11 April 2011

Swifts and swimming

We decided not to do the planned walk as it was so hot, but rather to do a shorter walk with the option of a swim at the end. So us four and Pauline and Sue set off from the parking near Silvermine Dam and climbed up onto Steenberg Ridge - which is lovely now that all the pines have been felled. We then joined the amphitheatre path and it got hotter and hotter until we couldn't go a step more ... and luckily found a shady spot amongst a huge jumble of boulders looking down at the Silvermine Dam far, far below. Also in amongst the boulders there was a lovely old and gnarled Hottentot's Cherry tree (Maurocenia frangula) into whose shade we gratefully flopped. This tree is interesting in that it belongs to the afromontane forest tree group but has a limited range - like the Wild Almond (Brabejum stellatifoloum) - and is restricted to the Cape. It is thought that they are relics from an ancient period long before the Ice Ages when forests dominated the Cape.

Tea time in our rocky cavern in the shade of our ancient Hottentot's Cherry. The Alpha, Dawnie-dog, me, Sue, Dougal and Pauline.
The gloriously luscious fruit of the Hottentot's Cherry and its lichen-encrusted stems. There were some Red-winged Starlings eating the fruit, but not with much enthusiasm. Maybe they were just full up.
We got a bit alarmed when the Food Lady started saying the "swift" word (usually it is when we are bad and she threatens to give us a swift kick!) but there were lots of swift birds in the sky and although they were probably mostly the African Black Swift - there were some with white markings but as they had left the binocs at home and Richard wasn't there, and the swifts were just too swift for the FL to see any detail, we just hazarded a guess that they may have been White-rumped Swifts, Little Swifts or Alpine Swifts. Whatever, there were hundreds of them! You can just see one or two in this photo looking back to the Constantiaberg mast.
The Food Lady has just a little energy left to click the shutter on this Erica ferrea. (Or so she thinks in her heat-befuddled state.)
A weird serpent-horse-monster lunged out at us poor hot Scots, although Dougal didn't seem to mind as he was being a bit manic about hunting for mice.
Hurrying along to get to the dam for the swim that the Food L was promising us.
I was SO hot. Just not funny! And no-one agreed to carry me either. Its a dog's life.
This looks too terrible - look at me in the distance - hot and dry and dusty - but turn around and ...
... an oasis! Actually, Silvermine Dam.
We just flopped in - humans and all - even Dougal - but he couldn't go out as far as Dawnie-dog. The water was deliciously cool, clear, clean, sweet. fresh and restorative.

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