30 November 2010

Mugger-dassies on Oppelskop?

The humans are back from their Gauteng jaunt, and Alpha's back is much better but not quite. So with Dougal to protect us from muggers, we set out for the hotbed of mugging activity - Devil's Peak. It was quite windy, with a Southeaster tablecloth settling on the Table, and falling down Platteklip Gorge.
We were joined by Paul and Pauline, Richard, Lucy and Josie and Sue. This is me asking for instructions about which way to go - with Richard protecting Josie from the fierce wind.
Dougal ran ahead to look for muggers. (What do they look like I wonder - dassies on steroids?) Do you think this rock face is a mugger?
But all we saw was lots of flowers like this tiny scrophulariacious spiky plant - Manulea cheiranthus,
and this Cat's Tail (Microdon dubius) which, of course, being a cat's tail, is also scrophulariacious.
We walked along the lower contour path, admiring the view back to Lions Head and over the city, and ahead we could see Twelve 'o Clock Hole - Dougal out there being the mugger spotter. Maybe there are muggers in the hole?
This is Oppelskop which was rather windy so the spoilsport Food Lady didn't let us go and explore the old Lookout Hut ruin because she thought it was a bit steep. You can see Robben Island in the distance - just beyond Oppelskop - and the coastline of the West Coast.
In fact, just as we thought we could smell dassies - maybe even mugger-dassies - on went the leads! This is Dougal trying to get over the edge to chase dassies.
This is Paul with his long lens walking through the Hymenolepis crithmoides bushes.
Tea time at Saddle Rock - all trussed up against the wind.
On our way down the zigzag path, we saw this rare Red Protea (Protea grandiceps) which is almost extinct on Table Mountain. Tony Rebelo says these ones are planted.
I found a friend. I asked him if he'd seen any muggers and he said no, but he was looking forward to sinking his teeth into their heels. (That's what Australian Sheep Dogs do.)
The Food Lady had fun taking photos of flowers - like this Blue Sceptre (Aristea capitata) ...
and this little orchid Disa harveyana subsp. harveyana (thanks to Bill Liltved for the id.) that mimics a pelargonium to trick long-tongued flies like horseflies (that deserve to be tricked!) into pollinating them. They have no nectar so they rely on trickery and luckily horseflies are really stupid and easily fooled.
And after a quick bark at the gate to let the neighbourhood know I was home, I fell asleep in my favourite armchair.

Other dogs in their lives

The humans were away last week - to visit our human brother and go to a wedding. Or so we were told. They stayed with David and Gordon who live close to this rather interesting looking place in Johannesburg. This is our human brother, Phil, with his girlfriend Kerryn and the Alpha Male and the Food Lady (on one leg!) going on a game drive in the Cradle Nature Reserve. But I discovered some disturbing photos - a strange dog ON THE BED! But apparently this is Luna, the noble Belgian Shepherd who lives with his humans David and Gordon in Johannesburg. But worse was to come - a CAT ON THE BED! With the Alpha who is meant to be allergic to the flea-bitten beasts! Shocking! This is Pagan the cat from Quiet Mountain in the Magaliesberg. Whatever could they have been thinking of? This looks more decorous. This is Streak who we have met before in cyberspace. She lives with David and Gordon too. At least this is more normal behaviour in a dog - Luna again on the way to her humans' farm near Dullstroom.

15 November 2010

Tortoise hunting

This is not a bow despite the curly ends. It is a detestable TICK collar. But at least that means we are going to an INTERESTING PLACE. Is this it then? Are we nearly there? Not quite.
At long last we arrived at Cedarcot! But I had no time to smell the flowers (white Heliophila juncea) because I had to start the hunt for my favourite walking bones to chew on - tortoises! I checked in the caves and under the bushes and after a few minutes ... SUCCESS!
But the spoil-sport humans took it away and we were hustled off on a walk to "take out minds off tortoises" and "tire us out". It was rather hot but the enticing tortoise smells kept us going at top speed through the grass and strangely named Ladies Hands flowers (Cyanella hyacinthoides) and for a swim in the river. Eventually we did get quite tired and were glad to settle down for a sundowner on the veranda. although I did keep a leary eye out for tortoises nevertheless.
The next morning we went for a walk with the Alpha Male and the Foodlady, but soon the road got a bit steeper and the AM turned back to help his back stay better. You can just see him at the first turn in the road.
We carried on the a lovely mountain pool which was inhabited by a great, swimming gawk of a dog. We also had a dip while the Foodlady looked at some flowers. There were lots of these Bloodroot flowers (Dilatris ixioides). This is us refreshed, tails up and in tortoise-hunting mode on the way home. (We found one and I managed about three gnaws before the spoilsport Foodlady intervened.) This is a type of Arctotis daisy. And these are two monkey beetles having a wrought in an Erica inflata. After all the excitement we were hot and glad to get home to a nice cool cottage.

08 November 2010

Rocks, rockets and dragons

We started our Sunday morning morning walk with almost a full house - Pauline, Thea-without Boris, Nola, Goose and Maverick, Sue and Nora (Sue's honorary granddaughter) and Nora's mom, dad and baby brother, Alice (squirm with joy!), Roos from Holland and Phakamani from Kirstenbosch. Paul is in England and the Alpha in not allowed to walk till his back toughens up. Considering we were a hair's breadth away from being left behind, this was pretty good going!
This is me showing Nora and Sue the way up the dog steps in Kirstenbosch.
We were just really happy to have all these walkers, when suddenly there was only Roos, Alice, Thea, Phakamani and the Foodlady. They others had gone a different way. It was quite hot by now and I thought maybe I should have peeled off too! But we soldiered on behind Roos.
This is Roos - pronounced Rose - from Holland who speaks perfect English.
We climbed up Constantia Ridge and had tea on breakfast rock overlooking Cape Town.
Then it was a quick drink on the Great Dog Highway on the top. Here is Dougal chasing after a pretty young fluffy dog. We were intrigued by these dung beetles on the Great Dog Highway making short work of what looks like chocolate ice-cream, (but its not really chocolate ice cream, its dog s-h-one-tee!)
But to sweeten the blog, rather look at this pretty Cape Anemone (Anemone tenuifolia), a flower of the damp summit of Table Mountain. We headed up Klaassenskop and the Foodlady found a rather Scotty-unfriendly path that took us up to the edge of a high cliff overlooking Orange Kloof. Here is me and Phakamani on opposite sides of a deep dark crack.There were lots of enticing, irresistible dassie smells and the Foodlady slapped the leads on us to stop us hunting these pesky beasts. (She said it was to stop us taking a header over the sheer cliff, but only Jack Russells would do that! We would just be as nimble as the dassies.) So all we could do was watch helplessly as the dassies melted into the rocks, and Alice, Roos, Thea and Phakamiani disappeared over the top like the scene in Picnic at Hanging Rock. Thea even had a sunshade for atmosphere - and we could hear the strains of the pan flutes and the growl of a diggereedoo ...
But they came back with news that they spotted this rare and endemic Buchu-leaf Heath (Erica diosmifolia) growing like a lichen in a cave. Alice took some photos of it. A close up of Erica diosmifolia. The endemic Crowberry Heath (Erica empetrina). (These are Alice's photos of the ericas.)
And one of the huge trees growing in the cracks and caves up there where we were not allowed. (Also Alice's photo.)
Then it was time to leave. Here is Roos waiting for us at the crossroads.
We came back down to the Dam on the Great Dog Highway, and although it clearly said no swimming,
I just couldn't resist a dip! This is me checking that there were no one looking!
There were lots and lots of these blue and white and mauve Koringblommetjies or Corn Lilies- Ixia polystachya - all over the mountain slopes. They matched Thea's sunshade.

Although this Rocket Pincusion (Leucospermum reflexum) is not locally indigenous (it comes from the Cederberg), it was growing in Kirstenbosch along the path and I thought it would be appropriate seeing that so many rockets and bangs have been unsettling Dougal because of Guy Fawkes last Friday 5 November.
And the dragons came back after we had left and settled down to watch over Orange Kloof till our next visit...