28 May 2011

Chelsea morning

They snuck out this morning while it was still dark saying "sorry dogs you can't come up India Venster" - but then came back again looking all bedraggled and wet NOT having been up India Venster because of the weather but having done a dog-friendly walk without us with a dog called Chelsea.

Before it rained the Food Lady photographed some red ericas - Erica abietina subsp. abietina - which were all over the front of Table Mountain,

and some red Anaxeton laeve (the name the FL can never remember) - members of the daisy family.

The walk was led by Scott of Table Mountain (discussing the way up perhaps?)

Some more pink flowers for the Food Lady - our favourite, Dogfaces Trichocephalus stipularis (the fruits of which resemble dog faces)

and the very fragrant Phylica buxifolia.

The ruined fire look-out hut on Oppelskop in the mist and rain.

See you all tomorrow - which we hope will bring better (not wetter) weather!

26 May 2011

Land of cedars and honey

Last Sunday, they left us behind with Simon and drove up to the Cederberg with Peter and Dorothy to join Ian and Ingrid in Clanwilliam to plant cedar trees at Heuningvlei. To get there they were allowed to drive on the 12 km of normally-closed road from the top of the Pakhuis Pass to Heuningvlei. It was also built by Thomas Bains (who built the Pakhuis Pass which was completed in 1874). He was the son of Andrew Geddes who built Bain's Kloof Pass.
And what do I see? A dog! So why were we not allowed to join in the fun I ask? This is Lucy Buckland's boxer (sitting on Lucy's feet) chatting to Penny Mustart who was one of the movers and shakers of the whole Cedar Tree Event which has been going for eleven years now.
The Clanwilliam Cedar (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis) is an endangered tree that only grows in the Cederberg mountains and many people are trying hard to save it. Once a year everyone meets at the little village of Heuningvlei where they all grab a tree (which have been grown in Bushmans Kloof Guest Farm's nurseries down the drag) and hike up into the mountains to plant it.
Here are some previously planted cedars that, ten or so years down the line are looking quite big. (On the left.)
The humans chose an easy-to-identify rock - this half a Maltese Cross - and planted their two trees underneath it so they will know where to look for them next year. The Alph looking pleased with his efforts while a ranger from CapeNature called Patrick GPSed it for monitoring.
Then it was back to Heuningvlei Community Centre for a slap up lunch and a relax in the sun
before the prize-giving and some more speeches. Here is the Alph getting his prize for planting his tree from Allan Winde who is some bigwig minister of tourism and finance in the Western Cape.
Then is was home again into the sunset. This is Anne Paterson, Micky Orrey and Cecily Muller walking home along the Heunginvlei Road.
The sunset from the top of the Pakhuis Pass - which is 914 m above sea level. You can just see this sea in the distance too.
Home for the night was the a farm just outside Clanwilliam called Patrysvlei. They stayed in The Waenhuis which they shared with these horses,
this Golden Retriever who wasn't allowed into the house so it slept half way in,
and this cat. (Oooh lucky we weren't there or it would have been chased all the way back to Heungivlei!) In the photo you can see Ingrid, Dorothy, Peter, Ian and the Alpha Male about to indulge in yet another gastronomic extravaganza.
There was also a herd of Eland on the farm,
and a rather doff looking Great Dane puppy.
On Sunday they drove to Wupperthal where they stopped to photograph these strange looking flowers which are some kind of snake lily or Ornithoglossum.
The road goes through the small hamlet of Eselbank where this dog came out to greet them and wish them a safe trip home to us.

Planting Cedars

19 May 2011

Twenty-nine walk

We went to fetch Roos - and Charlie wanted to come too but he couldn't fit into the car. We also had to leave poor Dawnie dog behind because of space issues. Lucky we are quite small or we would have been left behind too because there was a good turn-out for our walk up Noordhoek Ridge: Us, our humans, Sue, Pauline, Kate from Canada, Roos from Holland, Lucy, Richard, Josie and Alice. We all met up at Silvermine Dam, then piled into the Land Rover and drove round Chapman's Peak to the start of the walk - which was all misty and eerie. Alice saw this giant Egyptian lioness god - Sekhmet - with a Pharaoh's beard looming out of the mist. At the crossroads. Richard with Kate from Canada and Roos from Holland. I was still feeling a bit spooked by the Sekhmet thing. Then as we climbed up and up and up and up and up, we suddenly popped out of the mist into the light. Chapman's Peak in the distance. There were lots of colourful and cheerful little ericas - probably Erica laeta, some of them covered with spiderwebs. According to Norman Larsen of Iziko South African Museum, this is the mist-bespattered web of a Plant Mesh-web Spider. And this little ant-like thing is also a spider - a species of Cydrela - (again thank you to Norman Larsen and Rudy Jocque for the id) belonging to the family Zodariidae. Not much is known about their biology he says, except that they prey on ants - hence their similar appearance. This is the first time he has heard of one on the Cape Peninsula. At tea Dougal found a pool to quench his thirst before plunging back into the fynbos in search of mice. It was Richard and Lucy's Twenty-ninth day Wedding Anniversary, and it was our humans's anniversary of TWENTY-NINE years. Longer than a Scottie can imagine. Pauline had bought some champagne.
A toast to the Twenty-niners from Sue and Pauline, and from Roos,
and from Kate from Canada and SueChampagne and tea on the rocks - Alice, Kate, Sue, Alpha, Pauline, Roos, Lucy and Richard - and me and Josie (who was being uncharacteristically friendly - or condescending - to me).
But where is Dougal? Hunting in the fynbos! Alice taking photos of the mist swirling around Chapman's Peak,and taking photos of me. (Makes me look distinguished - no wonder Josie deigned to be friendly to me earlier.)Gnidia tomentosa - that likes to grow above 330 m in moist places. It was quite moist and misty up there today.
At the end of the walk the Alpha went off with Sue and Kate to collect the Land Rover, and the Food Lady, Roos, me and Dougal got a lift home with Lucy and Richard. This is Josie buckling up. We have never seen car seat belts for dogs before.
The route.
Thanks Alice for letting me use some of your lovely photos.

12 May 2011

Steaming up Steenberg

Spot the wheaten Scottie! Dougal in cryptic mood. Today we walked up the side of Muizenberg Mountain with Sue, Rachel (a visitor from England), Pauline and Wyndham who was staying with us for a conference (sadly without Tammy). It was a deliciously cool day - the best Scottie walking weather. There were lots of sugarbushes (Protea repens) in flower on this slope.
We all set off up the steep path side of Muizenberg Mountian with Lakeside, Rondevlei and False Bay below.
Dawnie leading the way up with Rachel close behind. Devil's Peak in the far background.
One of the Lakeside Needles.
A dead shongololo.There are 12 endemic Table Mountain species of millipede. (And 190 millipede species in South Africa, mostly restricted to forests).
Tea time. Sue, Rachel, Pauline, Wyndham and the Alpha. It was a bit windy in the Fat Lady Shelter, but just on the other side it was more protected.
Autumn means the oxalis or wood sorrels are out. This is the Narrow-leaved Sorrel or Vingersuring (Oxalis polyphylla).
At the end we bumped into lots and lots of dogs. In fact, there were so many I couldn't make up my mind which one to check out!

See route