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

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

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

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

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

He was very determined.

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

A female bushbuck observed the activity.

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

From this site:

“Common Duiker Breeding

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

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

From this site:

Mating Habits

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

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

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

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

Derek’s enthusiasm continued over about 30 minutes,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tonight? Jabula with Rita and Gerhard!

Be well.

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

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

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 finds their mates, court their potential mates, and ultimately propagate in the wild. Certainly, some may feel that this is inappropriate. We kindly ask you not to write to us in this regard.

This is nature at its finest, and for us, it is fascinating to provide 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 pure 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 regarding “the chase.”

Big Daddy Kudu is 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 that members of our species implemented 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 after that, 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, bold 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 newborn 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.

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 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 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 breezy, 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.

This morning’s events in the bush…Mating season is in full bloom…

Tom noticed this dung beetle rolling his ball in the garden at quite a distance. We were thrilled to get these shots.

We only need to pay close attention to what’s transpiring around us to witness the behavior of the wildlife that is not only funny but astounding at times. This morning was no exception after we finally finished our tasks and were able to sit outdoors on the veranda with our coffee.

This morning around 7:00 am, I got out of bed to open the rolling shade in the bedroom to peek at what was transpiring in the garden. When I didn’t see any visitors, I rolled back into bed, figuring I could read the daily news on my phone before getting up.

A few minutes later, I heard a sound on the window’s glass. Bossy, my favorite female kudu, was nudging the window in an attempt to get me up to deliver her some pellets. Of course, I bolted out of the bedroom to ensure she had plenty of her morning pellets. As Tom always says, “They have “us” trained.”

Moments later, he was on top of his dung ball.

Once I’m up, showered, and dressed for the day, the time seems to get away from me. I can’t believe how busy I am sometimes, considering I don’t have to clean the house. My mornings are full of folding and putting away laundry from the portable rack, prepping a few items for dinner, and tidying up before Zef and Vusi arrive to clean.

It’s no different for Tom. First, he empties the dishwasher and puts everything away. Next, he fills the four ice cube trays placing the ice into freezer Ziplock bags, and then into two drawers in the tiny freezer and serves two pitchers of water from the water machine, which is a slow process, and then refills the trays with the purified water. He does this two or three times a day. We use a lot of ice.

When I think back to those ten months in lockdown in India, we didn’t use any ice. It would have cost us a fortune in tips to get a sufficient amount of ice delivered to our room each day in their tiny ice buckets when there was no available ice machine for the guests to use.  We gave it up along with other familiar comforts during that period.

Two hungry hornbills were pecking at the kitchen window, hoping for some seeds. We complied.

Then, he makes a big pitcher of Crystal Lite Iced Tea which arrived in our recent DHL package from the US, just days before we ran out. Louise loaned us a giant spouted jug for the ice tea, so he doesn’t have to make the iced tea more often than every three days. That helps.

After most of our tasks are completed, finally, we can sit outdoors. At the same time, I manage photos, prepare the post, and handle financial matters, keeping track of our spending, often requiring daily attention. Amid all of this, we’re continually watching what’s happening in the bush. Recently, I’ve been back at work on the corrections on old posts and have diligently stuck to my schedule, which takes about two hours a day.

Tom grabs the garden hose and refills the water in the birdfeeder. It’s become a daily task when “everyone” is drinking from it now, including birds and Big Daddies. This morning, Tom had yet to refill the birdfeeder with water. Tiny was busy chasing Lonely Girl around the garden, making the mating “train noise” during a series of intermittent advances on this female warthog.

Ms. Duiker has one tiny horn in the center of her head instead of the male’s two horns.

He wore himself out and walked over to the birdfeeder for a drink of water. When he couldn’t access the remaining water with his giant tusks, he looked at us, and then, in a frustrated flurry of activity, he tried to topple over the huge ceramic feeder. It teetered back and forth but thankfully didn’t fall over. He was mad there wasn’t enough water in there for him to reach.

Tom waited until Tiny moved away and refilled the bird feeder with fresh water. Moments later, Tiny returned for a series of generous gulps. Caution must always prevail when wild animals are unpredictable, and humans can easily be injured.  We always exercise the utmost caution, coupled with common sense.

Big Daddy was in and out of the garden this morning chasing after the “girls.” Right now, rutting season is in full bloom! Mating pairs are everywhere. We will be sharing some of the mating antics as the days roll on, including a few interesting videos. We’re hoping none of our readers are offended by our photos and videos.

This male duiker has been accompanying her for days.

This is “life,” regenerating in the bush. It’s all a part of the magic and wonder of the wild animals surrounding us each day. When we post some mating photos or videos, we will note this in the post’s heading as “Adults only please,” leaving you to decide if you’ll share the post with children and grandchildren. It’s entirely up to you.

Big Daddy, wondering what’s on the menu.

Later this afternoon, we’ll be heading to Komatipoort to shop for groceries. With Linda and Ken coming for dinner on Saturday night and the school holidays not ending until Sunday, we decided to shop today instead of waiting until tomorrow. It will be even more crowded as the last day of the month. We’ll be well masked, gloved, and I’ll be wearing a face shield as an added precaution.

Be well. Be safe. Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, April 29, 2020:

Tree frog foam nest, made overnight above the cement pond. For more photos, please click here.

For adults only, please…Mature theme…Plus, a little of this and that…

Little Wart Face gave it an honest effort, but he couldn’t get it quite right.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Although Tom has to take down and refill the bird feeder several times a day due to the monkeys eating the seeds, we thoroughly enjoy watching the birds partaking.

We’d hoped to head to Kruger today but have decided to go another day. The sky is cloudy and doesn’t appear it will clear in time for us to go. Instead, today, we’ll make our usual run to Komatipoort and Lebombo for groceries and carrots and apples for the wildlife and head to Kruger on the next sunny day.

Yesterday, I called Obaro, and it appears they now have pellets in stock, and we’ll load up enough for the next few weeks until it’s time to go to Zambia and Botswana on August 16th.

Little Wart Face attempting to mate with this young female.

Although neither of us particularly loves to shop, we find the weekly trips interesting and diverse. The townspeople are friendly, the culture fascinating, and generally, we can find most of the items we need to purchase, forgoing thoughts of those items we can’t find.

Since I’m no longer eating dairy, my options for meals are limited.  Most of our favorite dishes include dairy in one form or another. It appears I have no trouble with butter, but all other dairy products must be excluded from my diet to maintain this high level of feeling so well.

This occurred after dusk, and thus, the photos aren’t as straightforward as we’d hoped.

Day after day, I’m aware of how great I’m feeling for the first time in over two years. From the time I contracted the bacterial infection in Fiji and later the injury in the pool in Bali, I was plagued with constant pain and discomfort.

To be free of pain is such a blessing, and I never forget how important it is I don’t consume a slice of cheese, a dollop of cream, or a smear of cream cheese on a celery stick. It takes no willpower whatsoever. The excellent end result of feeling good keeps me highly motivated.

Snack options are limited so I avoid snacking. I’m slowly losing weight and will share details when I reach my goal in the next few months. Surprisingly, it hasn’t been that difficult. 

He’d been making the train-like noise up until he actually tried to make contact. The bowl in the dirt was left after we’d fed eggs to the mongooses a few minutes earlier.

We now have a hearty breakfast each morning, with two eggs and sardines, which are high in calcium to compensate for my lack of dairy products, while Tom has three eggs and bacon. We don’t eat again until dinner on the veranda around 7:00 pm. This schedule provides us with approximately 11 hours of intermittent fasting which works well for both of us.

As for today’s warthog mating photos, I’d like to stress, we do not include these or other mating photos for any shock value. Our intent is purely to illustrate the magic and mystery of nature at its finest. Having the opportunity to observe the “cycle of life” in nature is truly a gift.

It’s evident in this photo that contact wasn’t fully executed.

In many months to come, we’ll see the park filled with babies from this mating season. For an interesting article in Africa Geographic regarding warthog mating, please click here.

The gestation period for warthogs is 152 to 183 days. Generally, piglets are born between October and February. It won’t be long before we see entirely new batches of youngsters coming to call with their moms (occasionally dads), aunts, and siblings from past litters. 

It’s a rare opportunity to see mating in the wild, but this appeared more to be “practice” than anything.

Warthogs may stay with their family group, a sounder, for a few years, eventually finding their burrows for rest at night. However, they often stay in the same general territory as other family members.

When we see them at night, they tend to wander off by 2100 hours (9:00 pm) to return to their burrow for the night. Moms will place their offspring in the burrow first and follow behind facing the opening to guard the family unit.

Not a night passes without an opportunity to watch these adorable bushbabies enjoy the yogurt we place on their little stand.

Intelligent animals, pigs of all breeds are rated #2 of the top 25 most intelligent animals on earth. See this list for details. This is clearly evidenced to us daily as we carefully observe their behavior. Dogs are rated #6.

That’s it for today folks! Have a fabulous day! We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Photo from one year ago today, July 31, 2017:
Here were our total expenses for the 25 nights we spent in Henderson Nevada.  Please click here for more details.

 Expense   US Dollar 
Housing (Richard’s home)   $                         
 Gifts & Misc.   $                  299.00
 Airfare    $               1,137.00
 Rental Car & Fuel  $                  926.00
 Groceries   $               1,245.30
 Dining Out   $                  402.52
 Supplies & Pharmacy   $                  609.32
 Entertainment   $                  310.25
 Total   $               4,929.39
 Avg Daily Cost 25 days   $                  197.18

Alpacas mating…Video…Time consuming process…Not as simple as one may assume…

We took this video during the mating.

This morning at 9 am we’re heading an hour south for an exciting local event, returning late in the day. We’ll be back with photos over the next several days which we’re looking forward to sharing.

The males, called Machos, are kept in a separate paddock in order to maintain control over the mating process.

Today’s post prepared late yesterday and completed early this morning is a bit more rushed than usual.  Hopefully, the included video and photos speak for themselves.

We’re continually amazed by the amount of work required by Trish and Neil to manage this 100 alpaca farm, both of whom are also working away from the farm in a high level profession requiring considerable work and commitment.

The pair are placed in a smaller paddock for the purpose of mating. Notice the others looking on with considerable curiosity.

In itself, managing this farm could easily be a full-time commitment.  ]And yet, effortlessly and diligently they both spend many hours each week with nary a complaint. They love and care for these unique creatures with the utmost of love and concern.

Not only are they busy providing nutrient-rich foods a few times each day laid about the paddocks in dozens of colorful bowls as an adjunct to the hay and grass the alpacas graze, but, several entire herds in the various paddocks must be moved frequently to newly greened pastures.

The courtship is rather quick but the event can last for 45 minutes.

Moving the various herds of alpacas from one paddock to another is quite a sight to watch. The alpacas have become accustomed to this process and in their gentle ways, they respond to the carefully managed process that Trish and Neil perform with what appears to be relative ease.

We couldn’t help but laugh over the looks on the faces of the others during the mating.

For us neophytes, it looks a lot easier than it really is. Add the constant handling of baled hay as an additional food source for the alpacas, the annual shearing of all the alpacas, the attendance at alpaca shows throughout the country where they frequently win blue ribbons and awards.

Trish and Neil oversee the mating to ensure all is going well.  The Macho is wearing the harness used to bring him to the mating pen.

The record-keeping is a big part of the management of the farm with each alpaca tagged and named, as is the case for the cria shortly after birth. As much as we’re enjoying the playful entertainment by these amazing animals, we don’t take lightly the responsibility required in all of the above…including the mating process.

We don’t profess to know much about the breeding of alpaca other than the answers to questions we’ve asked of Trish and Neil as time has allowed with their busy schedules.

We were up close during this particular mating.  Others we’ve observed from a distance.

Today, we share the snippets we’ve gleaned, hoping if any of our readers have more specific questions they’ll refer online for more information with many sites providing details. Here are a few points of interest we gleaned in the process:

  • Females referred to as the “Hembra” with the male referred to as the “macho.” Males and females do not live together in the paddock and are only brought together for mating purposes.
The other hang close, so they can watch The crias were chasing one another mimicking the making behavior.
  • Hembra can be bred at one year of age and continue to breed until they are 14 to 15 years old. Machos reach maturity at 2 to 3 years of age.
  • Hembra are referred to as “induced ovulators” meaning they do not have a specific cycle. They can be mated at any time while ovulation is induced by the actions of the macho.
The female will only resist if she’s impregnated from a prior session which immediately is terminated ensuring Trish and Neil there no need to continue.
  • Gestation is approximately 11.5 (from 335 to 342 days) months. Hembra can be mated two weeks after giving birth of the “cria” of which there is only one birth per year.
  • 14 days after mating, the female is reintroduced to the male. If she is pregnant she will not sit down for the mating process. Instead, she will engage in what is referred to as the “spit off” test by kicking, running away, and spitting at the male. It’s this process that enables the farm owners to determine the Hembra is in fact pregnant until further blood tests at a later date. If the “spit off” doesn’t occur, this means the Hembra is not pregnant and she cooperates in the mating.
He was no worse for the wear after the event.

Having witnessed this entire life cycle at various stages since our arrival over one month ago we feel honored for the experience as we continue to observe this miracle of life.

He even offered a little smile for the camera.

Now, we’re off for our upcoming busy day and will return tomorrow with a new story and photos of a popular annual event in the Taranaki Region.  Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, February 26, 2015:

One year ago, we visited Spouting Horn in Kauai where spouts in the lava formed from which the ocean spouted as the waves washed in and out to the shore. We could only imagine how majestic it would have been on a day when the waves were more aggressive. For more photos, please click here.

The Tree Frog mating saga continues!…An unbelievable sighting…Videos…Photos…Please scroll to the end…

Yesterday morning, after getting comfortably situated on the veranda, coffee in hand, we were stunned as we noticed a new white foam ball on the tree above the pool, a few limbs from the now dissipating former white foam ball, that apparently failed to produce live offspring, much to our disappointment.

The following photos are shown in progression as they occurred beginning at 7:58 am, Saturday morning.

Look carefully to see the first foam nest on the left, and the new foam nest on the right.

Excited to see this again, (click here to see our prior post on December 20th when we discovered the first white foam ball) I grabbed the camera trying to get as close as possible as we positioned ourselves on the edges of the pool. Before our eyes, the foam nest was being made as we watched it grow, totally in awe of this miracle of life. 

This must have been one of the Tree Frogs that fell off of the small branch supporting the white foam nest into the pool, quickly working his way up the pool and then the tree, seemingly in a hurry to join in on the mating activities.

“Give me a minute to catch my breath!  I’m on my way!”

“Almost there!”

At the same time, we’d noticed a frog on the edge of the pool, making its way up out of the water, jumping in the tree, and quickly climbing to the nest. Within a matter of a few minutes, the nest was covered with Tree Frogs, no less than five males participating! It could have been more than the five, but their camouflage like appearance makes it difficult to see.

“Hey, you guys, let me get my spot!”
“Now we’re talking! Foam me up, Scotty!”
From what we’ve read, multiple males participate in the fertilization of the one female after she “manufactures” the white foam nest. The female lays the eggs inside the nest to protect them. At that point, the males climb on and the mating began, during which time we made these videos as we’ve shown here today.
An hour later, they started climbing off the foam nest, which appeared to have been well fertilized!

With the mating process of the African Tree Frog lasting only a matter of minutes, it is indeed miraculous that we happened to be outside at precisely the correct time to witness the entire event from the veranda.  

Another amazing video of the tree frogs fertilizing the foam nest.

Good grief.  May I say this yet another time?  “Safari luck” once again kicked in. Will this batch of tadpoles survive? We don’t know. Most likely they won’t, with the chlorine in the pool plus the use of the pool filter, which we can’t turn off for the week it will take for them to mature. The pool could turn to green slime in a week’s time. After all, this isn’t “our” house.

So, we’ll wait and see what transpires once again and of course, report any results here. And, if we get lucky and mama tree frog gets lucky, her babies will survive, and her two attempts will not have been in vain.

Ah, nature, what a treasure! Keep it comin‘!