I was at Exclusive Books yesterday to pick up a book I had ordered.

The assistant battled to find it and spent a frustrating 5 minutes hunting around for it at the back. I had given her the title “Scatalog”…so you’d think she’d be right on it!? Not a chance…

Imagine the faces behind me when I had to explain clearly and slowly to the by now cross-eyed woman that it was “a-book-about-poo!”

It is a little book – only 40 pages long and fits neatly into a backpack pocket.

The intro says it all…it is a ‘whodunit guide’ to make animal droppings, dung or scat easier to ID and it does this for about 100 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and frogs. It’s the most marvelous collection of photos of poo you’ll ever get your hands on…

This booklet is going to make walks with Tim and his mates much more fun and a little more entertaining. Now we have no excuses when we come across a pile of twig or shell encrusted turds and glibly say “probably mongoose….maybe otter….?”. Now we have to look it up, measure it and dissect away merrily. We even have a full blown chart and key with avge width, length, and whether it contains bones, hair, millipedes, crabs, scales, sand, grass, seeds etc!

We have to consider whether the turds have been dispatched onto an elevated area, buried or broken…..all important bits of the poo puzzle, it seems.
The guide is full of wonderful little factoids. I bet you didn’t know that carnivore poo is generally cylindrical and pointy at one end? No, neither did I…
And that Steenbok (bless them) usually bury the evidence? Or try to anyway…

The author’s end note is brilliant and so very true.
‘Our lives nowadays are sadly disconnected from the natural environment upon which we depend so intimately. Anything that helps us connect adds depth and meaning, broadening our awareness and understanding of the natural world around us. Identifying the scat of an animal immediately connects us with that animal, whether in our cities, our villages, our farms or in the wild. Animal scats reveal which fellow travelers have been our way, and when.’

Running in heaven

Every now and again I get the chance to head out into the wilderness and taste heaven..this weekend was no exception. Tim was well taken care of (with the best grandparents in the world!!)…and I was free as a bird and able to soar for hours in the mountains above Greyton.

I ran the Greyton-McGregor trail route (out and back) – which one way, is roughly 14 kays worth of winding-up-and-down gravel strewn single track. The trail ultimately spits hikers out at a hut overlooking the McGregor valley.

I had to bag about 5-6 hours on Saturday (‘had to’ based on a training schedule for an ultra trail race that looms large)..so I opted to head McGregor-wards. Once I reached the hut, I added an extra, easy 12 kays into the mix.

This is a photo of me and my trusty ‘Wings’ taking a short break looking back on the home stretch..

In the first hour I spotted two rather skittish Klipspringer as they leapt from rock to rock and charged up the mountain with enviable, consummate ease. Minutes after that, I watched a juvenile Black Eagle soaring below me looking quite weighed down by a large prize (about the size of an adult dassie!)
Amazing to see.

I did not see a single human on that stretch….was just the mountain and I. Complete and utter bliss.

Today I did another little 2 hour jaunt out into the Greyton farmlands…this photo speaks volumes I think.

The place oozes serenity from every pore..the soft light, happy lambs, rolling green hills and blue mountains behind. When I took this photo, I had a handful of blue crane gurgling in the sky above, a lone coucal bubbling away in the wetlands below, and just minutes before, had heard two Fish Eagle calling in the valley.

….such is paradise.