Another busy day in the neighborhood…Chicks, chicks and more chicks!…Fun video in Sighting of the Day”…

This cute little chick was one of seven we found in the neighborhood in Marloth Park.  Thanks for the tip, Louise!

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush” 

 What a hysterical night when we heard this noise that lasted for hours! 
A friendly visitor stopped by amid the noise and didn’t seem to mind a bit.

With Louise and Danie frequently on the move in Marloth Park with their property management and building businesses, they’re often the first to discover interesting sightings.

We were thrilled to find the ostrich parents with seven chicks exactly where Louise had said she’d seen them 10 minutes earlier.

Knowing and appreciating how enthusiastic and passionate we are in great photo ops to share here on our site, they never hesitate to let us know about unique and special sightings. Obviously, if they spot a kudu, bushbuck or warthog, they don’t notify us.  Plenty of them visits us each day.

Mom and Dad were obviously very proud of their family.  Ostriches mate for life.

Over the past few days when they’d spotted ostrich parents with seven or eight chicks, they didn’t hesitate to let us know.  Yesterday, when Louise sent me a Messenger note stating that she’d spotted the ostrich family near the corner of Volstruis (oddly, Volstruis means “ostrich” in Afrikaans) and Hornbill, we were in the car and on our way within two or three minutes.

The chicks weren’t concerned about wandering a short distance from their parents making it impossible to get one photo with all seven of them.

We didn’t expect to find them when we were deciding which way to go as we reached the intersection of the two streets with four options in front of us.  Tom, with his watchful eye, noticed a stopped car on Volstruis a short distance down the road and said, “Let’s go see what they’re looking at!”

Alas, safari luck prevailed and there they were…in the garden of a house that didn’t appear to be occupied.  Brazenly, Tom pulled into the driveway so we could have a “bird’s eye view” (no pun intended) and we were as close as we could be without intruding on their “pecking” as a family.

Peck, peck, peck.  They seemed to fit edibles in the dirt.

We observed them for quite some time, not only with the purpose of taking photos but also to enjoy this magical sighting.  Tom turned off the engine as we sat and watched.  There was no point in getting out of the car although our photos may have been better.

If they stopped by our garden, which they may eventually do, we’ll have some ostrich-appropriate treats for them.

Ostriches can be dangerous.  From this site: “Ostriches can be found in the wild, on safaris, or on ostrich farms. But regardless of where you find them, treat them with the utmost caution. Although they do not prey on humans, they have been known to injure and kill when provoked. Extremely fast on foot, they can deliver mortal blows by the sheer force of their legs, never mind the lethally sharp talons at their toes. The best thing you can do is steer clear of them. Failing that, ducking for cover and hiding works best. As a last resort, you may even have to fight them.”

These three chicks of the seven seemed to stay close to one another.

That’s exactly why we didn’t exit the car. Although we’ve seen visitors in Marloth Park getting dangerously close to ostriches with little regard for their own safety of the safety of the magnificent birds, the largest on earth.

From this site:  “Ostriches are large, flightless birds that have long legs and a long neck that protrudes from a round body. Males have bold black-and-white coloring that they use to attract females. Females, on the other hand, are light brown. (Continued below).

Their young feathers and markings are adorable.
Ostriches are bigger than any other bird in the world. They can grow up to 9 feet (2.7 meters) tall and can weigh up to 320 lbs. (145 kilograms), according to the African Wildlife Foundation, and an ostrich’s eyes are 2 inches (5 centimeters) in diameter — the largest of any land animal. The ostrich is the only bird that has two toes on each foot. All other birds have three or four toes, according to the American Ostrich Association.”

At one point, Dad didn’t seem to be happy with us being so close.  Ostriches can be dangerous if they feel threatened, especially with their chicks nearby. We rolled up our windows and moved back. 

After we returned with the above photos, I attempted to get back to work on yesterday’s post.  As we’d planned, Ken stopped by (with Don) to provide me with some useful camera tips.  He’s quite the expert and I had many questions.  He adeptly answered all of them providing me with a number of important bits of information.

Here we were able to get six of the seven in one photo.

Tom and Don chatted while Ken and I, both with similar cameras, spent about an hour reviewing many aspects of photography that will surely help me in the future.  I’m not promising my photos will substantially improve although they may gradually become more professional looking.

I’d never taken much interest in photography in our old lives.  It just didn’t interest me.  Now, that we’re traveling, over the years, I’ve wanted to improve my less-than-ideal skills.  We’ll see how it goes.

Mom frequently stood up from pecking to check her surroundings for any threats.

Many photos we’re sharing over the next several days were taken prior to “camera school.”  Going forward, I’ll attempt to use what I’ve learned to up the quality of my photos.

Saying this, put just enough pressure on me to use what I’ve learned and not fall back into my old patterns of often using the wrong settings for the scene.  Please be patient with me.

“Ostriches normally mate for life, and they share the task of incubating the eggs. Ostriches form bisexual groups with a complex structure. Territorial males compete for flocks of three to five hens. Mating includes elaborate displays of hisses and dancing.”

Last night, even in the chilly weather we managed to stay on the veranda until bedtime.  Bundled up in warm clothing, we enjoyed a number of visitors including four wildebeest who must have been friends of Wildebeest Willie since I recognized him in the “implausibility of wildebeest.”  (Yep, that’s what a group of wildebeest is called, an “implausibility”).  Go figure.

Today, we’re busy getting ready for tonight’s dinner party.  We’re having a traditional American type pork braai (barbecue).  We’ll share photos, the menu, and details in tomorrow’s post.

I was up very early this morning chopping and dicing, so to say, so there would be time to get today’s post uploaded by noon our time.  Hopefully, it will be a little warmer than last night for our outdoor dinner party.

Have a fabulous weekend wherever you may be.

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

Tom, Tammy, and Vincent on our last night in Minnesota when we all said goodbye.  For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic 4th of July in the bush…Are we wildlife spotters?…

The 4th of July invitation we received weeks ago.  These two sure know how to put on a party!
Thanks, Kathy and Don with lots of help from Linda and Ken who are staying with them this week until Sunday when they all depart.  Sadly, we won’t see them again for many months.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Last night’s sunset from Kathy and Don’s third-floor veranda overlooking the Crocodile River.

Leave it to Kathy and Don to once again host a unique evening in their lovely home in Marloth Park located on the Crocodile River.  With 12 of us in attendance, it was the perfect number for their huge table on their veranda on the third floor.

Fern and Tony, otherwise dressed as Dolly Parton and Uncle Sam.

Arriving by 17:00 hrs., (5:00 pm) we had little time to take sunset photos until soon it became dark while the evening cooled during these chilly winter nights in the bush.  We all bundled up in jackets we’d brought along giving little thought to the chill as the drinks flowed and festive began to the point of pure delight.


Tom and Andrew.

Once again Don and Ken displayed their singing and dancing talents performing as the Blue Brothers from the 1980’s.  We howled with laughter cheering them on as they danced many of the popular dances over the past five decades. 

Long time friends, Linda and Ken, originally from the UK, now living in South Africa while they also travel the world.

The dinner was great as always with plenty of items I could eat.  For dessert, Kathy and Linda presented Ken (his birthday was actually yesterday) with a lit birthday cake with those hysterical candles that won’t blow out resulting in yet another laugh fest.

Leslie won the 4th of July quiz although she isn’t American.

Before we knew it the evening came to an end and we made our way home, mindful of the possibility that the lions could be nearby. We gingerly got out of the car keeping a close eye on our surroundings until we were safely indoors.


Don had made Long Island Ice Teas for the hot dog and other starters.

Regardless of how practical we attempt to be, there’s no way there isn’t an emotional impact when we watch or hear of a predator killing and eating another animal.  It’s exciting to many of us here in Marloth Park that lions are on the loose, only adding to the mystique and wonder of this unusual place.

Kathy, as always, had set a beautiful red, white and blue, theme-appropriate table for 12.

But most people here in the park also have become very attached to these beautiful creatures and it’s never easy to see one taken by a predator.  In any case, we spent several hours driving through the park yesterday when notices came out (via Messenger) that someone had spotted the lions.

We didn’t have any costumes so we wore red, white and blue.

Who knows how long they will stay in the park?  There’s no competition here for food sources and they could easily decide to stay for the long haul. 

Kathy, priming the audience for the upcoming “Blue Brothers” show.

We’d love to spot the lions to take photos.  We’ll continue to head out each day on a mission to see if we’ll get lucky.  In the interim, we’ve had several amazing sightings in the past 24 hours which we look forward to sharing in a few posts over the next few days.

Don and Ken had practiced well for their performances which including lines to memorize and a wide array of dance steps. 

Tomorrow will be a busy day, posting and preparing a birthday dinner for Kathy, whose actual birthday is tomorrow. Our friend Linda’s birthday is in less than two weeks.  It’s cold outside.  Since we really don’t have room at a table indoors for six of us we’ll make it work staying bundled up.

As always we were quite impressed with their performance.

That’s it for today, folks.  We’ll be back with more fun photos tomorrow.  Please check back.

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

 Miles, Madighan (front), with me, Maisie, Camille, and Greg.  We were winding down to leave Minnesota to head to Nevada for more family visits.  For more details, please click here.

Heartwarming ostrich story…Watch the progression of this story as it unfolded before our eyes…

 
This is a close-up of Mom, not necessarily the cutest face on the planet.  Ostriches have the largest eyes of any land animal.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A giraffes neck is somewhat flexible but we don’t often seem one seated and stretching as in this photo.

To witness a story of life, love and instinct is truly a privilege.  Yesterday afternoon, on our almost daily drive in the park looking for exactly these types of miracles, we were gifted with a sighting neither of us will ever forget

To see the mom and baby was rather exciting.  We’ve seen many larger ostrich chicks since we returned to Marloth but none this young.

We had a plan in mind when we took off from our holiday home around noon; we’d head to the hippo pools located at the end of the caravan park; then we’d drive down Seekoei, the road that runs along the Crocodile River in Kruger National Park.

We gasped when we saw this adorable ostrich chick who couldn’t have been more than a month old.

From there we’d return to a special spot we found a few days ago where we had a most exciting up-close experience which we’ll soon share. Along the way, we’d stop at the overlook with the brick structure where we always check for activity along the river.

Even with a plan in mind, we’re always looking for any potential diversions that may take us in another direction should nature present a situation we find interesting.  Yesterday’s drive presented us with exactly one of those situations, one neither of us will ever forget.  Who knew?

They decided to take a turn off Olifant and head down Volstruis Road.

As we drove on Olifant Drive, the main paved road in Marloth Park (there only are a few paved roads in the park), as usual, our eyes are peeled for any type of movement in the bush, along the road or in the yards of bush houses along the way.

Mom kept a watchful eye for traffic or intruders. as they crossed Olifant and headed down Volstruis.  Of course, traffic stopped for them while onlookers were equally entranced by the special sighting.

We’ve both developed a keen eye for any action and Tom’s expert driving is quick to get us into the right position for the maximum viewing and photo taking opportunity.

Finally, they were away from traffic and moseyed on down the road with ease and confidence.

This almost daily ritual consists of realistic expectations.  We could drive for two hours and never see a thing but with our penchant for safari luck, invariably we find something spectacular in one way or another.  At times, we’re amazed by our own good luck.

Mom walked with determination straight down the center of the road.

At other times, we shrug our shoulders acknowledging that this is Marloth Park, after all, and it is what one can expect if they stay diligent, consistent, patient and determined.  That’s us for sure

Apparently, from what we’ve read, ostriches keep their mouths open when they in protection mode.  The youngster has already developed this characteristic.

When we first spotted a female ostrich walking along Olifant Drive, it took only a second to spot her adorable chick, cheerfully tagging along with his mom.  She kept out an experienced watchful eye for traffic or any other potential hazards, while her youngster followed her lead or often walked in front of her.

Then, they saw Dad coming their way.  The chick’s pace picked up the moment she spotted him.  Look at the far end of the dirt road to see him coming!  His feathers are dark.

We could have taken our photos of the two of them and been perfectly content. A sighting of a mom ostrich and her chick certainly could have been enough for the day and in essence, the highlight of the day’s drive.

As we watched, even he had picked up his pace to get to his family.

But, for some reason, we decided to hang back as much as possible and follow them for a bit, as they took off on Volstruis Road, a quiet side street with less traffic and activity.  We stayed out of their way never blocking them or getting so close enough to cause any stress.

As she and her chick proudly made their way down the quiet road, we were in awe of the elegant command in their demeanor as they walked to whatever their destination may have been.  We soon found out what that would be!

Dad must have wanted time alone with his chick as he headed into the bush as shown in this photo while the chick followed him, running as fast as he could.  Mom maintained watch on the road.

Parked at the side of the road, at quite a distance, we spotted something dark moving toward them.  The longer we watched, we realized it was a darker feathered male ostrich.  Was it a coincidence he was approaching or, in their mysterious means of communication which we’ll never know, were they actually planning to meet at this spot?

Look closely to see the chick next to him in this photo. 

We’d only know when they came face to face.  Would she and the chick head into the bush in fear of an unknown male?  Would they merely walk past one another without acknowledgment?  Or was there some connection we’d witness right before out eyes. 

The closer he came, the chick watched him and then…much to our delight, the chick began running toward him “Dad!”  We could literally see the enthusiasm when they were upon one another.

Mom preened her feathers during security duty.  Ostriches generally mate for life.

Dad chose to engage with his chick in the bush, while Mom held back on the road, checking for predators, cars or any other annoyances or threats.  From time to time she watched them, appearing to have a smile on her less-than-lovely face. 

How they managed to plan this rendezvous escapes us but we decided to take it at face value…they had a plan.  Marloth Park is 3,000 hectares, 7,413 acres.  This was no chance encounter. 

Dad and chick never left each other’s side.

We watched the interactions for quite awhile and finally decided to be on our way.  If we never had another animal encounter for the remainder of the day, we’d be fine.

But, shortly thereafter, we spotted a hippo on the river, several warthogs and herds of impalas in the bush and a lizard crossing the road.  It was a good day.  Back at home later, we couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces.

The chick was nestled in the grass close to Dad’s legs as shown here.

We had a relatively quiet evening at home, dining on leftovers from the prior evening and around 7:30, the power went out, not returning fully until 11:00 am this morning. 


We weren’t interested in sitting on the veranda in total darkness so we wandered indoors, watched a show on my laptop and finally hunkered down in bed with whatever battery life we had left on our phones.

If all we’d have seen in the entire day was this one hippo on the river with oxpeckers on its back, we’d have been thrilled.  Little did we know…

We both tossed and turned all night without AC but luckily it wasn’t outrageously hot although it was very humid during the rainy night  This morning before doing today’s post we headed to Komatipoort to pick up a few groceries and returned.  No sooner than we walked in the door at 11:00 am, the power fully came back on.  Thank goodness.

Today, a much-needed rainy day, we’re staying put.  There’s no point in driving on the rough dirt roads in the rain or attempting to take distant photos.  We’re content, especially after yesterday’s ostrich family sighting and of course, with all the visitors we’ve already had so far today.

May your day bring you contentment.

P.S.  Our dear friend Danie, here in Marloth Park, a native South African who speaks Afrikaans, wrote a comment at the end of today’s post after it was published to inform us the Volstruis in Afrikaans means “ostrich!”  What a coincidence!  Thanks, Danie!!!

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Photo from one year ago today, April 11, 2017:

Peeking through the vegetation to Reef Beach Bay in Fairlight, Australia.  For more photos, please click here.