Zebra Day!...Watch our exciting zebra video!!!...It keeps on giving and giving...


This video of yesterday's zebra antics in the garden features the tiniest foals
we've seen to date.

"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
One of the older foals needed a rest.
A few hours ago we returned from our five-hour outing to Kruger National Park.  I'm rushing a bit to get today's post uploaded since the evening adventures begin soon. Tomorrow, we'll be back with some stunning photos which we're excited to share with all new sightings. Please stop by to see!
It started out with just a few but they kept coming to join in on the action in the garden.
Yesterday, we had a steady stream of visitors throughout the day. We were gone for a few hours to shop in Komatipoort but we were anxious to get back and see what surprises were in store for us.
This foal was so young, it seemed a little dazed and confused, never once paying any attention to the pellets and vegetable.
We weren't disappointed.  No more than two minutes after we parked the little car in the driveway they started coming.  Ms. Bushbuck and baby and friend were the first to arrive, followed by a "sounder" of warthogs, many we know, some we did not.
The dazzle consisted mainly of females along with the three youngsters.
While Tom tossed the pellets, I cut up vegetables.  It was only 1600 hrs. (4:00 pm) and we had an inkling it would be a very busy evening in the bush.  How right we were!

The baby's hair was a little curly and fluffy.  Her face was dirty from the dust kicked up during the visit.
Still reeling from the 17 kudus that stopped by for an hour on Monday morning after the tourist traffic in the park had greatly thinned out, our expectations weren't high.
She tried to suckle a few times but mom was more interested in pellets at the moment than in feeding her young.
We had several excellent sightings on the Crocodile River with more wildlife than we could have imagined, surely "safari luck," when the presence of tourists have no bearing on how many animals stop to drink and eat on and near the Crocodile River. 
The gestation period for African zebras is typically 13 months.
After staying busy with the visitors on hand, we heard the thunderous sounds of hooves of zebras as they barreled their way through the dense bush to get to the large open space in our garden, where they all congregate when they stop by.

Leave it to Little Wart Face to get in on the action.  He always seems to be hovering nearby, watching and waiting.
The next door neighbors who periodically stay in their bush home purchased a large bale of hay before leaving for their other home somewhere, leaving it in their driveway for the animals to eat.

Success, a moment of nursing!
(We don't know these neighbors since they only stay for a few days and then depart. We've never made an effort to introduce ourselves nor have they).  We were sad to see the bale of hay which is a breeding ground for bacteria with the animals passing diseases between themselves, especially bovine tuberculosis. 
Zebras tend to stay physically close to one another although they can be feisty when food is offered.
For this reason, we've never considered having one of those at our holiday home, although there was one here, half gone, when we arrived in February.  This was before we knew about bovine TB and other diseases which wildlife can pass amongst themselves when eating the hay bales or from a trough.

This female stood with her nose touching the glass on the little car for at least 10 minutes.  We wondered what that was all about.  She could have been staring at her own reflection.
But, how do you approach a neighbor, especially when we don't know them and, we're "only renters" to tell them not to use a trough, a bale of hay or a mineral block which the wildlife so freely love and share?

This smallest of the foals stayed as close to mom as possible.
First, we noticed the zebras at the neighbor's home totally engrossed in the hay.  From time to time, they'd look our way.  We waiting patiently.  We knew they'd come.  And, they did indeed.
A playful pair.
The most exciting part of their visit was seeing the tiniest zebra we'd seen during this stay in Marloth Park or four and a half years ago when we were here.  No only was there the tiniest foal as shown in the above video and photos but there were two other foals in the "dazzle" of 11 zebras. 
After the play, they cuddled and sniff one another.
Funny thing, as I write this now, a day later, there are three zebras in the garden, all males.  They're now heading over the hay bale along with a half dozen helmeted guinea fowls who followed them.
This female was scratching her nose on the end of the fence.  Zebras often scratch themselves of any available protrusion.
Little Wart Face is the only pig here now and he enjoying any pellets of vegetables the zebras may have missed.  Even the guinea fowl, who find the pellets too large to swallow, peck at them to break them up into smaller pieces.  The competition for pellets is astounding often resulting in head-butting and kicking.
The foal seemed lost and confused.
As an aside, while we stood on the edge of the veranda, one of the zebras bit my shoe when I didn't tender the pellets quickly enough for her liking.  We laughed out loud.  I was glad I was wearing my runners since that bite could definitely have been painful!
The mom and baby were the last to leave when the others had wandered next door to the bale of hay.
Now, that we're back from Kruger, we'll prepare dinner and soon set up the veranda for the evening's entertainment.  Who will it be tonight?  We shall find out soon enough!

Oops!  Gotta go...Wildebeest Willie just showed up!

Have a pleasant day and evening!
_________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, July 19, 2017:
The yellow Costco bag was filled with the remainder of the packages we handled yesterday which included the new portable scanner we ordered when our old unit broke in Minneapolis.  For more photos, please click here.

We're off to Kruger National Park...A sunny day for photos...

We'll be back with a new post in about seven hours.  Please check back then!

Booking for the future...St. Petersburg...Hard to imagine life beyond the bush...


When capturing this hippo and cattle egret in the bright sun from quite a distance, we didn't realize there was a croc in the photo until we loaded the photo on my laptop. 
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
A new warthog visitor with an injured left wart.  It didn't appear to be bleeding or oozing. There are a number of ways this injury could have transpired.  He's since been back a few times in the past two days.
Today, we'd tentatively planned to go to Kruger but when deciding on what to cook for tonight's dinner, I realized a trip to Komatipoort to shop was more important when we were running out of fresh vegetables and other household goods.

Instead, weather permitting, we'll head to Kruger tomorrow after getting a head start on the day's post early in the morning.  That's the magic of this life we lead...we can do whatever we'd like, whenever we'd like and change plans at the last minute if we'd like. 
Mom and baby on the banks of the Crocodile River with the remainder of their parade nearby.
But changing BIG plans in this life presents a number of obstacles, mainly due to money with deposits (or full fares) paid for holiday homes, flights, hotels and cruises we've already booked.

Having control over the smaller daily plans is a wonderful part of being retired and free.  Often, we awake with a plan in mind we'd discussed the prior day or evening, to find ourselves simply "not in the mood" to do what we'd discussed. 
Elephants are frequently found by the river when viewing from Marloth Park.
Fortunately, neither of us minds the other suggestions we change plans for the day, even for no reason at all, if we so choose.  Of course, we don't change social plans we've made with friends, always adhering strictly to the date, time and location.

As we look to the future we realize its imperative we make plans for several time slots and events arising after we leave Kenya in March 2019.  This sounds like a long time away but in fact, it's only a mere eight months from now. 
This giraffe was on the opposite side of the river far from view without zooming in or viewing through Tom's binoculars.
The two of us are always counting on our fingers to figure out how long it is until the next adventure, not because we want the time to fly quickly but more to gain of a perspective of how much time we have left wherever we are at any given time.

Recently, when Tom was perusing CruiseCritic.com which he does quite frequently, he noticed a posting from a booked passenger for the Baltic cruise we'd booked for August 11, 2019, from Amsterdam to Amsterdam on Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas.
Two waterbucks on a sandbar in the river.
The passenger couple was seeking participants for an upcoming two-day tour (not overnight) when in port overnight in St. Petersburg, Russia.  We'll sleep on the ship but head out each of two days for the nine-hour tours both day of the majestic city.

We jumped at the opportunity to participate in the tours which will include a maximum of 16 people which is a whole lot better and less costly than the tours offered by the cruise line. 
A short time later an elephant leisurely walks passed the two waterbucks.
Most cruise-line-arranged tours are on huge buses often with as many at 60 passengers per bus, hardly our cup-of-tea making this smaller group option much more appealing.

We committed to participating in the two-day tour from what appears to be a highly reputable company based on reviews, telling the passenger/organizer to let us know when and how to pay the combined around ZAR 7994 (US $600) plus tips for the tour guide.
Zooming in for this scene with many elephants on the river.
After conducting some of our own research we felt this pricing was reasonable for the two nine-hour tours especially after reviewing the itinerary on the tour company's website here

Here's the itinerary for the St. Petersburg Russia tour:

2-day Deluxe Tour

16 person max or private | 19hrs. with guide and driver | Includes 2 lunches | Very active
Our most popular tour–and the most comprehensive tour at the most competitive price on the Baltic–the 2-day Deluxe Tour in St. Petersburg includes two full days of visits to the most sought-after sites, traditional Russian lunches, and an expert but also a personal presentation of the city. This tour is for those who want to make the most of their two days in St. Petersburg. 

Guided Visits:

Hermitage Museum (Winter Palace) – Enjoy a guided tour of the museum’s most famous halls, including major highlights such as the Jordan Staircase, the Raphael Loggias, the Pavilion Hall with the famous Peacock clock, and many others, along with the world class collection of artworks. Our tour is designed to give you a thorough introduction to truly one of the greatest museums in the world.
Church of our Saviour on the Spilled Blood – The iconic Orthodox church where Alexander II was fatally wounded, the richly decorated exterior and the exquisite mosaic interior are a must-see for any visitor to St. Petersburg. 
St. Isaac’s Cathedral – This is the largest cathedral in St. Petersburg and the fourth largest in the world. This is an awe inspiring structure from outside and from inside. 
Peter & Paul Fortress and Cathedral – First established in 1703, the original timber fortress was one of the first structures erected in the city. This area has since played an important role in the history of the city and the country, not only for its military significance but also as a political prison, as well as the burial site of the Russian Tzars. 
Peterhof Fountain Park and Gardens – The summer residence of Peter the Great, this estate feature meticulously maintained gardens and a collection of gold statued fountains that is unlike anywhere else in the world. The Grand Cascade (the park’s centerpiece) contains 64 fountains alone, with the Samson statue at its center shooting a powerful jet 20 meters into the sky.  
**Catherine’s Palace with Amber Room – This Rococo palace was once the summer residence of the Russian Tzars and represents the peak of imperial opulence. A visit wouldn’t be complete without seeing the Amber Room, which has been completed reconstructed in great detail, some say even more exquisitely than the original.  
Yusupov Palace – Although not of royal lineage, the Yusupov family was exceptionally wealthy and had great influence in Russia. Their residence, seated on the bank of the Moyka River, showcases ornately designed rooms, stairwells, and a stunning private theatre. A visit to the room where Rasputin was murdered is also included on the tour.









































We're excited about seeing all of these venues but also in having this arranged in advance by a generous passenger who's chosen to take on the task or organizing it, instead of trying to figure out tours during the cruise itself when Wi-Fi is sketchy and many of the best options are sold out.  
The mom to the right climbed atop a big rock and the baby tried to follow suit.
In this case, we wouldn't care to venture off on our own, as we often do, taking a taxi or in finding a driver.  Also, it's a great opportunity to meet other passengers we may not have met on this 2500 passenger ship.
Mom and baby crossing the shallow water in the river.
We do realize we need to spend more time fine-tuning our itinerary for 2019-2020 and are conducting some online research now. But, its pretty hard to tear ourselves away from living in the moment, thoroughly treasuring the gifts Mother Nature presents to us each day.
Another mom and baby as they reached the river bank.
May you experience those gifts of nature as well whether it be a bird, a flower, or a sunset.
__________________________________

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

Dust storm gathering in the desert in Las Vegas.  For more photos, please click here.

An outstanding 24-hour period we'll always remember...

 
This morning, we made this video of 17 kudus in the garden.  Astounding!

"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"

We spotted two rangers on the road with rifles.  We wondered what that was about.  Any comments?

Yesterday was quite a day!  With many of the holidaymakers leaving on Sunday due to the end of the school holiday, the wildlife literally came out from hiding in the parklands.
This morning's 17 kudus in the garden.  See the above video for details.
Not only did we have visitors from early morning well into the evening, at dusk last night spotted three giraffes in the side yard, after hearing the sounds of branches breaking as they made their way through the bush. When we saw the heads of the giraffes through the dense bush, we took off on foot to check it out.
The kudu standing at the edge of the veranda is the same female that always licks my foot when she approaches.  I can identify her with a little oval notch in her right ear.
We found what appeared to be a mom, dad, and one youngster, most likely around eight or nine months old.  We followed them through the neighbor's garden (no one was there) and out to the parklands where we stopped to take photos while they were grazing.
Wildebeest Willie and friends stopped by again last night.
The parents didn't look happy to see us although we were back by at least 10 meters, so we backed off further giving them even more space.  It was getting late and visibility was poor from such a distance as we stayed out of sight as much as possible, taking the few photos as shown here today.
Although not all shown in this photo, for the first time, we had six bushbucks in the garden at one time.
Soon, we were back on the veranda, ready for the evening's activities all of which couldn't have been more pleasing.  They came and came and came, one species after another, often sharing the space with several other species, seem to all be getting along.
Last night, we saw giraffes coming through the parklands next to us.  On foot, we rushed to see them up close to take photos.  But, dad wasn't too happy with us with his young calf nearby.  We carefully backed away.
It's not unusual to see some head-butting among same species, let alone among two or more species when pellets are offered.  Overall, the most aggression we've seen is in warthogs amongst themselves.  After all, they are "pigs," right?

This may have been the young giraffe's mom who hovered nearby.
Yesterday afternoon, we embarked on our usual drive in the park and although not effected by the number of tourists in Marloth Park, we saw the most amazing scenes to date on the Crocodile River, photos of which will follow over the next few days.
We knew better than to get too close.
Was all of this "safari luck" or simply a case of the fact that there were fewer people in the park, resulting in more and more wildlife coming out of hiding to wander from bush house to bush house?  We can't help but assume it was due to fewer cars and fewer people around disturbing the peaceful flow of life in the bush.
It was nearly dark when they visited.
The quiet has resumed.  We don't hear cars passing on the road very often.  The tar road is quiet and unencumbered and, fewer animals will be killed by speeding motorists.  How long this quiet lasts is unpredictable.  More tourists will be arriving over this next month for the summer school holidays in Europe and other parts of the world.
The young giraffe was preoccupied munching on leaves in the bush.
But, for now, we're reveling in the quietude precipitating the return of the wildlife to our garden.  It couldn't be more heavenly.  Even the birds seem happier, singing their tunes and dining on seeds from our birdfeeder.
For today?  We may stay put and catch up on some much needed research to begin filling gaps in our itinerary over the next few years. There's never a time that we can totally sit back knowing everything we need to plan is in place.
A young zebra in the garden of a house on the river road.
Weather permitting, tomorrow, we'll head to Kruger for the day.  If so, we'll post a notice as to when we expect to have the day's post uploaded, unless I get ambitious enough today to work on tomorrow's post this afternoon.
This must have been the above baby's mom resting nearby.
Of course, that's subject to how many delightful distractions present themselves throughout the day.  We'll play it by ear, as they say.

Have a pleasant day filled with wonderful surprises.
______________________________________

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

Surprisingly, there are some birds in the desert during the scorching heat of the summer months in Nevada78.  For more photos, please click here.


Female lion sighting from the fence...A short reprieve in the commotion...

 
There were other lions in this pride but they were all lying down in the bush making it difficult to get a photo.  We both were thrilled Tom captured this photo.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Zebras in the bush with an ostrich in the background.
As mentioned in yesterday's post here, we'd seen a post on Saturday in the Marloth Park Sighting page on Facebook that lions had been sighted at the "Two Trees" overlook.

Planning to head directly to the fundraiser at the Henk Van Rooyan Park, we didn't hesitate to make a rapid change in plans to head to Two Trees to see what we could find.  An hour had passed since the sighting was posted and we suspected the lions could be long gone.
Once Tom spotted this female lion through his binoculars he grabbed the camera to zoom in as shown in the above mail photo.
One might think, head to the location, look through binoculars and the lions could be spotted.  It's not that easy.  Like us, many others had gathered at the location and with the utmost of frustration couldn't quite get the distant scene in their scope or viewfinder.

After trying for almost a half hour with no luck, we headed to the fair at the park, deciding we might give it another try after we were done there.  We were in and out of the fair in less than 30 minutes, with both of us chomping at the bit to return to Two Trees to give it another try.
Female ostrich checking us out as we drove by.
This time, we were in luck.  Tom, with much better distance vision than I, found them in no time but wasn't able to get a decent photo of the pride hidden in the bush and tall grass.  However, he was able to hold steady enough at the long distance to capture these two photos of a female lion while leaning on the car door for stability.

We always say we're going to bring our tripod but invariably we don't, considering the fact that most photos we take while on one of our regular drives are taken from inside the little car.  A tripod would be of little use.
Elephants at the river. 
It was obvious the female was on the hunt as she unsuccessfully chased a warthog and impala while we watched.  Unless a photographer is willing to maintain a position with a tripod for hours, its pure luck to get a shot or video of a lion mounting an attack. 

While in the Masai Mara in 2013, we witnessed several kills but in Kruger, we've yet to see one.  It all has to do with being in the right place at the right time.  Perhaps when we're back in the Masai Mara in February, we'll have many more opportunities when on safari for several hours each day, most of which is done off-road.
It's always a pleasure to see a mom and baby elephant.
In Kruger neither the public, engaged in a self-drive or with a safari guide, aren't allowed to drive off-road.  There are plenty of dirt roads and the one main paved road but when you think about it, to spot wildlife near the road is more of a fluke than anything.

Fortunately, many visitors to Kruger have that good luck from time to time having the opportunity to see nature at its finest.  With all the wonderful and unique sightings we've had in Kruger, we have no complaints.  We're hoping to return to Kruger this week, now that this first round of tourists has left.
Zebras on the move on the tar road.
Speaking of tourists leaving.  Yesterday was the last Sunday or the South African "school holidays."  The kids return to school today.  Well, just as expected, the wildlife began returning to see us last night around 17:00 hrs. (5:00 pm) and did they ever!

Once again, we had one of those special evenings where we had no less than eight species coming and going throughout the evening including about 60 guinea fowl; Frank (Francolin) and the Mrs.; no less than 10 warthogs, including Little Wart Face, Tusker, Mom and Babies and several whom we didn't know; eight female kudus; three bushbucks including Tom's "My Girl"; four wildebeest including Wildebeest Willie; the often visiting Mr. and Mrs. Duiker; and of course our noisy frog Loud Mouth.
A good sized herd of cape buffaloes.
This morning some of the above were back along with many others.  Each hour since we've been outdoors this morning on this very cool day, we've had visitors.  It's exciting to have our wildlife friends returning.

But, the reality remains that although the South Africa school holidays have ended, school holidays in Europe continue until mid-August and by mid-week, there will more tourists arriving in Marloth Park, with more of the precious wildlife being killed by speeding motorists on Oliphant Drive. 
The edges of the elephant's ears get nicked over the years from a variety of hazards.
So far over these past school holidays, 13 animals have been killed on the road.  No doubt, animals do dart out onto the roads but if drivers are extra cautious, deaths can be averted.

Also, we hear stories of tourists feed the wildlife leftover "human" food, potato chips, pizza and even marshmallows.  Of course, animals will eat any of these tasty and sweet human foods.  But, they do not have the enzymes in their digestive tracts to digest such foods and can become ill and perish.
These elephants were so close to the Marloth Park side of the fence, we didn't have to zoom in.
Sadly, some people don't consider this or care to learn what is appropriate to feed the animals; mainly pellets and certain vegetables.  Most fruits don't contain enough nutritional value to provide them with any sustenance.

Right now, as we close for today, Tom is in the driveway with a long telescopic pole chasing away the monkeys who continue to pester us and the visiting wildlife.  They're always on the search for food including stealing birdseed out of our birdfeeder. 
They congregate near one another especially when there are youngsters.
If monkey and baboons weren't so destructive we'd feed them too.  But, this practice never makes sense when they can tear apart a house in a matter of minutes and are very crafty in getting indoors.

Today, we'll embark on one of our usual drives, hoping that soon the clouds will dissipate allowing for a warmer and sunnier day.  (If rain was in the forecast, we'd welcome the clouds!)

May you have a warm and sunny day!
______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, July 15, 2017:
Segura Cactus in Las Vegas, one year ago.  For more Las Vegas photos, please click here.