Quota skink

Out at the Black Oystercatcher a couple of weeks back, we spotted this Cape Skink (Trachylepsis capensis) on the way into the restaurant (us, not him).

Check the three stripe detail on those scales (bigger here). Sponsored by Adidas, clearly.

He was quite willing to pose for us, although disappeared into the “koffieklip” conglomerate when we got too close. It’s worth noting that these lizards can be domesticated, but also that wikipedia says that they “have a tendency to become quite overweight” in these cases.

This one was very tame and a seriously fat bastard.
So sure, n=1, but wikipedia seems to be spot on again.


With wall-to-wall sunshine, a fridge full of Milk Stout, a wine rack full of… well… wine, together with limited internet, it’s fairly easy to relax down here in Agulhas.

Yesterday was a day for one of those trips through to the Black Oystercatcher for great food and great wine, and a meandering journey through the National Park stopping to try and spot various wildlifes along the way. Most of the wildlifes were birds, including two new species for me – the Black Stork (Ciconia nigra) and a Denham’s Bustard (Neotis denhami). I don’t keep records of these things like some people do, but I like to know what I’m looking at, and it’s always interesting to see something different.

We thought that we’d try to add some flamingoes to the list on the local salt pan, but it was entirely devoid of any birdlife. Still, it did allow for some interesting photography opportunities.

I’ll upload more when I get back to just 6000 miles from civilisation…
(although if you can’t wait, there’s always Instagram).

Today is all about rockpools, beagle walks, fish ‘n’ chips, afternoon naps and beers by the braai.

Every ingredient for a perfectly chilled Monday.

Wine place buys beer place

Hmm. A commercial amalgamation of two of my favourite Agulhas brands? Sounds perfect.

News finally came out this week that Black Oystercatcher Wines has bought up local craft brewing outfit Fraser’s Folly.

The brewhouse will now move to the Black Oystercatcher Wine Farm, where founder and brewmaster Fraser Crighton will continue to make and represent the beer.

We need to take a Sho’t… er… Right and get down to the new, improved Black Oystercatcher before the summer season starts (and then possibly when the summer season starts as well). The old cow sheds have been replaced by a spectacular new building with more light, more capacity and more space.



Although I’m a little disappointed that we can’t make it for the Elim wine festival this weekend, I’m assured that it’ll still be there next time we go down.

Can’t wait…


So, it turns out that my photographs of the endangered African Black Oystercatchers that I took on the day of the walk didn’t win any awards in the photography competition organised by the Elim wine farm of the same name.

Sad. But that doesn’t mean that they won’t make decent quota photos for this blog post.

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Awesome birds. You can see them in their full glory here and here. And then you can click the left and right arrows to see more Oystercatcher pictures.
You know you want to.

Meanwhile, the competition continues apace on Facebook, where it’s sadly become more of a popularity contest than a judgement based on photographic talent. You can see all of the top 5 there, but something has gone very wrong if this one (it’s number 4) doesn’t win.

More from me tomorrow, as I mentally prepare to head through the lentil curtain to the Other Side Of The Mountain, where be dragons (allegedly), and scary people (definitely).

Promise fulfilled

Yesterday, tired and emotional, I promised that I would upload photos from the weekend onto Flickr. Well, now I have. I’m nothing if not reliable.

As I explained earlier, the weather was nothing if not variable, with a gloriously sunny Saturday (above), followed by a moody and grey Sunday (below). I quite liked both.

My walk was just to explore a bit of coastline I hadn’t managed to get to before. Any beach walk with the kids typically has to end at or nearby the cottage at Piet se Punt, which is 2km from our place. Add the 2km back, the fact that it’s beach walking, and the detours to see rock pools, sand dunes and the like, and you’re going to run out of time, youthful energy, or both.

Thus, I chose to go alone when I set off to see a bit further around the corner (ironically the first bay you come to is Hoek se Baai). And when I got back, I had done 16km in 3 hours. I’d love to share tales of towering cliffs, rocky inlets, smugglers’ caves and possibly, aliens. But the truth is that this bit of coast is actually rather non-descript in geological (and extraterrestrial) terms. Dotted with seemingly abandoned buildings all the way to Die Walle (apparently, a really good fishing spot), I got almost as far west as the end of Brandfontein beach (you may remember that from here or here). And there, I found a handful of really modern lodges which looked like self catering places, and which I guess must be part of the Brian Mansergh Private Nature Reserve, but which I can’t find anywhere online, or on Google Earth. Recent build then, but poorly publicised too, and that’s a shame, because they look fantastic.

My aim was to get a photo of a Black Oystercatcher to enter into a competition from a local vineyard (bet you can’t guess which one), and I got several, including finding a chick in the weed on the beach. However, other pictures may also have been taken.

You can see these much promised and discussed images here.