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 very 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 further 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 hawks 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 she/he 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 heard screaming sounds from the guinea-fowl and watched as the hawk headed toward the front of the house. We opened the front door to see his chosen catch, a young guinea-fowl, perhaps only months old, cowering near a tiny bush as shown in the above photo, feathers everywhere, indicating it had already been attacked. The hawk swooped in to captured 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. It was during that period that we were able to quickly snap the above main photo when the hawk paused for seconds on a branch.

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 actually 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 the kill of the young bird, but it’s all a part of the cycle of life 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 huge 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 a 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 about 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 completely 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.

Size

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, male black sparrowhawks are smaller than females. Typically the weights of males lie between 450 and 650 g (0.99 and 1.43 lbs) while that of females lies 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, although 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, time unknown at this point. 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 she or he was 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 she/he 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.

Today, 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 weren’t seeing 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.

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, it was hard to resist.


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

Bottlebrush blooming in the yard.

There were three birds that 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, in a few days, we’ll include photos of more of the stunning creatures we were fortunate to see on that tour.


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. By the time we arrived at the first overlook, it was cloudy and rain began 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, our friend 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.

Oftentimes, 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 closeups 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 come to the conclusion that this is our lives 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 interesting 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.

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

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

Photos from April 2017 while in Australia…Waiting for refunds…

Here’s a video of rough waters in Sydney Harbor on our way back to Fairlight.



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 in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

We met up with old friends Linda and Ken from South Africa in Sydney, Australia on March 16, 2017.  It was a perfect day among friends! We had a great lunch and an early happy hour with them that day! Once we get to South Africa, we’ll hopefully see them again along with our mutual friends, Kathy and Don and many others. Here’s the link for today’s photos.

The photos from Kauai, Hawaii from five years ago today weren’t suitable for today’s post. Instead, we found a few favorite photos from the time we spent in Australia in 2017. That particular post may be found here.


Again, seeing these photos brought back many wonderful memories of the long period we spent in the South Pacific which proved to be a total of two years, traveling in and out of Australia due to 90-day visa restrictions.
Our friend, Mr. Magpie, who’d visited us inside the house.

During that two year period in the South Pacific, we embarked on a total of eight cruises, which included one back-to-back cruise that circumvented the entire continent of Australia. What a stunning adventure!


Now, we wonder if we’ll ever cruise again. Will it be safe to cruise when already they have been referred to as a petri dish (I don’t like that description but it says it all). It was no wonder, even then, that we became ill on many cruises usually with a virus which often included an awful cough, lasting for weeks.

Hand-feeding Kookaburras in the garden. They are carnivores so I fed them raw, grass-fed ground beef.

The thought of exposing oneself to such illnesses and the recurrence of COVID-19 makes sailing on a cruise very unappealing at this time. Wearing a face mask while cruising would eliminate all the fun for us and others when socializing and dining are often the biggest highlight and a huge source of pleasure.


Speaking of cruises, we’re still waiting for the refund from Viking Cruise Line for their cancellation of the cruise, on which we were supposed to sail on April 3rd from Mumbai. 
The scene in Manly near the ferry.

We were contacted by Viking via email on March 12th, that the cruise was being canceled due to COVID-19 and we’d have our full payment back within 21 business days. This would have resulted in our receiving the refund of almost INR 1529001, US $20,000, on our credit card on or about April 10, 2020.


When April 10th came and went we contacted Vacations to Go as to why Viking hadn’t returned our full payment for the canceled cruise. After some checking, our rep replied, “Refunds won’t be coming until 90 days,” changing their original commitment for 21 business days.
A Cockatoo visitor in the garden.

This is infuriating. It’s a huge amount of money we could certainly use now, living in a hotel and dining in a restaurant. Our biggest fear is that in the next two months Viking will go bankrupt and we’ll lose the money. We’re on pins and needles over this.


Besides this, when Kenya Airways refused to allow us to board our flight to South Africa on March 20th, the day South Africa started refusing international travelers, we tried to get a refund for this flight which was INR 63424, US $830 (for two).  

Giant surf at Manly Beach on a gorgeous day.

In researching the Kenya Airways website, there was a statement explaining no refunds would be provided for canceled flights or in refusing to allow certain foreigners to travel.


Each day I’ve continued to watch their site and yesterday a form appeared online, enabling us to apply for a credit that can only be used as a credit within 12 months of the original flight date. The 12 months could easily pass by the time we hear something. We’ll see how that goes. 

Luna Park in Sydney Harbour at night, taken from the Manly Ferry.

This is no doubt worrisome. We hadn’t written about it since we thought the refund would be coming by April 10th from Viking and that we’d lost the money from Kenya Airways.


COVID-19 has an impact on all of us, in one way or another. Certainly, we are extremely grateful for a roof over our heads and meals and especially having air conditioning as the temperature rises each day as summer approaches in India.

The Sydney Opera House at night, taken from the Manly Ferry.

Today, on the news, there was a story about South Africa Airways going out of business. This will result in greater difficulty and higher fares to fly to South Africa when other carriers pick up the slack. Also, they were the primary airline that flew into the tiny airport in Mpumalanga/Nelspruit/Kruger which brought us closer to Marloth Park.


Subsequently, in the future, we may have to drive for five hours from Johannesburg to Marloth Park. Here again, we’ll play it by ear.

Beautiful sky at sunset, taken from our veranda.

You may ask, “Why deal with all these hassles? Why not return to the US, rent or buy a condo and settle down for our remaining years?”


To us, it’s no different than us asking you to leave your home for good and do what we do. We each have our own chosen path and ours, my dear readers is to continue on our path for as long as we can. We aren’t bored. We are tired of it. But, we are anxious to get back to it!


As some restrictions loosen, please continue to stay safe.

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Photo from one year ago today, April 20, 2019:

Mongooses on the veranda looking for eggs. For more photos, please click here.

Part 3…Outstanding day in Kruger National Park…Elephants are amazing!…People are too!…A fabulous night at Jabula…

Video #1 – A surprise participant in the background.
 Video #2 – Playful elephants.
 Video #3 – More elephant antics.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A very young impala.

It’s Wednesday morning, a typical day in the bush. Vusi and Zef are cleaning the house. The Mom and Babies (four piglets) are busily munching on pellets at the edge of the veranda. Ms. Kudu left a few minutes ago after she’d had her fill.  

The sky is partly cloudy, and we’re in for another cool day. There are thousands of dead insects on the veranda floor overnight (a daily occurrence). Soon, when the interior of the house is clean, Vusi and Zef will come outside to clean the veranda while we’ll go inside to get out of their way.
The matriarch was watching the youngsters play in the Sabie River.

Once they’re done, we’ll come back outside to spend the balance of the day outdoors, as we always do, busy working on the post and plans for the future. Tom spends some time on Facebook and Ancestry while I work on projects around the house.

Once I’ve uploaded today’s post, I’ll finish doing laundry, preparing tonight’s dinner, and perhaps work on some items to be packed for our departure in 15 days. Today’s project is neatly folding all of our “bugs-away” and safari clothing I’d washed yesterday and have since dried. Safari in Kenya isn’t too far away. 

It was irresistible…she joined them.

Last night we had a fantastic time at Jabula Lodge & Restaurant, celebrating Dawn’s (friend and owner) birthday. It was delightful to see how many loyal fans came to extend our best wishes and gratitude for the beautiful job (along with partner Leon) in making this a memorable establishment with great food, ambiance, and service.

Many brought gifts, hugs, kisses, and warm wishes for Dawn. A table filled with scrumptious-looking appetizers and drinks hosted by Leon added to the festivities. 

They wanted to play with her.

If there ever was a “Cheers” type bar, Jabula fills the bill. The new and the familiar faces, the lively conversation, loud laughter, and the ease with which everyone in attendance feels welcomed and included are unreproachable. 

We met a new couple originally from Germany, living in Marloth Park part-time and soon moving their business to live in Florida, USA. We saw old friends with health challenges possessing upbeat attitudes off to work on the next phase of hopeful recovery.  

Finally, it was time to get out of the river and continue their day.

We chatted with new friends we’ve made this time around, along with old friends from five years ago. Tom and I arrived early to sit at our favorite spots at the bar and eventually ordered delicious dinners, never giving up our barstools.  

It wasn’t the first time we dined at the bar when we were having too much fun to go to a table on the veranda. I can’t recall ever enjoying dining at the bar until Jabula.

The littlest one followed close to the adults as they were on their way.

Leon played the role of DJ, and the music had most of us either dancing in our seats or on our feet to kick up our heels. Women danced with women and men, well, they danced with all of us. It was grand. It was memorable, as were so many nights we’ve spent in this unique establishment over this past year.

When Tom and I danced to a slow song, holding close in each other’s arms, I felt an immense sense of happiness wash over me, coupled with a bit of melancholy. But, the melancholy quickly wafted away when I reminded myself that those arms will still be around me long after we depart Marloth Park, and the memories will always remain in my heart.

Thank you for sharing this special time with us…

Photo from one year ago today, January 30, 2018:

This elephant seal was so relaxed, a bit of drool dripped from her mouth. A bath would be nice. For more stunning scenes from Antarctica, please click here.

Part 2…Outstanding day in Kruger National Park…A heartbreaking sighting…Part of life in the wild?…

 A short video of this gaunt-looking lioness.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A herd of impalas at the side of a dirt road we traveled in Kruger.

We often hear others say, “This is life in the wild.” Hearing this doesn’t lessen the emotions we feel when we see an animal suffering. It’s sad to see a human or an animal in pain, ill, or emotionally distraught for any reason. But, the realities of life don’t diminish the emotions we feel when we observe such a scenario when often there is nothing we can do to help.

A few evenings ago, a little male duiker, a timid member of the antelope family, was trapped inside the chicken wire-fenced garden area within our garden. Somehow he’d managed to find his way inside this lush area of greenery and became trapped when he couldn’t navigate an exit.

It was sad to see the lioness suffering.

We were seated at the big table on the veranda and noticed him ramming his head into the chicken wire, trying to escape. Helping an animal, however small, in a panicked situation such as this could be dangerous.

We’d seen a photo where a bushbuck died trying to extricate its head from being stuck in a fence in Marloth Park. But we weren’t going to let him die before our eyes. If residents feel they need fences they definitely should be a type that prevents wildlife from potential injury or even death.  

One can only guess why this particular lioness hadn’t been hunting and eating.

We often wonder why there are hazardous fences in the park. Don’t people come here to be “one” with nature, not hiding behind fences? None of the Big Five permanently reside in Marloth Park and rarely does a lion, leopard, or cheetah rarely find its way into the park. Surely, a fence of any type wouldn’t necessarily protect a human from such a dangerous encounter.

Tom grabbed the long, extendable pole he used to chase off baboons and monkeys and attempted to raise the bottom of the fence to allow the duiker an exit. The poor little creature bellowed in total fear while Tom tried to help.

There is a gate to this area, and we immediately opened it hoping the duiker would see the open exit. While Tom tried to help him, I stood at a distance from the door, hoping to see him escape.

We assumed she was ill or injured.

Finally, after several minutes of him running into the impenetrable wire fence in different enclosure locations, he spotted the open gate and escaped. We both sighed in relief. 

He’s a duiker we’ve often fed and wondered what he was after in that area. Perhaps it was a type of vegetation he particularly liked. Once he ran off, leaping through the air, we wondered if we’d ever see him again.  

A few hours later, Alas returned, and we tossed him some pellets, tiny bits of carrots, and apples. (We always cut the veggies into small bite-sized pieces for the duikers and bushbucks. Kudus and warthogs can handle big chunks but not the tiny antelope or babies of most species).

Every step she took appeared to be an effort.

We were relieved to see he was uninjured and back to his shy little self, often appearing with a female he seemed attached to.  But, the lion we spotted in Kruger didn’t have the potential of a good outcome after we’d seen her looking so unwell.

Sure, we can say, “This is life in the wild,” but that harsh reality doesn’t insulate us from feeling sad for a suffering animal in the wild. Nor, in essence, do we ever want to feel less compassionate. It’s that compassion and love for wildlife that brought us to Africa in the first place. We don’t want to become “tougher” and more accepting of the often gruesome realities.

In today’s world, horrifying videos portray atrocities lodged upon wildlife, many too horrific to mention. Is it possible to see these repeatedly can cause us to become immune to appalling scenes that diminish our ability to feel compassion?

She appeared to have made her way under the bridge where we’d no longer be able to see her.

Seeing the lion in such sorrowful condition left us feeling in tune and touch with nature, that even after many such sightings in this past year of living in the bush, we still care, we still feel, and we still treasure the beauty of life in the wild.  We remain untarnished by the harsh realities.

In 16 days, we’ll leave Marloth Park. We’re grateful for this life-enhancing year in the bush while looking forward to what lies ahead of us.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 29, 2018:

At lunch that day in Antarctica, one of the chefs prepared a beef and vegetable stir-fry outdoors. We all partook of the delicious offering but decided to dine indoors. It was a little too cold to eat outside for our liking. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…Outstanding day in Kruger National Park…A few first time sightings…So exciting!…

This was an exciting sighting for us, the elusive nyala which we’d never seen during this past year in South Africa.  From this site:  The handsome slate-brown shaggy coat is marked with white vertical stripes and spots on the flanks. Rams appear more charcoal-grey in colour. The rams have long inward curved horns 650 mm (26 inches) and a white chevroned face. They have a ridge of long hairs along the underparts, from behind the chin to between the hind legs, they also have a mane of thick, black hair from the head along the spine to the rump. Rams weigh 115 kg (254 pounds) and measures 1.05 m (41 inches) at shoulders. Ewes are much smaller and do not have horns, and weigh 59 kg (130 pounds) and stand 900 mm (35 inches) at shoulders. Ewes are chestnut-coated with even more prominent white stripes on the flanks.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This is a black-shouldered kite.  From this siteThe black-shouldered Kite is a small, graceful raptor and the most voracious eater in the raptor family. It needs to consume up to 25% of its body mass every day – that is the equivalent of about two mice. This means each bird probably kills around 700 mouse-sized animals a year.
Its late in the day, almost 1600 hours (4:30 pm) and I’m anxious to get today’s post uploaded to ensure we can begin wildlife watching on the veranda by our usual 1700 hours (5:00 pm).
At first, when we glimpsed at these three well-hidden animals we thought they were kudus based on the stripes on their bodies.  But, after further inspection, we realized these three antelopes were not kudus but, the elusive nyala.  

Thus, I’m rushing a little and only sharing a few of the highlights of today’s outing in Kruger National Park, leaving the balance of the exciting sightings for tomorrow.

It was a perfect day to enter the park. The weather was a moderate 26C, (79F), the sky was overcast and cloudy but there was no rain in sight.  These were ideal conditions for wildlife to be in plain view. We weren’t disappointed.
Known to be rather shy it was tricky taking a few photos.
On the hottest of days, the animals often stay undercover from the scorching sun or gravitate toward water holes we’re unable to see from the paved or dirt roads.  With the recent rains many formerly dry waterbeds now have some water to attract the animals.  Considerably more rain is desperately needed to have an impact on the river.  
The Crocodile River we cross upon entry into the park is practically bone dry.  Five years ago during this same time period, the river was practically overflowing as opposed to its current sparse sections of water leaving many animals seeking smaller bodies of water for sustenance.  

It was difficult to take a photo of the three of them together but we waited patiently for this shot.

We took off at 9:00 am, leaving the preparation of today’s post for our recent return. Subsequently, we’re breezing through as quickly as possible and will provide a more comprehensive post tomorrow.

I tried sitting outdoors on the veranda while preparing this but the biting black flies were so bad, I had no choice but to come indoors to finish here.  The sofas and chairs in the living room, although comfy for lounging, are not suitable for working on a laptop.
While we waited we were able to finally able to take a few photos of the individual nyalas.
So i apologize for this quick post but promise more for tomorrow especially since we have some stunning sightings to share that we’ve saving exactly for that purpose.
It was a shame they wouldn’t come out from the dense bush but we did the best we could.
Our plan today was to drive on the paved road all the way to Lower Sabie and to stop for breakfast at the popular Mugg & Bean, one of few restaurants in Kruger National Park. The food was hot, fresh and served quickly based on the fact that we were two of only about eight diners in the entire restaurant.  
After breakfast we were back on the road, taking a dirt road off the beaten path.  It was during this diversion that we saw the two bird photos were sharing today.  We’d previously posted photos of the European roller but never of the black-shouldered kite.
A wildebeest mom and her offspring.
As many of our readers are well aware, we aren’t necessarily “birders” in the truest sense of the word.  However, from time to time when we spot something unique we’re excited to share it with our readers.  Of course, we have a special affinity toward our resident francolins, Frank and The Mrs., and the mating hornbills.
The mom kept a watchful eye on us to ensure we were no risk to her young calf.
There were few tourists in Kruger although at a few sightings, four or five vehicles were stacked up making it difficult to get into a good position for easily taking photos.  

In these circumstances, our mutual patience and persistence pays off.  We picked a good spot and waited for a better position to open up.  Eventually, other observers lost interest and moved on, enabling us to move into a better location.  
This was the first photo we’d taken of a tree squirrel in Kruger National Park.
That’s what self-driving in a national park is all about, having the flexibility to do what’s necessary to take good photos while maintaining a degree of courteousness and kindness – a winning combination.
This evening we’ll stay in, cook dinner and look forward to darkness when the flies seem to disappear but then, the pesky mozzies appear.  Oh well, TIA (this is Africa) after all, isn’t it?
This a a European roller.  From this site:  The European roller is the only member of the roller family of birds to breed in Europe. Its overall range extends into the Middle East and Central Asia and Morocco. They are migratory, wintering in Africa, mainly in the east and south.           

We hope you have a pleasant evening and that all is well in your world!

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Photo from one year ago today, January 28, 2018:

This elephant seal on Steeple Jason Island didn’t care for our photo taking.  For more photos from Antarctica, please click here.

Kruger never disappoints…It isn’t always about the Big Five or even the Ridiculous Nine…All of it is special to us!…

A pair of elephants affectionately playing in the mud and water at Sunset Dam 
in Kruger National Park.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A pair of barn owls in the rafters at Mugg & Bean restaurant looking down at all the crazy humans trying to take a photo.

Early this morning, we took off for the river when we’d seen lions had been spotted a few hours earlier. We must have missed them when we arrived at least two hours after Tom had seen the Facebook announcement indicating where they could be found.

A Southern Ground Hornbill in the bush.

But, as always, our trip to the Crocodile River, a 10-minute drive on the bumpy dirt roads, wasn’t a bust. We saw so much more, which we’ll share in days to come.

This appears to be a mating pair of vultures tending to their nest.

Afterward, we made a quick trip to the Marlothi shopping center for a few items, and by 11:30 am, we were back home. The boys had come to clean while we were gone, and the house was spotless and even smelled so.  

A hippo near the shore of the Sabie River.

The constant dust was wafting indoors from the garden when “visitors” come to call leaves every surface covered in dust daily. It takes considerable attention to detail to keep the level of dust indoors to a minimum, and Zef and Vusi are masterful at this.

A hippo and an oxpecker.

Before we left this morning, I’d gone through the hundreds of photos I’d taken in Kruger yesterday, narrowing them down to a possible good 50 shots, many of which we’ll share over the next several days along with others we’ve taken at the fence and of course, in the garden.

A giraffe side-face view.  The hair atop the ossicones indicates this is most likely a female.  Males wear off the hair due to fighting for dominance.

Last night, after holidaymakers left the park, all of our favorite animals returned to see us beginning at about 1700 hrs (5:00 pm). We were so busy with them we hardly had time to get our dinner and beverages ready for the evening ahead.

A giraffe was contemplating a drink.

At one point, we counted eight species in the garden simultaneously: kudus, bushbucks, wildebeest, warthog, duikers, mongoose, helmeted guinea fowl, and bushbabies. We hardly stopped for a moment when finally, we managed to get dinner on the table a few hours later. We couldn’t stop smiling.

A little bird was going after a breadcrumb at the Mugg & Bean restaurant in Lower Sabie, where we had lunch.

As for yesterday’s visit to Kruger, although not earth-shattering, we were content with our varied sightings as shown in today’s and future day’s photos. When we don’t readily spot all the animals considered as the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, Cape buffalo, and elephant), we tend to focus our attention on those we do find.

This couple fed the starlings based on how they gathered at their table, staring at them for more.

Yesterday was undoubtedly a busy elephant and hippo day, as evidenced in our photos and included video. We know many of our readers don’t care to watch videos, but we invite you to do so.  

Elephant families on the Sabie River.

We don’t post our videos unless we find something special contained therein. Of course, that’s based on our personal opinion, which may not necessarily appeal to you. Typically, they are only one to three minutes long.

A mom and two offspring from different birth years.

We drove through Kruger on our preferred route, where we’d enjoyed considerable success. But, the sightings weren’t as prevalent along the paved road as we’ve seen in the past.  

It was a hot but gorgeous day, perfect for spotting elephants on the river.

The paved road leads to the Lower Sabie and the Mugg and Bean, where we stopped for lunch to see once again its expansive river views from the restaurant’s veranda.

The little one was enjoying the water too.

As mentioned in an earlier post, recently, I’d accidentally broken a bottle of red wine on one of our two cameras. The SD card was destroyed but ultimately not the camera itself after letting it dry out for a week.

The young elephant was playing in the water.

I hadn’t been able to find another SD card in Komatipoort and didn’t want to wait until we returned to Nelspruit to the immigration office in the next few weeks. I thought the gift shop at the Mugg & Bean might carry them.

They did much to my delight, and I was able to purchase a 16 gig card for ZAR 220 (US $15.43), a reasonable price for such a card. When we returned to the house, I placed the card in the camera, and all is working well.  

Mom elephant fussing over her youngsters.

We’re both relieved that once again, we have two working cameras, especially needed for our upcoming photography tour in Kenya in about three and a half months. I guess I won’t spill red wine on a camera again.

Anyway, the day in Kruger continued with some excellent sightings, some of which we’re sharing here today.  As for the rest of today, we’re hanging out at the house. We’ve had a relatively steady stream of frequent visitors, which we expect to pick up in about four hours for another spectacular evening in the bush!

May your day and evening be spectacular as well!

Photo from one year ago today, November 6, 2017:

We wrote one year ago…”Today’s flowers from the grounds of La Perla in Atenas Costa Rica are a token of our sorrowful expression for the loss of life and injury of the victims in the Texas mass shooting.” For more, 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 essential always to 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 will be pregnant again. Bushbucks can give birth twice in one year.

First, let me clarify 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, ending around March 21st. It was sweltering, 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 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 (3:00 PM). Since it’s not summered yet, we’re still experiencing many relaxed and comfortable days of perfect weather.

Cape buffalo were 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 all day outdoors on these high temp days is somewhat tolerable.

When we were here in 2013/2014 (December through February), it was during the peak of summer, and it was sweltering 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 desert climates such as Nevada, our state of residency, anything over 39C (102F) is hot and uncomfortable.  

Elephants were 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, mainly in the shade. At most, we each spent 20 minutes in the sun for 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 highly uncomfortable, especially right now.

As hot as it’s been lately, it still springs here, and birds are preparing their nests. A pair of blue African starlings have taken over the formerly unoccupied bushbaby house from a couple 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 relaxed. 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 bring bits of dried brush and other vegetation to 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 to feel some semblance of cleanliness.

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

Incubation: lasts about 12 days. It begins with the next or next to last (penultimate) egg. We expect to hear the chicks before too long. 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).”

Two kudus visited before we went inside, 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 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. How exciting! Tomorrow, we’ll share some of the preparations we’ve begun for their arrival.

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.

Mongoose mania…Wild and crazy visitors…A frog thing…

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

It’s not easy lying down and getting comfortable when you have big tusks.

By the time you see today’s post, we’ll already be in Nelspruit at the immigration office for our 11:00 am appointment to which we’re bringing a pile of printed documents inside a plastic bag as required. I don’t quite get the plastic bag thing but who cares?  We have plenty of plastic bags.

This won’t be the first time in our travels that we’ve had immigration issues. It was most challenging in Australia as described in this post in March 2017. Earlier in Bali, Indonesia we had to visit the immigration office every 30 days with a new pile of documents as shown here in this post.

We’d just fed the eggs to the mongoose and the green bowl remained on the ground. The warthog on the left was digging a hole, most likely in search of roots.

During our stay in Belize for 2½ months in 2013, we had to take a small rickety boat, called the Hokie Pokie to get to the immigration office on the other side of the bay, a 30-minute excursion. Here’s the link to that post.

Needless to say, we’ve had our fair share of immigration challenges. Now, as we’ve matured in our travel experience, we’ve begun to avoid long stays where it may be an issue, the exception, of course, has been our desire to stay in Marloth Park for one year, a rare occurrence.  

Last night, Bid Daddy stopped by in the dark.

It’s unlikely we’ll ever stay anywhere longer than 90 days in the future regardless of how much we love the location. This doesn’t mean we’ll avoid countries with 30-day visas.  

We’ll only stay 30 days or less in those locations. We’ve learned our lesson although we don’t regret the valuable time we spent in those countries, leaving us with exceptional memories with stories and photos to share.

As for today’s appointment, as mentioned, we’ll share the details as they unfold over the next many weeks.  

He stayed in this spot for quite a while deciding on his next move.

As for today’s video and photo, we continue to reel with excitement over the number of visitors coming our way. We particularly get a kick out of the mongoose who seem to hover nearby most days. We can hear their little squeaky little sounds, at times high pitched when they have a mission in mind.

Today’s video clearly illustrates how funny they are. They’ve come to know us quite well, Tom when he delivers the green bowl filled with raw scrambled eggs and my voice when I call them to announce eggs are on their way.  

This is our new favorite male pair, “Siegfried and Roy.”  They adore each other and are always close to one another.  

Once we spot them in the garden I keep them around by talking to them while Tom mixes up the eggs in the bowl.  No, we don’t give them pricier free-range eggs. Instead, when Tom goes to Lebombo for apples and carrots, he’ll purchase a five-dozen pack of their cheapest eggs.  

The mongooses go absolutely wild when he places the bowl of eggs on the ground as shown in the above video.  Each time, we can’t help but laugh with sheer delight over this unusual event.  

Although we posted a similar photo a few days ago, last night this frog returned to be near the thermometer.

It’s important to keep the mongooses happy when they are experts at killing snakes. Oddly, they’re immune to the toxic venom and can easily survive being bitten.  For an interesting post on mongoose facts, please click here.

Well, that’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back tomorrow with more photos and the story of our appointment at the immigration office in Nelspruit.

A few hours later he’d moved to the light fixture above the thermometer and was facing the wall supporting the fixture. When we stayed at the African Reunion house in Marloth Park in 2014, we had a similar situation where a frog visited every night hanging out in the same area of the veranda. 

Have a pleasant and fulfilling day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 5, 2017:

A hen and her chicks in the gated community in Atenas, Costa Rica. For more photos, please click here.

The simple things to make life easier…Lots of visitors have returned…

Now that the weekend has ended and many holidaymakers have left, 
the animals have returned to our garden.
 
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
A pretty female kudu face.

Now that the bulk of the tourists have left after the long weekend, we were thrilled to welcome many visitors back to our garden after a sparse weekend.  Yes, we had visits from bushbucks, warthogs, mongoose and even an appearance by Wildebeest Willie over the weekend but hours would pass before we’d see a “soul.”

We couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw this tiny baby bushbuck in the garden.  

On Monday morning the live-action began once again. They literally came to call in droves, and we could hardly sit still for a few minutes when we’d jump up to welcome them proffering pellets, apples, carrots, and other vegetable scraps they seem to like such as lettuce tops and celery scraps.  

It was the tiniest bushbuck we’ve seen in almost seven months.

I must have spent two hours in the kitchen chopping up the vegetables in small enough bite-sized pieces suitable for the tiny tots who love to munch along with the adults.  

Once, we saw a baby bushbuck struggle with a piece of carrot and we panicked it was going to choke. Somehow it managed to spit it out and try for a smaller piece. Since that incident, we’ve been cutting the piece small enough for even the tiniest of wildlife.  

We’d gone indoors to do a few things and I heard loud squawking by these two hornbills that just wouldn’t stop.  Upon further inspection, we discovered monkeys had eaten all the seeds in the feeder while we weren’t watching. The hornbills were letting us know they wanted the seeder filled with seeds. Tom took it down and re-filled it.  As soon as he set it back up, within seconds they were back, happily eating the new stock of seeds.

Sure, it takes more effort to cut the pieces so small, but now, it’s the only way we do it. Louise had brought us a new food processor for this purpose but unfortunately, it doesn’t cut the items into the right sized pieces, and hand cutting them is the only way.  

Yesterday in the late afternoon, we had so many visitors, we lost count.  

Instead, we’ve used the food processor for prepping our meals, and it’s been quite a time saver. Yesterday, I made Tom his favorite meal, low carb, grain-free pizza. After reading horrible things about pre-grated cheeses, I made a commitment, I’ll never purchase that type of cheese again.

Although not as many as last week’s 25 kudus, we counted 18 in this group.

Instead, we buy the big chunks of imported cheeses to use in making his pizza and other cheesy recipes. Before we had the food processor, we were grating the cheese using one of those tricky metal graters which required a lot of time and effort.  

Now, we grate the quality cheeses in the processor which we’d done in our old lives. But, over these past several years of world travel, I resigned myself to using the disgusting pre-shredded cheese instead of hand grating.  

We couldn’t keep the pellets coming fast enough with such a wide array of visitors in the garden.

A few months ago, I read an article about how that pre-grated cheese is processed and I decided, no more! Hand grating, here we come. But, when Louise and Danie had gone to Nelspruit they found this food processor for us.  We couldn’t have been more appreciative and grateful. It’s come to great use.

The kudus and the warthogs seem to get along well when feeding.

It’s often the simple things that we appreciate the most. Recently, I washed my white tennis shoes and water shoes in the washing machine. They came out perfectly after drying in the hot sun and now they both appear new.  

I’ve washed my makeup brushes in the washer in a cloth bag and they come out clean and new. In my old life, I’d have replaced these items instead of resorting to simple yet efficient processes to extend the life of products not easily found here in South Africa.

As often is the case, there were many who’d stopped by.

Yes, today, I’m wearing a pair of jeans with a few holes. Instead of tossing them, I wear them anyway. Torn and ratty jeans seem to be a trend in some parts of the world.  

For some odd reason, they like to hang out near the little car.

The white tee shirt I’m wearing has a stain near the neckline that I couldn’t get out with bleach. My hair hides the stain. I still wear the shirt although not necessarily when we going out to dinner or to socialize.  

Somehow we make do with what we have although a few times a year we need to replenish some of our supplies that we cannot replace locally. On May 28th we had a shipment sent from our mailing service in Nevada. The tracking information showed it was received in customs on June 6th and processed without issue. Now, three months later, it’s yet to arrive. More on this in tomorrow’s post.

After we decided to hold back on the pellets, since we were going through them so quickly, they wandered off to the bush. As soon as they heard my voice, welcoming other visitors, they quickly returned to ensure they were in on the action.  So clever.

Tomorrow, we’re leaving the house around 9:00 am to drive to Nelspruit for our 11:00 am appointment at the immigration office. Subsequently, we’ll schedule the new post to upload automatically while we’re away for the day. We won’t miss a beat.  

We won’t know anything after tomorrow’s meeting but will review the experience in Thursday’s post.

Have a spectacular day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 4, 2017:

In Costa Rica, this iguana posed nicely for us, seemingly unperturbed by our close proximity. For more photos, please click here.