Outstanding drive in the park…Excellent new photos…

I could not take the photo of this elephant from the car, and thus, I got out, walked down a narrow, uneven path, and made my way to the fence.

We’ve yet to go into Kruger National Park. We’ve been busy with documents, bookings, and planning for our upcoming Kenya trip, leaving Marloth Park in 22 days. Our Kenya visa application has been kicked back to us a few times when they didn’t like that our passports weren’t flat enough when we took the photos. It’s not easy to get a passport to lie completely flat. We had to redo that portion of the visa application twice already.

Hopefully, now that we haven’t heard from IVisa in a few days, everything must be in process. If all goes well, we should have the visas in our inbox within a week.

A herd of impalas sheltering in the shade with a few babies seated in the front.

Then, I was dealing with the awful side effects of the antibiotics I took needlessly when I didn’t have an abscessed tooth or any teeth problems after all. Then, the itching from the dust mites got so bad. I could barely sit in the car for hours, focusing on anything but the itching. It’s fantastic we had guests during those periods and even ventured out to dinner.

On top of it all, we had several occasions when our site wasn’t up, and there was no way I’d feel comfortable going out for a full day until the issues were resolved. Collectively, there was little opportunity for a day to Kruger. Now, with the Maasai Mara upcoming in three weeks, we’ve decided we’ll wait until we return.

An impala family stood in the road, most likely parent(s) and auntie (s) protecting the baby.

Hopefully, if all goes well in getting our new 90 day-visa stamps, we’ll apply for our Wild Card entrance pass to Kruger National Park, good for one year. It pays for itself in three or four visits, so buying it is worthwhile even if we aren’t here for an entire year.

With fewer animals coming to the garden this past week, most likely due to the heat, yesterday afternoon, we decided to drive through Marloth Park to see if we’d find any new and exciting wildlife. We weren’t disappointed. We took enough excellent photos to last for days, hoping more visitors would stop by in the interim. It’s almost 10:30 am, and we’ve yet to see anyone, except for a young male kudu who just showed up as I wrote this.

We’ve yet to have a Big Daddy (two in this case) visit our garden due to the dense bush, making it difficult for them to maneuver with their long curly horns.

Last night, while I was putting away my laptop for the night, after watching a few shows, I turned on the garden light to see Ms. Bossy standing there looking at the door, wondering where we were and if we had some pellets. Tom had set the alarm for the night, so I gently shooed her away with the wave of my arm to let her know standing there all night would do no good. Surely, she’ll be back sometime today or this evening.

Last night, as we lounged on the veranda while cooking a roast beef on the braai for dinner, Tiny wandered into the garden at exactly 4:34 pm (1634 hours) and stayed with us for over an hour. He ate a few leftover bones we’d saved for him and a few tosses of pellets, after which he lay down to stare at me while I talked to him. He shows up about the same time each evening and, on occasion, in the morning. (Now we have four kudus visiting. I spoke too soon).

Another Big Daddy is seen from inside the car through Tom’s window.

After dinner, I called my eldest son Richard to wish him a happy birthday. He was a St. Patrick’s Day baby and now is a mature, successful businessman with a fulfilling life. He’s one of the top real estate agents in Nevada, and if you are looking to buy or sell a home in Las Vegas, Nevada, or surrounding areas, you won’t be disappointed if you contact him. Yes, I know, that’s a biased mom talking, but check out the reviews he gets at Zillow at this link. It was great talking to him, as it always is when speaking to our family members.

While I waited at the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park, he was facing away from me. I’d hoped we’d do better than a rear-end shot when finally, he turned around.

However, many family members prefer to “chat” via email, text, Facebook, and other social media. That’s the way of the world these days. But, we are grateful to be traveling at this time in history, when communication is accessible via the internet, and it’s easy to stay in touch. Talking on the phone seems to be a luxury these days, which many will understand.

Finally, we got a full photo of this handsome elephant.

We are off to Komatipoort to grocery shop during the heat of the day. It’s pleasant to ride in the air-conditioned car during the 20-minute drive. The crowds while shopping prompt us to take extreme care while in the market when many don’t correctly wear their masks.

We hope you have a pleasant day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 18, 2020:

On the last night on the Maharajas Express, we were all assisted in dressing in traditional Indian attire. For more photos, please click here.

The holiday season has begun in Marloth Park….Warnings for holidaymakers with children…

Island life for this cape buffalo with a friend on the river’s edge.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Our resident frog, which we mistakenly assumed was a male is a female. The frog male is much smaller than the female. The male took up residence with her overnight last night. We’ll continue to observe to see what transpires for this mating pair. She’s been sitting there for months, although she took off during the rain last week, returning three nights later. When we turn on this light fixture at night, the insects are prolific, and she sits there darting out her tongue for tasty treats. We’ll see how it goes tonight, with two of them sharing the nighttime opportunities.

We were both up at the crack of dawn, hoping to reach grandson Vincent to wish him a happy birthday. The time difference is 12 hours. He and his family are in Maui, Hawaii, for the holiday season, snorkeling, boogie boarding, and scuba diving.

As holidaymakers and activities have ramped up this weekend in Marloth Park, we are seeing a distinct reduction in the number of wildlife visitors and more and more vehicles on the roads.  
The only elephant we spotted on the river this morning with a cattle egret in flight near its trunk.

So far today, we’ve fed a few bushbuck moms and babies. Perhaps by early evening, when the garden is usually filled with a wide array of wildlife, we’ll have more visitors. But, for now, we’re on our own.

We took off in the red car around 8:00 am to drive around the park. We encountered many vehicles but few animals other than those we’ve shown here today, with fewer sightings on the Crocodile River than usual.

A pair of male ostriches wandering through the bush this morning.

On Facebook this morning and we noticed this warning about children in the park written by a conscientious and dedicated ranger:

Good morning everyone.
Please warn all your guests not to leave small children to explore the bush without an adult. We do have a lot of snakes out and about at the moment. 

There was also an incident this morning with 2 small children going right up to Kudu bulls to feed them without an adult nearby, we luckily had an owner stop them. (Kudu bulls have massive horns and, although not necessarily aggressive animals, could easily and unintentionally impale a child or adult).

All animals are wild; before we have serious injuries, please educate those who think we are a petting zoo. Thank you.

For the first time, we noticed ostrich’s ears which may usually be hidden under layers of plumage. Unlike humans, birds’ ears are holes on either side of their heads, with no cartilage. Contrary to what most humans believe, ostriches do not stick their heads in the sand.

We see this type of behavior all the time, especially during holidays when the park is filled with tourists. Once again, we’re driving past cars with children, young children, sitting on the parent’s lap driving the vehicle, often a large SUV or truck.

Recently, we encounter two girls alone in the front seat of an SUV, with one driving, neither of whom could have been over 12 years old. Who are these parents that allow this dangerous activity?  

During the mating season (June- November), the male ostrich’s beak and legs turn red/pink to attract the female for mating.

Sure, there are many periods of time where there are no police in Marloth Park for long stretches although, in the past few days, we have seen a few police vehicles. We hope they stay through the holiday season.

Does this fact give people the right to ignore laws, endangering not only their own children’s lives but the lives of others including the wildlife? Last holiday season, spring break, 12 animals were killed from speeding and careless driving in the park. This was devastating news to all of us who love this place and its wildlife occupants.

A peculiar-looking bird, isn’t it?  Ostriches are remnants of the prehistoric era.

Besides the risk to humans, wildlife and property there is also a lack of consideration by some holidaymakers over noise (and trash) restrictions as part of the regulations in Marloth Park.  

This is supposed to be a peaceful and quiet place where wildlife and humans can co-exist in a stress-free environment. Sadly, that’s not always the case during holiday periods and, at other times as well.

From this angle, it’s difficult to determine the species other than due to the long neck.

We’re hoping after posting this on several Marloth Park pages in Facebook some holidaymakers may have an opportunity to realize the value of a chance to experience this magical place.

The rules and regulations for Marloth Park may be found here at this link.  Although many of these rules apply to construction and building, in reading through the list, toward the end, each regulation has a deep and genuine purpose of maintaining the integrity and value of this particular community and safety for all blessed to be here.

A saddle-billed stork on the Crocodile River this morning.

Sure, we are only visitors ourselves here (for almost one year, leaving in February and who are we to tell others how to behave?  But, our motives are not entirely altruistic.  

We plan to return to Marloth Park 21 months after we leave and we can only hope we’ll find it to be as meaningful and magical as it’s been for us for this entire year we’ve spent living here.  

Perhaps this is selfish but if everyone shared a similar selfishness to keep Marloth Park as wonderful as it is, we’d each commit to a personal role in appreciating our time here and dedicating our efforts for the benefits of the wildlife and the surroundings.  

Ultimately in doing so, humans will continue to relish in the beauty and wonder of one of the most unique places on earth.

Be well.  Be happy during this holiday season and always.
                       Photo from one year ago today, December 16, 2017:

Views of Cape Horn, known as the bottom of the world, from the ship’s bow.  For more photos, please click here.

Our social life continues…A friendly visitor in the restaurant…Nature can be both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time…

Tom at sunset as we dined with Rita and Gerhard at Ngwenya on buffet night. Rita took this great photo so indicative of the peaceful and views from this excellent location.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Rita and I were captivated by a visitor who entered the restaurant, a friendly little dung beetle. We both held him and felt the ticklish feel of his spiny legs moving rapidly in our hands.

Last night, Rita and Gerhard picked us up at 1630 hrs (4:30 pm) for sundowners on the veranda at Ngwenya overlooking the Crocodile River to be followed by the buffet dinner inside the restaurant after darkness fell.

We’ve so enjoyed spending time with new friends Rita and Gerhard who came to Marloth Park after reading our posts years ago. Through our site, they found the holiday home they’ve rented and also found Louise to help them get situated.  They’ll be here in Marloth until February. Hopefully, we’ll be here as well for more fun times together.

We have a lot in common with this lovely couple and the conversation flowed with ease, animation, and enthusiasm.  They, too, have traveled all over the world and have great stories to tell. Our mutual love of nature and wildlife precipitates an endless flow of interesting conversation.

From quite a distance Tom spotted this elephant with an obvious problem with his left tusk.

This Sunday friends Kathy and Don return to Marloth Park and more social activities will ensue over these next few weeks. Next Saturday is our Thanksgiving dinner celebration here at the orange house.

It was apparent this elephant’s left tusk has been damaged affecting the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that hold it in place. We hoped he wasn’t in pain.

Today, I’m working on making the equivalent of canned pumpkin using lumpy frozen pumpkin. I’ve processed the first two bags and I think it’s going to work well. 

Another view of the elephant with a damaged tusk.

As soon as I upload today’s post, I’ll prepare the homemade pumpkin pie spices using multiple spices. There’s certainly no prepared pumpkin pie spice to be found anywhere in South Africa or even on the continent. It’s a USA thing used for a specific USA holiday.  

From there, I’ll make the from-scratch pie crust, a favorite recipe from Martha Stewart, the best pie crust in the land.  If you’d like the recipe, please click here.  It’s a little time-consuming but worth the extra effort.  

A black-winged stilt we spotted at Sunset Dam in Kruger.

For the first time in seven years, I purchased a bag of white flour and another bag of sugar. I won’t be even tasting the pie so Tom will be on his own to determine if this pie will be worthy of making in number for our guests arriving for dinner on the 17th.

Tonight, Tom will dine on marinated pork chops on the braai while I have salmon steaks, along with roasted vegetables, mashed cauliflower, and salad. And then, for dessert (a rare treat in this household) Tom will have a piece of the pumpkin pie.  He doesn’t care for Cool Whip (which isn’t available here) or whipped cream atop his pie. Plain and simple, that’s how my guy likes it.

A crocodile made an appearance to check out his surroundings and possible food sources.

Back to last night, after our fine buffet dinner, a “visitor” walked into the main door of the restaurant, my favorite “bug” of all time, the fascinating dung beetle.  

He didn’t have his ball of dung with him or had yet to prepare it but as summer approaches, we’ll surely find plenty of these interesting creatures with their ball of dung in tow. More on that later when we see one with his perfectly shaped ball and perhaps a wife running atop it as he pushes it along with his bag legs.

While I was indoors preparing dinner, Tom called me to hurry and come outside. He’d taken these photos of Wounded with an oxpecker “working on” the severe injury near his left eye.

Rita and I held him in our hands. I was so excited I could hardly hold the camera straight to take a decent photo. That happens to me sometimes…my enthusiasm supersedes my ability to hold the camera steady.  

As I always say, I’m not a professional photographer. I’m an enthusiastic photographer which sometimes results in my emotions getting in the way of the perfect shot.

Here again, is another example of the symbiosis between certain animals. The oxpecker eats the maggots and decaying debris from his injury while he cooperates with the intrusion.

Also, included today are several photos took of our new friend and now frequent visitor “Wounded” who showed up about a week ago and now visits every day. His obvious facial injury is heartbreaking but he wastes no time eating plenty of pellets and vegetables.

Wounded is very shy around other warthogs so we imagine he may have been wounded by another warthog in a fight for dominance or food. We make a point of fussing over him whenever he arrives, hoping in time his injury will heal. It’s too soon to tell if he was blinded in his eye from the injury.

Nature can be both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.

What astounded us about yesterday’s visit by Wounded was when he walked into the garden he had an oxpecker, as shown in the photos, working on “cleaning out his wound.”  

The oxpecker may or may not be helpful when they may become too aggressive in clearing an injury from maggots or other insects, only making matters worse. We can only hope Wounded starts to heal at some point soon. Such a grievous injury can result in a long and painful death.

Three giraffes stopping for a drink in the river.

Today is a warm sunny day, not too cool, not too hot. It’s comparable to what one may experience on a tropical island.  But, the bush is no tropical island.  And life happens for these creatures as shown in the above photo of an elephant with an injured tusk. There’s nothing we can do but let nature take its course.

So for today, we’ll let nature take its course as we’re delighting in a number of visitors stopping by on this perfect day. The pellets and veg are plentiful as is our enthusiasm in sharing it all.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 9, 2017:

A fiery-billed acara in Costa Rica says, “I’ve got mine!” For more photos, please click here.

Unusual sighting in Kruger shown in our video…Do all body parts have a purpose?…Tom and friends…

Please note the first few seconds of this video illustrating what transpired below.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

After returning from Kruger on Sunday, we headed to Amazing River View, Serene Oasis, to watch the sunset and wildlife on the Crocodile River. This waterbuck was busily grazing on the vegetation as we captured his reflection in the river.

On Sunday afternoon, upon returning home after our failed attempt to find our friends at Lower Sabie in Kruger National Park, we decided to head out for dinner once we knew they were alright.

This elephant with only one tusk was standing at the Verhami Dam in Kruger leisurely tossing dirt over herself. 

Having been to Jabula Lodge & Restaurant on Friday night with Kathy and Don and few restaurants in Marloth Park, we decided we’d stop for a sundowner at Serene Oasis and then drive the few kilometers to Phumula Lodge & Restaurant for dinner. 

The food is good, not great, but the outdoor dining area is charming, and for that reason, along with good service, we enjoy dining there. While at Serene Oasis, we spotted few animals, but the sun quickly went down, and we left for dinner.

It was fascinating watching her from our close vantage point.

The above photo, “Sighting of the Day in the Bush,” made the river view stop worthwhile but, we’ve found the menu at Serene Oasis difficult to accommodate my way of eating. Also, their prices are considerably higher than other restaurants in Marloth Park, and as we book more and more into the future, we continue to manage our budget diligently.

As mentioned above and in more detail in yesterday’s post, found here, we were unable to find our friends who’d planned to meet us at the Mug & Bean Restaurant at Lower Sabie in Kruger at 11:00. We’re planning to repeat the same scenario tomorrow at 11:00 am at the same location, hoping we’ll find each other this time.

She grasped some vegetation while we waited patiently for her next move.

With our successful drive in Kruger National Park, spotting four rhinos shortly after entering, we felt the drive through the park and back was a success, as shown by photos we’ll continue to share over the next few days.

As shown in the above video, this particular elephant sighting was exciting. We’d never witnessed firsthand the degree of adeptness elephants possess with the end of the trunks.

Suddenly, she lifted the end of her trunk and scratched her right eye.

Here are a few facts about elephant’s trunks from this site:

“Did you know these three things about the elephant trunk?1. The human tongue is similar to an elephant’s trunk. The tongue and the trunk are muscular hydrostats – body parts composed almost exclusively of muscle tissue that utilizes water pressure to move. The muscles provide volume constancy and reversible torsional force.

2. The trunk of an elephant is highly dynamic, able to move in various directions with immense strength and precision, though there is no skeletal structure in the trunk.

3. The elephant’s trunk is made up of an incompressible ‘fluid’ (i.e., tightly packed muscle fibers) that maintains its volume to remain constant through various movements. These muscles are arranged in three patterns (perpendicular to the long axis of the organ, parallel to the long axis, or wrapped helically, or obliquely, around the long axis) and provide versatility to the movement of the trunk.”

Over a period of several minutes, she reached up, scratching her eye again.
It’s so easy to take the physical features of wildlife for granted. As we’ve observed nature non-stop over the past four months in Marloth Park, Kruger National Park, and Chobe National Park (Botswana), we’ve concluded, supported by science, that every part of an animal is an animal’s anatomy has a distinct purpose.
Whether it’s the curled tusks of the warthog, utilized for digging up roots and defense, to the huge antlers of the male kudu, to protect his “harem” and maneuver through dense bush, to the massive size, mouth, and teeth of the dangerous hippo, it all has a purpose.
Further down the road, we spotted this wildebeest’s youngster suckling.
Tom and I have discussed these facts repeatedly, often referencing scientific information to confirm our suspicions and satisfy our curiosity. Wildlife isn’t too different from us humans in this regard. Our anatomical features all provide a purpose in our day-to-day lives.

We laughed when simultaneously we mentioned the purported uselessness of the human appendix, which has long been thought to be a worthless remnant in the human body.

Tom’s favorite, Ms. Bushbuck, and her friend were to his right, while my favorite, Ms. Kudu was standing to his left.

In conducting further research, we discovered the following from this site:

“The body’s appendix has long been thought of as nothing more than a worthless evolutionary artifact, good for nothing save a potentially lethal case of inflammation.Now researchers suggest that the appendix is a lot more than a useless remnant. Not only was it recently proposed to actually possess a critical function, but scientists now find it appears in nature a lot more often than before thought. And it’s possible some of this organ’s ancient uses could be recruited by physicians to help the human body fight disease more effectively.

In a way, the idea that the appendix is an organ whose time has passed has itself become a concept whose time is over.

“Maybe it’s time to correct the textbooks,” said researcher William Parker, an immunologist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. “Many biology texts today still refer to the appendix as a ‘vestigial organ.”

Parker recently suggested that the appendix still served as a vital safehouse where good bacteria could lie in wait until they were needed to repopulate the gut after a nasty case of diarrhea. Past studies had also found the appendix can help make, direct and train white blood cells.

To see the elephant at the Verhami Dam so adeptly scratching his eye reminded us of how magically and mysteriously each creature on the magnificent Earth possessing skills, features, and structures vital to their existence in everyday life.

The wildlife in Marloth Park is “wild” but has become used to being near humans.
It’s not as if we’re only sitting back fussing over the wildlife that comes to call each day or those we find in national parks. It’s the opportunity to question, investigate and learn more and more each day, not only about the stunning wildlife surrounding us but also in learning more and more about ourselves, our planet, and our purpose on this Earth.
For all of this, we are eternally grateful. And, we’re grateful to be able to share it all with YOU!

Photo from one year ago today, June 12, 2018:

Across the Bay in Vancouver, we could see the Olympic Mountains.  At first, we thought this was a view of clouds, not mountains.  For more photos, please click here.