Adults only, please…Rutting season in full bloom in Marloth Park…Love is in the air!…

The above video is intended for “adults only.” We consider it a part of the wonder of nature, offering us a front row seat on how wildlife find their mates, court their potential mates, and ultimately propagate in the wild. Certainly, some may feel that this is inappropriate. We kindly ask, you do not write to us in this regard.

This is nature at its finest and for us, it is fascinating in providing us with an opportunity to witness the relationships among wildlife as they seek to preserve their species. Although warthogs do not appear on the list of endangered species, like all wild species, they have their place and their raison d’être on this beautiful Earth.

Whether it’s love or purely instinct of the more intelligent animals, like warthogs, is irrelevant. Watching them interact during this busy mating season in Africa is educational and we must admit, at times, highly entertaining, when their behaviors are so unlike our own as humans, with some similarities in regard to “the chase.”

Big Daddy Kudu resting in the bush awaiting the arrival of a female.

No, most of us weren’t courted by our significant others making “train noises.” But, it’s easy for most of us in relationships to recall the methods implemented by members of our species to express an interest. Whether it was a feature of one’s appearance, their scent, often referred to as pheromones, words spoken, or a plethora of other signals humans utilize, knowingly or not, to let the other person become aware of their interest and intent,

Animals in the wild are no different. Their language among one another may not be known to us in most cases, but it’s easy to detect, as we observe them in the wild, that they have no difficulty communicating with one another. Today’s video and a few photos illustrate this point.

Shortly thereafter, this female arrived, sitting a short distance away, an example of a subtle and gentle approach.

Who are we to say it’s purely instinctual when the process can be so complex, as we currently observe each day? Living in the bush, day after day, we are gifted with the opportunity to observe these interactions, often subtle and gentle, and at other times, brazen and forthright as shown in the above warthog video.

We hope in many months to come, we’ll see the “fruits of their labor” and be able to revel in the newborns nature has born to these precious animals. Only time will tell, if we will be able to stay. The warthog gestation period is from 152 to 183 days; the kudu is 240 days; and the bushbuck is 182 days.

On another note, last night, we had dinner with Linda and Ken at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant and had a fantastic evening. The food, as usual, was delicious, the service was beyond reproach and the four of us, as always, never had a lull in delightful conversation. Tom and I often arrive an hour before a planned meeting time with friends, to have fun sitting at the bar, chatting with owners Dawn and Leon and their trusty, warm and efficient manager, Lyn.

This is The Imposter, rubbing his scent on a tree We’ve seen a lot of this “marking” on a few chosen trees in the garden.

There were few guests when we arrived at 5:00 pm, 1700 hours, but after we took our table an hour later when Linda and Ken arrived, more and more diners filtered in. It feels safe there with the employees well masked and the tables sensibly socially distanced. Hand sanitizer is readily available in all areas.

Tonight, Linda and Ken are coming for dinner with sundowners with snacks beginning at 4:00 pm, 1600 hours. Dinner, suitable for all of our “ways of eating” will be served a few hours later. Today, it’s surprisingly cool and windy, If it becomes any cooler, and stays this windy, we may have to dine indoors at the dining room table, which we did on another occasion when they were here, when it was raining in buckets.

The reason we’ve recently seen two Big Daddies, certainly has to do with the fact that several females frequent our garden.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow as the adventures in the bush, nature at its finest, continue.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, May 1, 2020:

A parade of elephants crossing a dirt road in Kruger. For more photos, please click here.

Holiday makers arriving in the park starting today…Noisy weekend in the bush?…

Big Daddy is such a handsome animal.

We are located on the borders of Lionspruit, the wildlife conservancy within a wildlife conservancy. From our front yard or back garden, we cannot see another house. The only human noise we hear from time to time is the sound of children laughing while in a splash pool, which we can easily handle, the distant sound of a generator when the power is out and the occasional sound of trucks passing with supplies for a house being built in the area.

Other than those sounds, the only sounds we hear on a consistent basis is the blissful sounds of wildlife; whether its birds, mongoose making their chittering sounds, warthogs snorting and grunting, impalas barking like a dog, various chirping insects and frogs, the lion’s roar, and the difficult to describe occasional sounds made by kudus, zebra, and wildebeest. It’s all music to our ears.

Big Daddy posing for a photo.

One of our favorite sounds is made by Frank and The Misses, a loud bird call like none other, at sunrise and sunset, and occasionally during the day, and the gentle chirp when they happily eat their seeds and drink water from the little containers, both of which we refill several times a day.

Otherwise, the quiet is profound. No traffic sounds, no loud music, with no yelling and loud voices. When we lived at the Orange House in 2018/2019, the human sounds were deafening at times. We could easily see three or four-holiday homes from the garden and hear the rambunctious sounds of holidaymakers during the endless stream of holidays in South Africa.

Marloth Park has distinct rules, available to every visitor in regards to noise. This is a place to come to unwind, relax and revel in the wonders of nature and wildlife. Loud noise is prohibited and may result in steep fines. But, many tourists pay little attention to the rules.

He stood quietly for a few hours watching the action around him with many other animals in the garden.

Not only did we hear screaming, yelling, and “drunk talk” but loud music permeated the air. It wasn’t unusual to hear swearing and name-calling from that location. Here, nothing. At most, we’ll hear the children’s sounds and an occasional car driving past. This house is set back far from the road, making passing vehicle noises barely detectable.

Upcoming this weekend is yet another South Africa holiday, this time what is called a “school holiday” which may be found at this link. For the regular government holidays, please click here.

This upcoming school holiday, of course, meaning kids are out of school, impacts tourism in Marloth Park beginning on April 23 and continues until May 3 for a total of 10 days. It’s during these several long stretches throughout the year that Marloth Park is rife with tourists, with considerable fast driving on the paved road Olifant and all the dirt roads, which often results in the killing of many animals.

Big Daddy in the background with two females ready for more pellets.

As mentioned over Easter weekend, seven of our beloved animals were killed by hit-and-run drivers, some of which were killed instantly and others who had to be euthanized. Each time, we don’t see some of our favorites in the garden over a period of days, we end up wondering if they were one of the victims of these ruthless drivers, until once again they grace us with their presence, filling us with a sense of relief.

It’s highly likely we won’t see much wildlife during the 10-day period when often, they are hiding in the bush away from the commotion or being fed inappropriate foods that they, like humans, can’t help but like. During these periods, we seldom see many of our wildlife friends. In actuality, that has already begun when, this morning, we only saw a few warthogs, bushbucks, and of course, Frank and The Misses, who we’ll continue to see since Francolins are territorial and it’s highly unlikely they leave the property.

Also, beginning this weekend, it’s necessary to make an appointment to enter Kruger National Park. Visitors may use this site to book their appointments. Due to the crowds, there will be in Kruger, we won’t be visiting any time during the holiday period. Also, our usual drives in search of photo ops in Marloth Park will also cease during this period.

Young Mr. Bushbuck hoping for some pellets when the warthogs take over. We always find a way to get some to him and the other gentle bushbucks.

We’re hoping we’ll continue to have sufficient photos during the next 10 days for our daily posts. We’ll do our best to ensure we are able to post new photos. Fortunately, we have enough groceries and bags of pellets to avoid the necessity of driving to Komatipoort to shop, where it will also be very busy.

Oops, I spoke too soon! Nine kudus just arrived in the garden, including some youngsters and Big Daddy. A grouping of kudus like this is called a forkl. The camera is clicking non-stop!

Little, in the side garden, searching for any leftover pellets we’d tossed to the bushbucks.

May your days and nights be pleasant and fulfilling.

Photo from one year ago today, April 22, 2020:

A distant elephant across the Crocodile River. For more from the year-ago post, please click here.

Repeating the vaccine registration process…Stats on the majestic maturing male kudu…

He stood there for quite a while, but we stayed inside the house until he backed off.

When we didn’t receive a confirmation text expected within 24 hours of both of us registering for South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccine, I searched online for possible reasons. Apparently, when the site went live yesterday, we were two of the first 126,000 that registered. I found a mention that due to traffic on the site, we may need to re-register again today.

If you didn’t see yesterday’s post, here is the link to register for the Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa.

Also, I wondered when I entered our US phone number with a “1” in front of the area code, I needed to use +1, but there weren’t enough spaces in the field to enter the +1 which is the US country code. Today, as soon as I’ve uploaded this post, I will re-register both of us, using Louise’s South Africa phone number for her to receive the texts to notify us that our application has been received and where and when to go for the vaccine sometime in May or later.

I don’t like inconveniencing her like this, but she is always willing to help in any way she can. We are assuming the South African vaccine portal didn’t accept our US phone number. We will see how that goes.

These male kudus when fully grown may weigh 190 kg to 270 kg, 419 pounds to 595 pounds.

It’s a busy Saturday morning in the bush. There must not be as many holidaymakers here this weekend. We’ve had a steady stream of visitors this morning, including the first “Big Daddy” kudu who visited our garden since we arrived in January.

His horns weren’t as huge as a more mature Big Daddy, but in time they will be. His massive muscular body was a treat to behold.

From this site:

“The kudu’s horns do not begin to grow until the bull reaches 6–12 months, twisting once at around two years of age and not reaching the full two-and-a-half twists until the age of six.
Not quite full-grown with horns yet to grow, this Big Daddy stopped by early this morning.

Greater Kudu facts

  1. Kudu are highly alert and notoriously hard to approach. When they detect danger – often using their large, radar-like ears – they give a hoarse alarm bark, then flee with a distinctive, rocking-horse running motion, the male laying back his horns to avoid overhead obstructions.
  2. The common name kudu is derived from the indigenous Khoikhoi language of Southern Africa. The scientific name is derived from Greek: Tragos denotes a he-goat and elaphos a deer; Strephis means ‘twisting’ and Keras means ‘horn’.
  3. The horns of a mature bull kudu have two and a half twists, and, if straightened, would reach an average length of 120cm. However, they may occasionally have three full twists and the record length is a whopping 187.64cm. The horns do not begin to grow until the bull reaches 6–12 months, twisting once at around two years of age and not reaching the full two-and-a-half twists until the age of six. They have long served different traditional communities, as both embellishment and musical instruments, the latter including the shofar, a Jewish ritual horn blown at Rosh Hashanah.
  4. Male kudus are rarely physically aggressive but may spar during the courtship season, shoving one another with their horns. Occasionally, during these contests, their horns become interlocked and, if unable to free themselves, both males may die.
  5. The traditional sport of Kudu dung-spitting (Bokdrol Spoeg in Afrikaans) is practiced in the South African Afrikaner community. The winner is the contestant who is able to spit one of the antelope’s small, hard dung pellets the furthest – with the distance measured to where it comes to rest. An annual world championship was launched in 1994, with contests held at community events, game festivals, and tourism shows. The world record stands at 15.56m, set in 2006 by Shaun van Rensburg Addo.

Greater Kudu Conservation Status

With only 118,000 kudus remaining in the wild, kudus have a ‘near threatened conservation status’ according to the African Wildlife Foundation. Hunters shoot them for their hides and/or meat and their horns are a much-wanted collector’s item. Local people use their horns in rituals, to store honey or to make instruments out of them. Habitat loss is another threat to the kudu population. Awareness and responsible travel are key to preserve the kudu population.”

Based on today’s visiting kudu, we’re surmising he is approximately four years old. It was quite a treat to see him early this morning. I was still in bed when Tom quietly came to get me to see the kudu and take a few photos. I was awake, reading news on my phone, and couldn’t bolt out of bed fast enough.

We went indoors when he began to approach us on the veranda.

As it turned out, this particular male was somewhat bold, coming up onto the veranda without hesitancy in search of pellets. Tom and I stayed inside watching him through the screen door. Unintentionally (or not), kudus have been known to injure humans who get too close, some fatally. We weren’t about to take such a risk.

Once he backed off, Tom tossed out some pellets for him into the garden, which he was content to eat with enthusiasm. Once he was done, he wandered away toward the driveway. There was no way, with those big horns, he could make his way out through the dense bush, the reason we haven’t seen any Big Daddies in our garden during the past three months. Although, we have seen fully grown males when driving through Marloth Park or when visiting friends with less dense bush surrounding their property.

Today is another sunny, cool day with low humidity. It feels wonderful with the gentle breeze wafting through the bush, the sight and the sound of the leaves falling to the ground, and our ability to see further into the bush. But, with winter (upcoming on June 21st) on the horizon, this is a tough time for the wildlife. No doubt, we’ll do our part to feed the wildlife as much as we can afford.
We hope all of our readers have a fantastic weekend.
Photo from one year ago today, April 17, 2020:
Spotting these yellow-tipped stamen on these Anthuriums in Kauai was a first for us. For more photos, please click here.

Rental car “safari luck!”…What????…How we’ve changed…Happy Thanksgiving to all our family and friends in the USA!!!

This Ford Fiesta is quite a step up from the previous little car.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Tucker’s left ear was severely injured a few months ago but it has continued to heal although he can no longer “perk it up.”  Here he is at night, lying down at the edge of the veranda relaxing after eating quite a few pellets.  He’s a gentle little soul for having such giant tusks.

Yesterday’s drive to Nelspruit was relatively uneventful.  The traffic was light.  Passing slow moving trucks was easier than usual. And, the time seemed to fly by.

The interior of the car is nicer than any rental car we’d had since arriving in Africa.

Neither one of us enjoys long car trips which may seem to contradict our love of travel.  It’s just the method of travel that we don’t love, sitting in a car for hours while maneuvering our way in and out of traffic. 


The 75-minute drive (each way) to Nelspruit shouldn’t be that big of a deal but somehow we’ve dreaded it each time we’ve had to go to the airport to pick up a new rental car or to fly somewhere from the Nelspruit Mpumalanga Kruger airport, or to the immigration office in the city, all which we’ve done quite a few times over these past many months.
It’s handy to have drink holders for our mugs.

Part of the reason the drive is less than enjoyable has been the noisy little rental cars we’ve had for six of the past nine months in South Africa.  We received a free upgrade several months ago for a much better car making road trips more desirable.

Two important aspects of dealing with rental cars in South Africa is one; to always return the car spotlessly clean (interior and exterior) or charges for cleaning will be incurred and two; the gas tank must be refilled to full at a nearby (to the airport) petrol station or anything less than full will be charged.  

Huddling together in a small patch of water on the river.

Usually, there’s been a bit of leeway in filling the tank on a rental car, allowing a little shortage from driving to the rental car return location.  This is not the case in South Africa from what we’ve experienced thus far after renting four cars (three months each) in the past nine months (including yesterday’s new rental).


Once at the Hertz desk inside the airport terminal, after the car was inspected for fuel, cleanliness and possible damages (no issues) Tom and the rep returned to the desk where the old and the new paperwork was processed.

Lots of moms and babies.

As the new paperwork was being prepared nonchalantly I asked, “What type of car do we get this time?”  The rep replied, “Same as this last one.”  I cringed.  
The little car was rickety, noisy and had tires the size of a toy car, not ideal for these rough dirt roads in Marloth Park.  But, our goal has been not to pay a lot for rental cars.  We’d rather spend our money on nice houses, good food and dining out at our leisure.

Elephants of all ages hanging out at the river.

The cost for the three-month rental periods over the past nine months has averaged at ZAR 13930 (US $1000), a paltry amount for a car for such an extended period. 


We’ve been willing to sacrifice quality, size, and convenience when a rental car is only costing us about ZAR 4697 (US $330) plus fuel with virtually no added maintenance expense.
Elephants along the Crocodile River on a hot sunny day.

Last time we picked up a car, three months ago, we were adamantly turned down when asking for a free upgrade.  This time I was going to be more persistent.  When I explained to the rep and his boss that we’ve been renting from them for an entire year (a very rare occurrence), they were all over it.


We received a free upgrade for a very nice sporty red car, much nicer than we’ve driven since we were in the US in May/June 2017.  We were thrilled, to say the least.  We still only had to pay the ZAR 14328 (US $967) for the three-month rental.
One bushbaby contemplating the full cup of yogurt she doesn’t appear to have to share this time.

On the return drive to Marloth Park, we couldn’t believe how well Tom could hear me talk with his less-than-ideal hearing.  And the smooth ride is astounding.  We’re grateful and excited to have a good car for the balance of our time here. whatever that may be.


The car is a Ford Fiesta.  In my old life, I’d never have given this type of car a second thought.  Now it seems like a luxury vehicle to me.  It’s amazing how our appreciation of “things” changes when we go without for a while.
Ms. Bushbuck and baby.  Actually, there are several Ms. Bushbucks and babies with many more to be arriving soon.

I squealed with delight when Louise loaned me the giant rolling pin to make the pie crusts for our early Thanksgiving meal.  See, we do change our perception of the value of the simple things in life.

Now, I simply have to get up to toss some pellets to a gnu, aka Wildebeest Willie, and a pig, warthog “Little,” who happened to stop by to see what was on the menu today…pellets of course, as always.

Happy day!

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Photo from one year ago today, November 22, 2017:
There was no post one year ago today while we were boarding a cruise.

Off to Nelspruit…Return rental car for a new one…Still waiting for immigration response…

 
We drove past friends Kathy and Don’s home yesterday and their front garden was filled with kudus and impalas.  See more photos from this scene below.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Our regular visitor, Medium, got busy with a mature female.  The gestation period is three months.  Mating season is from September to December.  We should begin seeing piglets soon.  They may have from one to eight piglets.

This morning, as soon as we upload this post, we’re off to Nelspruit to drop off the little car and pick up another.  This will be the last car we’ll rent while we hopefully remain in Marloth Park for three more months.

Bougainvillea has begun blooming in the park.

The rental car companies, in this case, Hertz, through Firefly will only rent a car for a 90 day period.  Thus, we’ve had to start over at the end of each period.  

In the past, the rental return has coincided with our travels outside of South Africa to get our visa renewal for another 90 days.  But this time, we’re waiting to hear from immigration if they’ll extend us to February 20th, the day we fly to Kenya for which we’ve already purchased airline tickets.

Waterbucks are much larger than they appear.  We rarely see them up close to grasp their actual size.  From this site: “This is a large, robust antelope. Bulls have a shoulder height of 1.4 meters and can weigh up to 260 Kg. (551 pounds)  Cows are smaller than bulls. Waterbucks have a brownish-grey shaggy coat. The eyes and nose are patched with white, and there is a white collar under the throat. The rump has a characteristic white ring. The large rounded ears are a prominent feature. Only the bulls have long, forward curved horns. Both sexes emit a, not unpleasant, musky smell which normally lingers at resting sites.”

No word as yet on our immigration status but we continue to check every few hours at this point.  It would have been great if we could have been informed to appear in Nelspruit yesterday, today or tomorrow.  


We could have changed the car rental return to a different day (the fee for doing so is minimal here) and “killed two birds with one stone” as they say, avoiding another long drive to Nelspruit.  

Proud mom showing her youngster the ways of the bush.

It could happen that they’re ready to give us an answer (must appear in person) in the next 48 hours and off we go again on the long drive.  In the realm of things, its an inconvenience, nothing more.

Mom and young giraffe.

On the return drive today, we’ll stop at the bigger Spar Supermarket in Malelane to pick up a few groceries and avoid doing so tomorrow when we return to Komatipoort to visit the eye doctor to pick up my contact lenses and for Tom to select glasses from the supply the doc is bringing from his distant location.


At the moment Tom is at the local car wash.  Rental cars must be returned in pristine condition or additional fees will be levied.  This includes a spotless interior as well.  The car wash at the Bush Centre charges ZAR 60 (US $4.28) for a beautifully hand-done interior and exterior wash.  

This mom or matriarch may be babysitting. These two young ones appear a few months apart in age.

We’re continually reminded how affordable things are here in South Africa.  Such a car wash in the US would easily be ZAR 351 (US $25).  Once again we’ll experience “culture shock” when we return to the US for a visit in about four and a half months.

Apparently, they’d all jumped the fence at Kathy and Don’s house.

Yesterday was hot and humid with temps running at 40C (102F) and higher humidity than usual.  Although it’s cloudy today it appears it will be another hot and humid day.  Maybe spending three hours in the car in air-conditioned comfort won’t be so bad after all.

A little blurry from Kathy and Don’s garden but I couldn’t resist sharing this adorable impala face.

Yesterday, we did our usual drive, sighting a female lion beyond the fence.  Photos will follow tomorrow.  Today, most likely we won’t return until around 1500 hrs (3:00 pm) after which I’ll finish making tonight’s dinner of iced cold dishes: chicken salad, egg salad and tossed lettuce salad, a perfect meal for a hot day.


We’ll see you tomorrow with more!


Have a phenomenal day!

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Photo from one year ago today, November 21, 2017:
There was no post on this date one year ago today.

An outrageous and clever kudu’s dining maneuver…A good night’s sleep makes all the difference in the world…

Wildlife never ceases to amaze us, including this kudu’s clever means of 
eating from the treetops by taking down branches with his massive horns.



“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

We couldn’t believe our eyes when this tiny female duiker stopped by yesterday.  Females have the tiny single horn and males have two horns.  So sweet!

Yesterday was a mix of good and bad.  The good, was spotting many special scenes in the garden.  The bad was trying to find a way to relieve some of the dreadful itching I was experiencing worse than any day or night in the past.


After a trip to Daisy’s Den and the purchase of the salve, Zab-Buk, which is known to kill off the larvae left behind by the biting pepper ticks and the body and clothing spray, No-Ticks which is a messy runny yellow liquid to be sprayed on skin and clothing.  
Big Daddy was busy chomping on the two branches he downed using his powerful horns.

I’m wearing long sleeve shirts each day to keep the messy salve from rubbing off on the furniture and also to prevent the risk of getting more bites on exposed skin.  I’m also using mosquito repellent.


All day, I kept reapplying the salve and every four hours Tom sprayed me and my clothes with the runny liquid.  By 1500 hrs (3:00 pm) I was so exhausted I went into the bedroom, turned on the AC and actually slept for almost an hour, a rarity for me.

He stayed busy for quite awhile chomping on the leaves.

Feeling better after awakening, while still applying the salve frequently, we set up the veranda for the evening and dined on the last of the leftovers from Saturday night’s dinner.  I should say Tom ate the leftovers.  During the day I cooked more chicken breasts to have with a salad while Tom went for the full dinner and later on, more pie.


I forced myself to stay awake until almost 2200 hrs (10:00 pm), taking another hot shower before bed and applying more of the Zam-Buk salve.  I never awoke once during the night…another rarity for me.  After almost eight hours sleep I awoke to less itching, swelling, and redness.  The two treatment protocols are actually working!

The two branches resting on his back when he was done eating.  He wasn’t quite ready to let them go.
Today’s a new day.  No doubt, I’ll surely get more bites in these next three months we’re hopefully still here (no word on our immigration status yet) but at least I now know what to do for some relief.

Yesterday, while on the veranda for most of the day, we had a number of excellent sightings including this amazing kudu, hungry from months with lack of rain and little vegetation stopped by for pellets and the tops of a tree in the garden.
These females and a young male waiting in the bush until Bog Daddy was out of sight.  Then, then moved in for the last few nibbles.

The Big Daddy couldn’t reach the treetops so with sheer determination and expert use of his giant twisted horns, he managed to pull down two tree branches, enough to feed him a good sized meal.

He ate so much, he eventually decided to leave with many leaves still remaining.  In the interim, a small forkl of kudus including females and males waited in the bush to see Big Daddy waft away.  Once he was out of site, they moved in to finish off the leaves on the branches.  What a scene to witness right before our eyes!


Then, we were gifted with the sighting of the sweetest young female duiker who may have been no more than a few months old and appeared to be on her own with no doting mother in the wings.  She ran off when we offered pellets but in time she’ll learn how vital our offered food source is during this dry season.

In the early evening, Wildebeest Willie and Big Daddy seemed to get along well while eating pellets.

Actually, its the rainy season now and yet, there’s been little rain so far, certainly not enough to “green” the trees and bush to provide food for the wildlife.  Many are looking thin and hungry.  We’re currently going through one 40kg (88 pounds) bag of pellets every three or four days and will continue to do so.


We’d thought about going to Kruger today but with temps expected in the 40C (102F) range we decided we’ll have more luck driving to the fence at the Crocodile River.  The hot weather should bring a lot of wildlife to the water. Also, it’s very windy and wildlife seem to stay undercover during heat and wind.

That’s all for today, folks. As always we’ll be back with more tomorrow.


Have a superb day!
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Photo from one year ago today, November 20, 2017:

Beautiful scene from the veranda in Costa Rica as we wound down our time.  For more, please click here.

Winding down time with friends…Two days until their departure…The activities will continue to the last minute…

A cattle egret standing in shallow water in the Crocodile River.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

The monitor lizard in our garden came out from her burrow for a refreshing drink of water from the cement pond.

As Tom and Lois’s time here comes to a close on Thursday when they depart to return to the US, we’re packing in every moment with quality time, not only together as friends but also in taking advantage of every opportunity for them to experience more wildlife.

The monitor lizard took off back into the bush.
This afternoon at 1515 hours (3:15 pm) a safari vehicle will arrive to pick us up for an evening at Kruger National Park which includes an afternoon game drive, a bush braai (dinner out in the open in the park in the dark), followed by another game drive in the dark.
Elephant we spotted close to the fence between Marloth and Kruger Parks.

With a spotlight to help us see, we’ll have an opportunity to see those special nocturnal animals that are elusive during daylight hours including many of which are never seen during daylight.

The sausage tree at the hippo pool and bird blind is bursting with these giant pods which will eventually bloom into bright red flowers.  From this site: “The sausage tree of sub-Saharan Africa is beautiful in flower. The blood-red to maroon flowers hang in long panicles. The fragrance of the flower is not pleasing to humans but attracts the Dwarf Epauletted Fruitbat (Micropteropus pusillus), its pollinator. As the flowers drop from the tree, animals come to feed on the nectar-rich blooms. Impala, duiker, baboons, bush pigs, and lovebirds all feed on the flowers of the Sausage tree. Grey fruits grow out of these flowers. These grey fruits resemble sausages and can grow for months to become over a foot long and weigh over 10 pounds.”

We may have safari luck or we may not but in either case, it will be fun to dine in the bush, an experience we had a few times when we were here five years ago. 

Both Toms splurging on strawberry milkshakes at Aamazing (spelling is correct) River View restaurant when we took a break from our usual drive in Marloth to stop for cool drinks.

Those five-year-ago exceptional occasions were hosted by Louise and Danie, an experience we cannot expect to match in elegance tonight although based on very positive reviews we’re anticipating a wonderful experience. For details and amazing photos for our former Valentine’s Day bush braai may be found here at this link.

Lois, the two Toms and I had a great break in the action.

Of course, tomorrow, we’ll post photos of tonight’s bush braai and game drives, hoping to share some unique wildlife sightings.  Tonight’s event is hosted by another company, Royal Safari Bush Braai dinner since Louise and Danie no longer conduct these events in Kruger.  

A warthog stops for a sip.

The ease in booking with Royal Safari Bush Braai makes us feel confident this will be an excellent experience for the four of us and any other participants who will also be included.  

A female bushbuck standing in the water on the Crocodile River in Kruger.

Last night we returned to Ngwenya Lodge and Restaurant for Crocodile River viewing and dinner.  Ordering off the menu wasn’t nearly as good as Thursday night’s buffet dinner. There’s wasn’t much in the way of wildlife viewing but we took many photos of a stunning sunset (photos to follow soon).

Cape buffalo aren’t the most handsome of wildlife but we’re always thrilled to see them.  They are one of the Big Five.

Back at the house early, we prepared the veranda for our usual nighttime viewing but had missed the primetime viewing which is usually before and after dusk.

Two male cape buffalos on the river’s edge.

This morning was quite a treat when 15 kudus stopped by including one “Big Daddy,” four warthogs including “Little and the Girls”, a plethora of helmeted guineafowl and of course, Frank and the Mrs. who’ve yet to produce any chicks.

As I write here now, Vusi and Zef are here cleaning the house and the veranda.  Its been fantastic to have the two of them coming in each day and eliminating the massive amounts of dust that enters the house from the action in the dirt garden when the animals come to call.

Lois feeding a large number of kudus who stopped by.  She puts the pellets on the veranda’s edge to keep the helmeted guineafowl from taking them all.

For the next few hours, we’ll relax on the veranda until it’s time to head out for our exciting upcoming afternoon and evening.

Be well.  Be happy.  

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Photo from one year ago today, October 30, 2017:

On Saturday night, after dinner, in Managua, Nicaragua, we wandered through the pool area of our hotel.  For food photos from the dinner, please click here.

An outstanding 24-hour period we’ll always remember…

 
This morning, we made this video of 17 kudus in the garden.  Astounding!
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
We spotted two rangers on the road with rifles.  We wondered what that was about.  Any comments?

Yesterday was quite a day!  With many of the holidaymakers leaving on Sunday due to the end of the school holiday, the wildlife literally came out from hiding in the parklands.

This morning’s 17 kudus in the garden.  See the above video for details.

Not only did we have visitors from early morning well into the evening, at dusk last night spotted three giraffes in the side yard, after hearing the sounds of branches breaking as they made their way through the bush. When we saw the heads of the giraffes through the dense bush, we took off on foot to check it out.

The kudu standing at the edge of the veranda is the same female that always licks my foot when she approaches.  I can identify her with a little oval notch in her right ear.

We found what appeared to be a mom, dad, and one youngster, most likely around eight or nine months old.  We followed them through the neighbor’s garden (no one was there) and out to the parklands where we stopped to take photos while they were grazing.

Wildebeest Willie and friends stopped by again last night.

The parents didn’t look happy to see us although we were back by at least 10 meters, so we backed off further giving them even more space.  It was getting late and visibility was poor from such a distance as we stayed out of sight as much as possible, taking the few photos as shown here today.

Although not all shown in this photo, for the first time, we had six bushbucks in the garden at one time.

Soon, we were back on the veranda, ready for the evening’s activities all of which couldn’t have been more pleasing.  They came and came and came, one species after another, often sharing the space with several other species, seem to all be getting along.

Last night, we saw giraffes coming through the parklands next to us.  On foot, we rushed to see them up close to take photos.  But, dad wasn’t too happy with us with his young calf nearby.  We carefully backed away.

It’s not unusual to see some head-butting among same species, let alone among two or more species when pellets are offered.  Overall, the most aggression we’ve seen is in warthogs amongst themselves.  After all, they are “pigs,” right?

This may have been the young giraffe’s mom who hovered nearby.

Yesterday afternoon, we embarked on our usual drive in the park and although not effected by the number of tourists in Marloth Park, we saw the most amazing scenes to date on the Crocodile River, photos of which will follow over the next few days.

We knew better than to get too close.

Was all of this “safari luck” or simply a case of the fact that there were fewer people in the park, resulting in more and more wildlife coming out of hiding to wander from bush house to bush house?  We can’t help but assume it was due to fewer cars and fewer people around disturbing the peaceful flow of life in the bush.

It was nearly dark when they visited.

The quiet has resumed.  We don’t hear cars passing on the road very often.  The tar road is quiet and unencumbered and, fewer animals will be killed by speeding motorists.  How long this quiet lasts is unpredictable.  More tourists will be arriving over this next month for the summer school holidays in Europe and other parts of the world.

The young giraffe was preoccupied munching on leaves in the bush.

But, for now, we’re reveling in the quietude precipitating the return of the wildlife to our garden.  It couldn’t be more heavenly.  Even the birds seem happier, singing their tunes and dining on seeds from our birdfeeder.
For today?  We may stay put and catch up on some much needed research to begin filling gaps in our itinerary over the next few years. There’s never a time that we can totally sit back knowing everything we need to plan is in place.

A young zebra in the garden of a house on the river road.

Weather permitting, tomorrow, we’ll head to Kruger for the day.  If so, we’ll post a notice as to when we expect to have the day’s post uploaded, unless I get ambitious enough today to work on tomorrow’s post this afternoon.

This must have been the above baby’s mom resting nearby.

Of course, that’s subject to how many delightful distractions present themselves throughout the day.  We’ll play it by ear, as they say.

Have a pleasant day filled with wonderful surprises.

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Photo from one year ago today, July 17, 2017:

Surprisingly, there are some birds in the desert during the scorching heat of the summer months in Nevada78.  For more photos, please click here.

Two lions sighted on our street last night!…Zebras and kudus stampeding in the driveway!..Video…

We always attempt to zoom in efficiently enough to leave out the fence.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This happened so quickly that we only got the last few seconds of what appeared to be a stampede by zebras and kudus in our driveway.  Stunning, today on the 4th of July!

This morning our dear friend and property manager Louise, sent out this message warning of two lions sighted late last night.  Thanks, Louise for always being on the ball on these important updates.

PREDATOR WARNING:
Good morning. 2 Lions spotted late last night in the area of Swartwitpens, Hartbees, Pappegaai, Woodpecker, and Butterfly. Please take caution as they still might be in the area. Thank you.







We hadn’t heard any more details about the lioness that had entered Marloth Park a few weeks ago prompting everyone to believe she may have returned to Kruger National Park.

We spotted these elephants from Marloth Park across the Crocodile River a few days ago.

There’s no word yet on the gender of these two lions but surely in the next few days, something will be posted on the Marloth Park Sightings on Facebook.  We’ll keep an eye out for updates.

Last night, we didn’t take any photos when I was busy on Skype speaking to son Greg, daughter-in-law Camille and our three grandchildren, Maisie, Miles, and Madighan. 

This parade of elephants consisted of more than 30.

They were camping about an hour outside of Minneapolis and it was fun when Miles carried the phone around to show us photos of their new fifth wheel camper.  In return, I showed Madighan the bushbabies by turning around my computer while she squealed with delight over how cute they are.  Maisie had an opportunity to see a few warthogs in the yard including Little Wart Face. 

It’s not easy taking photos through the narrow electrified fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park.

Having face-time with family is especially fun although due to the big time difference we don’t always have the opportunity to do so.  Its hard to believe that in a mere nine months, in April, we’ll be back in Minnesota to see everyone. 

We got out of the car and moved as close to the fence as possible to get these shots.  In Kruger, exiting a vehicle is strictly forbidden.

This visit won’t be as long as last summer’s six-week stay with only 17 days in Minnesota but we’ll focus on spending quality time with both sides of the family as we did last year.  However, we plan to return in September 2020 which is 16 months later.

In between all of these dates, we have so much planned all the way into 2021, along with gaps we’ll fill during the next year.  To see our most recent itinerary, please click here.  The itinerary is perpetually evolving as we acquire interest and enthusiasm for new and different locations.

Such mysterious and fascinating animals.

Once we’ve upload today’s post we’ll be heading out for our usual drive in the park but this time with eyes focused on spotting two lions and the eight ostrich chicks seen with mom and dad on a nearby dirt road.  Of course, that doesn’t mean we won’t stop to take photos of other wildlife we discover along the way.

As for today, the US holiday, Independence Day, the 4th of July, as mentioned in a prior post, we’re attending a holiday celebration here in the bush at friends Kathy and Don’s home beginning at 17 hours, (5:00 pm). 

The caring these animals feel for one another is always obvious when viewing them in the wild.

Tom’s busy reading up on facts about Independence Day since Don, as always, will have a relevant quiz.  Tom won last time (at their Easter party).  We’ll see how it goes tonight.

May all of our American family and friends in the US and living in other countries have a safe and meaningful Independence Day.  Our patriotism and devotion to our country and to each other is vital to our freedom, our prosperity and to everlasting peace.

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Photo from one year ago today, July 4, 2017:

With the bright sun behind us, this photo didn’t come out too well plus our plates of food look twice as big as they actually were.  For more details, please click here.

OMG!…It doesn’t get any better than this!…Quite a “Sighting of the Day in the Bush!”…

Soon, there were nine until the tenth arrived.  At this point, the three warthogs were on the scene, a mom, an auntie and a tiny baby. 

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Today’s sighting of the day in the bush couldn’t be more befitting of what life is like in Marloth Park.  Please check out this video when 10 zebras, three warthogs, and two kudus came to call.


There are definitely fewer visitors over the weekends when tourists flock to Marloth Park, staying in holiday homes or one of many lodges in the park.  They too feed the wildlife that visits their surroundings and often with the extra cars and added weekend noise, many of the wildlife take cover and don’t come around as much.

They don’t waste any time letting us know they’d like some pellets.

Usually, by Monday or Tuesday morning, we begin seeing them again.  That’s not to say we don’t have visitors over the weekend, besides the human kind on both Saturday and Sunday.  Many animals visit us on weekends, just not as many as during the weekdays.

We tossed out a few handfuls and they were all over it.

Based on the fact we spend 14 to 15 hours a day on the veranda, less our almost daily drives in the park, visits to Kruger (upcoming again this week), trips into town for shopping and appointments, and time spent socializing, the wildlife have come to realize, we’re an easy mark for pellets, apples, and carrots most of the time.

In a matter of moments, more zebras arrived in the yard.  Check out the young one in the back center of the photo.

On a day like today, we’ll be gone from 12:30 to 7:00 pm, for two planned events, both of which we’ll share with photos in tomorrow’s post. Our dinners are already prepared, ready to be reheated, and by 7:15 this evening we’ll be back on the veranda ready to begin “watching and waiting” once again.

This zebra came up to the veranda, licked my bare toe to let me know she wanted more.  I complied, cutting up several apples for her and the others.

For us, avid wildlife observers and obvious commentators in one form or another, we never seem to become bored with this interminable hobby that is a way of life as we live in what we’ll always refer to as “this magical place.”

Their stiff upright manes are an indicator of good health.

We’d love to hear if any of our readers have been to or heard of such a place anywhere on this earth, where one could live for a few months at a time, socializing with wonderful people and embracing daily life surrounding by visiting wildlife.

There was plenty of kicking taking place as they competed for the pellets and apples.

If you know of such a place, please let us know.  We’ll want to go there!  But, as the well-traveled residents of Marloth Park always say, “There is no place on earth quite like this place.”

The three warthogs held their ground, refusing to let the feisty zebras intimidate them.  Tom made sure to toss plenty of pellets toward them.

Sure, many locations throughout the world offer sightings of bears, moose, antelope, whales, endless varieties of birds, farm animals, and on and on.  But, as we perused this world so far (not even the “tip of the iceberg” so far), we haven’t encountered anything comparable to Marloth Park.

The youngest of the dazzle of zebras (yep, dazzle) got in on the action without hesitation.

In a way, it reminds me of when I was a child and we visited Disneyland, only about 35 minutes (much longer now with more traffic) from where I grew up in Long Beach, California.  There was one exciting moment after another and as a kid, it was easy to feel I’d never get enough.

The cement pond is a favorite spot from which to drink after eating the dry pellets.

And, although this place isn’t “manufactured or artificial” (except for the homes, lodges and few shops) this environment of wildlife was here long before the people.  For me, it feels like Disneyland every day, one wonder after another.

The young zebra rarely moved from the others to allow for a good photo.

For Tom, who’s a little more reserved in his outward display of enthusiasm, he too, is caught up in the wonder of it all, especially when a few days ago, he was responsible for discovering and booking the upcoming cruise back to Africa in November/December 2020.  Click here for the details if you missed the post describing that cruise.

Tom mentioned these three had been by earlier in the morning while I was getting dressed.  I was thrilled to see them return to check out the little one.

Coming back here this time, on February 11, 2018, was a gift from Tom for my 70th birthday on February 20th, knowing how anxious I was to return.  But, now returning again in 2020 is not only for me.  He, too, is fully engaged and loving the life we live here.

Two female kudus came prancing into the yard to check out the activity.  When the zebras wouldn’t allow them in on the pellets they left.  No doubt, they’ll return later.

No, we won’t eventually move here as many have asked.  We have no plans to permanently “live” anywhere.  Nor will we stay so long next time.  We’ll stay the 90 days allowed by a South African visa and be on our way. 

This time, we wanted to see Victoria Falls both sides from Zambia and Zimbabwe; safari in Chobe National Park, the Chobe River and, cruise on the Zambezi River.  Mission accomplished.  

When we book plans for our next 90-day required exit in August, we’ll share all the details at the time of booking and while we’re on that next adventure.  However, we don’t need to travel from Marloth Park, South Africa for an adventure. 

The kudus left deciding a few pellets weren’t worth a kick from a zebra.

We need only open the big wooden doors to our lovely holiday bush home on a morning like this to behold a scene such as this morning’s and, the adventure has just begun.

Thank you to all of our readers for sharing this special time with us. All of you have given us such purpose as we document all of these magical moments.  Without YOU, we may have smiled, laughed and taken a few photos along the way. 

With YOU, it’s immemorial, as we feel dedicated and determined to document this life we lead 365 days a year.

Have a pleasant Monday!

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Photo from one year ago today, June 4, 2017:

As we continued to have quality time in Minnesota with family and friends, we added more photos of Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia.  We didn’t want those we love to feel every get-together was a photo op to be posted online.  For more garden photos, please click here.