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.

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 moving 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 to take 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’d have some ostrich-appropriate treats for them.

Ostriches can be dangerous. From this site: “Ostriches can be found in the wild, on safaris, or 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. However, we’ve seen visitors in Marloth Park getting dangerously close to ostriches with little regard for their own safety of the magnificent birds, the largest on earth.

From this site:  “Ostriches are large, flightless birds with long legs and a long neck protruding from a round body. Males have a 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 several 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 before “camera school.” I’ll attempt to use what I’ve learned to up the quality of my photos in the future.

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 several 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.

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, 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 1980s. We howled with laughter cheering them on as they danced many popular dances over the past five decades. 

Long-time friends Linda and Ken, originally from the UK, live 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, closely monitoring 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 wait 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 incredible 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, 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 pretty impressed with their performance.

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

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 giraffe’s neck is somewhat flexible, but we don’t often see 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 precisely 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 particular 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 gave us precisely one of those situations that 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 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 correct 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 good fortune.

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 are 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 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, we spotted something dark moving toward them at quite a distance. 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 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 our eyes? 

The closer he came, the chick watched him, and then…much to our delight, the chick began running toward him. “Dad!” We could 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 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 a while 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.

Back at home later, we couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces. But, shortly after that, 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.

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 were this one hippo on the river with oxpeckers on its back, we’d have been thrilled.  Little did we know…

Before doing today’s post, we headed to Komatipoort to pick up a few groceries and returned. We both tossed and turned all night without AC, but luckily it wasn’t scorching, although it was very humid during the rainy night. , No sooner than we walked in the door at 11:00 am, the powerfully 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 publication to inform us of the Volstruis. In Afrikaans means “ostrich!” What a coincidence! Thanks, Danie!!!

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

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