A new heart-pounding adventure on the horizon in Africa..

Due to yesterday's power outage, we weren't able to upload yesterday's post dated April 20, 2018, until this morning.  Sorry for the inconvenience.  Also, none of today's photos are ours except for "Sighting of the Day in the Bush."
Giraffes joining diners at Giraffe Manor.  Oh, my, this looks fun!
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Ms. Kudu munching on a tree near the veranda.
Last week when Louise sent me this safari/tour event in Messenger in Facebook, I gave it a serious look, noticing that several aspects of it make my heart skip a beat about the prospect of returning to Kenya.

The thought of returning to the Masai Mara, the most highly regarded and wildlife-rich game reserve in the world stirred my memories from our visit in 2013, one of the most stunning experiences of our world travels.

Giraffes looking for treats at Giraffe Manor.
Next, the prospect of visiting Giraffe Manor which I'd heard a lot about sent me into a tailspin of excitement.  Also, adding the concept of touring the world-renowned David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust which has been of dream of mine since we first visited Africa, made my heart skip a beat.  (Daphne Sheldrick, David's wife was world's most renowned elephant rescuers passed away last Thursday at age 83.  Click here for details).

Then, the idea of a stay at Little Governor's Camp after I'd watched this video many times, dreaming of having such a once-in-a-lifetime experience, sent me to the moon with sheer delight.

Can you imagine having this photo op? (Photo was taken at Giraffe Manor in Kenya)
How could such a package be presented by any other than well-known Canadian wildlife photographer and "tour designer extraordinaire," Greg Harvey of Harvey Wildlife Photography?  His exceptional passion for wildlife coupled with the finest of skills and experience made this event particularly appealing.

This was not going to be a standard safari but as Greg calls it, "a bucket list" experience few seldom add to their repertoire of wildlife adventures.  Instead, the February 22 to March 7, 2019 event has the ability to round out our African experiences beyond our "wildest" dreams before we leave the continent (after 13 months), on March 7, 2019, the day of our wedding anniversary.

A scene at Little Governor's Camp.
We'd intended to stay in South Africa until around March 21, 2019, but since we're embarking on this tour, we'll be leaving one month earlier than planned.  Luckily, our schedule has some flexibility to make changes at this point.

No doubt, this is a pricey expedition, especially when it includes only 14 guests.  It certainly isn't as expensive as Antarctica was but higher than our preferred price range for tours and/or cruises at ZAR 87,149 per person for a total of ZAR 174298 (US $7200 per person for a total of US $14,400).  Not only does this expedition offer such exciting venues but it will also give us both the opportunity to hone our photographic skills.

Elephants wandering through Little Governors Camp, a common occurrence.
It is for these very types of opportunities, that we remain frugal in our daily lives of world travel; low rents when possible, inexpensive rental cars; less dining out than most travelers; and minimal purchases besides groceries and essentials.  Even with this extra expenditure, we'll be able to stay within our budget.

After many email communications with Greg Harvey we firmed up our reservation, paid the deposit (the balance paid in two installments between now and then) and we're set to go.  All we have yet to arrange is the long flight to Nairobi, Kenya from South Africa which previously the reverse had been one of the longest travel days in the past 5½ years and, the flight when we leave Kenya.

Sign at the entrance to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Orphans Project.
Here's the itinerary for this upcoming adventure we've booked, leaving in a mere 10 months from now as taken from Greg's website:

"Masai Mara, Kenya Safari - February 22-March 7, 2019.

The "Bucket List" African Safari Adventure...Who's In?

In February 2019 Greg from HW Photo & Safaris is taking another group of safari guests to Kenya. We call it the "Bucket List African Safari Adventure". Whether it be having breakfast with Rothschild giraffes at Giraffe Manor, watching elephants walk by your tent or floating 60 feet above the Mara river in a hot air balloon (hot air balloon rides are optional and an extra cost), all of these activities are truly "bucket list" events.

Kenyan Itinerary:

February 22 & 23- Ololo Safari Lodge. Ololo Safari Lodge is located on 20 acres on the south edge of Nairobi National Park. Only half an hour after we leave the airport we will already be in Nairobi National Park on the way to the lodge. There we will recover from the international travel. For the early risers, the next morning we will have the opportunity to go on our first official game drive in the park. This will give us the chance to scrape the rust off our photography skills. 


Daphne Sheldrick's love, passion, and dedication to elephants was like none other in the world.  Sadly she passed away last week.
February 24-28- Zebra Plains

Zebra Plains is located in great leopard and cheetah territory. As the name suggests the area is very densely populated with massive herds of zebras.

March 1-5

Little Governors' Camp- Little Governors' Camp is located in the Northern area of the Masai Mara National Reserve. The area is home to the famous Marsh Pride of lions. This area also has huge numbers of elephants. It is common to see between 100-500 elephants in the Marsh area just a few minutes away from camp.

March 6- Giraffe Manor & Private Tour of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (Elephant Sanctuary)

Rhinos are also rescued at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.  The wildlife in all of these adventures is not trained to perform "tricks' for humans.  Those rescued at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust are done so with the intent of returning them to the wild, with the exception of those who could not survive on their own.  More on this later.
After our private tour of the elephant sanctuary, we will return to the Giraffe Manor for high tea where we will have the chance to interact with the giraffes. Dinner is at 8p.m.

After we check out from Giraffe Manor we'll go to Mat Bronze for a visit to their gallery and have lunch. After lunch, we will visit a wood sculpturing gallery and store, Kazuri Beads and an open-air market for some beautiful souvenirs. From there we will go to the Four Points Sheraton where we will check in to a day room to freshen up, re-pack if necessary and have a farewell dinner. Then it is a five-minute drive to the Nairobi International Airport for our flights out at 11p.m. to 12:30a.m. on the next day (March 7, 2019)." 


How does Tom feel about all of this?  Honestly, he's not as excited as I am.  But, like most experiences over which he hesitates, once we're there, he too, will have an exceptional experience.  
 


Now, we have two exciting trips planned in the next 10 months and with immigration requirements in South Africa, we still must leave two more times.  We'll keep you posted on those two adventures as well! 

Enjoy your weekend doing something wonderful!
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Photo from one year ago today, April 21, 2017:
Tom's shot of a stunning sunset in Fairlight, Australia as we wound down our last few days.  For more photos, please click here.

Malelane, another town in South Africa...Another view of rural life...As darkness falls...

Due to a power outage on April 20th, this post wasn't uploaded until the morning of April 21st.  However, a new post describing an upcoming adventure in Africa will be posted later today, April 21, 2018.  Sorry for the inconvenience.
The road to Malelane on the well traveled N4 Highway.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"

This baby warthog was nursing between her mom's back legs. 
Yesterday morning, before completing and uploading the post, we decided to drive to Malelane.  Our permanent Kruger "Wild Card" (a year-long pass) had arrived at the post office and time was running out to collect it.

Talk about "rocky mountains!"
Why the pass wasn't sent to us baffles us, since mail usually comes to the post office in the Marlothi Shopping Center.  But, as everyone always says, "This is Africa" and things aren't always done as we'd expect in other parts of the world.

Giant rocks atop mountains and hills on the way to Malelane.
We easily found the post office in the small town and headed to the Obaro farm store to buy pellets at hopefully a better price than the recent.  We'd heard we could get a "senior discount" at that location. 


The drive took about 40 minutes from Marloth Park.  Many police cars were parked on the sides of the road looking for offenders.  Tom stayed under the speed limit in hopes we wouldn't get stopped.
As it turned out the senior discount in Malelane was ZAR 5 (US $.42) per bag and the bags were priced at ZAR 204, (US $17.03) as compared to ZAR 215 (US $17.95).  In all with the meager discount we saved a total of ZAR 16.05 (US $1.34) of each of four bags. 


As darkness falls, Tom's favorite Ms. Bushbuck makes an appearance.
Had we not needed to go to the post office, buying pellets in Malelane isn't something we'll do in the future.  The 90 minutes round trip drive plus the petrol we used doesn't make it worth a special trip.


Then we spotted three hippos near the Crocodile River.
After Obaro we drove to the biggest mall we've seen since we arrived to shop for a few items at the Malelane (also spelled Malalane) SuperSpar which is much larger than the Spar in Komatipoort. 


Big Daddy stopped by last night, moments before dark.
We couldn't find several items on our list and decided we'd continue to shop in Komatipoort which seems to carry most of the items we use.  I've been trying to find herbal cinnamon tea with no luck anywhere which I like to drink hot or as iced tea. 


Two hippos and a cattle egret at the river's edge as seen from the fence between Marloth and Kruger Park.
When we returned home I ordered 12 boxes of my favorite Good Earth Sweet and Spicy herbal tea (no caffeine, no sugar) which will arrive with our upcoming shipment in several weeks.  (We haven't had it shipped to us yet since we're awaiting the arrival of a few items to our mailing service in Nevada).


Last night, after dark, we had a steady stream of visitors; warthogs, kudus, bushbucks, bushbabies and duikers came to call.  It was much busier than most evenings.
In any case, the trip to Malelane was enjoyable, visiting another small town in South Africa. The fact that only a little over 8% of the country population is white is evident in this small town as it is in Komatipoort.  At no point did we feel like "outsiders" nor have we anywhere we've been in South Africa thus far.

We call him "Little Daddy."  He's about 30% smaller then Big Daddy.  There are two types of kudus in Marloth Park, the Greater Kudu and the Lesser Kudu which is smaller with smaller antlers.  This appears to be a Lesser Kudu.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Of course, Marloth Park is not a realistic representation of demographics or lifestyle in this or any country.  It's a world of its own, far removed from the reality of life in most parts of the world.

Every day we remain in awe and grateful for this experience and more experiences we'll glean in our remaining time on the continent, another 10 months including several side trips. 

Our bright lamp as shown on the floor of the veranda, doesn't seem to keep the wildlife away.

The first of those trips is upcoming on May 11th to Zambia, another upcoming in February, details of which we'll be sharing in tomorrow's post.  Please check back for photos and the exciting details.

May you weekend be filled with peacefulness, pleasure and purpose.
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Photo from one year ago today, April 20, 2017:
Christine and Colin, the fabulous friends we met on a prior cruise who met up with us in Manly, Australia for lunch.  For more details, please click here.

Excellent evening with dinner guests...Heading to Malelane for the first time since our arrival...


Notice this little three point design on this zebra's upper leg.  Each zebra has a unique pattern of stripes.  Each animal has its own unique markings and distinguishable features making it easy to identify repeat visitors.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Tom's favorite Ms. Bushbuck who insists on eating directly out of the pellet container.  She adores Tom and I think he likes her too.  She visits several times each day.
Last night's dinner guests, Gail and Mark, were a total delight.  Their vast experiences in Africa and their amazing story as described in this post combined with our stories of world travel created some interesting and thought-provoking conversation that lasted well into the evening.
Waterbucks along the river.
With all the dinners we've shared with locals, we could easily have dinner guests every week or more.  We can't recall ever having had such a busy social life.  Unfortunately, on occasion, we turn down local events since we need a few quiet evenings at home which we also thoroughly enjoy.

Today, after we've uploaded the post, we're heading to Malelane to pick up our permanent Kruger entrance pass which for some reason ended up at the post office there.  
Female kudus and babies in the yard.
Malelane is about a 40-minute drive from our property in Marloth Park. However, we've decided to make the most of it and do some shopping while there.  Apparently, the stores have a greater selection of items. We'll stop at the larger Spar market to see if we can find a few items we haven't been able to find in Komatipoort.
Big Daddy and zebras seem to get along while munching on pellets.
Also, our friends Kathy explained we can purchase pellets there for a much better price at the Obaro store by asking for the senior discount.  Feeding wildlife can get expensive, especially with the number of visitors we're seeing each day and night.

Its dangerous to hand feed Big Daddy or get too close.  One could easily be seriously injured by being stabbed by these massive antlers, unintentionally, of course.
Daily, we cut up apples, carrots and any scraps from vegetables we're preparing for our meals.  It seems the female kudus love the leaves on bunches of celery although the males turn their noses up at it.  The warthogs prefer pellets and won't eat many carrots or other vegetables.

Lizard crossing the road while we driving in Marloth Park.
Even the finicky Helmeted Guinea Fowl who love the birdseeds we toss out, like the pellets as they peck and peck at them to break them into smaller manageable pieces. 

The zebras, not surprisingly, love apples, carrots. and lettuce.  None of them get enthused about cabbage but will nibble on it if it's available.  Based on my gastrointestinal issues we've been buying lettuce instead of cabbage which doesn't digest as easily.

Baboon in the bush.  Please stay away from our house!
Feeding the animals each day has changed our entire activity level which is great.  In the past, it was easy to sit most of the day, taking a walk at some point.  But now, as we feed the animals, we're on our feet constantly.

Not necessarily a clear photo but this female kudu had her foot stuck in her ear while she scratched and scratched.
Whether we're cutting up vegetables, feeding the visitors, walking through the yard or the neighborhood to see what's transpiring or to follow a sound we've heard, we're much more active than we've been in quite awhile.

While driving in Marloth Park almost daily, we're often out of the car walking on rough terrain to get into better positions to see wildlife and scenery.  This has been good for both of us.
There are so many species of birds in Kruger, we're not always able to identify them.  Any comments on this bird we spotted at the Crocodile River?
It's not as if there's a health club I can join that's less than a 90-minute drive which would be all the way back to Nelspruit where the airport is located.  As much as I'd love to work out at a facility, its just not possible while living in the bush. Instead, we take advantage of every opportunity to be on the move.

Mutton Chops sniffing Scar Face's wounds.
In two more days, on Saturday, we'll be posting information and photos about our exciting upcoming African adventure next February.  We can't wait to share this with all of you!

Have a fabulous day!

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

A night view of a few of the buildings in Circular Quay, Sydney, taken from the Manly Ferry.  For more photos of Sydney, please click here.

Out to lunch with neighbors...Stopped by police for most peculiar reason...Check this out!...


This is the "warning triangle" found inside the case as shown below that, without it, can get a lot of South African drivers in trouble.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"

This is the tiniest warthog we've seen since returning to Marloth Park.  Two females and this piglet stopped by last night.  The baby had already figured out to eat on her knees at such a young age.
Yesterday at noon, our next door neighbors, Rina and Cees picked us up in their bigger-than-ours rental car to drive to the far end of Komatipoort to a resort restaurant for lunch, the Border Country Inn.
On Easter Sunday we dined there with Louise and Danie and the food had been quite good.  Yesterday, it was mediocre but that won't prevent us from returning again sometime in the future. 
This is the case that contains the "warning triangle."
Let's face it, in this relatively remote area of South Africa one can't expect gourmet quality food when dining out.  That's why we continue to return to Jabula Lodge & Restaurant where the food is always great, wonderfully consistent and highly predictable.

Rina and I each ordered the chef salad which was good but not exceptional.  Again Tom ordered the T-bone steak ordering it rare this time for a medium finish.  Cees ordered a burger.  The prices are outrageously low as were our expectations but the service was good. 
Another Fish Eagle shot in Kruger.
Rina and Cees insisted on buying us lunch which was totally unnecessary saying we'd invited them for happy hour a few days earlier.  Customarily in Marloth Park, reciprocating shortly after being guests at each other's homes is the norm and we've followed suit accordingly.  

Doing so keeps residents of the park socially active going back and forth to one another's homes for happy hour and/or meals or, in dining out for those who prefer not to entertain in their homes.  In this quiet and peaceful environment, this type of socialization adds a great deal to the pleasure of living in the park.
Muddy wildebeest tucked into the vegetation in Kruger.
After lunch on the return drive to Marloth Park, we encountered several police officers manning some type of a checkpoint.  When asked, Cees promptly handed over his driver's license. 

We all sat still in silent suspense wondering why we'd been stopped.  Tom reached for his wallet to produce our driver's licenses but the three of us weren't asked to produce ID.
The Crocodile River provides a wide array of marshes, swamps, and waterways suitable for wildlife.
None of us had our passports with us.  We're seldom asked to present our passports in South Africa, except most recently when I had blood tests, when purchasing SIM or data cards or when picking something up from the post office or other government facilities.  Fortunately, none of us including Cees was asked to produce a passport. 
Elephant munching on a spikey shrub.
The officer looked something up in his car and returned to our vehicle, asking, "Where is your "warning triangle?" 

We all had a hard time figuring out what he meant...what the heck is a warning triangle? The officer spoke to Cees in a very strong hard-to-understand dialect further confusing all of us.  Finally, Cees was able to figure out what he meant.

Several elephants grazing possibly after a dip in the water hole.
The officer was referring to a reflective warning triangle as shown in today's photos, supposedly to be used in the event a vehicle was stopped for an emergency on the highway such as a tire change, accident, vehicle breakdown or other such incidents.

Cees and the officer went through the rental car's trunk searching for the triangle.  Alas, it was found much to all of our relief.  Failure to have such a device in a vehicle results in a fine of ZAR 500, (US $41.72) as described in this post.
Mom and baby elephant behind a bush.
Finally, after about 10 minutes, we were back on our way.  Luckily, Cees was driving within the speed limits and there were no other issues.  Off we went, anxious to get back to peace and comfort of Marloth Park.

We stopped to allow a few giraffes to cross the paved road in Kruger.  This is a common occurrence in Marloth Park as well when they cross Oliphant (the main paved road). 
At home by 3:00 pm, we got back to work on a new heart-pounding booking we can hardly wait to share with all of you.  It is one of the most exciting events we've booked over the years, comparable in excitement to Antarctica, and fulfilling in content even far beyond our safari in the Masai Mara.

An elephant using a tree to scratch his backside.
We're gathering all the information now and the post, with numerous photos, will be presented on Saturday, a mere three days from today.  Yep, I love leaving our readers in suspense and, yep, this could be a lot more exciting to us than to some of you. 

Giraffes and a youngster grazing on a tree.
We think the majority of our readers will be interested in this multi-faceted trip we're planning commencing in February 2019, a mere 10 months from now.

Tonight, our new friends Gail and Mark Fox, are coming for dinner, whose fascinating story we shared last month, found at this link.  If you haven't had an opportunity, check out this heart-wrenching and heartwarming story.

Kruger National Park is rife with sources of water accessible to a variety of wildlife.
Please check back daily to see what's new as we continue to search for the unique and enticing.

Have a very special day!
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Photo from one year ago today, April 18, 2017:
Prices in Manly, Australia were high at the fishmongers, for example, the fish Tom caught in the ocean while fishing in the Huon Valley, Flathead Fillets, are selling for AU $46.90, US $35.44 for one kilo, (2.2 pounds).  We prefer not to eat farmed fish this avoiding this pricey farmed salmon for AU $39.90, US $30.16 per one kilo.  For more details, please click here.

Health updates...Doctor appointment in Komatipoort, South Africa...

A giraffe against a blue sky in Kruger National Park.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
A goose looking up at the sky while sitting on a tree stump in the Crocodile River.

Some mornings, when I sit down at the big table on the veranda to begin to prepare the day's post, I'm at a loss for a few minutes.  What can I say and show today that will retain the interest of our readers all over the world?

Many of our readers are from countries where life is very different from our lives and from that which they know.  That fact in itself is sufficient to hold their attention for awhile but, over the long haul?  We hope so!
The marshes along the shore of the Crocodile River.
We never want our readers to grow tired of our stories and photos especially while we're here during this extended period in Africa.  At the very least, every 90 days, we'll be off to other African countries to ensure we can return to South Africa which we're using as a base. 

In only 24 days, we'll be leaving South Africa for Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe as we begin to round out our African experiences while complying with immigration laws.
Rapids on the Crocodile River.  No boats are allowed on this dangerous river, a habitat for crocs.
There's no guaranty we'll be allowed to leave and re-enter so many times in these remaining 10 months but we're hoping to accomplish this lofty plan we set out from the get-go.

In the interim, these 90-day stints in between our travels are filled with such purpose and pleasure that we're beside ourselves with sheer joy.  This morning as I write this at 8:15 am, we've already had two zebras, four bushbucks, four kudus and dozens of Helmeted Guinea Fowl hanging out in the dirt yard in our clear view from the veranda.
Had this branch not been obstructing this elephant she may have charged us when we suddenly came upon her while driving on the paved road in Kruger.
What a spectacular way to start the day!  The first thing I see after heading outdoors after showering and dressing for the day is the wide grin on Tom's face as he looks back at me from his steady stance at the edge of the veranda with the yellow pellet container in his hand, happy, fulfilled and excited to share what he's seen so far. 

He gets outdoors well before me each morning.  I have a tendency to lounge in bed until 7:00 am or so reading the world news on my phone.  Once I'm up I can get ready for the day in no time at all, highly motivated to see what's going on.
Every night, we attempt to take photos of the bushbabies, eating from the cup of yogurt we place on their little stand in a tree.
In our posts, as you long-time readers so well know, we incorporate snippets of a more personal nature.  Some have asked, "Why post such personal matters?"

The answer to this is simple.  There are literally millions of travel related sites on the web, most extolling the virtues and downfalls of various tourist sites to visit throughout the world often while providing valuable information for travelers.
Tom took this photo that makes me laugh...Mutton Chops on the left and Scar Face on the right, already on his knees in prime position for eating pellets.  Of course, we complied.  We love it when these two stop by, often twice in a day.
We're a little different.  We include information about places we've seen and our experiences, good and bad.  However, we include the realities of who we are, also good and bad, what we think and feel and how we relate to each other and the world around us. 

At times, that information is highly personal, information people don't necessarily share even when in a group of close friends.  And, here we are, sharing it with the world.
This bushbuck seems a little large to be nursing.  No doubt, mom will send her on her way to fend for herself.
For example, yesterday, we both had doctor appointments with Dr. Theo in Komatipoort as mentioned in yesterday's post here.  Our intent was to review our immunization records, which we had with us and begin the process of updating some vaccinations sooner rather than later.

Also, I wanted to further discuss my gastrointestinal issues with Dr. Theo since the problems had recently returned after a short-term reprieve.  I was so hopeful during the two-week period where the discomfort was minimal, thinking that perhaps, now that I was off the PPIs (proton pump inhibitors), which have a lot of side effects, things would improve.
These two male zebras are now regulars, visiting every few days.
Alas, they did not.  Over the past few weeks, I've been in terrible discomfort dreading the prospect of having to go to Nelspruit for invasive medical tests.  I'm one of those people who totally freak out having to have invasive tests.  I suppose most people feel the same way but are braver than I.

Dr. Theo examined me again and felt confident that I don't need invasive tests when he suggested I try another medication, an H2 blocker (i.e. Pepsid, Tagamet) which has considerably fewer side effects and may be very helpful for what he considers to be gastritis.  My blood tests results were perfect much to our relief.
Zebra drinking from the pond after eating pellets.
He also suggested some dietary restrictions including foods high in acid, such as coffee, tea, chocolate (don't eat these anyway) and anything carbonated (there go my sparkling water and diet tonic).  I'm busy checking online for highly acidic foods to ensure I avoid them, along with all the other foods and drinks I avoid anyway.

After reviewing our records, he insisted we follow through on several vaccines but only had one available in his office, the rabies vaccine which he injected in both of us.  He wanted us to wait three weeks and return for those that need to be updated, such as typhoid, hepatitis, and a few others he's going to research for us.  I love a doctor who does research rather than sticks to the "old ways' he already knows!
This morning in the bright sunlight, two females and two babies, regular visitors stopped by for pellets.  In the background is Wart Face who can be very bossy around the pellets.  Even the aggressive and territorial guinea fowl are scared of him.
Dr. Theo is expecting improvement for my condition within four to five days.  Once again, I'm hopeful. I took the first pill last night at bedtime and actually had a great night's sleep.  Whether I can attribute this to the medication or not is questionable at this point.

Today, we're heading out to lunch with our new neighbors Rina and Cees from The Netherlands to the same restaurant Louise and Danie had taken us on Easter Sunday, the Border Country Inn.  No doubt, we'll have a pleasant afternoon with our next door neighbors.

May you have a pleasing day with those near you!
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Photo from one year ago today, April 17, 2017:
With the sun shining in Fairlight, Australia, we opened the sliding glass door only to have a visitor come to see what I was cooking.  Three Magpies visit every day to see what morsels we have for the day.  Carnivorous scavengers Magpies are always on the hunt for a tidbit of meat. Please click here for more.