24 August 2009

Baboons and bangs

Not a whale in sight, but we had a very exciting encounter with the Smitswinkel Baboon Troop. But first things first. We - Alice, Sue, Thea, Pauline and us four - managed to get to the start above Seaforth without a hitch and walked into wondrous scotty-high fynbos filled with mouse trails for us and serrurias for humans. This is the Swartkops Spiderhead, Serruria hirsuta, that occurs here and only here and nowhere else on earth! There were lots and lots of bushes in full flower (an estimated 1500 bushes occur here) and lots and lots of photos were taken, making the Alpha Male a bit mad. Here we (Dougal, me and the Alpha M) are waiting for the rest of the troop to catch up. Sue is nearly there.... You can see the rare and endangered serrurias along the path. Then we had tea near the first blockhouse which was built just before the First World War - before Just Nuisance's time even. It was quite a steep spot but I found a comfy vantage point. Here is me getting some attention from Thea with Pauline watching.Thea had some good sandwiches today, but we were only allowed rusks and boring beanos. After tea we went ahead with the Alpha Male and missed the baboons who must have recognized the Alpha Male for what he was, and kept out of sight until we had passed. For the rest of the gels however, they gave a wonderful demonstration of how baboons eat Black-bearded sugarbushes (Protea lepidocarpodendron). This is "Force" on the slope below Swartkop - the leader of the Smitswinkel troop. And here is another one of Alice's photos of the same chap eating proteas. Alice found a website with amazing photos of Cape Town's baboons. Go to http://www.wildnorthwest.org/galleries/baboons.htmlHere is Sue almost on top - a leading female of the Sunday Walkers troop!On top of Swartkop. It was freezing cold up there. Here is Thea reading a sad plaque to Cherry Cardwell who died in 1995 aged 48. We didn't spend very long in the cold and were soon heading down when we picked up the scent of the baboons who had been walking back down the path too. (In the background you can see from Simonstown all the way to the front of Table Mountain and Devil's Peak.)Here we are checking out where the baboons were going. We really wanted to chase them but our humans were monumental spoil sports and put us on leads so we couldn't. Back near the blockhouses we saw two other people with fancy baboon tracking equipment who had come to discourage the baboons from heading down into the town as Monday is garbage day and they like to come down and check the bins. We could have taken them right to the baboons if we had been allowed! (Read about the Simonstown efforts to control baboons by going to http://glenroadwatch.southerncrossroads.info/?p=423. ) They let off some fancy firecrackers and I am not sure if they scared off Force and his troop, but they sure scared Dougal! Then it was back to the land rover and a long wait for the rest of the Sunday Walkers Troop to catch up. They were taking more photos - including this unusual rhus, Rhus (or Searsia now) rosmarinifolia.
Still no whales on the way home. So we will try again next week...

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