Utility outages…The return of visitors to the garden…More stunning river sightings…

This is “Little” (short for “Little Wart Face”).  He visits almost daily. That’s why he has grass all over his snout. He likes to cool off in the cement pond, sleep under the shade of a tree in our garden and climb the veranda steps seeking pellets. What a guy! He’d just returned from eating from the bale of hay left in the neighbor’s driveway when they departed after the weekend.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Mr. Frog has been enjoying an array of insects most nights which are attracted to the light.  He appears to be getting rather plump.

Yesterday afternoon, a water main broke close to Gate 2 in Marloth Park.  Subsequently, we had no water for about 12 hours. Service returned in the middle of the night.

This morning we had a power outage, but fortunately, it only lasted about 10 minutes. When the power goes out, the wi-fi also goes out. As always, we shut down our laptops and phones, hoping for a return to service before too long.

We were so busy feeding the visitors last night, and we hardly had time to make our dinner. We couldn’t stop smiling.

When the power returned, we were relieved. I hope neither of these is an issue with our upcoming dinner party in four days. It would be difficult to cook a big meal without water or power.

Yesterday, we read a post on Facebook by a homeowner that an area of Marloth Park was without water last December for 21 days. That would certainly be inconvenient.  

Often warthogs from different “sounders” get into a scuffle over the pellets.

Last night we used a bucket of water from the swimming pool to flush the toilet. This would get old after a day or two. Of course, the worst part would be when unable to take a shower. It’s not as if there’s a local health club where one could go to take a shower.

After all, we’re in the bush in Africa, and things aren’t the same as in many countries throughout the world. And, although there are several adaptations one must make, coming from other countries, it isn’t really that rough.

There were one male and three female zebras in this “dazzle.”

Last night while brushing my teeth, a large black bug fell off my head when I bent down to rinse my mouth (using bottled water, as always). I didn’t scream or flinch. I gently picked it up with a tissue and took it outside to deposit it into the garden.  Years ago, I would have called Tom to help and did a bit of screaming.  No longer.

A young Big Daddy attempting to eat some greenery inside the fenced area in the garden.

It must have fallen into my hair while we sat outdoors last night reveling in the numbers of wildlife that came to call. It wasn’t as if we had more than a dozen at any given time but more so that they kept coming and coming, hour after hour.

Recently, I ran into local friend Gail at the market, and we giggled over how we never tire of the wildlife. If anything, as time goes on, we become more and more interested in them, as we learn about them, and as time goes by, we learn more about the nuances of certain animals.

With just the two of us at Two Trees, Tom spotted this female lion.

As shown above, in our main photo, coming to know the peculiarities and habits of certain visitors only adds to the pleasure and significance of seeing them time after time.

Most days, we see at least one animal that is new to us. Over this past nine months, we’ve been able to identify frequent visitors by certain markings, size of tusks, horns, and variations in stripe patterns. It’s now become easy for us to realize someone is new to us.

She may have been perusing the area for her next meal.

We welcome them all, familiar and new, with open arms to partake of our seemingly endless supply of pellets, carrots, apples, and pears, all suitable foods for them.

A large bull elephant on the river bank.  Check out those tusks!

Today, after friend Kathy stops by and drops off some much-needed ingredients she picked up in the big city for the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner party on Saturday (thank you, Kathy!), we’ll head out for our usual drive in the park to see what wonders Mother Nature may have in store for us.

It will be another good day in the neighborhood! I hope you all experience the same!

Photo from one year ago today, November 13, 2017:

Another of Tom’s excellent bird photos, two Green Parrots admiring each other. For more photos, please click here.

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

Giraffes are constantly on guard for predators, especially when it’s 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. 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, which could indicate the leopard was gone from view. Fortunately, we met a lovely couple from Nelspruit who lives part-time in Marloth Park, Estelle, and Johan.  

We’d never have been able to spot the leopard without their help. It’s funny 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 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 across to the opposite side of the Crocodile River.

Rarely, when there is any sighting, friendly observers often assist others in finding the animal’s location. 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 challenging to see.

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

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.  

They were 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, it’s natural for women and men to have different perceptions and responses.

We see this in nature by the erratic 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 erratic behaviors of the sexes of wildlife after we’ve spent the past nine months observing them every day.

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

Yesterday, at the river, I couldn’t spot the leopard, but Tom did so in minutes after Johan described the location to him in several paragraphs. I was stymied.  Nonetheless, Tom was able to take the two very distant photos we’re sharing here today.  

Only the spots 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 more explicit 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 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 to complete the shopping balance 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.

Part 7…Rhino Day!…If you think the Big Five is something…How about the “Ridiculous Nine!!!…Day spent in Kruger with friends!

“A rhinoceros, commonly abbreviated to ‘rhino,’ is one of any five extant species of odd-toed ungulates in the family Rhinocerotidae, as well as any of the numerous extinct species. Two of the extant species are native to Africa and three to Southern Asia.”
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
“Here are five interesting facts about them: These huge birds of prey have a wingspan of up to 2.4 meters, with the females larger than the males. African fish eagles are very efficient hunters and only hunt for about 10 minutes each day. Besides fish, they also eat young birds, monkeys, baby crocodiles, and frogs.”

Note:  Some of today’s photo captions were taken from this site. Today’s rhino photos combine those we took last Friday and others we’d yet to post from prior visits to Kruger.

The beautiful adventures continue with friends Tom and Lois. Every day is action-packed with a combination of sightings in the garden, Kruger National Park, and the Marloth Park fence overlooking the Crocodile River into Kruger.

Two rhinos were grazing together.

Add in the fabulous dinners at a variety of local restaurants and right here at our holiday home as we make good home-cooked meals. We couldn’t all be enjoying ourselves more.

Rhinos grazing in the grass in Kruger.  (Photo was taken a few months ago).

It’s significant to see how much our guests are engrossed in the wildlife.

We had no idea it would mean so much to the two of them, as they revel in every aspect of life in the bush, an incredible experience for them both.

“The White Rhino is the third largest land mammal. Massive, stocky, and with a reputation of being not quite as aggressive as the Black Rhino. The two distinctive horns are, in fact, very densely packed fibers and materially not horns. The record horn length is 1.58 m. Bulls, weighing up to 2 000 kg, are larger than cows which weigh up to 1 800 kg. Bulls are 1.8 m at the shoulders. The grey skin is almost hairless. They have a square-shaped, wide mouth. White Rhinos have a hump on the neck. The penis points backward, and testes are located abdominally.”

Last night we dined in and cooked chicken “flatties” on the braai, which are simply whole chickens cut by the butcher to make them entirely flat. Then, they are seasoned in unique sauces and spices to enhance the flavor.

This shot was taken last Friday during our fantastic safari day.

With a wide array of spices used for this purpose, we had three distinct flavors:  Portuguese, Sweet, and Spicy and Garlic, all of which were excellent. With homemade soup, salad, and an Asian green bean dish, dinner was perfect.

This morning we had no less than 20 animals from four species in the garden. We all were enthralled with this great turnout as we snapped photos right and left.  

“The White Rhino is strictly a grazer. Favoring short grass, but will feed on taller grass when short grass is not available. The wide mouth enables adequate intake with each plug harvested with the upper and lower lips.”

Guest Tom loves taking videos on his Facebook page and did quite a few excellent representations. After coffee and breakfast, we headed out to see Deidre at Wild and Free Rehabilitation and show Tom and Lois the wonders she’s performing in returning ill or injured animals to the wild.

“Even though most conceptions take place during the wet season, this huge mammal is not a strict seasonal breeder. Calves are born early in the dry season after a gestation period of 16 months and stay with their mothers for two to three years until she gives birth to her next calf. Cows start breeding at about eight years, and bulls reach sexual maturity at 10-12 years. During mating, sexual activity can last more than an hour.”

We’ll be writing a story soon with many fabulous photos from our visit to Hectorspruit to the facility. Tom and Lois were excited and impressed with the experience.  

“Despite their bulk and short stubby legs, White Rhino can run remarkably fast, but only for very short distances. Dominant territorial bulls occupy mutually exclusive areas of two to five square kilometers, but one or more subordinate bulls may share the territory. Female ranges may overlap those of several bull territories. A territorial bull will attempt to confine a receptive cow to his territory and will join her for five to ten days before mating.”

It was our second time visiting Deidre at Wild and Free Rehabilitation. Still, we loved it even more than the first, knowing the wonder of hers and her staff’s commitment to rescuing wildlife, dedicated to healing them and returning them to the wild. Please keep an eye out for our latest story over the next several days.

“Formerly widely distributed throughout the bushveld regions of South Africa. In the 19th century, it was exterminated by hunters, except in KwaZulu-Natal’s Umfolozi region. Although now thriving where it has been re-introduced into parts of its former region, it still suffers from poaching.”

Tonight, we’re heading back to Ngwenya Lodge and Restaurant once more for the Thursday evening buffet dinner, where pricing is based on the weight of the food on one’s plate. The food is excellent, the Crocodile River viewing is exceptional, and indeed, once again, the conversation will be lively and animated.  

Too much fun!  We love every moment!

Photo from one year ago today, October 18, 2017:

We’d heard parrots might be seen in the trees in this park in Atenas, Costa Rica. We’d visited several times to no avail. For more photos, please click here.

Part 6…Lion Day!…If you think the Big Five is something…How about the “Ridiculous Nine!!!…Day spent in Kruger with friends!

Three lions lounging in the shade, always on the lookout for the next meal.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A couple of hippos and a yellow-billed stork at Kruger.

This morning, we’d planned to head to Kruger National Park but when it was raining upon awakening, we all agreed it made no sense to go today. The animals tend to take cover in the rain and we figured we’d be better off going on Friday.

A relaxed female resting in the shade of a tree.

Also, we were concerned we’d have fewer visitors in the garden if we stayed on the veranda all day in the rain.  Tom and I talked and suggested to Tom and Lois that we go back to Komatipoort for pellets and stop for lunch at local restaurant  Tambarina, known for their giant prawns.

Female lions often do the hunting.  The males will steal the kill, leaving the scraps for her and her cubs.

By 11:00 am after I’d done quite a bit of prep for tonight’s dinner including making pumpkin soup, salad, and bacony green beans as side dishes to the flatties we’ll be cooking on the grill soon, we were out the door and on our way to town.

A female resting beside her mating male.

The lunch was good and afterward, Lois and I perused some shops in Komatipoort while both Toms took off to get the pellets. Having completed our errands, we drove to Spar Supermarket for a few items.

Tom and Lois don’t generally eat low carb during their holiday/vacation but we’ve been making some of our favorite meals that fit into anyone’s way of eating.  

Two females and one male lion.

When I made pizza a few days ago, which I no longer can eat due to lactose intolerance, I made a separate meal for myself. Tonight’s dinner will work for me although there are a few items I’ll need to eat in moderation due to the higher carb count, particularly the soup.

Her eyes are always scanning the terrain for a potential m

After we returned to Marloth Park from our pleasant lunchtime outing, we found many animals not only on the roads once we entered the park but also waiting for us in the garden.  

What a beautiful face!

Since we positioned ourselves on the veranda they’ve been coming and coming, from giraffes in the garden next door to Wildebeest Wille to Medium Wart Face to Frank and The Mrs. and many others, more than we can count.

Need I say, our friends are having the time of their lives. Where does one ever go on vacation/holiday and have an experience like this hour after hour, day after day?  

A nice long stretch.

It certainly will leave both of them with wonderful memories and photos they’ll always cherish. For us, it has been a fantastic experience, being able to share our love and passion for wildlife and this magical place, one we’ll always treasure as well.

Enjoy today’s lion photos from our “Ridiculous Nine” sightings last Friday in Kruger while on a game drive. We’ll continue to share the balance of the nine stunning sightings over the next few days.

Such magnificent animals.

Thanks to all of our readers for sharing this special time with us! It means the world to us!

Have a very special day and evening!

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

Her/his eyes opened and closed periodically while attempting to recover from hitting the glass in Costa Rica. For more photos, please click here.

Lion on the loose in Marloth Park…Hippo Day!…

A lion photo was taken by a local across the Crocodile River, but not the lion spotted on Leeu Street.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

We’d never seen this warthog until last night when he stopped by.  The left wart appeared injured and infested with maggots.  Since warthogs are so abundant in Marloth Park, nothing is done when they are injured. Veterinary care is expensive. Nature takes its course.

Yesterday when we received a notice from Louise that a lioness was on the loose in Marloth Park, a chill ran up our spines. Not only were we excited about this event, but we went on a mission to see if safari luck would prevail, and we’d spot it and have an opportunity to take a photo.

Hippos lounging in the Sabie River in Kruger.

The likelihood of finding her in this vast expanse of 3000 hectares (7413 acres, 11.5 square miles) is comparable to finding a needle in a haystack. Once the post was uploaded, we headed out with extra fully charged batteries. I wanted to have to camera turned on at all times, just in case.

“The name hippopotamus comes from the Ancient Greek ‘river horse.'”

We followed the roads where she was last seen on the street called Leeu, weaving in and out of all possible routes hoping for a glimpse. Well, we didn’t expect to get lucky, and we weren’t. 

“An adult hippo needs to resurface every 3 to 5 minutes to breathe.”

We saw elephants on the river, giraffes on the savanna, and an ostrich under a carport, but we stopped for nothing, fearing that one minute’s change of plans could cause us to miss her. Of course, this concept can go either way…stop for something else, and then…we’d see her. 

“Hippos bask on the shoreline and secrete an oily red substance, which gave rise to the myth that they sweat blood. The liquid is a skin moistener and sunblock that may also protect against germs.”

After two hours, we gave up and stopped at Daisy’s Den for birdseed when Mark, the shop owner, told us his mother-in-law saw the lioness chasing a young kudu across the tar road. Nature can be cruel, but that’s the reality of life in these parts.

“Despite its stocky shape and short legs, it can easily outrun most humans. Hippos have been clocked at 30 km (19 km) over short distances.”

Everyone in this little holiday village is alert based on warnings to avoid walking, especially at night. One must pay special attention, getting into and out of cars, shops, restaurants, and their own homes. One cannot assume that walking from a restaurant to their vehicle is safe at night or during the day.

Thanks, Louise Barnfield in Kauai, for identifying this bird…a reed cormorant.

Are we scared? Not at all. Nor does it affect our sitting on the veranda day and night. The veranda is six steps up from ground level. It’s unlikely a lion would climb the steps to get to us when there’s usually much more readily accessible wildlife nearby. 

A giraffe’s neck contains huge amounts of muscle. But that is not what is holding its neck so high. It is a band of elastic tissue, a ligament that runs from the top of the neck to the start of tail vertebrae.

We do not doubt that a few of our visitors may already have fallen prey to the lion’s appetite.  Even with few predators in Marloth Park itself, most of the wildlife’s instincts will drive them to run as fast as they can if they hear or spot a lion. 

“Gnus, or wildebeests, are large African antelopes. Wildebeest is an Afrikaans name that means “wild beast.” Gnu is a derivation of the name used by native Africans. The names are used interchangeably. A gathering of gnus is called a herd.’

The acuity of the hearing of wildlife in the park is incomprehensible to us, but outrunning a lion would be difficult when bush homes and other man-made structures impede their ability to run at their top speeds.

Calf nursing in Kruger National Park.

This afternoon, we’ll head out once again with hope, albeit foolhardy, of spotting the lioness and taking our photo to share here with all of our readers.

“African fish eagles are very efficient hunters and only hunt for about 10 minutes each day. Besides fish, they also eat young birds, monkeys, baby crocodiles, and frogs.”

Thanks for stopping by, dear readers. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Photo from one year ago today, June 23, 2017:

After the boat ride on Father’s Day, we drove past the new Minnesota Vikings US Bank Stadium (football) for this shot. For more photos, please click here.