Safari luck sighting in the yard...Nature at its finest....


She'd nibble on the pellets but we never saw him take a single bite.  He was more interested in her than he was in snacking.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"

A female bushbuck climbs the pile of dirt for next door's construction project.
Today's entire post revolves around what could be considered the "Sighting of the Day in the Bush" since the experience is worthy of more than one photo under the daily feature photo.  We're enthralled with the babies of many species of wildlife in the park.  And, we gasp in wonder over the enormous antlers of a mature, perhaps senior, kudu who visit from time to time.
Both this female and male bushbuck had been in an out of our yard for days. 
We've stumbled across only a few opportunities to witness, first hand, the creation of life when the mating process isn't necessarily easily observed in the open in front of human onlookers. 
Ironically, the prior day we'd mentioned how interesting it would be to see more wildlife mating before our eyes.
It isn't as if wildlife prefers privacy during the act, per se.  Most likely it's just a matter of us humans being at the right place at the right time, to see how procreation occurs in the wild.
He made a number of seeming unsuccessful attempt but finally, nature took its course.
We were amazed to see lions mating while on safari in the Masai Mara as shown in this photo below.  Also, here's the link for that sighting.

 Anderson, our guide explained this process could go on for hours.  We'd anticipated he might bite her, growl or be aggressive in some manner. But, he quietly and gently pursued her, an exquisite sight to behold. 

Then, in 2016 while living on an alpaca farm in New Plymouth, New Zealand for three months, we had the opportunity to witness the supervised mating ritual as shown in this link (with a video) and also the below photo:
Trish and Neil, owners of the alpaca farm, as they oversee the mating to ensure all is going well.  The macho (the male) is wearing a harness used to bring him to the mating pen.
We'd considered including "for adult eyes only" in the heading of today's post.  Most certainly, we prefer not to suggest what is appropriate viewing material for your children or grandchildren who may on occasion see our posts.
He often kept his eyes on us and was very skittish if we stood from our chairs on the veranda.
We find all aspects of nature and the life cycles of wildlife a true miracle. Each of us can learn from all aspects of nature from conception to birth, from mammals on the hunt and subsequently eating their prey or to finding the carcass of an elephant in the savanna who died of old age, injury or illness.
She was still eyeballing the pellets while continued in the act.
Yesterday, we stopped everything we were doing to embrace the relationship and behavior of these two stunning animals.  Bushbucks are one of the most beautiful creatures in the antelope family that we've seen in Africa.  Their special markings make them stand out amongst the others.
Graciously, he stopped now and then and let her get back to her pellets and apples we placed on the ground earlier.
After over an hour of observing the handsome couple, they wandered off into the bush to continue the mating process away from our prying eyes.  Oddly, the male never once took a bite of the fresh veggies or pellets. He was focused on ensuring their safety, keeping a tense lookout whenever they were apart and of course, mating with this female.
He was patient but stayed close to her.
In the early evening, we set up the camera on the tripod with a chair nearby to quietly observe; the handheld camera at close proximity; the new bright light to illuminate the yard and; containers of cut apples, vegetables, and pellets for our now nightly ritual of watching for nocturnal visitors.
Awhile later, they wandered off into the dense bush for more activity.  Surely, it must have been a successful day.
Surprisingly, the bright light doesn't seem to keep wildlife away.  We're accumulating, sorting and choosing photos we'll be sharing here soon.  Please check back frequently to see what we've discovered in the dark of night.
This is the baby bushbuck we'd shown a few weeks ago who returned with mom (she was nearby eating veggies and pellets we'd put out) who'd grown so much.  Please click this link to see the baby only a few weeks ago here.
Tonight is the "blue moon," the second full moon in the month of March.  We hope you have an opportunity to revel in its glory and enjoy the meaning and purpose of this holiday weekend of Easter and Passover. 
The baby bushbuck has yet to show any interest in pellets of vegetables, instead waiting in the bush while mom devoured everything we'd put out.
May God's blessings (or your chosen higher power or beliefs) grace you this season and always.
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Photo from one year ago today, March 31, 2017:
There are hundreds of sailboats and motor boats in the  Clontarf Marina in Sydney, Australia.  Construction was in process at the time as shown to the left but didn't seem to impede any of the activities  For more photos, please click here.

Night out at a a local pub's pool tournament...Fun with new friends...


We couldn't believe how "cheap" the drinks are at Watergat.  The total cost for a beer for Tom and glass of white wine for me ZAR 38, (US $3.21). 
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
On the way to the petrol station...
When Sandra and Paul stopped by a week ago Wednesday for happy hour, they told us about a weekly event in Marloth Park...the pool playing tournament that begins at 5:30 pm at the Watergat Restaurant in the Marlothi Shopping Center.

Watergat is a pub/casual dining establishment known more for its social gatherings and pub atmosphere than as a popular dining establishment.  The food is good, not great.  With few restaurants directly in Marloth Park, those diners hankering for a convenient dinner out often go to Jabula as their first choice due to a fun atmosphere and great food.
Tom was intently listening to the conversation at our table.
Phumala, a more quiet establishment with a nice bar and plenty of seating area with good, not great food; Watergat, as mentioned above and the Tin Shak (we've never tried this one). 

Another restaurant we've yet to try during this stay in the park is Marloth Park Amazing River View located directly on the Crocodile River which we'd tried four years ago and found the food acceptable, the location, exquisite.
Sandra, and husband Paul, who live two doors from us, is a Marloth Park Honorary Ranger and now have become friends after we met at snake school.
All of these restaurants have a good bar area for socializing after a busy day for happy hour and often a bite to eat.  There are numerous resorts/lodges in Marloth Park that may on occasion welcome those not staying in their lodges.

On Wednesday evening, we hopped into the little blue car and headed to Watergat to see what the fuss was all about.  We'd touched base with Sandra and Paul who'd planned to meet us there and share a table.  Since they know so many people in the park, it would be a good opportunity for us to meet more locals.
The pool playing competition occurs every Wednesday at 5:30.  Many locals come to socialize while some diehard pool players join the competition.  We're aren't good enough players to participate, but it was fun to be there and mingle.

We ran into several people we'd already met at other functions and the conversations flowed easily.  Not only are Sandra and Paul a lovely couple, full of enthusiasm and energy but they're quick and eager to introduce us to other people.

It didn't take long for us to settle in, order drinks, mingle and also make a definitive decision not to participate in the pool tournament.  We were fine playing pool on a cruise ship giggling and laughing over our blunders, but neither of us has any interest in making fools of ourselves playing against these serious players, many who've played weekly for years.
We saw several people there we'd already met.  In this short period of time, we've begun to feel like we belong.
Not only were most of the players skilled and serious about their game but many brought along their own pool cues, chalk, gloves and other pool playing paraphernalia.  Not thanks.  Not for us.

We have a pool table here in the house and have yet to use it.  Someday we will but for now, being outdoors is more appealing to us than hanging around indoors at the pool table, especially in this hot weather.
Sandra and Paul ordered pizza.
We had a good night.  Our total bill for drinks, food, and tip was ZAR 354 US $29.92.  Where in the world can one dine and drink for such a reasonable price?  Certainly not any country in which we've lived.

With Easter weekend upon us, the park is filled with tourists.  There are more people everywhere so we've decided to stay put over the weekend except for the Marloth Park Easter Fair which we'll attend tomorrow at the tiny Marlothi shopping center. 

Tom ordered chicken schnitzel with chips (fries in this part of the world).  I forgot to take a photo of my chicken salad.  The food was good, not great but we had lots of fun.

There will be plenty of entertainment at this annual event and photos ops we'll especially enjoy sharing on Easter Sunday.  So please check back then.

We'll be back tomorrow with some exciting new photos from last night's adventures in the bush. May all of our family, friends, and readers have a glorious weekend. 
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Photo from one year ago today, March 30, 2017:
While on the Manly Ferry, we were finally able to take a sunny morning photo of Sydney Harbour, a cruise ship, another ferry and Harbour Bay Bridge.  For more photos, please click here.


Tom's first haircut in Marloth Park...Viewing nocturnal wildlife solution...


Tom really needed a haircut as shown in this photo.
"Sighting of the Day in Bush"
These funny francolins make us laugh.  They run like crazy, are very shy and make the loudest noises we've heard in the park.  We toss out seeds for them but then we have to back off or they won't go near them if they see us.
Tom really needed a haircut.  It had been almost three months since his last trip to a barbershop in Buenos Aires where they gave him a beer, (they also offered me one, but I graciously declined) and he received the best haircut he'd had in years.
Tom was seated at the station under these photos.
We always get a kick out of his haircuts in locations all over the world, usually every three months or so and often with an outstanding story to tell.  Yesterday's good cut at the Marloth Park Salon wasn't as story-worthy as many in the past but none the less was worthy of a mention in today's post along with the photos.
This is a booth where customers could have a beverage and wait for their appointment.
Earlier in the day, we headed back to Komatipoort to the pharmacy and hardware store.  We were looking for some type of spotlight we could use to illuminate the yard at night enabling us to take better photos of the visitors that come to call.
The female stylist worked on Tom while the male stylist had fun entertaining a young girl. Locally, the male stylist is called, "Jack, Just Jack."
Plus, right now we're determined to take photos of the bush babies eating the small-sized fruity yogurt cups we've been putting on the tiny stand in a tree as shown in this photo below:
It's not uncommon to see these bush baby platforms in homeowner's trees (such as this one in our yard) for the very purpose of putting out fruit and yogurt for the nocturnal bush babies who are hard to see at night as they fly through the trees.
We weren't home last night (more on that in tomorrow's post) but the prior night for the first time since we arrived, we actually had a chance to see the bush babies eating from the little cup of fruity yogurt. 
The finished product looked best after he washed it and blew it dry.  The cost was ZAR 130 with tip, (US $11.01).
But, it was so dark, we weren't able to get a good photo without using flash which prompted us to consider purchasing some type of spotlight that we can set up for a few hours each night, turning off when we go inside long after dinner.
The entrance to Marloth Park Hair Salon where Tom got his haircut.
Using the spotlight, which we purchased at the hardware store for ZAR 258, (US $21.02) we may be able to get a few photos of visitors at night.  We've don't want to startle the animals with a camera flash but they seem to be fine with spotlights in the yards of our friends in the park.  They're interested in what we have to offer, food-wise and not as concerned as the lighting arrangement.

The little strip mall where Tom got his haircut yesterday.
While on night drives in Kruger National Park, the rangers use spotlights to enable the guests to see the amazing nocturnal animals.  It won't be much different from using the light as shown below for that very purpose:
The spotlight we purchased in Komatipoort for viewing of nocturnal wildlife such as elusive bush babies.
Tonight, we'll be dining on the veranda, as always, anxious to see how our new lantern works to light the way for our nocturnal friends who hopefully stop by.

We hope all of you have a wonderful day and evening as you prepare for Easter or Passover holiday (for those who celebrate).  And may all of you who do not observe these holidays, also have a wonderful day and evening.
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Photo from one year ago today, March 29, 2017:
A sunny day view of a portion of the Sydney skyline.  For more details, please click here.

Protests in Kruger National Park...Easter and school holiday...Burning sugar cane results in ash everywhere...


A hornbill in the bush.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
A lizard-like gecko found on the veranda.
We'd planned to go into Kruger in the next few days but when re realized it's Easter break and many tourists will be coming to the area for holiday and the school break (the equivalent of Spring Break but is fall, not spring here now), we decided to wait until the commotion dies down.
The Crocodile River has been rising due to recent rains.
Also, we'd read online that there are protests at various gates in Kruger which will add to traffic and the very type of commotion we choose to avoid.  We'll be here a year.  We don't have to go now. 

Here's an article we found regarding the protests in Kruger.  Apparently, its peaceful at this point but one never knows.  We feel it makes sense to stay away.
These may be European Mergansers along the banks of the Crocodile River.  Please comment if you know otherwise.
Late yesterday afternoon we drove to Komatipoort for a few items we needed at the market.  We didn't do all of our grocery shopping for the next week since its important for us to shop on Fridays or Saturdays going forward when off, we find they're out of many items we need, mainly in the produce department. 

A baboon in the bush.
New shipments come in on Thursday but often aren't on the shelves until late in the day, making Friday the best day to shop.  By Monday,, most of the produce we use is sold out.  Thus, going forward we've chosen Fridays are our preferred shopping day.  There's no doubt this Friday will be packed with shoppers buying food for Easter weekend.
A solitary waterbuck on the river.
When we returned, the veranda was covered in black soot.  Tom checked around the neighborhood but couldn't find any fires.  Could a neighbor's thatched roof caught on fire?  We didn't smell smoke.  Tom swept the veranda before dinner but only minutes later it was covered in soot again.
Animal footprints in the sand.
Tom had the idea that the soot was a result of the burning of the sugar cane fields, done before the harvest.  This morning, as Marta swept piles of soot in the house, she explained it was in fact from the burning of the sugar cane.  Once again, (duh) Tom was right.
The sunset on our return from Komatipoort last night.
Here is an article regarding the burning of the fields before the harvest.  Also, here is a quote from the article for those who prefer not to follow links:

"Sugarcane field burning is carried out before harvesting the cane to make the process easier and require less manual labor. It takes place during the harvest season.  In the burning process, the field is set fire to and the leaves are burned off of the stalks. About 80% of the “trash,” including straw, the tops, and green and dry leaves, are burned off. These components constitute about 25% of the entire sugar cane stalk. The burning kills microorganisms and burns the trash, both of which keep the soil rich when left in the fields. In place of burning the cane, the leaves could be removed and burned to create steam for electricity generation or be converted into fuel themselves.
The river is looking better but now as we're approaching the dry season.
Whoever thinks of this stuff?  We learn something new each and every day.  So, between Marta, Josiah and us, we'll keep the veranda and house free of soot by sweeping it all away as it comes.
Female waterbuck lounging in the grass along the river.
We have no bigs plans for Easter.  We'll cook one of our favorite recipes as always and enjoy a quiet day in the bush.  On Monday, we're going to Kathy and Don's bush home on the river for Easter fun.  They are returning from their home in Pretoria in a few days and it will be great to have them back in Marloth Park.

Today, is a gorgeous day, sunny and not too hot, a perfect day for another hopefully exciting drive in the park.

May your day be gorgeous and sunny! 
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 Photo from one year ago today, March 28, 2017:

Surfboard shop in Manly Beach, Australia.  For more photos, please click here.

Construction next door...Breaking up the serenity of life in Marloth Park...


A mom warthog and possible aunt showed up last night, shortly before dark with the tiniest baby warthog we've seen since our arrival.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Any comments on this bird's species? I can't seem to find the answer online.
It's a good thing we aren't here for only a one or two week holiday.  The noise, dust, and disturbances as a result of the construction next door would have ruined an entire time away for most tourists.

Four years ago, the homes we rented were well secluded from other properties and although sound travels through the bush, we rarely heard a thing.  Now in this area, there are a few houses we can see from the veranda which in essence wouldn't bother us a bit.

We didn't recall seeing a warthog this tiny since this post in Kenya in 2013. when a mom placed her babies in a hole to protect them from lions that were in place for the kill.
The benefits of a lot of wildlife stopping by to see us certainly outweighs the annoyances of the daily noise and commotion which should be over with a few weeks.  But now, it appears the neighbor or the other side of us just had a pile of materials delivered and soon, they'll start up also.

With all the workers around all day, less wildlife stops by.  But the workday usually ends by 3:00 or 4:00 pm and once again, magic happens and visitors grace us with their presence within an hour or two.
It was surprising to us to see how adept the baby was at eating pellets.  It may have been less than a few weeks old.
Last night was no exception.  Now, that we've adopted "happy hour" into our lives several evenings a week, where I have a maximum of two wine spritzers (no sugar added) and Tom has a few beers while dining outdoors every night, this routine has become quite enjoyable.

We close our laptops and put away our phones; no media, no distractions, just the pure pleasure of watching nature unfold before our eyes while engaging in the playful idle chatter that has become so "us" over the years.

From time to time, the baby would wander off a bit but a single grunt from mom and he came running back to her.
With the activity before us, we're constantly busy.  Now that we've got birdseed, apples, and a veggie scrap container, we're often rushing from outdoors to indoors to cut up another apple or carrot, refill the red plastic cup with birdseed or the yellow plastic container with pellets. 

We keep the birdseed in the chest freezer which has proven to be quite a handy addition to our daily lives.  We keep the birdseed in the freezer to avoid getting more insects inside the house.  The fruit and veggies are kept refrigerated to ensure freshness and safety for the animals and to keep the ants away.
The kudus weren't standing together so we couldn't get a photo of all 11.
Last night was a classic example of the perfect evening.  Not only did we see the tiniest baby warthog we've ever seen but we had the rousing interaction between guinea fowls and francolins reacting to one another while clamoring for the seeds we tossed onto the ground.  It was definitely a laugh fest for us and seemingly fun for them.

Then came a "forkl" of kudu (yep, that's their collective noun) for a total of 11 females, including a few youngsters. We'd seen this forkl in the past and they seemed happy to see us, nibbling on cut up apples and carrots fed from my hand and handfuls of pellets tossed to the ground.

There's one particular female kudu who's come to know me and she gently nudges my hand for more, looking directly into my eyes.  Often, people underestimate the power of communication between wildlife and humans.  Sure, some are dangerous and one must steer clear. 

It was almost dark but this kudu approached me for a handout.
For example, I'd never feed a male kudu from my hand.  His huge antlers could inadvertently cause great harm.  We always keep a safe distance.  Also, we don't hand feed warthogs.  Their razor-sharp tusks are deadly and they aren't particularly gentle like female kudu and bushbucks. 

Not long ago we posted a video of a warthog tossing a mongoose into the air, which can be seen here if you missed it.  This split second action appears about halfway through the short video.

We're learning so much.  Our hearts are filled with respect and admiration for the gifts Mother Nature, God or whichever belief you may possess (or not) bestowed upon us lucky humanoids.  It's undoubtedly our responsibility to honor and revere all species on this earth, both human and animal.
Most of the time mom and baby stayed close to one another.
As much as we have definitive opinions on conservation, we won't get into the "politics" of this sensitive subject.  Surely, most of our readers can easily imagine where we stand on this topic based on our passion for wildlife. 

But, here, we choose to avoid highly charged politically motivated topics while we maintain the integrity of living life on the move, especially referring to our motto as shown on our homepage which reads: "Wafting Through Our Worldwide Travels with Ease, Joy and Simplicity."

"Mom, I need a drink after all those dry pellets."
As a result, we choose to ignore the noise and commotion of the construction the best way we can during this off-season in Marloth Park when homeowners have work done on their holiday rentals.  We'll strive to maintain the positivity we find adds so much quality to our lives.

May your day consist of ease, joy, and simplicity.
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Photo from one year ago today, March 27, 2017:
Bob, our kindly landlord and a new friend had insisted on driving us to see some of the sights in the area including the beautiful historic St. Patrick's Estate.  For more photos, please click here.