What a morning!…Many species came to call within a two-hour time frame…Is this real?

This was our first daytime giraffe visit at this house.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Zebras, helmeted guinea fowl, and of course our boy Tusker, whose quite a regular.

This morning we heard helicopters flying overhead heading to Kruger National Park in search of poachers. A considerable effort is being made to preserve the integrity of our endangered species who are being slaughtered for their horns, tusks, and even the scales of the quickly becoming extinct pangolin (an animal we’ve yet to see and would love to).

Within minutes a second giraffe arrived, and we excitedly photographed them both.

The sun is shining. The temperature is a comfortable 20C (68F) with a mild breeze. Endless varieties of birds are singing, and we even can hear the gurgling sounds of hippos a short distance away on the Crocodile River. .TIt couldn’t be a perfect morning…so we thought.

Giraffes have little competition for food in the treetops other than other giraffes.

Awakening earlier than usual after a good night’s sleep, while Tom was watching the Minnesota Vikings final pre-season game, I interrupted him to ask if he’d like to go to Kruger once I completed the post and he finished watching the game.

We couldn’t have been more thrilled to see them in our garden at long last.

In most cases, he enthusiastically agrees, but this time, he hesitated to state the weekend was here, and the crowds would be overwhelming in the national park during this busy holiday season.  

This more miniature giraffe may have been the offspring of the visiting female.

I was slightly disappointed but shrugged and went about my day, doing some laundry, chopping and dicing for tonight’s dinner, and reviewing the photos we had on hand for today’s post. Next week, we’ll surely head to Kruger, having been away for at least three weeks with our recent time out of the country.

Zebras are pretty rowdy with one another when competing for pellets. They don’t hesitate to kick and bite one another.

Little did I know that within a matter of minutes, magic would happen, and visitors came, one species after another, including the very first visit to our grounds by giraffes, who we’d longed to see since our arrival over six months ago.

And then, a band of mongoose suddenly appeared, hoping for raw eggs.  Tom mixed up a bowl full and placed it on the ground.

We’d seen a few giraffes in neighboring properties and taken a few photos, mainly at night and once, several weeks ago, saw one giraffe lingering in our driveway late at night. But, never had any giraffes come to call during the day.

I couldn’t grab the camera quickly enough, especially when all at once we had the following:  giraffes, zebras, warthogs, mongoose, and helmeted guinea fowl.  We had visits from bushbucks, hornbills, duikers, and a wide array of bird species throughout the morning.

They are used to Tom bringing out the bowl of raw scrambled eggs and wouldn’t back off while he placed it on the ground.

Tom didn’t hesitate to pause the football game to come outside to revel in the menagerie gracing us with their presence, each on their mission for some treats. Whether pellets, carrots, apples, eggs, or bird seeds, we joyfully shared our recently purchased inventory of things they love.

Unfortunately, giraffes don’t eat any foods we may offer when their goal and physical abilities only allow them to eat from the treetops or vegetation slightly below.  They only bend to the ground when drinking.

They pile atop one another to get a lick out of the bowl of eggs.  It’s hysterical to watch the action.

The morning continued magically, reminding us of how grateful and humbled we are to be in this amazing place, unlike anywhere else in the world, for whatever time we have left to be in South Africa.

Tom finished watching the game; Minnesota won, he was happy. I stayed busy with my various projects, online research, and managing the morning’s photos.  It’s been a great day so far.  Let’s see what rolls out for the remainder of the day.

Be well.  Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, August 31, 2017:

Tom captured this unusual cloud formation in Costa Rica. For more, please click here.

Ten species visited us in one day…Check out who came to call….

These two zebra boys have now figured out it’s worth visiting us for some treats. We can hear the sounds of their hooves coming from the bush. They don’t like sharing with “Little Wart Face” (shown in the background) and can get very pushy with him and with Frank.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A single damaged feather from a guinea fowl I found on the ground.

The majority of the holidaymakers have left Marloth Park, returning to their homes in South Africa and many other parts of the world. Often, visitors come to Marloth Park for a mere three to five days. We can’t imagine how they can reap the benefits of being in this wonderland in that short period.

During the busy holiday season, wildlife may rarely wander into their yard or be seen on the roads in three to five days. They could come here and only see a few impalas, hornbills, and perhaps a kudu or two.

Male impalas showed up, which we don’t often see in the yard.
But, nothing compares to the activity residents of the park are experiencing now that the bulk of the tourists have left. Although this could be disputed and, I assure you, it’s a topic of conversation in the bush that wildlife may not wander into the yards of bush houses when so many humans are around.

Some tourists come to relax and unwind in this calming environment, staying up late on the verandas of their holiday homes, talking loudly, playing loud music, and drinking alcohol in excess. This type of noise is not appealing to wild animals. 
A forkl of kudus and a herd of impalas.
Other tourists come here to utilize whatever time they may be available to glean morsels of heaven found in this veritable paradise for animal lovers, sadly going away with having seen very little.

Even trips into Kruger, as we so well know, can be disappointing. There’s no guaranty one will see more than impalas and birds in a single day’s visit. Now that things have settled down here, we plan to go back to Kruger this week to see what we can find.
Several handsome impalas stopped by, which we seldom see in our yard.  More often, we see them on the sides of the road when driving through the park.

However, there’s no shortage of guaranteed entertainment right here on the veranda in the “Orange…More Than Just a Color” house we’ve rented for an extended period. If South Africa immigration allows, we’ll spend a year here until next February or March.

With the crowds thinned out and perhaps only 700 or so people living in the park right now, the wildlife is literally “pounding at our door” all day and evening. At times, we can barely keep up feeding them pellets, carrots, apples, and any raw vegetable scraps from our daily food prep.

Many helmeted guineafowls have become regular visitors.
Yesterday, we had ten different species visit us in one day, some multiple times, some in various groups as appropriately named in our above photos. As I busily prepared the food for Louise and Danie to join us for dinner,  I frequently stopped what I was doing to cut up apples and carrots for our animal friends.
We couldn’t believe our day when we had the following wildlife visit us in one day:
1.  Kudu
2.  Bushbuck
3.  Impala
4.  Warthog
5.  Mongoose
6.  Francolin
7.  Helmeted Guineafowl
8.  Zebra
9.  Duiker
10.Bushbabies
Frank, our resident francolin, doesn’t miss a thing!  Sometimes, he brings his girlfriend, but most often, he’s alone hanging out with the other animals. Francolins are territorial, and he won’t hesitate to scare off a warthog or kudu.

Of course, we didn’t include the dozens of birds that flew into the yard throughout the day. The most we’d ever counted, including when we were here four years ago, was a total of eight. We love all birds but mention the guineafowl and Frank (francolin) since they rarely fly, spending their days walking about the bush and our yard.

Last night’s dinner was a big hit. How could it not be when we were with Louise and Danie? We so enjoy time spent together and never hesitate to arrange another perfect day or evening in each other’s company.

A band of mongoose comes by almost daily.  We feed them water mixed with raw scrambled eggs. Most likely, due to their presence, we won’t see too many snakes around here. 
The previous Sunday, we had a fabulous dinner and evening at Sandra and Paul’s home two doors down our road. The food was superb, and the companionship delightful. 

Whew! Our social life is astounding!  But, as typical here in the park, people come and go. Our friends Kathy and Don are gone now but should be returning in a few weeks. Ken and Linda are traveling and should be returning in a few months. Lynne and Mick won’t return until November. Janet and Steve have company from the UK, but we plan to see them soon.
And…here’s our girls…kudus, of course.
Even Louise and Danie will be gone for a week to visit family in Cape Town beginning on Friday. But, they’ll be back to continue to handle their very active holiday home rental and house building businesses. We’ll look forward to their return. 
Each night we put out the little cup of peach-flavored yogurt on the stand, and the bushbabies appear around 6:15 pm, just after darkness falls.

This doesn’t include all the other fine people we’ve met here who are permanent residents, all of whom we look forward to spending time with again soon. We can’t thank everyone enough to show our appreciation for including us in their busy lives. 

Where in the world is it like this? The only other place we’ve found so easy to make friends was in Kauai, Hawaii. Perhaps, someday we’ll return for another visit.

Duikers are extremely shy and seldom come near.
For now, we’re looking at our upcoming itinerary and any modifications we are considering. Today, we’ll be doing some planning and figuring out our best options for the future.

Have a great day enjoying your best options. Back at you soon! 
Photo from one year ago today, April 10, 2017:
This was a tile roof we spotted in Fairlight, Australia, one year ago.  For more photos, please click here.

The miracle of life in the bush…What a wonder!…

And, there she was, Ms. Bushbuck, on the bottom step of our veranda with her precious newborn, proudly showing her off.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This newspaper article appeared in yesterday’s local paper, definitely befitting a “Sighting of the Day in the Bush!

It’s 4:30 pm, and we just returned from Kruger National Park after an exciting and harrowing day which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post. WoW! All I can say is…

We recognized this mom based on her “dots” formation and how readily she approached us. She’s been visiting us every day over the past several weeks.
As for today’s story, I wished I’d have prepared and posted it before leaving for Kruger since now, as the evening wafts in, I’m a little bit off-kilter by writing this late in the day. 
We opted for the latter when Tom and I discussed whether we’d go to Jabula for dinner tonight or stay in, get the post done, and cook something easy for dinner. After sitting in the car for hours, the thought of getting ready to go out after I finish here isn’t particularly appealing.
The baby wasn’t quite sure what to do when she had never seen a pellet before.   She didn’t partake, only watching her mom take them from my hand.
As we’re sitting on the veranda, lightning, and thunder filling the skies above us, after it finally cooled after days of excessive heat, we’re content, especially after we came “home” to nine kudus, four warthogs, and one male bushbuck all waiting for us. 
Now, for today’s little story…a story of love and a wonderment…a story of nature at its finest for us humble animal lovers who can’t miss an opportunity to share a tender story of a birth, a life, and devotion.
She was curious as to what was transpiring and showed no fear.
It all began about three weeks ago (we’ve been here almost five weeks) when the most beautiful and friendly female bushbuck came into the yard to introduce herself. Keeping in mind, most of the animals in Marloth Park of a species are hard to differentiate when they often have almost identical markings and features.
But, this lovely young lady has some specific “polka dots” on her body that has made it easy for us to know it was her each time she’s come to visit over these many weeks.
Another special aspect to “Ms. Bushbuck” has been her willingness and eagerness to eat the pellets from my hand even more readily than taking those we’ve tossed onto the ground, as we do for most species. She lifts her head and makes eye contact with me as if asking, “Will you feed me?” How can I possibly turn her down?
When we fed mom the pellets, the baby hung around but soon lost interest and wandered a few meters away.
Unlike some female animals, she welcomes Tom equally and doesn’t skitter away when he comes close. She relates to him feeding her pellets as well but not quite as up close and personal as I do. 
Several times each day, she’s stopped by, and each time, we’ve both smiles at one another, happy to see her return. About a week ago, we noticed she’s stopped by around the same time each early evening while we sit on the veranda winding down for the day with a glass of iced tea, wine, or beer (for Tom).
Mom stopped eating to check on the whereabouts of her infant.
I fed her a few pellets, which she accepted gingerly, but without the usual enthusiasm she exhibits during daylight hours. After a few handfuls, she moseys off to the same spot in the bush in our yard where she settles in for the night, nestling into what appears to be the same spot each night, almost as if she’s built a comfy spot to sleep.
Once darkness falls, we could no longer see her there, but we’ve sensed she still is. We haven’t wanted to startle her by taking a light out there to check. In the morning, when we’re finally outdoors by 6:00 and 6:30 am, she’s been standing near the veranda waiting for us to come out.
By 9:00 or 10:00 am, she returns to see us, enthused for more pellets and a sip of water from the cement pond in the yard, not far from where she nestles at night.
We were thrilled and surprised to see Ms. Bushbuck returned with her tiny newborn.
One morning, while I was getting ready for the day, Tom was outside with her, feeding her pellets.  The warthogs tried to drive her away. She nestled in, close to Tom’s legs while he sat on the edge of the veranda, looking for protection from the aggressiveness of the warthogs. He didn’t hesitate to make her feel safe.
Often, she returns a few more times during the day, only to repeat this same pattern in the evening over the past week. We assumed she’s become comfortable with us and sleeps nearby, most likely up and about in the mornings long before us.
We never saw her return for the night on Wednesday night but assumed we’d see her again soon. Last night, after a 24-hour absence, she returned, but this time…she wasn’t alone…our hearts melted…at her side was the tiniest and I mean tiniest…little bushbuck we’ve ever seen.
At first, as they approached, the baby was a little hesitant.  But, mom, knowing she needed to nurse, wanted all the sustenance she could get.  She ate her fair share of pellets.
Sure, we can make all the assumptions we’d like about wildlife and their patterns and behavior.  And most times, we’d be wrong. But, somehow, this time, we feel confident we are right. Ms. Bushbuck returned to show us her precious tiny newborn.
Of course, we oohed and aahed over her shy baby, which undoubtedly she’d given birth to in that 24-hour time span we hadn’t seen her and her response was to enthusiastically accept countless handfuls of pellets from me, all the while keeping a watchful eye on her little bundle of joy.
Periodically, the baby would wander a few meters away, but mom never failed to take note and gather her baby back into the fold. Together, they stayed with us for hours, mom nibbling, baby suckling, and us smiling from ear to ear.
She’s a proud and happy mom, very young herself.
Tonight, it’s blissfully raining in buckets, and we don’t expect to see them in this downpour. But I assure you, we have no doubt they’ll return while we have the joyous opportunity to watch this little one grow and this loving mom nurture her along the way. 

Safari luck? Perhaps. Or, maybe we happen to be in the right place at the right time. However, in our heart of hearts, we’d like to believe that somehow, just somehow, our love of nature has put us in these divine situations because we belong here.

Thank you, dear readers, for sharing this magical place with us. We couldn’t be more appreciative and humbled.

Photo from one year ago today, March 16, 2017:

The Esplanade, a walkway along the shore in Circular Quay in Sydney, Australia. For more photos, please click here.