26 March 2012

Misty mountain hop

Today Kate and Sue and Pauline were waiting for us when we arrived at Ou Kraal where we braved the racing cars of Boyes Drive with a mad dash across the road and made it into the forest unscathed. We did a bit of a double take when we saw this carpenter bee (Xylocopa) lying in wait on the bottom step, but discovered it was dead.
After the excitement of the start, we came upon this lovely peaceful scene - False Bay spread out at our feet. (When you are a Scottie it is unusual to feel high up.)
The dusty path had scatterings of flowers like this Sutera hispida with the unlikely common name of Skunk Bush. Sounds like what I get called by the Alpha Male.
Then there were lots of these bulbines which the Food Lady can't identify but thinks they may be Bulbine favosa.We zigzagged up and up - this is Kate on the zig being photographed by the Food Lady on a zag. A flowering sedge - pollen laden - possibly Ficinia nigrescens. It was a bit misty up here and everything was rather drippy.
And hiding in this wet and Wild Garlic (Tulbaghia alliacea) was a Leaf Beetle (Chrysomelidae).
Even the geology is interesting in the fynbos! Pebbles embedded in the rock.
The veld is looking all autumnal in silver and gold with Slangbos (what used to be Stoebe plumosa but is now Seriphium plumosum) and restios.
This pretty grass is actually a visitor from the Med that has made itself at home here: Hare's Foot (Lagurus ovatus).
Some stinkbugs on an Aasvoelbessie (Maurocenia frangula).
Looking over the misty cliffs of Muizenberg.
The infamous Vlieëbos (Saltera sarcocolla). We don't need any more fleas in our lives thank you very much!
A ladylike cup of tea for me.
Tea in the mist. Sue, Pauline, Dougal, Kate, the Alph and me.
We were surrounded by glistening Autumn Pipes(Gladiolus brevifolius) and Paul's curly grass (Pentaschistis curvifolia).
A little grass orb-web spider - possibly from the Larinia genus.
Gosh oh gee, a gnidia! Gnidia tomentosa - the Woolly Saffronbush we think.
and struth, a struthiola - possibly Struthiola ciliata.
After all this botanizing it was now too late to go all the way up to Kalk Bay Peak as the Alph and FL had ANOTHER wedding to get to by midday, so we took a short cut back through the Erica tristis bushes along the old jeep track.
This is a close up of the teeny-tiny, wind-pollinated flowers.
And who was getting married this week then? Actually it's Belle and Roxy's parents who have been married for a few weeks already, but this is the Cape Town wedding reception hosted by Robbie and Bob in their elegant home at UCT
The Alph all dressed up for an extremely elegant lunch under the tree in the garden.
Relaxing with the Food Lady on THE BENCH which they have been twittering about on the Wednesday walks for ages.

Up to the mast

Today, being a public holiday called Human Rights Day (but actually the day to commemorate the sad massacre of Sharpville on 21 March 1960), the four of us decided to go on a great expedition up to the Constantiaberg Mast. It was quite warm with a hint of cloud on the mountain. We started at the parking place at the Silvermine Dam, found the secret path to the Silvermine Crags, and followed that up to the ridge. There were lots of Bulbine favosa flowers on the path. Then we carried on along the ridge, past some interesting flowers for the Food Lady like this Takluisbos (Senecio pubigerus). We searched but found no takluise in there,
so we thought this Argiope spider must have eaten them all. Note its zigzag "stabilimentum" which is characteristic of this genus.
Watch out little grasshopper! (On Phylica dioica.)
Far in the distance, on top of Constantiaberg, was our target - the mast. The tip of the mast is the highest point on Table Mountain.
But first we had rivers to cross,
and roads to negotiate - in the shadow of the giant elephant with his beady eye on us. We two are sticking together for safety.
The mist rolled in from the cold Atlantic with some welcome cool air.
Almost at the top, we stopped to admire the view looking back over the ridge where we had walked along - above the Silvermine crags. You can just see the dam on the other side of the ridge.
Another road to negotiate to the top. Be careful of the mountain bikes that swish and whoosssshhhh past!
And at last, the mast is in barking distance.
Dougal laughing at his own joke at tea.
But where am I?
Peekaboo! I was just hiding in the shade.
This tall daisy has a species name that would be good to have down the triple word score in Scrabble - Othonna quinquedentata. But then, I don't think that Latin is allowed. But just in case one day they allow it, it means "with five teeth". (Othonna is from the Greek for linen or cloth.)
A close up of the flowers of the Triple Word Score Daisy (Othonna quinquedentata).
On the route down, there were many Altydbossies or Common Diamond-eyes (Staavia radiata) in flower.
It was a long, but beautiful path down towards Blackburn Ravine. You can see Chapmans Peak in the background.
Spot the bagworm on this Phylica imberbis. A bagworm or bagmoth is the larva of a moth. This one could be from the Psychidae family.
The spoilsport humans wouldn't let me go and check out the dassie activity on the cliff near the lookout bench - and we turned sharp left and kept going ...
all the way back to the car park. We were hot hot hot dogs.

19 March 2012

Silvermine crags

This cool and dewy morning, we met up with Paul and Pauline, as well as Sue and Sophie from France. Obviously that bath paid off! It was nice to have someone French with us as my name is French - after Coco Chanel of the little black number. We walked up a path that said "Silvermine Crags" and immediately I was a bit apprehensive as "crag" has a rather menacing ring to it, and a few cyclists passing looked as if they had been wrestling with a rottweiler!
But all we saw were pretty flowers, like this Erica - possibly Erica corifolia,
and some dainty restio heads. (The Food Lady hasn't quite begun to identify restios yet.)
We came to this ridge, and looked down on Cape Town. Maybe the Silvermine Crags are somewhere down there? Me looking for crags.
Dougal, as usual, was looking completely the wrong way - hoping the dog argument noises in the distance were coming our way. Me skittering and scottying over the rocks on the ridge, with Paul.
Dougal and Pauline. Sophie's red jersey in the distance. We stopped for tea on the bench overlooking Hout Bay and I immediately set about trying to find some crags - although all I could smell was dassies and that made me so excited that the Food Lady started yelling about Blackburn Ravine and sheer cliffs and the Alpha clapped on my lead. Such spoil sports. Here is the Food Lady's shadow, the Alph, me, Sophie from France, Paul, Sue and Pauline. Dougal was hunting mice in the undergrowth somewhere. A weird flower called a Phylica dioica - a collection of little flowers in one flowerhead, all belonging to the Blinkblaar family. The Food Lady and Alph were getting a bit worried about getting to the church on time for Margie and Tim's wedding, so they scooted ahead. Pretty soon, me still being dragged on the lead, we came up onto another ridge and looked over the other side to Noordhoek and Fish Hoek - indeed all the way to Cape Point,
all the while being watched by this craggy monster.
Time for a quick drink in a pool. I am still on the lead in case I sneak back to Sue and Sophie as I was not happy to leave them behind especially as Sue hasn't been well.
Still time for a few quick snaps of the camera - a glowing Cluster Disa (Disa ferruginea) trying to look like a Red Reedpipe in order to attract the attention of a Mountain Pride butterfly,
and the real thing - a nectar-filled Red Reedpipe (Tritoniopsis triticea).
Autumn Pipes (Gladiolus brevifolius).
On the way down to the dam we came across another Scottie and some other dogs. Always great fun.
A quick dip in the cool water of the dam for us before we were home and dry again.
Here are Margie and Tim on their Big Day,
and the Alph walking through the choir of angels. Congratulations to BimBim and Squidge on the occasion of their humans' wedding!