid during the rainy night This morning before doing today’s post we headed to Komatipoort to pick up a few groceries and returned. No sooner than we walked in the door at 11:00 am, the power fully came back on. Thank goodness.
Today, a much-needed rainy day, we’re staying put. There’s no point in driving on the rough dirt roads in the rain or attempting to take distant photos. We’re content, especially after yesterday’s ostrich family sighting and of course, with all the visitors we’ve already had so far today.
May your day bring you contentment.
P.S. Our dear friend Danie, here in Marloth Park, a native South African who speaks Afrikaans, wrote a comment at the end of today’s post after it was published to inform us the Volstruis in Afrikaans means “ostrich!” What a coincidence! Thanks, Danie!!!
Photo from one year ago today, April 11, 2017:
|Peeking through the vegetation to Reef Beach Bay in Fairlight, Australia. For more photos, please click here.|