Another busy day in the neighborhood…Chicks, chicks and more chicks!…Fun video in Sighting of the Day”…

This cute little chick was one of seven we found in the neighborhood in Marloth Park. Thanks for the tip, Louise!

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush” 

 What a hysterical night when we heard this noise that lasted for hours! 
A friendly visitor stopped by amid the noise and didn’t seem to mind a bit.

With Louise and Danie frequently moving in Marloth Park with their property management and building businesses, they’re often the first to discover interesting sightings.

We were thrilled to find the ostrich parents with seven chicks exactly where Louise had said she’d seen them 10 minutes earlier.

Knowing and appreciating how enthusiastic and passionate we are in great photo ops to share here on our site, they never hesitate to let us know about unique and special sightings. Obviously, if they spot a kudu, bushbuck, or warthog, they don’t notify us. Plenty of them visits us each day.

Mom and Dad were obviously very proud of their family.  Ostriches mate for life.

Over the past few days, when they’d spotted ostrich parents with seven or eight chicks, they didn’t hesitate to let us know. Yesterday, when Louise sent me a Messenger note stating that she’d spotted the ostrich family near the corner of Volstruis (oddly, Volstruis means “ostrich” in Afrikaans) and Hornbill, we were in the car and on our way within two or three minutes.

The chicks weren’t concerned about wandering a short distance from their parents, making it impossible to get one photo with all seven of them.

We didn’t expect to find them when we were deciding which way to go as we reached the intersection of the two streets with four options in front of us.  Tom, with his watchful eye, noticed a stopped car on Volstruis a short distance down the road and said, “Let’s go see what they’re looking at!”

Alas, safari luck prevailed, and there they were, in the garden of a house that didn’t appear to be occupied. Brazenly, Tom pulled into the driveway so we could have a “bird’s eye view” (no pun intended), and we were as close as we could be without intruding on their “pecking” as a family.

Peck, peck, peck.  They seemed to fit edibles in the dirt.

We observed them for quite some time, not only to take photos but also to enjoy this magical sighting. Tom turned off the engine as we sat and watched. There was no point in getting out of the car, although our photos may have been better.

If they stopped by our garden, which they may eventually do, we’d have some ostrich-appropriate treats for them.

Ostriches can be dangerous. From this site: “Ostriches can be found in the wild, on safaris, or ostrich farms. But regardless of where you find them, treat them with the utmost caution. Although they do not prey on humans, they have been known to injure and kill when provoked. Extremely fast on foot, they can deliver mortal blows by the sheer force of their legs, never mind the lethally sharp talons at their toes. The best thing you can do is steer clear of them. Failing that, ducking for cover and hiding works best. As a last resort, you may even have to fight them.”

These three chicks of the seven seemed to stay close to one another.

That’s exactly why we didn’t exit the car. However, we’ve seen visitors in Marloth Park getting dangerously close to ostriches with little regard for their own safety of the magnificent birds, the largest on earth.

From this site:  “Ostriches are large, flightless birds with long legs and a long neck protruding from a round body. Males have a bold black-and-white coloring that they use to attract females. Females, on the other hand, are light brown. (Continued below).

Their young feathers and markings are adorable.

Ostriches are bigger than any other bird in the world. They can grow up to 9 feet (2.7 meters) tall and can weigh up to 320 lbs. (145 kilograms), according to the African Wildlife Foundation, and an ostrich’s eyes are 2 inches (5 centimeters) in diameter — the largest of any land animal. The ostrich is the only bird that has two toes on each foot. All other birds have three or four toes, according to the American Ostrich Association.”

At one point, Dad didn’t seem to be happy with us being so close.  Ostriches can be dangerous if they feel threatened, especially with their chicks nearby. We rolled up our windows and moved back. 

After we returned with the above photos, I attempted to get back to work on yesterday’s post. As we’d planned, Ken stopped by (with Don) to provide me with some useful camera tips. He’s quite the expert, and I had many questions. He adeptly answered all of them, providing me with several important bits of information.

Here we were able to get six of the seven in one photo.

Tom and Don chatted while Ken and I, both with similar cameras, spent about an hour reviewing many aspects of photography that will surely help me in the future. I’m not promising my photos will substantially improve, although they may gradually become more professional-looking.

I’d never taken much interest in photography in our old lives. It just didn’t interest me. Now that we’re traveling over the years, I’ve wanted to improve my less-than-ideal skills. We’ll see how it goes.

Mom frequently stood up from pecking to check her surroundings for any threats.

Many photos we’re sharing over the next several days were taken before “camera school.” I’ll attempt to use what I’ve learned to up the quality of my photos in the future.

Saying this put just enough pressure on me to use what I’ve learned and not fall back into my old patterns of often using the wrong settings for the scene.  Please be patient with me.

“Ostriches normally mate for life, and they share the task of incubating the eggs. Ostriches form bisexual groups with a complex structure. Territorial males compete for flocks of three to five hens. Mating includes elaborate displays of hisses and dancing.”

Last night, even in the chilly weather, we managed to stay on the veranda until bedtime. Bundled up in warm clothing, we enjoyed several visitors, including four wildebeest who must have been friends of Wildebeest Willie since I recognized him in the “implausibility of wildebeest.” (Yep, that’s what a group of wildebeest is called, an “implausibility”). Go figure.

Today, we’re busy getting ready for tonight’s dinner party. We’re having a traditional American-type pork braai (barbecue). We’ll share photos, the menu, and details in tomorrow’s post.

I was up very early this morning chopping and dicing, so to say, so there would be time to get today’s post uploaded by noon our time. Hopefully, it will be a little warmer than last night for our outdoor dinner party.

Have a fabulous weekend wherever you may be.

Photo from one year ago today, July 6, 2017:

Tom, Tammy, and Vincent on our last night in Minnesota when we all said goodbye. For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic 4th of July in the bush…Are we wildlife spotters?…

The 4th of July invitation we received weeks ago. These two sure know how to put on a party!
Thanks, Kathy and Don, with lots of help from Linda and Ken, staying with them this week until Sunday when they all depart. Sadly, we won’t see them again for many months.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Last night’s sunset from Kathy and Don’s third-floor veranda overlooking the Crocodile River.

Leave it to Kathy and Don to once again host a unique evening in their lovely home in Marloth Park located on the Crocodile River. With 12 of us in attendance, it was the perfect number for their huge table on their veranda on the third floor.

Fern and Tony, otherwise dressed as Dolly Parton and Uncle Sam.

Arriving by 17:00 hrs., (5:00 pm) we had little time to take sunset photos until soon it became dark while the evening cooled during these chilly winter nights in the bush. We all bundled up in jackets we’d brought along, giving little thought to the chill as the drinks flowed and festive began to the point of pure delight.

Tom and Andrew.

Once again, Don and Ken displayed their singing and dancing talents performing as the Blue Brothers from the 1980s. We howled with laughter cheering them on as they danced many popular dances over the past five decades. 

Long-time friends Linda and Ken, originally from the UK, live in South Africa while they also travel the world.

The dinner was great as always, with plenty of items I could eat.  For dessert, Kathy and Linda presented Ken (his birthday was actually yesterday) with a lit birthday cake with those hysterical candles that won’t blow out resulting in yet another laugh fest.

Leslie won the 4th of July quiz, although she isn’t American.

Before we knew it the evening came to an end and we made our way home, mindful of the possibility that the lions could be nearby. We gingerly got out of the car, closely monitoring our surroundings until we were safely indoors.

Don had made Long Island Ice Teas for the hot dog and other starters.

Regardless of how practical we attempt to be, there’s no way there isn’t an emotional impact when we watch or hear of a predator killing and eating another animal. It’s exciting to many of us here in Marloth Park that lions are on the loose, only adding to the mystique and wonder of this unusual place.

Kathy, as always, had set a beautiful red, white and blue, theme-appropriate table for 12.

But most people here in the park also have become very attached to these beautiful creatures and it’s never easy to see one taken by a predator. In any case, we spent several hours driving through the park yesterday when notices came out (via Messenger) that someone had spotted the lions.

We didn’t have any costumes, so we wore red, white and blue.

Who knows how long they will stay in the park? There’s no competition here for food sources, and they could easily decide to wait for the long haul. 

Kathy, priming the audience for the upcoming “Blue Brothers” show.

We’d love to spot the lions to take photos. We’ll continue to head out each day on a mission to see if we’ll get lucky. In the interim, we’ve had several incredible sightings in the past 24 hours, which we look forward to sharing in a few posts over the next few days.

Don and Ken had practiced well for their performances, including lines to memorize and a wide array of dance steps. 

Tomorrow will be a busy day, posting and preparing a birthday dinner for Kathy, whose actual birthday is tomorrow. Our friend, Linda’s birthday is in less than two weeks. It’s cold outside. Since we really don’t have room at a table indoors for six of us we’ll make it work staying bundled up.

As always, we were pretty impressed with their performance.

That’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back with more fun photos tomorrow. Please check back.

Photo from one year ago today, July 5, 2017:

 Miles, Madighan (front), with me, Maisie, Camille, and Greg. We were winding down to leave Minnesota to head to Nevada for more family visits. For more details, 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.

Good morning. 2 Lions were 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 we don’t always have the opportunity to do so due to the big time difference. It’s 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. The itinerary is perpetually evolving as we acquire interest and enthusiasm for new and different locations. To see our most recent itinerary, please click here.

Such mysterious and fascinating animals.

Once we’ve uploaded 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 1700 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 Independence Day facts since Don will always have a relevant quiz.  Tom won last time (at their Easter party). We’ll see how it goes tonight.

May 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 each other are vital to our freedom, prosperity, and everlasting peace.

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 ten zebras, three warthogs, and two kudus came to call.

There are 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 nature 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. Besides humankind, on both Saturday and Sunday, that’s not to say we don’t have visitors over the weekend. 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. Time spent socializing. The wildlife has 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 prepared 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 prominent 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 beautiful 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 wildlife environment 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.

On February 11, 2018, coming back here this time was a gift from Tom for my 70th birthday on February 20th, knowing how anxious I was to return. But, now returning 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 on 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 experience. 

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

We need only open the giant 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 particular 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!

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 posted online. For more garden photos, please click here.

Elephant day!!!…Safari luck prevails…Kruger National Park…The thought process of wildlife?

Our first photo of an elephant we spotted on Tuesday in Kruger National Park.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Often, we see francolins wandering in the bush.

We don’t want our worldwide readers to tire of wildlife photos. Over time, we’ll include other aspects of life in South Africa, but we’re like little kids in a candy shop for now…we can’t get enough.

Each time a visitor stops by, whether a frequent guest or someone new, we jump to attention (quietly, of course) to grab the yellow container of pellets and the camera.

We hoped to see an entire herd, but even one is a treasure when one can enter the park for the whole of a day and never see anything other than impalas and warthogs.

There’s no doubt in our minds that many of the wild animals are getting more comfortable with us, even in many cases, learning the sound of our voices. Gently and lovingly, we speak to them. In that way, they may be no different than engaging with household or farm animals that freely respond to human voices.

Most of the wildlife in Marloth Park are comfortable around one another, with few predators in the park except for an occasional visiting lion. He manages to enter from under the fence at the Crocodile River. Legend has it, that warthogs with their ability to dig with their snouts, leave open areas under the fences where the lions can enter.

We were very far from this elephant and were lucky to have seen it near the river.

As we spend hours each day observing animal behavior, grazing habits, and their interaction with one another, we are more and more amazed by the intellect of many of the wild animals surrounding us each day.

Entering Kruger National Park is an entirely different scenario than being in Marloth Park.  Although the animals in Marloth are on their foraging for food, in Kruger, they are “food” for many carnivorous animals, including lions, leopards, cheetah, hyenas, and others.

It’s a bit of scratching against a tree branch…

In these cases, few animals are safe from becoming today’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, perhaps except for elephants and crocodiles. We’ve seen videos of lions taking down Cape Buffalo, giraffe, and baby elephants but seldom a full-grown adult elephant. 

An animal’s perception of the size of other animals is mind-boggling. It tells us so much about their ability to think and make decisions, yet many have refused to believe their abilities, referring to it as instinct. 

This is most likely a lone male elephant, as explained here:  “Male or bull elephants have very different social needs than the females. In the wild, males leave or are driven out of the family group as they approach sexual maturity. Males spend as much as 95% of their lives alone or in loose association with other bulls.”

But is it instinct when a lion checks out a full-grown elephant and asks, “Do I want to “go there?” In our perception, however naive it may be from such a short period of observation, they do have the capability of thinking.

A few minutes ago, I stopped to greet two female kudus and three youngsters. Feeding one of them from the palm of my hand while holding the small yellow pellet container in the other hand, she nudged my hand for more, even sticking her nose in the yellow container, all the while making eye contact with me.

Soon, he began to wander toward the river.

There’s something much more profound and meaningful than pure instinct in the above scenario.  And, when we watched this lone elephant standing near the river deciding whether or not to enter, we can only surmise that the thought process is much more profound than we may expect.

Are we humans so superior to the “wild things” that we assume we’re the only creatures on earth that can think, reason, and decide?

The exquisite massive beast stood staring at the river and soon wandered off after deciding not to drink or enter.

In our short period in Kruger on Tuesday, our hearts were filled by the wonder of what remains of magnificent animals in the wild in Africa, and we can only pray for a resolution for the senseless slaughter of these treasures of nature for their horns, tusks, hides, and meat. There’s no easy answer.

We shot this photo during a self-drive in Kruger in January 2014. We’ll always remain grateful for this sighting and may never be so lucky again. Click here for that post.

In sighting elephants in Kruger, it’s tricky. One could drive for days and never experience a single sighting.  Then, suddenly there are 30 or more on the road as we blissfully encountered four years ago, as shown in the above photo, from that post.

Having had such safari luck on Tuesday inspires us all the more to return to Kruger many more times, while during the periods in between, we revel in the surroundings in our very yard in Marloth Park.

We observed, hoping to see him drink or enter the river.

Today, we’re off to shop in Komatipoort, although at this point, after many visitors this morning, it’s difficult to leave… 

 Photo from one year ago today, March 1, 2017:

Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was one year ago today we boarded a cruise from Sydney. For more details, please click here.