The excesses of the Christmas season are almost over and there is a sense of semi-hysterical relief that the world did not end as predicted by a group of dyslectic Mayan soothsayers. Or perhaps it did, and Heaven simply looks a lot like Clarens. Whatever. The welcome arrival of the rains may have frustrated visiting golfers but it has cheered the farmers, who are up to their tractor bearings in mud and looking forward to a rich harvest. The greening of the valley has also done wonders for the mood of the avian population, with an infinite variety of LBJs darting from the treetops to plunder the braai tables of our visitors. Turns out that the experts who compile the bird books we refer to in times of confusion (pretty much every time we see a bird), have elected to change the names of many of our feathered friends however. Of the 858 species which grace our share of the planet, it appears that many have been renamed as a result of ‘Taxonomic changes’, which frankly sounds more like an intervention by the Receiver of Revenue. All sorts of other baffling terms are used to describe this assault on your faithful scribe’s already stressed memory banks, including something called ‘nomenclature’, which I thought was the rust that formed on the cod-pieces of medieval suits of armour. Anyway, the net effect of this is that fellow twitchers everywhere are going to have to buy some new reference sources if they want to sound suitably clever at their next cocktail party. Strangely, Woody and Doris Woodpecker (Geocolaptes olivaceus) are quite excited at the prospect of all this ornithological change and are contemplating changing the names of their chicks from Golum, Lefty and Squawk to Jacob, Cyril and Ace. Political opportunism if you ask me. Now, to follow up on my pre-Christmas warning of sinister sightings in the Clarens underbrush! Well. It turns out that unidentifiable but seriously gargantuan tracks have been found along our enchanting hiking trails, suggesting the possibility that our very own ‘Bigfoot’ is abroad. Several readers have called in to describe their unusual finds on the paths that criss-cross our scenic mountains, and agree that the creature responsible must be bigger than Bruce Weyer but smaller than King Kong. Local palaeontologists have ruled out a dinosaur although they concede that the late hatching of a Massospondylus egg, perhaps part of a clutch from the Golden Gate National Park, could not be ruled out. Casts of the footprints have been made and indicate a four-toed creature, weighing around 175kgs and standing up to 2,5 metres in height. This description fits the Silver Wings biker known to be hibernating in Holkraans cave, except for the fact that he has only three-toes on each foot, as the unfortunate result of modifying his Harley to make vertical take-offs. The plot thickens and any readers with more information, photographs or sightings should submit these to the Clarens Brewery for display on their ‘Creature Wall’. Readers are urged to avoid any direct contact with the creature until there is confirmation of his/her dietary status. Since the term ‘Bigfoot’ has been copyrighted by the Disney Corporation, readers are also invited to submit suggestions for a name for the village’s newest (?) resident. The Twitcher
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