Don’t blame Donald

Some of the adjectives used to describe Donald Trump in the lead up (and now aftermath) of the US Election have been… “choice”, shall we say?

But what if there was a hidden side to President Elect Trump?
What if his seemingly angry, outward persona is merely as a result of deep, lasting trauma?

I’m certainly not saying that the manifestation of that persona is excusable, merely that it might be more understandable if we could pin it on some difficult experience he had suffered.

I’m talking about this photo, obviously.


This is the side of Donald Trump that no-one has ever seen. This is the moment that has scarred him for life. See how he tries to pose for the cameras, tries to appear cool, attempting to grasp a probably-wriggling beagle.
See how it refuses to look anything but profoundly disappointed.
See how it has (almost certainly) chewed something important of his.

This isn’t behaviour specific to its proximity to Donald Trump.
We’ve all been there.

And these things can affect a man. I don’t profess to wanting to build a big wall or have individuals of a certain religion removed from my presence. And I’m certainly not defending those views. Not at all.

I’m merely suggesting that being near a beagle can change a person.
And not in a good way.

Those commentators concerned over Trump’s new democratically-given access to the “Big Red Button” controlling America’s significant nuclear arsenal (and the implications thereof) would do well to glance to the bottom right of the image above and the wide selection of baseball bats. None of which he has used on the beagle. This sort of evidence of extreme restraint will obviously come as some comfort to you hysterical individuals.

Like it or not (and I suspect I could likely gauge the majority public response from my readers) Donald Trump is the new POTUS.

But don’t ever be fooled: the beagles are still in charge.


See if you can work out exactly where on my beagle walk this morning I managed to actually tread directly on a Puff Adder (Bitis arietans)…

Yeah, I know that the snake in question had no intention of following me, but you don’t think about that when you’ve just stepped on “the most dangerous snake in Africa*”.

I was happily walking along the beach in Suiderstrand, on the little slope that comes down from the rocky outcrop on the way back from Piet se Punt. You know the one. It – the snake – was more than half hidden in a bush at the right hand side of the path, and I was looking at some fighting Bulbuls over my left shoulder. Next thing, as I stop looking at the ruckus behind me, and turn to face forwards once again – the traditional direction for walking, generally – I look down to see the side my right foot slide off the side of a phat puffy. Think of half stepping on a firm, heavy pool noodle.
And then I legged it.

Your questions answered:

Are you sure it was a Puff Adder?
Yes, 100%. We see a lot of them in Agulhas – 4 this weekend alone, and we were only there for 24 hours. Stunning animals.
Also: I actually trod on it, so I got a good, close-up, extremely brief look at it.

Why didn’t it strike?
I have absolutely no idea. I think I was very lucky.
I was. I was very lucky.

Why did you run?
Pure adrenaline. I did 50+ metres at Usain Bolt pace. On sand.
I know that the puffies don’t chase you, but my brain wouldn’t let me remember that until I was (with hindsight) a frankly ridiculously safe distance away.

What was the state of your underwear after the incident?
No comment.

So. A somewhat fortuitous escape. But wildlife, ne? It’s wild.

Additional FAQ:

What was the beagle’s reaction to all this?
The beagle was about 20 metres ahead of me at the time, so had walked right past the snake without noticing. The beagle was wholly uninterested in my blind panic and swearing as there was stuff to sniff and explore.

Why did the snake not move as you approached?
Two reasons, I think. One, it was a puff adder and they really can’t be arsed. And two, looking back now, I was coming from downwind of the snake, walking into a strong south-easter.


* Snake people can discuss amongst themselves

Dead penguins

I have not one, not even two, but THREE dead penguin stories for you today.
Now there’s something that other blogs never give you. (I would imagine, anyway.)

First off: Penguins killed by Penguin Malaria.

Yes, sad news, but avian malaria – causal agent Plasmodium relictum, and spread  by mosquitoes like other malarias – is actually fairly common around the world, even in the UK. Ironically, the only place that birds are safe from avian malaria is Antarctica, famous as being the big cold bit down at the bottom of the world, and frequented by… er… penguins. At the last count, Longleat had lost 25 of its 34 Humboldt penguins (Spheniscus humboldti). Let’s hope their efforts to save the remaining 9 are successful.

Secondly: Penguins killed by Caracal (Caracal caracal).

Yes, sad news, but… hang on… haven’t we done this one before?

Well, yes, we have. Here:

A spate of penguin fatalities has occurred in Simon’s Town over the past two weeks. The City has identified the predator by installing trap cameras in the area. The images confirmed the presence of a large caracal.

But that was in July, and that caracal was captured and relocated (we told you about that bit, too).

But Disa (for it was she what was eating all of the penguins) was radio-collared before her relocation, and this time around, it’s not her. Because when one caracal is moved, another will happily take its territory. Especially when that territory features large numbers of lovely plump penguins.

The City of Cape Town urges residents and tourists to support and assist efforts to capture a caracal which is currently preying on endangered African penguins in the Links Crescent and Froggy Pond areas of Simon’s Town.

Disa was quickly captured and successfully relocated, but as we now see, that did little to help the penguins. Assuming that the authorities can work their magic with this new caracal equally quickly – and that things follow the same pattern – I’m hopeful that we can report on more penguin predation before Christmas.

And then there was: Penguin killed by Beagle.

Yes, sad news, but etc etc. This photo was sent from home this morning:


Happy Feet, it ain’t.

The beagle was found upstairs (the beagle is not allowed upstairs), chewing this penguin chick from our daughter’s bed (the beagle is not allowed to chew the kids’ toys). Essentially, that white cloudy stuff you can see there is spilled penguin brains, and I now have the difficult task of performing some sort of surgery on this juvenile Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) before my juvenile daughter (Homo sapiens) sees it.

Any retribution on the beagle – while satisfying – would sadly be logically pointless as dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are pretty stupid and can’t associate punishment with the actual crime unless they are actually caught in the act.

Either that or they’ve just made us humans think that’s how things work, in which case, they’re actually pretty clever. And devious. And destructive. And oh, why, oh why did we have to get a beagle?

Summed up

Because tomorrow is a public holiday, and because today was a school holiday, we skived off work. And I was up late this morning. Nice.
Since then, I’ve got close to very little done. If I was looking for a photo to use an analogy for the day, then this would be it.

It’s not often that Colin and I see eye to eye, but this pretty much sums up my attitude to Monday 8th August 2016.
Unashamedly so, too.

Later, because of the clear skies, and fueled by Castle Milk Stout and some (or more) Klipdrift, I intend to continue Project Night Sky Photography.

Watch this space for spectacular results, or, more likely, save your time and don’t.


I get sent a lot of jokes via email.
Generally, they’re not very good, but this one tickled me, so I’m going to share it.

A Tall Klipdrift Fishing Tale

I went bass fishing this morning at Groendal Dam, but after a while I ran out of bait. Then I saw a puff adder with a dead lizard in its mouth. Lizards are good bait for bass.

Knowing the snake couldn’t bite me with the lizard in its mouth, I grabbed it behind the head, took the lizard, and put it in my bait bucket.

Now the dilemma was how to release the snake without getting bitten. So, I grabbed my bottle of Klipdrift and poured a little brandy into its mouth. His eyes rolled back, and he went limp. I then released him without incident and carried on fishing, using the lizard as bait.

A little while later, I felt a nudge against my foot. I looked down and there was that same snake with two more lizards in its mouth.
Life is good in Africa.

Numerous disclaimers here: I’m not sure that lizards are good bait for bass (or anything else), I’m not sure that a puff adder is unable to bite you if it already has something in its mouth, and I’m not sure how a puff adder (or the SPCA) will react to Klippies being poured down its throat.

Maybe it’s the fact that it involves brandy. But I think it’s more likely that I just liked the idea of a snake more obedient than our beagle. I’m actually making a list of things that are more obedient than our beagle, and so far it turns out that everything is more obedient than our beagle.