The excitement never ends... More surprising visitors... Like none before... Three days until road trip! Plus Big Boy and birds...


Grasshopper video #1
 
Grasshopper video #2

Here are four videos we made yesterday, while observing grasshopper behavior, as dozens walked along the ground from one tree to another on a ritual we found interesting.  
 
Watching them up close over a period of several hours was yet another experience of life in Marloth Park, its wonders never ceasing to amaze us.  For the full progression of their hour's long journey, please watch the videos in order as shown by the numbers in each heading.
 
Grasshopper video #3


Grasshopper video #4

This grasshopper appeared to be the leader as dozens followed his lead.
Every morning, after showered and dressed for the day, swathed in insect repellent (been doing this every day for the past 4 1/2 months), we open the door to step outside.
As the dozens of Grasshopper began their trek across the driveway.
With the intent of determining if sitting outdoors is imminent or better later in the day, we discuss the conditions:  

They marched in two groups.
How is the weather?  It rains every few days saturating everything on the veranda. If the wind is blowing, we'll get wet.  Visitors don't seem to come when it's raining.
The bigger pieces of cabbage had a greater appeal to them.
How bad are the flies?  The amount of flies is predicated by how many visitors we've had and how much poop was left behind.  But, oddly some days they aren't bad.  Yesterday, we purchased a fancy hanging fly trap to be placed far from the house.  Don't think it's working yet.
Finally, they reached the larger pieces of cabbage and began eating.
How hot is it?  When it's above 90F, 32C, coupled with the high humidity, (the Crocodile River is a stone's throw) it's uncomfortable to sit outside, although on many occasions at very high temperatures, we've lasted from 8:00 am until 2:00 pm, drinking copious amounts of water and batting off the flies.
Five Helmeted Guinea Fowls, whom we hadn't seen in a month, returned to our yard with these three chicks in tow.  Now, we know why we hadn't seen them for so long.  They were hanging out near the grasshoppers, but didn't seem interested in them.
The chicks were so young, they had trouble walking, falling over at times.  Very cute!
The chicks were tentative, hanging close to mom and dad.  Helmeted Guinea Fowls mate for life and the dads take an active role in the upbringing of their offspring, unlike many animals we've seen in Marloth Park.
Most days, we start the day outside as early as 7:00 am, Tom hauls all of our power cords, converters and adapters to the outdoor outlet and both of us haul laptops, phones, camera, pellets and beverages. (The big bags of pellets must stay inside the house due to the monkeys).  Most days, nine out of ten, we stay outside all day.  
The grasshoppers had reached their destination after eating the cabbage, the vines of the
shrub at the base of the second tree, approximately 20 feet, 6 meters.
It's ironic.  As much as I complained about spending every day outside in the "outdoor living room" in Kenya, we now are outside almost all day without complaining, just dealing with the natural realities of living in the bush.  The good so much outweighs the annoyances, it is all worth it.
They marched on and on moving up the plant, the second group following suit.
The remaining days, such as today, we start the day indoors. It's very hot, humid and the flies are in a frenzy.  Looking out the window for visitors every 10 minutes, always wearing my shoes and socks, camera within reach, I can be outside in less than a minute.

Many days, we jump in the car to drive around looking for wildlife or head to the Crocodile River to check out any possible adventures awaiting us there. 
We're seldom disappointed. Whether it's another impala in the bush, a common sight to see or a turtle crossing the road, we love it all.

Yesterday, was one of those days with few visitors. An elusive duiker dashed through the yard, a few interesting birds alighted on the trees, but dashed away before I could take a photo and later in the day, "Big Boy," (see photo below) the biggest, oldest warthog we've seen so far arrived late in the day with his submissive smaller buddy.  
"Big Boy" came to visit while we were making videos of the grasshoppers. He's the oldest and largest warthog with the biggest tusks that we've seen so far.  He often visits alone and shows little interest in the pellets.  Also, he's shy around us, thus we keep our distance.  He may weigh upwards of 350 pounds, 158 kg.  
But midday, we had a new breed of visitors, the grasshoppers, as shown here today. We couldn't have been more fascinated.  We realize that not all of our readers are as enthralled with the smallest of creatures, especially insects so please bear with us. 
Not unlike human males, Big Boy's hair is thinning on top.
As we've learned more and more about all of the creatures in Mother Nature's wonderland, we've found that learning new information as a senior is vital to stimulating the brain and the senses.  Our memories are better than ever in our lives from all of the "stimulation" from our environment.  That's a good thing.
The grasshoppers made their way up the second tree after munching on the shrub below. They rested on the bark for a few hours. A few minutes before dark, we checked and they were gone.  I could hear them moving inside the tree. We figured that, most likely, the cabbage drew them out as well as the birth of the nymphs, who were mature enough to venture outside the tree.
Yesterday, when Tom spotted the large number of grasshoppers in the driveway, we immediately went on a mission to discover what we could about their behavior from multiple websites.  Surprisingly, there wasn't a lot of information about these grasshoppers, none of which explained their behavior in detail.
The Helmeted Guinea Fowl and their chicks headed to the rear yard where they seem to enter and depart.
We can only surmise, that the trek across the driveway on foot, leaving their offspring referred as "nymphs" behind, was to forage for food.  Firstly, they ate portions of the cabbage leaves we'd left on the driveway and secondly, they ate the leaves on a shrub at the base of another tree.
Yesterday was a busy bird day.
Watching their journey, all on foot, was fascinating, eliciting absolutely no fear by either of us, in the close proximity of 60, 70 or more insects at one time, nor were they fearful of us as shown in these photos.

After seemingly staying in place for over two hours, we ventured indoors for the night.  Before dark, we checked and every last one was gone.  But, after hearing sound coming from the second tree, it was apparent they were inside the tree, moving about. Wow! Nature never fails to surprise us.

In three days we'll leave for Blyde River Canyon  where we'll stay at the Blyde River Canyon Lodge three nights, spending each day exploring the many wonders of the Panorama Route.  With many tourists having left after the holiday season, we'll especially enjoy the lack of crowds. Of course, we'll share photos and stories of our experiences at the end of each day.
Could it be due to the presence of the grasshoppers that the yard was filled with birds all day?
This is a White Helmet Shrike, common in the yard.
Halfway on the five hour drive, we'll travel through Kruger National Park, hopefully with many sighting along the way.  The size of the park from north to south, the direction we'll be traveling, is 220 miles, 360 km long.  Although, we'll be exiting the park partway through to enter the Panorama Route, we expect to be in the park for several hours.  

Tonight, we're going out to dinner once again to our favorite local restaurant Jabula Lodge, where owners Dawn and Leon, always make us feel at home. It's a friendly place with great food, affordable prices and a wealth of local ambiance.

Whether we stay indoors on a hot day, dine in or out, see lots of amazing animals or insects, we're content, never bored or antsy, happy to be healthy and most of all, to be living this life together.

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