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4. Daily Life, Klaserie, South Africa, 9/2/2018

So far, every day has been different and full of new experiences, sightings, and surprises - like this Spotted Bush Snake (Philothamnus semivariegatus) that appeared in the car this afternoon:

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First it poked its head out of the side panel,
then it crawled onto the side-view mirror.

Now the snake is in the garden and everybody is happier.

Despite the daily surprises, a few patterns are emerging, like the call of the Black-collared Barbet, one of the first sounds we hear each morning:

Black-collared Barbet; photo from

Most mornings begin with coffee and some casual backyard birding. Jan and Nyeleti’s yard faces northeast, generally towards the equator, like our south-facing yard in New Hampshire.

Our morning hangout spot

At any given time, there can be as many as six or more bird species hanging out on the ground near the bird bath and in the shrubs and trees surrounding the yard. Typical are the Dark-capped Bulbul, Green-winged Pytilia, African Firefinch, Kurrichane Thrush, Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, and Yellow-fronted Canary, though many more come through on a daily basis.

The first birds we learned and some of the most frequent visitors are the Blue Waxbills – they often come in pairs and hangout at the bird bath.

A Blue Waxbill at the bird bath.
They usually arrive in pairs - where's your partner, little one?

Each day, the local herders take their cattle out to the scrubland to graze. Jan, Nyeleti, and Rhandzu's dog Yizzie likes to show them who’s boss:

And of course, we’re surrounded by beautiful subtropical plants, like this Acacia (Vachellia xanthophloea – formerly in the genus Acacia) nicknamed the “fever tree” because it tends to grow in areas where malaria is found:

The "fever tree" - lookout for malaria when in areas where it grows.

And these striking aloe plants:



Another less enjoyable aspect of life is the near daily contact with Qatar Airways trying to get confirmation that they are processing my “request for compensation form” for my lost (but thankfully now found!) luggage. I trust that eventually this task will be eliminated from my daily “to do” list.

How soon is the soonest?

The scenery around here is stunning – I’ll feature photos and descriptions in an upcoming blog. For the most part, we need to drive to get the full impact of the landscape, but we do get to see these views on a daily basis when we take our run or walk down the road.

Most days we run or walk along this section of road.

The mountains in the distance are the Drakensberg, and on the other side of the ridge is the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve – we’ll definitely be sharing some photos of that canyon!

Within just a few kilometers are other game reserves and natural areas that include all of the African megafauna I’ve always dreamed I would see. It’s not unusual while driving down the road to see Giraffe, Zebra, Baboons, Impala, Nyala. Less typical to see, but surrounding us as well are Rhinos, Elephants, Cheetahs, Leopards, Lions. In fact, Jan and Nyeleti heard a lion roaring just three nights ago from their bedroom as they were turning in for the night.

One of our favorite aspects of daily life is the food! We (well, mostly April) have been cooking some meals, but our friend Claudia couldn’t have been more right when she told us that Nyeleti’s cooking is amazing. All I can say is “wow!”

Sweet potato, spinach, beet salad, chicken, yummy beans, rice, aloo gobi.

In the evenings we often watch the South African news (very eye opening, and certainly puts into perspective some of our problems back in the States), cricket, or rugby. Amazingly, just the other night the local news covered most of the Aretha Franklin funeral. She was beloved here.

We have many more landscape and wildlife photos and videos to share, but I’m saving them for some soon-to-be-posted blogs. Until then…

Cattle heading home for the day - where's Yizzie?!
(note the barbet calling near the end of this clip)