27 August 2009

Sundays proposed walk up the Karbonkelberg

See Shirley's A walking guide for the Hout Bay to Simonstown mountains, page 8, Walk 1 "Karbonkelberg and Suther Peak."Apparently there are lovely satyrium orchids flowering now - Satyrium coriifolium and S. carneum.

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...

21 August 2009

Whale-spotting hike up Swartkop Peak

Start at top of Jan Smuts Drive, Simonstown, above Seaforth - off Churchill Ave.
For more on the walk, see A Walking Guide for the Hout Bay to Simon's Town Mountains by Shirley Brossy. Walk no 41: Swartkop and Blockhouse Gap, page 94-5. Should take about 4 hours with tea. It is quite a steep, but not difficult, route.

17 August 2009

Its a girl! and a boy! and another girl! and another boy....

Tombi and Gambit are proud to announce the birth of their ten puppies in Lions River, KZN!
Here they are with their human, Gilly.

Whales in the bay?

We were wondering....and yes they are here.

Swear words and a birthday brunch

Today is our human brother Philip's 23rd birthday! He is coming to a brunch so we needed a shorter walk and decided on the Swear Word Mountain Walk. The Alpha Male had some new swearwords and some hooting for the barbed-wire and security camera houses at the top of the road that have put up "no parking" signs as if they owned the verge and the mountain as well as their hideous houses. We didn't even deign to bark at their stupid dogs. Look at me and Thea and Sue not deigning to bark while we waited for the others to park halfway down Price Drive. We climbed up the path past some plants that had been conveniently labelled by the Friends of Vlakkenberg and saw this longicorn beetle on Aspalathus astroites which was in full flower all the way up. Apparently the beetle, Ceroplesis aethiops from the family Cerambycidae, may be a bit of a pest for rooibos farmers. The view over Constantia towards False Bay. (Lots of oohing)Toiling up the cliff. Us scotts were right up at the front with the Alpha Male who likes to go fast.
Tea at the top with Thea, Alpha M, Sue, me and Dougal, Alice and Pauline. No beetles in the rooibos tea and no rusks but there was some rather untasty (for us) carrot cake and dates and some rather boring Beano biscuits. Looking forward to the spoils of brunch.
Back on the trail. This is not a squashed green hedgehog in the path, but a plant called Arctopus echinatus. If you could speak Ancient Greek and Latin you would call it a Spiny Bear's Foot as arktos is Greek for "bear", and pous is Greek for "foot" (yes it is!) and echinatus is Latin for "spiny". The male (below, left photo)
and female (right) plants are separate and it belongs to the carrot family.On the way down the Food Lady saw a Eucharitid wasp on Polygala bracteolata. (Poly is from the Greek for “many” and gala from “milk” because of the supposed property of the European species to increase the milk yield of cows. In Britain – they are called milkworts.)
And later at the brunch...the birthday boy with Alice. and me getting some attention from Alice and Arti.
Thanks to Dawn Larsen of the SA Museum for insect ids.

10 August 2009

Up to Mimetes Valley and down Spes Bona Forest

Another good walkies day for Sue, Kristin, Pauline, Alice and us four. Paul is back from his travels but has a troublesome foot so The Alpha Male and Dougal were the only boys again. Here is Sue leading the way up the path to Mimetes Valley. I think she didnt trust the Food Lady to find the way this week! A very welcome tea even if the table rocked a bit. Just behind Dougal was our own drinking pool.
Me with Simon's Town in the background and you can just see Cape Point. Giving the FL a heart attack!
Here is Sue and Kristin admiring a large Mimetes fimbriifolius or Tree Pagoda. There are a lot of these trees here in Mimetes Valley. They are only found on the Cape Peninsula. Kristin taking photos on top of Kalk Bay Peak. This is where Sam the legendary labrador nearly passed out many years ago.
The FL is always going on about how amazing this place is. She read that there are about 2 300 plant species crammed into an area of only 470 square kilometres. Here is Thesium capitatum from the sandalwood family. It is partially parasitic on other plants' roots.
And an interesting daisy with teeth on its leaves called Othonna dentata. (We scotties are also proud of our sharp teeth! We should be Canis-ecosse dentata.)
And a bud of the Cape Anemone, Anemone tenuifolia.
Looking up the way we came down. (With me back on the lead for being a bit adventurous again!) Spes Bona Forest is a fragment of the forests that once covered the peninsula 10 million years ago – it survives in this cool, fire-protected ravine.
Back to where we started from. Here are Alice and Pauline coming down. (We were already in the Land Rover by this stage.) And beer and cider and Greyton mature cheddar cheese and Greyton olives back home... but zilch for us till suppertime hours later!

03 August 2009

The WRONG way walk

No wind, no rain, no too-hot-sun. Takers for the Foodlady’s walk were Alice, Sue, Pauline, Thea (who is threatening to bring Boris the Boerbul but she is worried that Boris might think we are snacks-before-supper so I am a bit nervous to meet him), Kristin who is visiting from the USA, Alpha Male (feeling surrounded by X-chromasomes) and Dougal. And me of course. We set off up the Great Mole Path that the humans insist on calling the Mule Path. And we saw these plants growing all along the path. At first they seemed like any other fynbos plant, but check the fruit! They are DOGFACES! Trichocephalus stipularis. Now these are what I call cool plants! We soldiered up Echo Valley and then the Foodlady led us up the WRONG path. Instead of going up the Jojolu Track (not, as far as I know, named after a French Poodle) we went up to the Rock Arch and somehow she forgot that you had to back-track and link up with the Jojolu Track in order to safely get around the side of Cave Peak. (The Foodlady says the map she has is sadly lacking but this one she found on the Internet makes it as clear as a brass bell. She is DEEPLY EMBARRASSED!) After a bit of exciting walking past scary caves and drippy cliffs, we decided to head down a safer-looking path for tea.
Sadly Richard was not here to see this Rock Kestrel.
Tea was a sumptuous affair as always except that she forgot to give us a drink although there were lots of pools of water around – but really! Here we are having tea (well, some of us were) overlooking Clovelly and Trappieskop.

Tails up on a lovely path that runs from Kalk Bay to Clovelly. Here we are heading back to Kalk Bay.

The path wound through flowering Rhus tomentosa (new name Searsia tomentosa) and giant tree ericas. Pauline remarked how they were like tree ericas she had seen on Mt Kilimanjaro. In the book, The Ericas of the Cape Peninsula by Ted and Inge Oliver, it says they are Erica tristis “the only species on the Peninsula forming such a large bushy tree; similar tree-like species occurring on tropical African mountains.”From the road we headed back up to Weary Willie’s pool, running the gauntlet of lots of dogs on their way down like these doltish labs. I cant even look at them they are so uncool and does that one have a scarf around its neck? What a spiv! But notice how Dougal is sqaring up...At the bottom the FL saw this large bark spider hanging over the path in a yellowwood tree.