What???…A leopard sighting on the Crocodile River?…Giraffes stopping for a drink…

Giraffes are constantly on guard for predators especially when its time to drink when they become vulnerable in a bending position.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

The convoluted photo is difficult to decipher at first.  Note the one kudu attempting to eat the seeds in the birdfeeder which she eventually accomplished.

While Tom was taking a short nap while I stayed at the table on the veranda finishing the daily post, I took a peek at the Marloth Park River Sightings page on Facebook to see if anyone had posted information regarding exciting sightings.

Alas, a frequent FB poster mentioned a leopard had been sighted 90 minutes earlier at the end of Swartwitpens where it meets the river road.  Now, such a sighting may result in disappointment if too much time has passed and the animal has moved on.

Giraffes often head to the river to drink.

I deliberated if I should awaken Tom but he never sleeps more than 20 minutes so I waited until he exited the bedroom to mention the sighting.  Within two minutes, we were in the little car and on our way.

Once we arrived at the location, we noticed only one other car at the location which could indicate the leopard was gone from view.  Fortunately, we met a lovely couple from Nelspruit who live part-time in Marloth Park, Estelle and Johan.  

We’d never have been able to spot the leopard without their help.  It’s a funny thing how people try to explain where to look to spot the animal of interest at the moment.  

Giraffes adopt a variety of stances to gain access to the water.

Nature has provided the most ideal camouflage for wildlife, often making it nearly impossible to see certain animals lying under trees or bushes from the distant fence at Marloth Park all the way across to the opposite side of the Crocodile River.

Rarely, when there any sighting friendly observers often assist others in finding the location of the animal.  It goes like this, “See the two green trees over there with a dry bush between them?  The lion is lying at the base of the tree on the left.”  This is usually what seems to be an accurate description.

There were four giraffes in this tower.

However, there are dozens of green trees and dry bushes across the river and even if one points in the correct direction carefully, the animal is often difficult to see.


Both Tom and I have noticed a difference in the way men describe where the animal is located as opposed to women.  When Tom and Lois were here, my Tom would provide a lengthy description explaining where the lion was located.  


On the other hand, when Lois described it, she did so with few words and often, I was more easily able to comprehend the few words as opposed to the lengthy detailed description.  

Stopping to check their surroundings.

We’ve noticed this phenomenon on other occasions when asking for assistance.  Regardless of what many people want to believe about the sexes thinking alike, its natural for women and men to have different perceptions and different responses.


We see this in nature as well by the varying behaviors of female and male animals that stop by.  For example, the male bushbucks are shy and constantly on guard whereby the females easily approach us without hesitation.

A lone hippo grazing by the river.

The male kudus with their big horns are bossy and determined whereby the females are more docile and quick to approach us.  I could go on and on regarding the varying behaviors of the sexes of wildlife after we’ve spent the past nine months observing them each and every day.


Its always a challenge, regardless of who is describing where the animal is located to be able to find it, focus the camera for such long distance resulting in a good photo.



Yesterday, at the river, I wasn’t ever able to spot the leopard but Tom did so in minutes after Johan described the location to him in several paragraphs.  I was stymied.  None the less, Tom was able to take the two very distant photos we’re sharing here today.  
It was only the spots that confirmed this was a leopard lounging under a tree a long distance from the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger.

We’re disappointed in the lack of clarity in the photo but this leopard may easily have been a good kilometer from us.  Our skill, nor our cameras were capable of obtaining better shots.


The clearer photos we’ve seen on Facebook of yesterday’s leopard sighting were acquired with long-range lenses which are too heavy and we’ll never be able to carry throughout the world with us.  

We waited patiently while chatting with a lovely couple we met at the fence, Johan and Estelle, who said they’ve been reading our site.

It’s one thing to have such a camera set-up at home and be able to use it now and then for special shots.  It’s another thing to have the heavy beast everywhere we go…totally impractical.


This morning we headed to Komatipoort to shop for Saturday’s upcoming Thanksgiving dinner party.  On the way to Spar, we stopped for breakfast at Stoep Cafe for another fine breakfast and idle chatter.


Now back at the house, everything is put away and we almost have everything we’ll need.  On Thursday, we’ll return for complete the balance of the shopping after our teeth cleaning and eye doctor appointments.


Have a spectacular day!

__________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, November 12, 2017:

Tom took another excellent distant shot of a bird we couldn’t identify online. Costa Rica neighbor and bird enthusiast Charlie identified this bird as a Clay-colored Thrush or Yigüirro in Spanish.  For more photos, please click here.

Wild & Free Wildlife Rehabilitation…Rescue and release…Last night’s dinner party for eight

Deidre feeding one of the tiny rescued genets at Wild & Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This is the adorable bushbaby, named Doc which I fed by hand in June.  See the links included here today from the prior posts to see me feeding him.

Several months ago we wrote a two-part series on Wild & Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre located in Hectorspruit, South Africa.  Those stories may be found at this link for Part 1 and this link for Part 2

Wild ducks found a home at Wild & Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.
With friends Lois and Tom here we thought it would be a rewarding experience for them to visit the facility with us, meet director Deidre and to experience the wonders of the work done by Deidre and her staff of volunteers who are committed to working with her in her unfaltering dedication to “rescue and release.”
These two tiny genets only a few months old require Deidre feeds them every two hours around the clock in order for them to thrive.  
Visiting with Deidre and her precious little creatures all of whom who’d never have survived without her care, love and attention proved to be more rewarding than we expected.

Lois, holding one of the baby genets while standing next to Linda, one of Deidre’s new volunteers.

As a repeat visit for Tom and I, once again we found ourselves reveling in the wonder of this very special place especially when we had an opportunity to share it with our friends.  

There are several peacocks residing at the property.  This particular bird was intent on making lots of noise and showing off. 

The following afternoon we headed to Lisa’s home in Marloth Park for a second visit to again share the value and reward of rescuing the precious bushbabies with the same plan for eventual release into the wild once they are well and able to thrive on their own.

To further entice us with his majesty, the peacock flew into a tree to make some serious noise. 

We shared some wine with Lisa and visiting Deidre who also lives in Marloth Park, and heard wonderful stories about wildlife, rescues, and releases.  It was again for us, a highly meaningful and interesting visit.

Deidre is currently caring for six jackal pups which will eventually be released into Marloth Park to balance the eco-system.

We encourage anyone who loves wildlife to consider donating, even the smallest amount, to help support this worthy cause by visiting Wild & Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre  Facebook page where amazing photos and information may be found.

What a view of the Crocodile River at this location, with many opportunities for wildlife sightings.

From there, we began getting ready for Sunday night’s dinner party for eight which included the four of us, Louise and Danie and a couple to whom they’re renting the same house we rented five years ago, Rita and Gerhardt who are from the USA and Germany.

There were two tortoises at the facility who’d also been rescued and rehabilitated.

Much to our delight Rita and Gerhardt had found out about Marloth Park from our website which they began reading a few years ago.  When they saw our endless posts of how much we love it here, they decided to come for a three-week stay.

The next day we visited Lisa at her home in Marloth Park where, as a volunteer with Wild & Free, she rescues and releases bushbabies.  Such dedication.

They contacted Louise from references on our site and eventually rented the house we’d enjoy so many years ago.  As we had at the time, they’re seeing plenty of visitors at the equally conducive environment.


It was fun talking to Rita and Gerhardt about their lifestyle of travel through Europe with their a vehicle the equivalent of a very sophisticated motorhome. They have a home in the US in the state of Oregon where they often travel a lot as well.

The bushbabies live in a bushbaby villa in Lisa’ closet in her bedroom.  Nocturnal, the bushbabies who can now go out into the wild at night through her open bedroom window and they experience life on their own.

The food worked out well when we’d made a pumpkin soup, low carb chicken pot pie, broccoli salad, lettuce salad and ice cream bars for dessert.  Rita is also gluten and lactose-free so the meal worked well for her.

Lois, holding a newborn bushbaby Lisa had recently rescued.  All the bushbabies will eventually be released except for one named “Special Needs” who has brain damage from hitting his head on a ceiling fan when kept as a pet.  Lisa’s cared for him for the past few years and will continue to do so when he won’t be able to make it on his own in the wild.

As soon as we’ve uploaded today’s post, we’re off for a drive in Marloth Park to hopefully spot more of Mother Nature’s wonders, ending with a stop at the local market for a few items for meals for the next few days.


Tonight, we’ll dine out at yet another local restaurant as we strive to provide Tom and Lois with a wide range of experiences in Marloth Park.
We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

_________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, October 22, 2017:

Close up of an iguana face at Zoo Ave in Costa Rica, a rescue facility.  For more photos, please click here.

The wildlife drama continues..Lions, lions and more lions…including a cub and a croc!….Guest photographer’s rhino shots!…

This male stole the warthog kill from the females, eventually leaving the remains for the hungry females.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Huge crocodile at the Crocodile River.  It’s no wonder that humans and boats aren’t allowed on the river.

Yesterday around noon, Tom noticed a posting on Facebook on the Marloth Park River Viewing page stating lions had been sighted from the fence in the park into Kruger National Park.

Bloody faced lions after eating their kill.
We wasted no time grabbing cameras, binoculars, and repellent and heading out in the little car to see what we could find.  We weren’t disappointed.  I must explain that simply knowing lions are located across the river is only a small portion of getting some decent shots.

Female lion on the hunt.

The scenery on the river banks along with the lion’s colors makes it nearly impossible to spot them, even through the viewfinder of a camera or the lens of binoculars.

Four female lions lying on the rocks.

Tom makes every effort to provide me with landmarks that indicate where he sees the lions using his binoculars.  But this is tricky.  Everyone has a different way of explaining what they see through their own eyes, often different from what others see through theirs.

Two female lions lying on the rocks.

After considerable effort and having no luck spotting them through the viewfinder in the camera, Lois stepped in and in a single sentence from her description, I was able to spot the lions.  From there, magic happened.

Another view of four female lions on the rocks on the bank of the Crocodile River.

And, although the photos aren’t as perfect as I’d like based on the limitations of the only camera  and my occasionally unsteady hand from such a distance, overall we were pleased with what we’re sharing today, not due to any skill on my part but based on the scene that unfolded before our eyes.

The four of us were thrilled to witness these magnificent scenes.

Nature?  Wow!  Remarkable! How did we get so lucky to witness such fine acts in nature?  Surely, part of it is “safari luck” which Tom and Lois certainly seem to possess as well as we’ve been in awe over our sightings since they arrived 10 days ago. The time is going so quickly.

Mom and baby.  

Not only has this tremendous experience reshaped their views on wildlife and nature, but it’s also provided us with an opportunity to see these amazing scenes through their perspective, only enhancing the enthusiasm we’ve already experienced in these past eight months in Marloth Park.

The cub wanted to nurse but mom was having none of it!

Although mom was turned away, we couldn’t resist posting this photo of the cub.

I couldn’t wait to return to my laptop to download the photos we’re sharing in today’s post.  As often is the case, we deleted many of the lesser quality shots and saved the best for posting on our site.

The cub gave up the pursuit of suckling and settled down.

As for our guest photographer, Lisl, whom we met at Ngwenya Lodge and Restaurant on Thursday night, we’re grateful she took the time to send us her three photos we’re posting today.  

Lisl also took this great rhino photo to forward to me.  Thanks again, Lisl.

I had made the mistake of bringing the destroyed camera to Ngwenya instead of the working camera and wasn’t able to take the precious and unusual shots.  Our friend Tom only had an iPhone with him and it doesn’t have the capability of distant shots.

Lisl’s photo as darkness fell.

Subsequently, I approached Lisl as she sat on Ngwenya’s veranda with her son and husband, asking if she’d send me a few of her photos.  What a kind person she is to have done so!  Thanks, Lisl! It’s so appreciated!

Lisl, our guest photographer took this rhino family.  Thanks, Lisl!

As for today, we’re staying in while we prepare an American-type dinner for guests Louise and Danie and a couple from the US we’ve never met, Gephard and Rita.  We’re looking forward to another wonderful evening in the bush with friends!


Be well.  Be happy!

_________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, October 21, 2017:

Basilica Nuestra Senora de las Piedades church in Naranjo, Costa Rica.  For more photos, please click here. 

Part 9…Cape Buffalo Day!…If you think the Big Five is something…How about the “Ridiculous Nine!!!…Day spent in Kruger with friends!

A group of cape buffalo may be called an “obstinacy.”

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This is an African Hawk-Eagle.

What an amazing day we had yesterday!  We spent the better part of the day in Kruger National Park, had lunch at the Mugg & Bean and continued on to the Sunset Dam for more spectacular sightings.  

“Buffalo herds can have a significant ecological impact on the veld. Being a bulk grazer, they are responsible for converting long grasslands into short grassy environments conducive to other browsers with more selective feeding habits.”

With finishing the day’s post utmost on my mind in the afternoon, we headed back to Marloth Park by 1400 hours (2:00 pm) arriving about an hour later.  We planned to arrive at Lisa’s house in time for “sundowners” (happy hour) and to see her adorable rescued bushbabies. 

In the next week, we’ll be posting photos from our visit to both Wild & Free locations, at the main facility in Hectorspruit with Deidre and Marloth Park at Lisa’s house.  Both experiences were such a delight to share with Tom & Lois. 

“An inhabitant of woodland savannas, large herds of African Buffalo are encountered in the Kruger National Park, with smaller herds in Zululand and the Eastern Cape.”

By 1900 hours (7:00 pm) were returned to the house, hustled around preparing great leftovers for dinner and did the usual “night on the veranda” thing with many visitors arriving throughout the remainder of the evening.

“A large and powerful bovine, the African Buffalo reaches shoulder heights of up to 1.5 m and a mass of 750 kg. Both sexes have horns, those of the bulls are characterized by a heavy boss and upward curved horns.”

We’ve spent this morning on the veranda, with fewer visitors than usual due to weekend holidaymakers and the drizzling rain.  Once we upload today’s post, we’ll be heading out for a drive along the Crocodile River to see what we can find.


This morning Tom and I went to Daisy’s Den to pick up more handmade placemats and linen napkins for tomorrow night’s exciting dinner party with Louise and Danie coming and a special couple we’ll tell you more about after the party.  It’s quite an amazing story we look forward to sharing next week with considerable enthusiasm.

“Buffalo are inherent carriers of viruses fatal to domestic stock, and for this reason, disease-free Buffalo are being specifically bred in areas such as the Eastern Cape in South Africa and fetch very high prices.” 

After I was typing the above paragraph, Tom had noticed a posting in Marloth Park Sighting Page on Facebook that a pride of lions had been sighted at the Crocodile River.



We all drop what we were doing and took off for the river within minutes.  Following where all the cars were driving and eventually parked near the “Two Trees” location it didn’t take more than a few minutes to spot the lions.

“Mainly preyed upon by lions. When a herd member is attacked, others will rush to its defense. Collectively a number of buffalo are more than capable to stave off an attack by an entire pride of lions. A wounded buffalo bull is regarded as most dangerous by hunters and is one of the reasons why this animal is included in the so-called ‘big five’. This trait is the origin of many hunting adventures, myths, and legends.”

We were all enthralled by the sighting, taking as many photos as possible.  Our one camera doesn’t have the capability to zoom to the distant locations of the sightings but as always we did the best we could.


We’ve decided to wrap up the “Ridiculous Nine” sightings from last Friday with today’s post.  We haven’t included elephants but after many stories and information on elephants over these past many months, we’ll surely bring up elephants in the near future.  

“Mating occurs between March and May. The gestation period is 330 days. Single calves are born between January and April, with a distinct peak in February. African Buffalo are strongly gregarious. Stable herds of up to several hundred are often observed, but which fragment into smaller herds in times of drought.”

Tomorrow, we’ll be sharing today’s photos of the stunning sightings on the Crocodile River including a lion cub that took our breath away. Please check back then.


Enjoy your day and evening!

_________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, October 20, 2017:

This pair of Inca Doves returned for another visit at the villa in Costa Rica.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 8…Leopard Day!…If you think the Big Five is something…How about the “Ridiculous Nine!!!…Day spent in Kruger with friends!

“Leopards are capable of carrying animals heavier than themselves and will often drag their prey into the fork of a tree several meters off the ground. This tree “lardering” protects the carcass against scavengers and allows a few days of undisturbed feeding.”

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Southern ground hornbill on a walk in Kruger. “The southern ground hornbill is characterized by black coloration and vivid red patches of bare skin on the face and throat (yellow in juvenile birds), which are generally believed to keep dust out of the bird’s eyes while they forage during the dry season. The white tips of the wings (primary feathers) seen in flight are another diagnostic characteristic. The beak is black and straight and presents a casque, more developed in males. Female southern ground hornbills are smaller and have violet-blue skin on their throats. Juveniles to six years old lack the prominent red pouch, but have a duller patch of grey in its place.”

Most of today’s photo captions were acquired from this site.
It’s 1500 hours (3:00 pm) and we just returned from Kruger National Park for our self-drive for the four of us.  We piled in the little car and headed to the park with reasonably low expectations after our “Ridiculous Nine” adventure week ago today.

I’m rushing to get done in order to leave in a little over an hour to go to Lisa’s (from Wild and Free Rehabilitation) property here in Marloth Park  where we’ll have sundowners with Lisa and Deidre (whom we visited with yesterday at the rehab center in Hectorspuit) and see the rescued bushbabies.  

“These big cats eat a variety of food, from wildebeest to fish, but most of their diet comes in the form of antelope. Baboons and leopards appear to be ancient enemies. Leopards will often stalk baboons sleeping in the trees at night, and try to carry off one of the troop. There has been a case recorded in which a leopard that tried to attack a baboon in broad daylight was torn to pieces by the rest of the troop, which quickly came to the shrieking primate’s defense.”

This will be more excitement for Tom and Lois who are reveling in one fascinating outing after another. Of course, we’re loving every moment as well.
Our day is Kruger was excellent as we’ll be adding to our bursting inventory of photos we’ve yet to post.

The days and nights have been more action-packed than our usual schedule but we’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the activity and look forward to more during our guest’s remaining 12 days until they depart to return to the USA.

“The leopard’s hunting technique is to either ambush its prey or to stalk it. In either instance, it tries to get as close as possible to its target. It then makes a brief and explosive charge (up to 60km/h), pouncing on its prey and dispatching it with a bite to the neck. Leopards do not have the aptitude to chase their quarry over any kind of distance and will give up if the initial element of surprise is lost and the intended victim gets away.”

Last night we did a repeat dinner at Ngwenya Lodge and Restaurant but ran into a major snafu on my part.  I must explain how this all came to pass by backtracking to last Saturday night.

Lately, I’ve been drinking low-alcohol wine which is readily available in South Africa by a few well-respected vineyards. Both the very dry red and white wines appeal to me but there are several restaurants in the area that don’t regularly have these on their menus.

“The leopard is a graceful animal with an elongated body, relatively short legs, and a long tail. After the lion, it is the next-biggest African cat with an average body mass of between 60kg and 70kg, standing about two-thirds of a meter tall at the shoulder. Leopards in the wild may live up to 15 years. Unlike the lion, the leopard is a silent creature, only occasionally emitting a cough-like call.”

As a result, I asked to pay a corkage fee and bring the low-alcohol wine for my consumption bringing home whatever is left in the bottle after my few glasses.  This has been well received by the restaurants.  

Generally, the corkage fee has been around ZAR 30 (US $2.09), not per glass but per evening.  Since I don’t drink soda and don’t care to drink plain water, this choice of wine, although not very strong in alcohol content, makes me feel as if I’m joining in the “sundowner” festivities.

Last Saturday night, with the four of us out to dinner at Jabula, I brought along an unopened bottle of Four Cousins Skinny Dry Red, my favorite.  Once we were all seated at the bar, Lyn, our hostess explained they now were carrying this same wine.  I was thrilled.  

We’d keep the bottle I’d brought along in my cloth grocery bag where I had the camera and a few odds and ends, never giving it another thought.  When it was time to pay our bill and end the evening, I accidentally placed the bag on the floor with a little too much vigor.  The wine bottle broke.

“Leopards are the least social – and perhaps the most beautiful – of the African big cats. They usually keep to themselves, lurking in the dense riverine bush or around rocky koppies, emerging to hunt late in the afternoon or at night.”

If that’s all that had transpired I wouldn’t have given it much of a thought.  But, alas, the camera was in the bag and was totally destroyed by the red wine.  It was undoubtedly damaged beyond repair.

We had two identical cameras.  The one I destroyed was the older of the two.
We need two cameras since Tom has become more and more proficient at taking photos and we are often in situations where we’re both taking shots simultaneously.

I left the destroyed camera on the table in the living room with both the data card and batteries out to at least ensure those weren’t ruined.  I never gave it another thought other than to wonder how and when we’d replace the camera.  It’s not as if there are many camera stores within any decent distance.  

Our friends, Lois, and Tom from New Jersey, USA, whom we met two years ago on the 33-night cruise that circumvented the continent of Australia.

The closest camera store in a five-hour car ride to Johannesburg and neither of us are interested in such a long distance drive.  We’ll figure something out and report what we’ve decided at a later date.

So, last night, as we prepared to go to Ngwenya for another evening of river viewing, I grabbed the camera and off we went.  Little did I realize that I’d accidentally picked up the “dead” camera.  

Nor did we expect or know that there would be four rhinos in plain sight at the river from the veranda at Ngwenya.  I was heartsick.  Rhinos are hard to spot and there I was without a working camera.  Tom and Lois used an iPhone for photos and it doesn’t have the long-distance capacity for these distant shots.

I asked a lovely woman at a table with her family next to ours if she’d send me a few of her photos.  I gave her our business card and she kindly complied.  She even went as far as handing her camera over to me so I could take a few shots myself.

Tom and I with friends Lois and Tom at Aamazing River View restaurant, overlooking the Crocodile River.

Hopefully, it will work out for her to send me the photos so we can post them soon.  In the interim, I put away the defunct camera, out of plain sight and will rely upon the camera we have left until we come up with a solution.

Oh, well, so it goes.  It’s pointless for us to complain when we’ve had nothing but one great experience after another.  We’re very grateful.  We’ll live with it.

It’s time to get ready to go to Lisa’s home to see the bushbabies and share some sundowners with her and Deidre who’ll also join us.  We’ll be back with posts regarding our experiences with Wild and Free at both of these rescue locations.

Have a fantastic evening!

_____________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, October 19, 2017:

Although this Flame Tree appears to be sprouting bananas, these yellow pods are actually the flower prior to blooming.  Its a favorite spot for birds that stop for a visit including another variety of the popular flycatcher.  For more photos please click here.