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.

Short post today…Tomorrow, an exciting new booking!…

Franks gives us both so much joy every single day.

I just want to mention that I posted this main photo of Frank eating seeds off of the veranda railing, taken several days ago.

But, today when there were no seeds outside this morning and we were both busy inside the house, the door slightly ajar, was enough for him to push it open and come inside.

Tom was in the living room on the sofa working on his laptop, getting ready to go outside for the day. I was putting away folded laundry on the bedroom shelves. Tom yelled out to me, “You have a visitor in the bedroom.”

I looked down to the floor and saw Frank standing there looking at me, “Hey, I want some seeds!”

We only put seeds on the veranda when Frank arrives since if left there, the warthogs and bushbucks come onto the veranda and eat the seeds. They aren’t a good food source for them. We always pick them up and either put them on the table or back into the house.

Frank arrives by himself half of the time and with The Misses the other half, usually three times a day, oddly during human mealtimes. There are other Franks but we can easily tell them from our regular Frank. Also, they seldom stop by, compared to our regular Frank who will start a fight with the others if they dare to attempt to partake.

The noise four or five Franks make during an altercation is earsplitting and often leaves us in stitches. They don’t physically fight. Here is an audio clip of the noise made by francolins in the wild:

We both had a great laugh as Frank then escorted Tom out the door to put his seeds on the veranda floor. Frank then went about voraciously eating his seeds, making his usual mess on the veranda floor. We couldn’t stop laughing.

Last night, after returning from a fun gathering at Flo and JiJi’s home, for some odd reason, I didn’t sleep more than a few hours. I couldn’t shut my brain off and only dozed off a few times. Today, I am exhausted, but I managed a one-hour nap this morning after going back to bed after showering and dressing.

I texted Louise, asking her to have Zef and Vusi skip the housecleaning today. I need to nap more than having the house cleaned. Thus, today’s short and relatively uneventful post is all I can manage.

However, we’ll be back tomorrow with more new photos and information about a brand new booking Tom arranged yesterday that we are both quite excited about. Maybe the time has come that we can start planning for the future.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, September 2, 2020:

This photo is from the year-ago post while in lockdown in Mumbai, India on day #163. The full moon rising as it made its way through the clouds above Yorkeys Knob, Australia in 2015. 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.

Shocking effects of Hurricane Harvey…The devastation continues…

These young rabbits appeared to be part of a herd, living in a “warren” in the well-designed spacious habitat of Zoo Ave.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

From the veranda, we spotted another fire burning on a nearby mountain.

As we continue to share more photos from our recent visit to Zoo Ave, bird and animal sanctuary, and rehabilitation center here in the Alajuela Valley, we’re reminded of all the animals being rescued from floodwaters in Texas and other states due to Hurricane Harvey.

The habitat for rehabilitating birds and animals was as natural as possible, with wide-open spaces, vegetation, and apparent cleanliness in the care of its inhabitants.

Of course, the devastation of the loss of human life supersedes all else, along with the loss of all of the worldly possessions of individuals and families across the land. But, in the mix, in the hearts and minds of many who’ve already lost so much, is the frustration and fearful pursuit of finding beloved pets, including dogs, cats, birds, horses, and barnyard animals.

A parrot pair were sharing a large banana leaf.

As animal lovers well know, an animal can be as much a part of a family as its family members and, for many, their only day-to-day companions. When we’re reminded of our loving dogs over the years, we can’t even imagine the fear many are possessing at this time as they try to find their beloved pets, now that they and their family members are nearing safety.

Many enclosed areas housed several compatible birds and other creatures.

Can we envision the chaos as citizens of the ravaged areas scrambled to their safety coupled with the worry that their pets may be lost to them forever? What a comfort those pets could be at this horrible time of loss and grief, losing people they love, belongings they treasured while finding themselves homeless without sufficient funds to rebuild their lives. It all takes time and money, neither of which survivors may have at this point.

Bunnies are commonly seen in Costa Rica in the vegetation-rich environment.

Although not a good comparison and certainly under considerably different circumstances, I can recall the last few weeks we spent in Minnesota. The four-day professional estate sale found us reeling over how little value there was in our treasured personal belongings, all of which we had to let go of.

Based on the size of their habitat, most likely, they had no concept of being confined, as was the case for most of the residents of Zoo Ave, a highly rated animal rehabilitation center.

We were left with a paltry sum due to the sale of our belongings and our home during poor market conditions at the time. Tom continued working 12-hour days up until the day we left on October 31, 2012. 

Please see this link for our story during that painful process.

We had to leave the house during the sale of our belongings and stayed with dear friend Karen at her lovely home in a nearby suburb. I was swamped with Tom’s retirement party preparations and finalizing details of the many items we’d overpacked to take on our journey. 

Large birds were sitting in trees.

During the difficult last days, I came down with the flu and lost my voice. I was very sick but couldn’t stop. I had to keep going. Each night of the four-day sale, I met with the estate sale company to reprice items. Little did I know the devastation I’d feel when I’d show up seeing people walking down the road carrying “our stuff,” for which they paid but a pittance. 

We noticed hundreds of turtles of varying sizes and some ducks, all seemingly busy sunning and foraging.

It was during this period that, for the first time in my life, I knew what it felt like to forfeit every “thing” that I knew and loved, let alone the upcoming process of saying goodbye to every “one” we knew and loved. And this was voluntary! There’s no comparison to the horrific sudden losses so many have suffered due to Hurricane Harvey and others.

The grounds at Zoo Ave are meticulously maintained.

Can we even imagine the loss the people of Texas and other states are feeling when every “thing” they knew and loved was ripped away from them, not by choice as in our case, but coupled with the fear of losing their lives and, in many cases, having lost people and pets they’ve loved? It’s heartbreaking.

The gift shop at Zoo Ave (Ave translates to “aviary” in Spanish)

We’ve all experienced losses in our lives. That’s all a part of the “human condition” over which we may have little control. How we respond to those losses determines the meaning, the purpose, and the quality of the remaining years of our lives. And, for all those lost souls in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, we pray for their healing and recovery in times to come.

Photo from one year ago today, September 2, 2016:

When we returned to Bali for our second two-month stay after a two-month stint in Southeast Asia, we were excited to see the buffaloes walking along the beach shortly after arriving. We only paid for the villa for the two non-consecutive 60-day stays and were happy to return to the beautiful villa and location in Sumbersari, a four or five-hour harrowing drive from the airport, the only part we didn’t care for. For more details, please click here

Part 2, a day to remember…Thanks to new friends…The Laysan Albatross story begins…

Here’s our video of the Laysan Albatross.
 When we lived in Africa, whether on safari in Kenya or in our yard in Marloth Park, each time we had the opportunity to see wildlife, our pulse quickened and a rush of feel good hormones, one of which is dopamine rushed through our bodies.
Looking up to see if her mate is coming back with dinner.

It may be a work of art, an animal, or a stretch of beach that triggers the release of the powerful hormone that makes us feel great. For many, the triggers may be different. For us, seeing wildlife sends us both into a level of joy that is hard to describe which has only escalated these past few years as we’ve traveled the world.

This nesting albatross was the first one we spotted, sleeping on her/his nest. Both the male and female tend to the nest.

When our friend Richard invited us to walk with him in his neighborhood to see the many nesting Laysan Albatross in various neighbor’s yards, upon sighting the first bird, I felt as if someone shot me in the arm. An immediate smile overtook my face, my heart raced with excitement, and for some odd reason  (hum…) I felt as if I was “home” (wherever that may be).

The dark coloration around their eyes varies from bird to bird.

For at least 30 minutes, we wandered from yard to yard, occasionally waving or talking to neighbors who were comfortable seeing us with Richard rather than tourists snooping in their yards. 

Even a hibiscus plant is a good spot to nest.

What our eyes beheld was awe-inspiring; as many as five albatross at one time in various yards throughout the neighborhood, paying little attention to us as we made a special effort to stay far back to avoid disturbing them.

These two were hanging around the dense vegetation in the center of the cul-de-sac.

It’s important not to get too close to these seemingly friendly birds. They release a hormone when frightened which may be dangerous to them. Staying as far back as possible is imperative for their good health.

Then, there were three…

Luckily, our camera has an excellent ability to zoom in, making it possible for today’s video and photos.  Our course, the dopamine coursing through my body, made my hands a little unsteady, so I did my best. Usually, I refer to this shakiness as excitement and enthusiasm when in essence, it is dopamine.

Then there were four…

As we walked from house to house, we couldn’t believe how many nesting, dancing, interacting, and sleeping albatross we spotted. If we say that we saw the exquisite birds in no less than a dozen yards, we wouldn’t be exaggerating. 

A loner, nesting close to a house.

I wondered how residents would be able to go about their daily lives when these precious birds were living in their yards. Surely, if it was us, we’d be sitting outside on lawn chairs, at a safe distance, watching their daily interactions with the hope of eventually seeing a hatchling.

This one reminded me of Tom, “Oh, I hate going for a walk!”

Well, we’re the people who sat outside all day in the bush in 90 degrees, bug and snake-infested Africa waiting for the next moving creature. Of course, we’d be equally enthralled with these birds.

So beautiful!

For Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology’s information about the Laysan Albatross including a clip of the sound of the birds, please click here.

Flying is the Laysan Albatross’s forte, not walking which appears awkward.

Again, we thank our friend Richard for bestowing this amazing opportunity upon us. Without his assistance and friendship, we’d never have known about these exquisite birds, only seeing them when they occasionally fly over our heads.

It was surprising how they paid no attention to us walking by, continuing with their adorable antics.
Contemplating their next move under a lemon tree.

Once again, we find reasons to be grateful for perhaps another bit of “safari luck.”

These smaller two may have been siblings, were grooming each other.
Marine Conservation Biologists in Hawaii band the birds in order to maintain an accurate record of as many birds as possible.

Tomorrow, we’ll share a wonderful story of the oldest banded Laysan Albatross. Do check back and have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, January 27, 2014:

Neither of us had ever seen the Sickle Bush which grows in Africa. We were fascinated by its prickly feel and look, along with its beautiful colors. For more “small things” we found in the bush, please click here.