Adults only, please…Mating efforts in the garden…The best thing since sliced bread…

Young duiker Derek was trying his hand at mating with Delilah. She wasn’t interested. Note: the observer is on the other side of the fence.

We feel privileged to witness the cycle of life in the bush while sitting on our veranda, day after day. We watch all aspects with a sense of awe and wonder over the relationships of wildlife right before our eyes. Most of the wildlife are loving to their mates and exhibit gentle behavior. We find a great joy to behold.

From time to time, he took a pause to allow her to eat pellets.

Even resident warthog Lollie, with two “boyfriends,” Reuben and Busybody, shows loving interest when either of them is here. The tricky part is when both males are here simultaneously, during which they often get into a scuffle. Rueben is more aggressive and often chases Busybody away.

He was very determined.

Gosh, it’s fascinating to witness all of this exquisite animal behavior. Hours pass in a blur when we’re watching the wonders in the garden, day after day. No wonder we have little interest in going out when the “show” is right here, before our eyes.

A female bushbuck observed the activity.

Here’s some information about the breeding habits of bushbucks.

From this site:

“Common Duiker Breeding

After a gestation period of about six months, the females gives birth to one young weighing about 175 g, and very seldomly gives birth to twins. Before giving birth, the female will hide in dense vegetation. The young are well-developed at birth and can run within their first 24 hours, yet the mother hides them at first. Females give birth once a year, and first mate at the age of 8 – 9 months, only being fully grown at 7 months. Having no specific breeding period, duikers give birth at any time of year with a possible peak during the summer months. According to habitat and locality, their mating systems vary from monogamous pairs to males with more than one female.”

It’s spring here in a few days, perhaps attributing to this mating ritual.

From this site:

Mating Habits

These animals form monogamous breeding pairs. This means that one male mates and lives only with one female. No evidence for a peak breeding period has been found. Females are known to produce young at any time of the year, with gestation probably lasting 4-7 months. A female will seek out very secluded and thick cover for the birth. Normally one young is born, though sometimes there are two. Newborns are well developed when born and are able to run within a period of twenty-four hours. Both parents look after them. Young are weaned at 2 months of age and reach adult size in 6 months. Females attain reproductive maturity at 8-9 months and males at 12 months of age.

Perhaps, success? With a pellet in her mouth! Who eats during sex?

Ewes reach sexual maturity at 14 months. Even though rams reach sexual maturity at 11 months they generally do not mate until socially adept at the age of three years.”

This morning Tom was up and about at 5:00 am and did two loads of laundry while I stayed in bed, wide awake but still too sluggish to get up. These drugs I’m taking for the head and face pain knock me for a loop for about 12 hours. I started taking the 25 mg dose at 9:00 pm, 2100 hrs., and today, I awoke with no pain for the first time.

Derek’s enthusiasm continued over about 30 minutes,

I don’t know how long that will last since it’s been coming and going over the past few days since I upped the dose. I am finally very hopeful—perfect timing with our friends arriving tomorrow. I still feel sleepy during the day and will lie down for a few minutes when I have time. According to the literature, the drowsy side effect will diminish over time.

Finally, Delilah rests after the challenging events of the day.

We were concerned about our houseguest suffering on the hot nights when there were 2½ hours of load shedding during the night. There are no inverters in those two units, and it can be hot at night on 100F and 38C days. When we expressed our concerns to Louise, within hours, she and Danie made the long drive to Nelspruit to purchase three chargeable fans, one for each of the two flats where our friends will stay and one for us to use while sitting outdoors when the temperatures rise very soon.

Here’s a photo taken of one of the fans, which are all charging right now since load shedding ended a few minutes ago:

The greatest invention since sliced bread…a rechargeable fan, ideal when power interruptions occur frequently. The fan will last 10 hours on a low setting, and six hours on a high setting, making it suitable for load shedding.

Louise pays all the utilities, but we are very mindful about using electricity, especially for the air con unit in the bedroom. Now when it’s outrageously hot during the day, instead of going into the bedroom and turning on the air con, we can sit in front of the quiet rechargeable fan. We appreciate the fans for our guests and us. She never misses a beat on satisfying the needs of her guests. She and Danie are both fantastic!

Now, I have to return to work in the kitchen making 24 regular (non keto) blueberry muffins and two pans of mushroom, onion, cheese, and crustless sausage quiche, a pan for each of us for breakfast over the next few weeks while our guests are here.  For freshness, we’ll freeze individual portion sizes to keep in the freezer at both houses.

I will post again tomorrow since we don’t expect our guests to arrive until the afternoon. I’ll go back and forth, making the dinner for tomorrow night and working on the post, getting everything prepped by the time they arrive.

Tonight? Jabula with Rita and Gerhard!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, September 16, 2021:

A helmeted guinea fowl and her chick are looking for pellets at the veranda’s edge. For more photos, please click here.

Nature can be cruel..Heartbreaking photos…Thanksgiving dinner in the bush…A startling revelation from last year…

This heartbreaking photo of a precious little duiker who encountered a porcupine, who responded by releasing quills, makes us cringe in horror. How can she possibly survive these massive injuries? (Not our photo). From this site: “Porcupines are solitary, slow-moving animals that largely keep to themselves unless threatened. The quills usually lie flat against the porcupine’s body until they encounter a threat, at which point they “puff up” and erect their quills, swinging their spiny tails until the threat either leave them alone or gets a sharp whack and a face, hand, or paw full of quills.  Quills are stiff, hollow hairs with microscopic, backward-facing barbs at the tip (kind of like tiny fish hooks), so when they come into contact with flesh—human or animal—they get stuck and pull free from the porcupine’s skin.”

When we saw today’s photos on Facebook and Kathy sent them to me via Whatsapp, we were both heartsick over the devastation caused by a porcupine to this precious duiker. Hopefully, he’ll be found by the rangers and treated by the Marloth Park vet. Some of the quills appear to be deeply penetrated. We can only imagine how painful this is.

We hesitated to post these photos, but as we always say, we tell “it like it is,” and when 99% of our images can put a smile on ours and our reader’s faces. The bush isn’t always pretty. As we’ve always mentioned, we aren’t those people who may nonchalantly say, “Well, it’s all a part of nature.”

We feel deep sorrow for animals in pain as we do when humans are suffering. Animals are no less important in our world, and without them, we wouldn’t be on this planet. We are all integral players in the ecosystem.

When we hear of humans losing a pet, we certainly understand their grief and sorrow. Some may say, “It was just a dog or a cat.” But, those pets play a huge part in our joy in daily lives which are often riddled with challenges. The relationships and love of pets can provide great comfort.

Over the years we’ve spent in Africa, we witnessed many heartbreaking wildlife injuries. Sadly today’s photos sit at the top of this list, and we only hope this poor little duiker gets some help soon. Unfortunately, with the extent of the damage the quills may have caused, euthanasia might be the only option.

On a more positive note, last night, we attended a Thanksgiving dinner celebration at Kathy and Don’s lovely home overlooking the Crocodile River. As mentioned in yesterday’s post here, we brought the two pies I’d made, Rita brought the green beans, and Kathy made the balance of the delicious meal: turkey and mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and a delicious salad.

Of course, I only ate turkey, green beans, and salad which was perfectly satisfying. I couldn’t help but drool a little when everyone was eating the cherry pie with ice cream and whipped cream and pumpkin pies, also topped with whipped cream, both of which I loved in my old life.

Please, if any Marloth Park residents or visitors see this duiker, report it immediately to the rangers. (Not our photo)

But, I didn’t take even a bite when the others did a little coaxing, encouraging me to try a taste. For me, after all these years of strict low carb, even a small portion could set me on a destructive path. One bite would never be enough when I’ve always had a sweet tooth.

Load shedding began during the dinner party and lasted for two hours while we dined at their big dining room table, drinking wine (except Tom, who drinks brandy and Sprite Zero) in the dark. There were plenty of candles on the table, allowing us to see what we were eating. The night had cooled down considerably from a sweltering day, with heavy wind and rain with the windows open in the dining room, and we were all comfortable. It was a great night indeed.

In today’s heading, we wrote: “A startling revelation from last year.” Yesterday, while working on corrections, I realized it would be one more month until I’d be done. I came across this post from January 23, 2020, while we were still in Arizona, preparing to leave for India in less than a week.

Contained in the post was our first mention of Covid-19. We were sharing details of our upcoming cruise from Mumbai, scheduled to sail away on April 3, 2020, shortly after the end of our private tour of India. As it turned out, the cruise was canceled due to Covid, and we had to cut our tour of India short by many weeks, again due to Covid. It was on March 24 that our 10-month isolation in lockdown began at the Marriott Hotel in Mumbai. Wow! That seems like a long time ago!

It’s still with us. Be careful. Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 10, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #201. The veranda to our tent at Camp Olonono in the Maasai Mara in Kenya.  Approaching, it took our breath away. For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic outing this morning…An old friend visits the garden…

Notice the little spoked tuft of hair on the top of the email duiker’s head. So adorable.

Yes, it’s a late start to today’s post. At 9:00, Tom dropped me off outside Louise and Danie’s Info Centre, and friend Kathy picked me up. We headed to her favorite morning spot, Stoep Cafe, located on the main street in Komatipoort. Years ago, Tom and I went there every so often for breakfast. But, as of late, neither of us has been hungry for breakfast, and we haven’t stopped there at all since we arrived in January.

Once Kathy and I arrived at Stoep Cafe, Kathy’s regular table was waiting for her. She’s a frequent customer, and I was thrilled to share this particular time with her. This was the first time it had been just the two of us since she arrived in early July, and we couldn’t have been more chatty in catching up after not seeing each other much in the past two years, mainly due to Covid-19.

Old Man wasn’t looking his best.

The time flew by, and before we knew it, we were back at Louise’s parking lot where Tom was waiting for me after I’d sent him a message on WhatsApp. Kathy and I said our goodbyes, knowing we’d see each other again soon, while Tom and I entered the Info Centre to chat with Louis and Danie. As always, it was delightful to see the two of them, as well.

After sharing interesting tidbits about our mutual days and nights since seeing them for dinner a week ago, Tom and I headed back to our bush house to find several animals waiting for us in the garden, including an old friend from before we left for the US at the end of June, two wildebeests, Hal and his constant partner, Old Man, who must be the oldest wildebeest in Marloth Park.

Upon further inspection, we noticed his face and stunted horns were covered in mud.

As shown in today’s photos, taken only a short time ago, Old Man was a mess this time. His face and stubby horns, obviously diminished in size due to years of use, were covered in mud. We couldn’t help but laugh but, then again, we were saddened to see how he improvises in digging up roots for consumption, using the stubby horns he’s acquired over the years.

Tom tossed them several containers of pellets and paid attention to the several bushbucks in the garden along with one adorable female duiker, as shown in the photos.  Duikers are very shy, and the slightest noise or motion will send them off in seconds into the bush, never to be seen again.

Whenever Old Man visits, he brings this younger wildebeest with him that may be his son or even grandson, whom we call “Hal.”

Gingerly, Tom sent some pellets her way, and for the first time in a long time, I was able to take a photo of a duiker, especially a female with her adorable little tuft of hair on the center of her head, as shown in our photo and described here from this site:

“The common duiker has many common names, including common, grey, and Grimm’s duiker. The name ‘duiker’ is derived from the Afrikaans word ‘duik’ meaning ‘to dive’ due to its characteristic porpoising flight pattern. Common duiker is identifiable by their slate grey color, which in some areas varies to include shades of red and yellow. They have a tuft of dark hair between the horns, or just on the head in the case of the females as horns are absent, and a dark stripe down the center of the face. The preorbital glands in front of the eyes are conspicuous and exude a tarry secretion probably used in scent marking. Unlike steenbok, they tend to live in areas with lots of bushy covers, who prefer open areas. It is into this cover that they dart and dive when disturbed. They have excellent hearing, which alerts them to disturbances.”

A wildebeest’s eyes are high up on his face. Notice Old Man’s eyes by zooming in. Old Man wasn’t having a great day.

With only 56 days until we depart Marloth Park, South Africa. It was fun to be taking new photos of less common sightings when we consider how tired many of our readers may become of the endless flow of frequent sightings. We are especially mindful of every photo and story we post in the future.

Before we know it, our photos will be from Arizona, USA, where we’ll always be on the search for new and exciting photos. It won’t always be easy without wildlife surrounding us, but, as always, we’ll do our best.

Tonight, we’ll stay in and enjoy a quiet day and evening with our animal friends. As mentioned in yesterday’s post, we’ll listen to more music on our new speaker quietly enough to avoid disturbing the wildlife and any distant neighbors. Since yesterday, we learned more about the Bluetooth speaker. We paired it with both our phones and laptops. Now, anything we watch or listen to can be broadcast, loud and clear, a big boon for Tom’s hearing issues and also, when some streaming shows have a low volume, that previously required that we use a splitter to wear earbuds. Nice.

Have a pleasant day!

Photo from one year ago today,  August 26, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago today while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #156. Although our room was more significant than a ship cabin, it was small, as shown in this photo. For more photos, 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
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.

An interesting frequent visitor..Too hot to handle…Kevin came to call…

Fairly frequent visitors, the Helmeted Guinea-fowl family stopped by yesterday afternoon. Check out the “fluff” around the neck. What a gorgeous shade of blue, not often seen in nature.

Perhaps, it’s the heat of summer. This is comparable to July above the equator. The heat and humidity are unbearable, especially in the afternoon. The flies are equally annoying. Our visitor population is down considerably in the heat when wildlife tends to stay undercover during the day hiding in the bush to stay cool.

On either side of the face are two hanging red-tipped hanging pieces of skin. When the Helmeted Guinea-fowl moves about, these swing around as would a pair of dangling earrings.

It’s early morning now. Our hot cup of coffee adds to the sweating, causing our skin to glisten with perspiration.  Having lathered myself with repellent each morning after a shower, I notice the accumulation of the white lotion and sweat in the crook of my arms no more than 10 minutes after getting situated on the veranda.

The adorable chicks are growing fast, but won’t exhibit signs of the blue skin on the heads for many more months to come. They run very fast, following the parents when they leave, who mate for life, unlike many of the animals.

This morning there will be no long walk down our driveway to the road, leaving a trail of pellets. The heat of the sun is more than I can handle this morning, especially when the flies swarm me as I walk down the path. I don’t think we’ll last long outside today. 

Yesterday morning we left out shrimp skin and tails for the carnivorous monitor lizard along with a raw egg.  This Helmeted Guinea-fowl checked them out but had no interest. Later in the day, I peeked out the door to find the monitor lizard eating the last of our offerings. But, she rapidly slithered away before I could get the camera. We’d seen her digging in the dirt by the braai as we were leaving for our road trip. Most likely, she was making a hole for her eggs, which won’t hatch for up to 300 days after fertilization.

As for inside, there is only one room, beside the two-bedroom that has AC where we can cool off, the upstairs loft. With the high vaulted thatched ceiling, it never cools down much.  But, it does cool down enough to make it bearable.

We counted eight adults and three babies Helmeted Guinea-fowl, two of which weren’t visible in this photo. We can’t freely move around when they visit since they will run off, and I mean RUN! They are fast on their feet! 

On days such as these, I remind myself of Kenya with no AC in the bedrooms, no living room to escape to, in order to cool off. I clamp my mouth shut and as always, we don’t complain. What’s the point?

This morning, I looked up to see Kevin, the largest kudu in Marloth Park, named by its residents, staring at us while standing by the braai. We couldn’t have been more thrilled. Not easily intimidated, we were able to freely move around the veranda to watch him and take photos. 

We still love it here. But, if we come back someday, it will be in their winter when it’s cool, almost every day. In the winter with no leaves on the trees, it’s easier to see the wildlife through the now dense bush. During that period the animals live off of the roots, digging into the hard soil for morsels of vegetation. I’m sure that the pellets are more appreciated during that time, than now, when their natural habitat is lush with food.

Kevin showed no interest in the mineral lick after a warthog rubbed himself all over it, as shown in the video we posted yesterday.

As we sit outside writing here, a welcome breeze wafts our way from time to time, sometimes hot, others cool.  But the stillness predominates. And, we sweat.

Kevin moved so close, to the railing on the veranda we had to back up to avoid being hit with his massive antlers.

On days such as today, we usually last outdoors until noon or later, packing up our laptops, power cords, pellet containers, repellent, mugs, phone  and camera. We can’t leave anything outdoors due to the monkeys. 

Kudus seem to seek out good photo opportunities.

In our old lives, we never sat outdoors on a 100F day, 38 C. Life is different now. We’re more tolerant, curious, and in awe of our surroundings. How we’ve changed!

Kevin is taller than the roof of the carport which lowest point is considerably taller than Tom’s reach.

So, of all things, just now, Kevin, the largest of the Kudus in Marloth Park, whom we’ve longed to visit us, has appeared in our garden. Lumbering his long legs through the braai (barbecue) area, stepping on the hose Tom has filling the pool, and cutting off the water supply momentarily, he makes his way toward us, totally fearless of our presence. Wow! Kevin!  

He stayed around us for 20 minutes or so and then wandered off.  A moment later a shy duiker appeared, one then two, now three.

One last pose before heading on his way.

Taking photos, enjoying their presence, makes our hearts sing. So what if we’re sweating. It’s all worth it!

Although we had three duikers in the garden, we were unable to get a shot of them together. They’re extremely shy requiring us to stay seated on the veranda.

Oh, oh. One of our regular warthog families of four has arrived. I’d better go say “hi” and get some pellets.