Day 5, Celebrity Xploration…The Galapagos Islands…A funny post office…

In Hawaii, we saw blue-footed boobies, as well, but with darker blue feet.
  • Galapagos Facts: 
  • “Hunted as food by pirates, whalers, and traders from the 17th through the 19th centuries, between 100,000 and 200,000 Galápagos tortoises are estimated to have been killed off. Tortoises were also hunted for their oil, which was used to power lamps.”
  • Fray Tomás de Berlanga – The world first heard about Galapagos more than 470 years ago. The Dominican friar, Fray Tomás de Berlanga, Bishop of Panama, was the official discoverer, arriving on March 10, 1535. Currents inadvertently drove Fray Tomás towards Galapagos after he had set out from Panama on his way to Peru.”
An endearing phenomenon in The Galapagos at Post Office Bay is described in the text below.

“This Is the World’s Most Unusual Post Office

On a remote island in the Galápagos, tourists become mail carriers.

The Galápagos are better known for their sea lions and penguins than postal service. But the island of Floreana operates a unique stampless system of sending mail from one of the world’s most diverse, uninhabited areas.

Blue-footed boobies atop the lava rock formations.

Long before ecotourists annexed the remote islands off Ecuador’s coast, it was a pit stop for 18th-century whalers traversing the oceans. After months or even years on the job, the homesick seamen came up with an ingenious system of getting letters to their families. They erected a barrel on Floreana Island and left their mail for sailors on passing ships to deliver.

More endemic cacti on Floreana Island. Notice the little tubes.
Tom didn’t go kayaking without me but enjoyed himself nonetheless.

The first mention of the post office appears in the Journal of a Cruise, Captain David Porter’s account of his 1813 trip to the Galápagos, according to a timeline crafted by John Woram, author of Charles Darwin Slept Here. In his book, Porter recalls a crew member returning with papers “taken from a box which he found nailed to a pot, over which was a black sign, on which was painted Hathaway’s Postoffice.”

A tortoise making her way to the sea.
Was she considering digging a hole to bury her eggs?

Twenty-five years later, another explorer documented the practice of bottling notes and leaving them to be taken back to America by fishing vessels. Those same fishermen “would never fail, before their departure, to touch at this island to take on a supply of tortoises.” The consumption of giant sea tortoises during this period is one of the reasons why Charles Darwin found none left on Floreana Island when he arrived in 1835.

Another view of the post office.

This unconventional system has persisted into the 21st century. Today, thousands of letters pass through Post Office Bay. Tour groups often stop at the island to explore the ancient lava caves and to pick up and drop off postcards.

A cameraman is in the process of making a documentary about The Galapagos Islands.

The simple wooden barrel is covered in notes and keepsakes from travelers passing through in what resembles a glorified birdhouse. The origins of the first barrel are opaque, but it may have come from a crew in the 1890s. Since then, the barrel has been replaced by visiting vessels from around the world. Over the years, driftwood bearing painted names and dates has been piled around the site to commemorate long-ago letter deliveries.

These two are red-billed tropic birds, commonly seen in The Galapagos. The red-billed tropic bird is one of three closely related species of seabirds of tropical oceans. Superficially resembling a tern in appearance, it has mostly white plumage with some black markings on the wings and back, a black mask, and, as its common name suggests, a red bill.

After visitors sift through the mail and collect letters going to a home near their final destination, they can mail or, preferably, hand-deliver letters to the recipients. Tour guides are known to say that slapping a stamp on the letter and dropping it in a mailbox is cheating—though the 18th-century whalers likely wouldn’t object to any method that saw their letters delivered.”

Swallowtail seagulls are beautiful nocturnal birds.

Thus, when Tom rifled through the postcards waiting to be picked up and delivered, he found one from Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He took the card, and we plan to mail it to the recipient when we get to Marloth Park, including a card with our information in case people who receive it would like to chat. That will be fun! We’ll report the results here at the time.

A seal lion snoozing on the rocks.
Playful sea lions.

Although I haven’t been on one excursion since we started this cruise, I am having a good time. Each time the 15 passengers, including Tom, return to the boar from the two to three excursions daily, I am thrilled to see them and love hearing their adventures and stories.

An unusual cactus formation.

And, of course, Tom is bursting with enthusiasm each time over what he’s seen and taken photos of for me to see and share. There are only so many animals on these unique islands, and repetition is unavoidable, but each shot holds its intrigue and interest, particularly to the animal love that I am.

Swooning sea lion.

Once they go out again for a few hours, I find myself totally at ease, enjoying the gentle rocking of the boat and the visits from any of the 12 staff members who stop to chat and say hello. One of the two naturalists, Orlando, has been sending his unique photos of the day to my WhatsApp account, which I will share in one fell swoop toward the end of the cruise. There’s certainly no shortage of photos around here.

Yesterday’s lunch of seabass and baked chicken, avocado, asparagus, and tomatoes. Note the photo of the fantastic seviche below.
Not necessarily a fan of seviche; this cold dish made by Chef Jonathan was the best. Tom didn’t like it, so I ate both of ours. What a treat!

Today, Wednesday is the halfway point of this cruise, and it will end on Saturday when we fly back to Quito for two more days and one more night. But we have so much to look forward to our upcoming stay in Mirador San Jose Province, Manabi, Ecuador, until January 8, 2024.

Tomorrow, we’ll share details of Charles Darwin and his worldwide influence on The Galapagos Islands, one of the planet’s most exciting and wildlife-rich spots.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 18, 2013:

The cockpit of the small plane, flown by Edwin, will return us to the Maasai Mara. For more photos, please click here.

Short post today…Busy prepping for our Asian dinner…And, working on our 10-year anniversary post…

If you know what type of bird this is, please let us know. Our trail cam picked up this photo early this morning.

I’d considered preparing a normal-sized post today. Once I started chopping and dicing for tomorrow’s Asian dinner with Leon and Dawn,  I realized it would take me longer to do the 10th-anniversary post. I needed to do it today, so I am free tomorrow to prepare the two complex dishes and spend time paying total attention to our guests as we always do.

They plan to arrive by noon and are staying in our guest cottage overnight for a much-needed break away from the responsibility of running a very busy restaurant. David and the staff will hold down the fort while they are away and we aren’t going to allow them to lift a finger; not wash a dish, not clean up after dining, and of course, no cooking. We are handling all of that!

I went through every page in our bird book and could not find this species.

We’re preparing the Asian dinner and then breakfast the next morning. Thank goodness, we got the fried rice done yesterday. Otherwise, we’d have been too rushed today and Monday. Asian stir-fry dishes should not be prepared ahead of time in order to taste fresh and not be overcooked from reheating. The only item we’ll reheat is the fried rice which reheats quite well in the microwave.

On November 1st, we’ll post food photos and the menu. So, dear readers, I’m signing off on today’s post to continue to prep for the big meal and to start working on the anniversary post which we’ll upload tomorrow morning.

We’ll be back to you soon!!!

Photo from one year ago today, October 30, 2021:

That morning we had 12 antelopes in the garden, sharing pellets. For more photos, please click here.

Our resident starling is named…Off to Komatipoort; Doc Theo, dentist, grocery shopping and…the pet shop!…What???

Vega, our latest named resident creature in our garden.

We have a bright blue iridescent starling that lives in our garden. Whenever another bird stops by, he goes after it to chase it away, except for other starlings, which are allowed to eat the seeds from the trolley between two trees and the bushbaby stand.

“Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds in the family Sturnidae. The name “Sturnidae” comes from the Latin word for starling, sturnus. Many Asian species, particularly the larger ones, are called mynas, and many African species are known as glossy starlings because of their iridescent plumage.”

He’s most appealing when the bright sun is on him. But, in this heat, he tends to alight in the shade.

“The Cape starling, red-shouldered glossy starling or Cape glossy starling (Lamprotornis nitens) is a species of starling in the family Sturnidae. It is found in Southern Africa, where it lives in woodlands, bushveld and in suburbs.”

Starlings are commonly seen birds, especially when they can scavenge for food. We often see them at the Mugg & Bean in Lower Sabie, walking on the dining tables, eating crumbs left by diners. Some are so brazen, they will alight while the diners are eating. Their diet consists of the following:

There are several other species of starlings, but we rarely see them or are able to determine which birds are the other species. No, we’re not birders, nor do we wish to become birders, although we enjoy seeing and taking photos of birds, especially those that are colorful and less commonly seen.

We named him Vega, which is listed as #5 in the top ten brightest stars in the night sky, as shown below from this site:

“The Top 10 Brightest Stars At Night

1. Sirius A (Alpha Canis Majoris)

Our number one star on the list. As mentioned, this star is part of the constellation Canis Major with an apparent magnitude of -1.5 and is 8.6 light-years away from Earth. You can spot this star from anywhere on our planet.

2. Canopus (Alpha Carinae)

This star is named after the mythological character Canopus who was a navigator for Menelaus, king of Sparta. It’s part of the constellation Carina and located at a magnitude of -0.72, 309. It is 310 light-years away from our Sun and can be seen from the Northern Hemisphere.

3. Rigil Kentaurus (Alpha Centauri)

At only 4.36 light-years from Earth, this star is part of the closest star system to our Solar System and consists of three stars with Rigil Kentaurus being the brightest. It is part of the constellation Centaurus with an apparent magnitude of -0.29. It is best spotted from the Southern Hemisphere.

4. Arcturus (Alpha Bootis)

The brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere. This star is part of the constellation Bootes with an apparent magnitude of -0.04 and is about 37 light-years away from Earth. Its name originates from Greek and means ”Bear Watcher” or ”Guardian of the Bear” due it’s proximity to the Ursa Major (Big Bear). Fun fact, this star is actually a red giant.

5. Vega (Alpha Lyrae)

The name Vega comes from Arabic and literally means falling vulture. This is the most luminous star in the Lyra constellation with an apparent magnitude of +0.03, and it is relatively close, only 25.5 light-years away from Earth. Vega is visible from the Northern Hemisphere.

6. Capella (Alpha Aurigae)

Cappella or the Goat Star is the shiniest star in the Auriga constellation with an apparent magnitude of +0.08, 42 light-years away from Earth. This star is also best spotted from the Northern Hemisphere.

7. Rigel (Beta Orionis)

The brightest star in the constellation Orion, Rigel (from Arabic – ‘the left leg of the giant’) has an apparent magnitude of +0.18 and although it is 860 light-years away from Earth, it shines so bright because it’s a Blue giant star. It can be seen from the Southern Hemisphere.

8. Procyon (Alpha Canis Minoris)

Procyon, just like Sirius, is also part of a binary star system with its twin being a dwarf. It is located in the Canis Minor constellation with an apparent magnitude of +0.34 and at a distance of 11.46 light-years away from Earth. This star is visible from the Northern Hemisphere.

9. Achernar (Alpha Eridani)

Its name Achernar is derived from Arabic and means ”The End of the River”. This shiny celestial being is located in the Eridanus constellation with an apparent magnitude of +0.445 at a distance of 114 light-years away from Earth. You can spot it from the Southern Hemisphere.

10. Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis)

And lastly, we have Betelgeuse which is the second most luminous star in the constellation Orion with an apparent magnitude of +0.42 and at a distance of 640 light-years away from Earth. The name Betelgeuse also derives from Arabic and means either ”the armpit of Orion” or ”the hand of Orion”. This star is visible from the Northern Hemisphere.”

Although #5’s description for Vega specifies a vulture, the starling is not in the vulture species. But, their behavior around food may cause one to consider them as somewhat of a vulture with their scavenging nature. They consume the following:

“Starlings mostly consume insects when available, especially beetles, grasshoppers, flies, and caterpillars, also spiders, snails, earthworms, and other invertebrates. Especially in fall and winter, eats a wide variety of berries, fruits, and seeds.”

How do we know Vega is a male? See this information below:

“The female starling looks less glossy and oily than its male counterpart but a key difference to tell the sexes apart is by the colour of their bills; blue for the males and pink for the females.”

Vega is a male, as shown in today’s photos.

Researching information about wildlife that stops in the garden is great fun. We hope our readers find these stories interesting as well.

Will Vega learn his name? I don’t know, but he just might as often as he’s here, and I say it to him. Frank, a francolin bird, learned his name at the last house. We shall see.

It’s about time for us to take off for Koomatipoort for today’s appointments and shopping. We’re heading to the pet shop to buy worms or crickets for Aggie, our colorful agama. We’ll be back tomorrow with Doc Theo’s assessment of my headache and facial pain. See you then!

Photo from one year ago today, October 14, 2021:

Geese in flight on the Crocodile River as seen from Amazing Kruger View restaurant. For more photos, please click here.

Errors!…Ugh!…A long time ago…Wonders in Africa…

Females and young lions were lounging in the shade of the tree. Our perception was that the male lions hang out with the family, which is not the case. Once these young males mature, they’ll go off on their own to hunt, mate, and occasionally hang out with their male sons and siblings.

This morning, I accidentally clicked on the post from October 12, 2013, instead of October 12, 2021, when searching for the “year-ago” post. When I reread that post here, I noticed that my grammar correction app, Grammarly, indicated I had 82 errors on the page. Yikes! That will take a while to correct.

A fantastic morning in the bush in the Maasai Mara in 2013.

A few years ago, I went through every post, searching for errors that I corrected. Now, I find that mistakes are appearing on old posts again. I have no interest in spending hours a day going back into old posts to start this process again, especially knowing that, for whatever reason, the errors seem to reappear. As of today, we have 3700 posts. Can you imagine how much work that would be?

A cool guy in the bush.

If I had a job and were being paid a salary or by the hour, I’d have to go back and make the corrections.  But because we do this website for love, not money, I have to leave it as is. We continue each day to make every attempt to correct errors, but no matter how hard we try, we miss a few things. And, no doubt, many of you notice them.

Mom and baby eland.

Occasionally, a reader will write, commenting on an error I’ll immediately correct, thanking the reader for bringing it to my attention. But, if all of our readers did this (please don’t), my entire day would be spent dealing with corrections. That’s not what our lives are about. Obsessing to be perfect was one of the reasons we decided to change our lives. This simpler life leaves little room for such unrealistic goals.

Anderson, our guide, busied himself setting up our breakfast, only allowing any of us to set up the camp stools.  Notice his well-equipped picnic basket. The stainless steel containers were filled with our still-warm breakfast, thoughtfully prepared by Ambrose, the chef, very early in the morning.

Back to the old post I encountered this morning, I hadn’t seen those photos in a very long time, and it was fun to see them again. It is a post from our first safari in the Maasai Mara nine years ago today. We’d posted photos over two to three weeks since we had more photos than could be published in a few days. It was an exciting time.

With room for four at the small table, some of us sat nearby, eating breakfast on our laps. There were croissants, cold cereal, pancakes, eggs, sausage, and a wide array of fruit. Although I could only eat the eggs and sausage, I was content.

But, the WiFi signal at the house in Diani Beach, Kenya, was awful, and we struggled to insert photos and text, which attributed to the many errors I spotted today. As mentioned above, when I attempted to make the corrections a few years ago, many of them didn’t stick for whatever reason. Today, I will correct that post only and, of course, any errors that appear on today’s post.

Anderson took this next photo of us, a little blurry but worth keeping, the only shot we had of our group of safari mates.

Speaking of WiFi issues, currently, there are two techs here from the company supplying internet service to this house trying to solve a WiFi issue we’ve been having since late yesterday afternoon. They got it to work last night so we could stream our shows, but it’s going in and out this morning as it had yesterday afternoon for several hours.

Such a relaxing day, lounging with the family!

Whether it’s power, water, and other services, stuff happens. After all, TIA, “This is Africa.” In our old life, we often experienced WiFi and cable TV issues. It is not a lot different here with the WiFi. We’ve never turned on the TV here. It’s upstairs in the second lounge room, and we have no interest in spending time upstairs. There’s aircon in that lounge, but we don’t use aircon during daylight hours, and we wouldn’t want to be out of sight of our wildlife visitors.

Our safari mate, Susan, was so excited to see this turtle.  With hers and Linda’s new giant cameras in hand, none of us minded stopping for a photo op.

So today, we are posting some photos from the old post from October 12, 2013, and do so with sheer delight over the memories from so long ago. Enjoy them along with us. I have included them with the captions we used nine years ago.

Most likely a mom and a maturing baby, butt to butt, in quiet repose.

A few minutes ago, another bale of lucerne was delivered. We’re looking forward, once again, to our animal friends enjoying the fresh green hay in two areas of the garden.

Have a fantastic day.

Photo from one year ago today, October 12, 2021:

Impalas must be hungry to come so close to us. They usually steer clear of humans. We generously fed them. For more photos, please click here.

Guests arriving today…Busy cooking (menu shown below) and getting their cottages well stocked…Stage 5 load shedding…

Two very young kudus showed up today without their moms for the first time. Maybe she’s sent them off on their own or she was nearby.

Our friends Connie, Jeff, and daughter Lindsey arrived in Joburg last night, sending us to text to alert us to their arrival. They spent the night at the airport hotel, where we stayed a few times. The City Lodge is conveniently located within the airport and provides a good place to stay to avoid driving to Marloth Park in the dark, which is highly dangerous due to the risk of a carjacking on the highway.

“The hadada ibis (Bostrychia hagedash), also called hadeda, is an ibis native to Sub-Saharan Africa. It is named for its loud three to four note calls uttered in flight especially in the mornings and evenings when they fly out or return to their roost trees. Although not as dependent on water as some ibises, they are found near wetlands and often live in close proximity to humans, foraging in cultivated land and gardens. A medium-sized ibis with stout legs and a typical down-curved bill, the wing coverts are iridescent with a green or purple sheen. They are non-migratory but are known to make nomadic movement.”

It’s a 4½ hour’s drive from Johannesburg to Marloth Park. Once they arrive at the Gate 2 entrance to Marloth Park, they will call us, and we’ll drive to meet them at the gate while they register for their entrance pass, which they’ll keep while they are here. There are no numbers on our house, which would be impossible to find when the numbers in bush houses in the park aren’t necessarily sequential.

We’ve been busy getting ready for their arrival. Everything is all set. We’ve loaded their fridge with foods they like and stocked the two cottages with repellent, insect spray, emergency lights, soap, battery-powered fans, and more. They have everything they need for comfort, including during load shedding.

Today, there was a mating pair in our garden.

Speaking of load shedding, here is the schedule for the next few days:

Sunday Load Shedding, Stage 5

1:00 – 3:30 am

7:00 – 9: am

3:00 – 5:30 pm

11:00 am – 1:30 am

Load shedding is most challenging during the night when it’s hot. Also, as shown below, a huge consideration with food in the refrigerator and freezer during the four-hour outage is expected on Monday morning. We’ll move the perishables to the chest freezer and also put a bowl of ice in the fridge.

Searching for even the tiniest morsel in the dry bush.

Monday Load Shedding, Stage 5

7:00 – 11:30 am

3:00 – 5:30 pm

11:00 am – 1:30 am

Louise stopped by this morning to drop off two dozen eggs from a local farmer who breeds chickens that produce eggs with double yolks. Thanks, Louise! We haven’t seen an egg with a double yolk since we first arrived in Africa nine years ago. (Can you believe it?) Soon, when I get further in this post, I’ll make a few eggs to hold me until tonight’s big dinner.

Connie, a professional chef, is particularly interested in trying foods popular in South Africa, and we included several items on today’s menu

They were off on their own for awhile but joined up a short time later.

Speaking of tonight’s big dinner, here’s the menu:

Starters, sample tasting

  • Traditional beef biltong
  • Biltong seasoned bacon


  • Three flattie chickens, roasted on the braai; two home seasoned and one peri peri spiced
  • Skilpadjies –  is a traditional South African food, also known by other names such as muise and vlermuise. The dish is lamb’s liver wrapped in netvet, which is the fatty membrane that surrounds the kidneys. Quite delicious
  • Boerewors – (pronounced BOO-ruh-VORS) is a fresh South African sausage that is perfect for the grill. The name means “farmer’s sausage” and comes from a combination of the Afrikaans words boer (‘farmer’) and wors (‘sausage’).Locally made and seasoned “game meat” bors – a standard type of South African sausages, cooked on the braai
  • Steamed buttery white rice
  • Roasted root vegetables
  • Mixed lettuce salad with homemade dressing

Since they don’t eat desserts, it made no sense for me to make one, but at some point, we will introduce them to the very popular Malva Pudding and Milk Tart.

After a few hours,, they suddenly flew off in a hurry making their usual “Hadada” sounds. Earsplitting, to say the least

Surely in their two weeks here in the bush, they’ll have an opportunity to try many other dishes such as Pap and Sheeba, described as  “Pap & Sheba with Grilled Sausage … This classic South African dish is also a popular braai side, served with rich tomato relish (known as sheba) and grilled.”

We look forward to sharing many of the wonders of South Africa with them, hoping they’ll leave here with the same passion for the bush we acquired over the years.

We will continue to post while they are here, albeit shorter posts on the days we go to Kruger National Park.

Be well.

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

That morning, when we spotted this injured kudu in the garden. We watched this over time; eventually, it completely healed, and we could hardly see a scar. These animals are resilient with robust immune systems. For more photos, please click here.

Part 5…Extraordinary Kruger National Park experience…Safari luck prevails…Fascinating birds…

This is a Martial Eagle with his catch of the day. Zoom in for details. See more about this bird below…

We were excited to have spotted so many interesting birds while in Kruger last Thursday. It’s tricky for us to identify them using the bird book we have on hand. I don’t like to pester our bird watching friends when I can find a particular bird in the book or online.

But, when I do find one on my own, I am thrilled. It was easy to find the bird in today’s main photo and to share the details of this species here from this excellent site:

“Martial  Eagle

Latin Name

Polemaetus bellicosus.


Martial Eagles are the largest of the African eagles and incredibly powerful, capable of knocking an adult man off his feet. They reputedly have enough power in one foot to break a man’s arm. The largest eagle in Africa, the Martial eagle weighs in at almost 14 pounds (6.5 Kg.) and has a wingspan of about 6 feet 4 inches. It is 32 inches long. The upperparts are dark brown with a white belly with black streaks, the legs are white and has very large talons. The immature bird looks quite different from the adult.


In some areas birds form an important part of the diet, including guineafowl, francolins, bustards, and poultry. Birds as large as a European Stork are recorded to have fallen prey to the Martial Eagle. In other areas the diet is largely mammalian, especially hyrax and small antelopes.

Animals as large as an Impala calf are taken, and some monkeys, also occasionally young domestic goats, and lambs. Carnivores like mongoose are sometimes taken, even occasionally Serval Cat and Jackal; also a few snakes and large lizards. It will evidently eat whatever is available, with a preference for game-birds, hyrax, and poultry. It is not known to eat carrion at all except possibly dead lambs.


Martial Eagle nests are built invariably in trees, at any height from 20 to 80 feet above ground, but often in the largest tree in the area, growing on a steep hillside or in a gorge, where the bird has a clear sweep off the nest. Pairs have one or two nests, which are used in alternate years if more than one, but for successive breeding attempts if only one.

They are huge structures about four to six feet across and up to four feet thick, and often basin-shaped when new – much broader than they are deep. They are made of large sticks up to one-and-a-half inches in diameter, lined with green leaves. They may be used by a succession of birds for many years.

The Martial Eagle breeding season may thus begin in various parts of the range in a wet season, the early dry season, or late in the dry season, and some part of the cycle must extend through rainy periods. Incubation is normally done by the female, but a male has been known to sit. The female leaves the nest to feed and is not usually fed by the male at the nest. The incubation period is probably about 45 days. The young is very weak and feeble when first hatched, but becomes more active after about twenty days.

At 32 days feathers show through the down, and completely cover the bird at 70 days. The young Martial Eagle is fed by its parent till it is about 60 days old, and well feathered, when it starts to tear up its prey itself. During the early fledging period the female remains near or on the nest, and the male hunts and brings prey.

The female Martial Eagle remains in the area and receives prey from the male for about 50 days. After that she hunts or brings prey to the nest herself and the male seldom appears. The young one is closely brooded in its first few days, but after fourteen days the female does not brood it except at night.

The young bird, after making its first flight (at about 100 days), may return to roost in the nest for some days, and thereafter moves away from it. It remains loosely attached to the nest site for some time, and may be seen not far from it for up to six months.


The Martial Eagle is the largest eagle in Africa – this is a bird of the uninhabited stretches of thornbush and savannah found over much of Africa, occurring also in open plains and semi-desert country. Martial Eagles spend on average 85% of their time perched and take to the wing predominantly in the late morning (10am). This behaviour drops off sharply from around 3pm and is largely driven by thermal availability. Martial Eagles are thus also predominantly opportunistic perch and ambush hunters.

Martial Eagles will soar for hours on updraughts without hunting, and with a full crop, but it does most of its hunting from the soar also, killing or attacking by a long slanting stoop at great speed, or a gentle descent into an opening in the bush, the speed of the descent being controlled by the angle at which the wings are held above the back. It may kill from a perch, but does so seldom, and most of its kills are surprised in the open by the speed of the eagle’s attack from a distance.

A pair of Martial Eagles may have a home range of anything up to 50 square miles, and they wander about over most of it. They often hunt for several days in one area and then move on to another, since complaints of kills are often voiced for several days in succession in the same area. It is much shier than the other big eagles of Africa, and generally keeps away from man.

Although not migratory in the strict sense it makes local movements involving flights of several hundred miles, and a pair may not habitually be found near their breeding locality. It is by habit a hunter of game-birds and small mammals out in the open, but also preys upon man’s domestic animals, though it certainly kills much less than it is often accused of killing. Probably on balance it is a beneficial bird to man.

Where To Find Martial Eagles?

The Martial Eagle is found in the savannah and thornbush areas of Africa south of the Sahara, from Senegal to Somalia and south to the Cape. It is also found in open plains and semi-desert country, but not frequenting forest, although it occasionally breeds in forests on the edge of open country. The best place to see Martial Eagles in Kruger National Park is in the Lower Sabie area.”

This is a Fish Eagle. See details below.

Here is information on the African Fish Eagle also from this site:

“African Fish Eagle


The African Fish Eagle is a fairly large eagle. It has a distinctive black, brown, and white plumage.


Although, as its name suggests, it feeds extensively on fish, in some areas it preys on flamingoes and other water birds. It is also known to eat carrion and is classified as a kleptoparasite (it steals prey from other birds). Goliath Herons are known to lose a percentage of their catch to Fish Eagles. Their main diet is fish, sometimes dead, but mostly caught live. Catfish and lungfish are caught most frequently. Larger prey are eaten on the ground next to the water.


The African Fish Eagle has two distinct calls. In flight or perched, the sound is something like the American Bald Eagle. When near the nest its call is more of a ‘quock’ sound – the female is a little shriller and less mellow than the male. So well known and clear is the call of this bird that it is often known as ‘the voice of Africa’. The African Fish Eagle is usually seen in pairs inside and outside the breeding season, even sharing kills made by either of them. They spend more time perched than flying, and usually settle for the day by 10am, having made their kill, although they will kill at any time of the day.


It is most frequently seen sitting high in a tall tree from where it has a good view of the stretch of river, lakeshore or coastline, which is its territory. Near a lake with an abundant food supply, a pair may require less than a square mile of water to find enough food, whereas next to a small river, they may require a stretch of 15 miles or more. Some tend to move around to avoid the wettest weather, whereas others stay where they are all year round.

Where African Fish Eagle Are Found

The African Fish Eagle is widespread in Southern Africa. It is particularly common in and around some of the Rift Valley lakes.”

Then Tom captured this Goliath Heron as shown below, partially obscured in the tall grass but a fine sight to see as well.

Although not the most concise photo, it was fun to capture this Goliath Heron while on the bridge in Lower Sabie.

Here’s in formation on the Goliath Heron found on this site:

“Goliath Heron

The Goliath Heron (Latin name Ardea goliath) is described in Roberts Birds of Southern Africa, 7th Edition. This bird has a unique Roberts number of 64 and you will find a full description of this bird on page 590 also a picture of the Goliath Heron on page 592. The Goliath Heron belongs to the family of birds classified as Ardeidae.

The map of the Kruger you see on this page shows the areas (coloured orange) where this bird has been identified. The basic information was provided by the Avian Demographic Unit based at UCT and I created the maps from that information … the green dots show the locations of the various Kruger National Park Rest Camps

The Goliath Heron is neither Endemic or near Endemic to the Kruger National Park. It is however a common resident.

Main diet items for this bird

The Goliath Heron feeds on the ground and in or around water mainly: invertebrates, aquatic life forms

Breeding and nesting habits for this bird

The Goliath Heron is monogamous unless its mate dies. In the event of a partner dying Ardea goliath will seek out a new mate

The nesting habit of Goliath Heron is to create the nest in branches of a tree or shrub or on the ground. The bird lays eggs which are blue in colour and number between 2 to 5

Habitat and flocking behaviour for this bird

The preferred habitats for Goliath Heron are: wetlands and riverine areas

You can see Goliath Heron in flocks. The bird will often also be seen singly.”

In tomorrow’s post, we’ll share the balance of our photos from Kruger National Park. As you can see from our past posts, we had quite a good time in the park, spotting many amazing animals. We look forward to our next outing. We will make a point of avoiding posting repeated info for the wildlife to avoid redundancy.

We had a busy morning when the power went out but only at our house. Danie contacted an electrician who spent several hours making repairs, and now it is back on. What a relief. Now, we’re waiting for the appliance guy to come to fix the washer and main refrigerator. Although we are renting and aren’t responsible for such repairs, it’s excellent that Louise and Danie are so quick to respond when there are issues.

Yesterday afternoon, we had a delightful visit with reader/friends Marilyn and Gary, who were inspired to come to Marloth Park after reading our posts for years. They are experienced travelers, and we had an excellent get-together on our veranda. We’re looking forward to socializing with them again shortly while they spend almost two months in the park.

A special thanks to our friend Lynne, who lives part-time in Marloth Park and on Jersey Island. She and her husband Mick are the first couple we met on our first outing to Jabula in December 2013. They are the most enthusiastic and knowledgeable birders we know!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today,  July 26, 2021:

There was no post one year ago due to a travel day.

Bird watching in the morning!…Delightful first time sighting…

When we spotted the white marks on this bird’s feathers, we wondered about these rectangle-shaped markings on his feathers.

A band of about 40 mongooses arrived as we began today’s post. Last night, we had rib-eye steaks on the braai that proved too fatty for our taste. We ate some of the meat but left lots of meat and fat on the bones. Guess who loves fat and meat besides, South Africans? Mongooses. As carnivores, they love when we offer them meat of any kind. We always make sure the meat is fresh and safe for them to eat. We don’t keep leftover meat for more than a few days.

Zoom in to see detail on this fascinating bird, a green wood hoopoe. It’s called green based on the luminosity when the sun hits it. Due to its red/orange bill and feet, it’s also a red-billed wood hoopoe.

Now at almost noon, we’ve had a busy morning. Lots of animals stopped by, including six zebras. We’d hoped to go to Kruger National Park this morning but decided to go tomorrow instead. We had some tasks we wanted to accomplish today. Also, I prepped dinner for tonight and tomorrow night, so we’ll be good to go first thing in the morning.

Like a woodpecker, he pecked at the tree to find worms and insects. He was successful and found a worm sharing it with his mate.

It’s been a gorgeous day since I started walking today, and I am also doing steps, one flight at a time. It will take about three weeks to get back to my former goal of 8,000 – 10,000 steps a day. Plus, I plan to do ten flights of stairs daily, which will further enhance my stamina.

He was determined to get a snack out of this tree.

Since this property is much larger than the last holiday home, it will be easier to get in the number of steps by walking around the grounds and into the house. Still, I don’t feel comfortable walking on dirt roads with countless potholes and uneven terrain, which could easily result in a fall.

Taking photos was tricky since the movement of any type would send him and his mate on their way.

Sunday morning, while we sat at the table on the veranda, we noticed many birds flying around the garden.. There were the usual oxpeckers, hornbills, and white crested-helmet shrike. Still, we stopped dead in our tracts when we spotted a bird neither of us had ever seen in South Africa or any other African country.

He was intent on finding something in that hole.

Immediately, we started researching online to find the name of the bird which is shown in today’s photos, a green wood hoopoe, also known as the red-billed wood hoopoe, described as follows from this site:

“An elongated, metallic-green-black bird with red feet and a long, decurved, red-orange bill. Juveniles have dark bills but are often in the company of adults. It flies heavily, with the long, floppy, white-tipped tail dangling behind. Pairs and groups of up to 14 birds are highly social, occupying savanna, woodland, riverine forest, and gardens, where they nest and roost in natural cavities. Clambers in trees, probing bark and crevices for insects and small vertebrates. They communicate using a strong cackling chatter that sounds maniacal. The almost identical Grant’s and Violet woodhoopoes (with which it sometimes hybridizes) differ from Green Woodhoopoe only by having a coppery-purple (not glossy greenish) metallic sheen.”

The mating pair, who mate for life, were together on the tree. He fed her a worm.

This bird is not endangered, but after all of the time we’ve been in Africa, we were surprised we hadn’t seen it in the past. It was exciting to watch it pecking at the inside of the tree, as shown in the photos, and finding a worm he fed to his mate, who joined him on the tree. We couldn’t get the camera since we knew if we did so, they would fly away, so we missed that special photo op.

However, once we grabbed the camera off the dining room table and sat back down at the veranda table, we were thrilled to get the shots we were sharing today. What a fantastic sighting this was for us both. Immediately, we put out bird seeds which the woophoe and the hornbills seemed content to share.

This is a hanging bird feeder on a pulley line used to prevent monkeys from getting the seed. But it’s not foolproof, as we observed last week when a monkey made its way across the line and ate all the seeds.

No, we don’t have a Frank here, which is disappointing. But, perhaps we’ll “build relationships” with other birds visiting. Every creature, big and small, has a special meaning to us, whether it’s an insect, a rodent, or a massive beast. They all are unique and exciting.

We’ve always enjoyed watching hornbills, widespread birds in Africa, but they are somewhat entertaining.

We’re cooking lamb for me and bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin for Tom, with rice for him, avocado slices for me, and salad for us both. Since Tom’s weight is holding and he’s feeling well, I used up the remainder of the bananas to make him coconut banana bread, a recipe from our old lives. It’s slowly baking in the oven now in a springform pan I found in the back of the cupboard.

All is well here. Gradually, we’re regaining our strength and stamina and are grateful to be feeling better.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today,  June 13, 2021:

Our friends, Rita and Gerhard, with their new “bakkie.” It was a very smooth ride! We look forward to their return to Marloth Park in months. Last New Year’s Eve, they surprised us and showed up at a party we attended. For more photos, please click here.

Adorable little visitors……Three days and counting…

It appears these chicks are blue waxbills, common to this area. Right now, they are no larger than a pinky finger.

Some of today’s photos were taken through the screen door to the veranda, the only screened door or window we can use. There are a few screens on windows in the house, but most are not tightly fitted and would allow mozzies and other insects to enter.

Nothing like getting inside the container of seeds!

The screen door to the veranda also doesn’t fit tight and has no latch of any kind to close it tightly, allowing insects, Frank, and mongooses to enter the house from time to time.  For security reasons, we lock that screen if we take a short nap and keep the keys in the bedroom with us during the day. We lock the screen door and the sliding glass door at night and set the alarm, again keeping the keys on the nightstand if we need to hit the red button in an emergency.

In total, we saw seven of these little birds.

The screen has metal bars running vertically to prevent potential entry by unwelcomed humans or animals. When we first arrived at the house, the first time we saw Little, he had torn a massive hole in the screen to get indoors. Within days, Louise arranged for Vusi and Zef to repair it. They did an excellent job, as always.

I was listening to Frank squawking in the background.

Thank goodness, Little never tore the screen again, especially now that he knows it’s easy to get our attention, even when we’re indoors like we are now. The current temperature is 61F, 16C, and there’s a bit of a breeze. The humidity is high, and with an occasional drizzle, we’re sitting indoors on the sofa, preferring to avoid getting moisture on our laptops.

Some flew off, but others stayed behind to partake of the seeds.

Sitting on the sofa provides a clear view of the veranda to ensure we don’t miss any visitors that may stop by. Only minutes ago, Tom jumped up to feed Broken Horn pellets and has done the same for several hours when nine bushbucks, four kudus, and two warthogs stopped by.

Through the screen, it appeared that mom and dad showed them that it was safe to eat the seeds.

Yesterday. When I took photos of the little birds that stopped by with their parents to eat Frank’s seeds, I knew if I stood up, they’d fly away Gingerly. I picked up the camera and took a few shots through the screen door.

Mom stayed around for a while to make sure the coast was clear.

Of course, I was disappointed with the poor shots through the screen door and was thrilled to see they’d returned this morning. After eating a little, this time without the parents, I decided to open the door wide and see if I could get any shots while quietly sitting on the sofa.

In only a matter of one minute, I got these shots without the obstruction of the screen. But a moment later, the door slammed due to the winds, and they flew off. It was such a delight to get these few shots, although not perfect, when I had so little time to focus on the camera.

Dad took a turn ensuring the chick’s safety.

What made the experience all the more enjoyable was, when Frank had just finished eating seeds, the mom, dad, and babies flew in and started working on the seeds. Frank stood no less than a meter away, screeching the entire time. He was mad! We couldn’t stop laughing!

We have no doubt we’ll be able to watch the chicks grow over the next several months. Frank won’t be happy, but we’ll keep the container well stocked this week and then after we return from Zambia on October 26th.

A simple joy, six or seven tiny birds, and one bigger francolin, Frank, made the day special yesterday and then today when they returned. Nature is such a gift. We only need to stop what we’re doing for a few minutes and take a moment to observe, to put a smile on our faces, and brighten our spirits.

Have a bright and fulfilling day.

                                       Photo from one year ago today, October 18, 2020:

A final view of the King of Jungle as we left Kenya. This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #209. We were never disappointed, continually offering an opportunity for a close-up and the chance to observe their playful antics and instinctual behaviors. Thank you, lions. For more photos, please click here.

Wow!…An adventure in the bush!..

    Our photo of the black sparrowhawk when it took a break from devouring its kill.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 1 warthog
  • 8 bushbuck
  • 8 kudus
  • 1 impala

(Based on the fact that most holiday homes in Marloth Park are occupied this weekend and the guests feeding the animals (hopefully appropriate pellets, not dangerous human leftovers), less wildlife is visiting us this morning. In a few days, things will go back to normal.

Yesterday morning, as I was wrapping up the post, a situation occurred in our garden that was a first for us and left us reeling in awe and wonder about nature. Even here is relatively safe Marloth Park, where wildly few apex predators roam the bush for food, we witnessed a kill right before our eyes.

We were seated at the table on the veranda with nary a care in the world, with dozens of mongoose, 40 or more helmeted guinea-fowl, two warthogs, and no less than four bushbucks, hovering in expectation of other treats from us, of which we’d already offered many.

Whether it was seeds for the birds, meat for the mongoose, or pellets for bushbucks, they all hovered in the garden in eager anticipation of what was yet to come. Suddenly, in a race for safety, like none other we’d seen in the bush, in a matter of a few seconds, they all ran to the right in a mad flurry of squawks, squeals, snorts, and chirps, including the bushbucks, all looking as if they were experiencing sheer terror.

What could it be, we wondered aloud? And there it was, swooping through the garden, in plain view, in a wild frenzy for a “kill” was a black sparrowhawk, eyeballing all the small creatures in our garden, particularly the guinea-fowl and mongoose, all appropriate fodder for the hawk’s desires and diet.

If you enlarge the photo and look carefully at the middle left of this photo, inside the garden fence, you can see the young guinea fowl hovering in sheer terror. With the feathers we had seen in this area, we knew that the hawk would soon capture him, and they did it in the blink of an eye.

Without a doubt, it was a stampede. Many of the guinea-fowls took to the air while many ran as they often do. The mongoose followed suit, chirping in a pitch we’d never heard before. The bushbucks, certainly too large to be fodder for the hawk, followed in the mad dash for safety.

We opened the front door to see his chosen catch, a young guinea-fowl, perhaps only months old, crouching near a tiny bush as shown in the above photo, feathers everywhere, indicating it had already been attacked. We heard screaming sounds from the guinea-fowl and watched as the hawk headed toward the front of the house. The hawk swooped in to capture the bird from the enclosed garden in the front of the house so quickly, but Tom saw it. It was impossible to take a photo and not scare off the hawk.

The hawk must have dragged the bird to the rear side bush area as we saw it flying up into the air intermittently as it devoured its prey. We were able to quickly snap the above main photo when the hawk paused for seconds on a branch during that period.

The guinea-fowls have yet to return to our garden and may not do so for a while. As for the mongoose, we have no doubt we’ll see them again soon when they know there are tidbits of meat always awaiting their arrival. Of course, the bushbucks returned shortly after the incident and showed up on our trail cam photos throughout the night, leaving us with over 250 photos to go through this morning with nary a sighting of any other species.

Black Goshawk
A black sparrowhawk in flight.  (Not our photo)

Yes, it’s sad to see them kill the young bird, but it’s all a part of the life cycle of animals in the wild. Over the years, when visiting Africa and then India, we conditioned ourselves to be less emotional when witnessing a kill. Although we both cringed when Tom reminded me it could have been Frank and The Misses. This would have been a massive loss for us when they so easily are a vital part of our everyday life and enjoyment in the bush.

Here is some information about the black sparrowhawk from this site:

“Typically, both sexes of the black sparrowhawk have predominantly black plumage with a white throat, breast, and belly. These white-breasted individuals are known as “white morphs,” which are in the majority over most of the birds’ range. The “black morph” variety is generally rare, except along the coastal regions of South Africa, including the Cape Peninsula, where they constitute 80% of the population. (Black sparrowhawks do not occur more than 200–300 km north of Cape Town along the South African west coast, where there are almost no trees.) These “black (or dark) morphs,” when seen perched, can be black all over but more commonly have a few white spots on the breast or a white throat of variable size. In flight, both morphs show white and black barring on the underside of the wings and tail. The black morphs are not melanistic, as commonly alleged, as their plumage is not entirely black, nor are they black as chicks or juveniles.

There is no noticeable difference between the plumage of mature females and males, which can only be distinguished by size. The tails are cross-barred with about three or four paler stripes, and the undersides of the wings with perhaps four or five. The legs are yellow, with large feet and talons.

Not our photo.


The black sparrowhawk is one of the world’s largest Accipiters, only the Henst’sMeyer’s, and northern goshawk can match or exceed its size. As is common in the genus Accipiter, black male sparrowhawks are smaller than females. Typically the weights of males lie between 450 and 650 g (0.99 and 1.43 lbs) while females’ weights lie in the 750 to 1,020 g (1.65 to 2.25 lb) range. The typical total length is about 50 cm (20 in) and wingspan about 1 m (39 in). As in most Accipiters, the tails are long (about 25 cm (9.8 in)), as are the tarsi (about 8 cm (3.1 in). The features of the black sparrowhawk (and Accipiters in general) are reflective of the necessity to fly through dense arboreal habitats. However, this species does most of its hunting in open areas (usually from a concealed perch in a tree).”

Later today, Rita and Gerhard will arrive and meet us at Jabula for dinner, which is unknown. We’ll arrive at 5:00 pm (1700 hours) and wait for them to arrive. How exciting!

That’s it for today, dear readers. Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 16, 2020:

This banded albatross in Kauai, Hawaii, in 2015, appeared to be a parent when they were hovering near a chick. For more photos, please click here.

Day #107 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Birds over mammals?…

This adorable kookaburra posed for me in the yard in Trinity Beach, Australia, while sitting on the fence next to the rain gauge. These birds are much larger than they appear in this photo.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from July 8, 2015, while in Trinity Beach, Queensland, Australia. See the link here for more details.

Yesterday’s post included a remembrance of our time spent in Kauai, Hawaii, in 2015 and a little about the story of our exciting experiences with the Laysan Albatross on the Garden Island, as shown here

After a while, they relocated to the roof, looking down for a possible morsel of food.  They are known to snatch food off of plates when cooking on the “barbie.” More on kookaburras will be coming in a few days with our wildlife posts.

As I pursued past posts for today’s photos, I stumbled across photos of the ever-so-fascinating bird, the kookaburra, while spending time in Trinity Beach, Australia, in 2015. 

Contrary to our usual distaste for zoos, although we appreciate their existence as an opportunity for humans to learn about animals, while in Trinity Beach, we visited a local zoo when we didn’t see many animals in the wild, except for kangaroos and wombats.

These common Yellow Allamanda were growing like crazy in the garden of our holiday home.

It was hard to resist when we were welcomed to “do a story” on the Cairns Tropical Zoo, avoiding an entry fee and providing us with a personal tour with one of the zoo biologists.

Having an opportunity to learn about the indigenous animals the zoo housed exclusively certainly opened our eyes to possible future sightings of the birds and mammals we learned about on that particular day.

Bottlebrush blooming in the yard.

Three birds particularly caught our attention; cockatoos, pelicans, and kookaburras, of which we’ve included a few shots today. As we continue sharing photos from past posts, we’ll include photos of more of the stunning creatures we were fortunate to see on that tour in a few days.

In 2017, we stayed in Fairlight, Australia, close to Sydney, and were thrilled to have the opportunity to interact with these special birds by hand-feeding visitors to the garden of our holiday home when they stopped by each day. Those photos will follow soon.

We drove up the mountain behind the market to Kuranda. When we began the steep and winding trek, it was sunny. When we arrived at the first overlook, it was cloudy, and rain had started to fall. We turned back with a plan to return to see the village at the top on a sunny day.

When we began our travels, we didn’t realize how significant birds would become in our constant search for wildlife. Not only in Africa and Australia, but we also had many memorable experiences with birds in many other locations, as many of our long-term readers have seen.

No, we aren’t expert bird watchers like our friends, Lynne and Mick from the UK with a home in Marloth Park, Louise in Kauai, Hawaii, and our friends Linda and Ken from the UK and South Africa. But we certainly are bird enthusiasts, spending time learning about those we particularly enjoy. 

We could imagine how beautiful this expansive view would be on a sunny day.

Often, I’ll post a photo of a bird we don’t recognize, and our friends will jump in and help us identify the specimen. Bird watching and savoring the beauty of birds can be quite a hobby and, at times, a lofty obsession, coupled with excellent camera skills. 

For us, we love seeing everything that walks, runs, flies swims, and slithers. If it’s moving, we are curious about it, including a wide array of insects we’ve spotted in our years of world travels. Some of our favorite experiences and photos include close-ups of insects and spiders.

The mountain and ocean view reminds us of Kauai, Hawaii.

Nothing new is on the horizon here at the moment. The hotel continues to be fully occupied. The monsoon season is in full force, with raging rain and floods almost daily. Covid-19 continues to infect more and more each day, and the prospects for leaving anytime soon diminish as the contamination escalates.

We’ve concluded that this is our life now and spend less time searching for travel options than we did in the past few months. We’ll know when we can leave and make decisions from there. All the speculation, expectation, and anticipation won’t change a thing. 

The sections of land always create such an exciting view both from the air and scenic overlooks at higher elevations.

The more we accept this as our fate, for now, the less stressful this scenario may be. It is entirely possible we could be here for a total of a year or even more. Laughter is our best panacea. Hope is our salvation.

Stay safe.

Photo from one year ago today, July 8, 2019:

A repeated photo of a few Gentoo penguins and me on Saunders Island, Antarctica, on January 26, 2018.  What an experience! For more photos from the year-ago post, please click here.