27 February 2012

Deep dark woods, disas and a little bit of heaven

The Food Lady and the Apha Male decided to leave us at home last Sunday, even though it was a cool, scottie-ish kind of a day. A bit mean I thought, as I munched my Beano biscuit with a mind-blowingly delicious blob of extra-lean beef mince stuck on top. Apparently they wanted to walk up a path where dogs are not allowed, starting at Kirstenbosch main gate, where dogs are not allowed. They ventured deeper and deeper into the forest - along the Donkergat path (w d a n a*) where a huge old Spanish chestnut tree and some ghostly ruins of foundations are all that is left of a woodcutter's home.
Up and up they climbed ...
past scary creatures that lurk in the woods - a Griffon (and I am not referring to the dog version!) about to take off?
At last they reached the top of Skeleton Gorge, without mishap, and into Paul's curly grass with Hermas villosa plants looming up in the mist.
A lonely cuppa tea in the mist. I think they were missing us and the rest of the group.
The object of the walk - some Red Disas (Disa uniflora) in the Window Gorge Stream.
There were many other interesting plants too - this Jacaranda Inkflower (Harveya pauciflora), a root parasite, that the Alph spotted growing along the Aqueduct.
And the Table Mountain endemic, Watsonia tabularis. growing in front of some Table Mountain sandstone.
Another group had made themselves at home in the river, having a picnic in the midst of the disas in the valley between Junction and St Michael's Peaks.
Another disa - the Golden Orchid (Disa cornuta).
The Hely-Hutchinson and Woodhead Dams with some wisps of misty clouds making them look rather mysterious.
An Autumn Painted Lady (Gladiolus monticola) alone and palely loitering. Short cut across the half empty Hely-Hutchinson Dam - with lots of other people - all come to marvel at the disas? Back down Skeleton Gorge, and into Kirstenbosch.
The Food Lady took pity on us and took us for a walk in the Greenbelt so that she didn't have to feel so guilty about not taking us up Skelton Gorge. This is Dougal in full squirrel hunting mode.
The Green Belt has its share of natural curiosities to keep the Food Lady clicking away. This is a fungus called "Chicken of the woods" (Laetiporus sulphureus) identified by Malcolm Greaves on iSpot. Hunting squirrels in the dappled shade. (Dawnie was there too but she is a bit slow these days and lags behind.)
Australian Cherry Tree flowers.
and some Heavenly Blue morning glories growing in our own little doggie heaven in Constantia.

*where dogs are not allowed.

21 February 2012

Black Jack

This was the main reason we were not allowed on the weekend away. John and Julie took our humans out to lunch at Jason's Hill wine estate near Worcester where they don't seem to be very partial to dogs. Even dogs in cars we were told. Looks like a good time was had by all, except us! But we were happily at home with Leticia and Simon so we didn't really mind. They went on to Riversong Farm - land of tortoises and puffadders and all sorts of fun things that Scotties love ...
including these flowers - Helichrysum foetidum - which are quite good for rolling in.
But WHAT and WHO is this! A big fat black Jack in the cool pool.
And going home with them. Outrageous! He would never had dared if Dougal had been there.
The partying continued ...
and all looked rather festive. This is Julie and John from Scotland - our ancestral home.
On Sunday they said it was very hot, and we would not have enjoyed it. This is an Erica mammosa.
There were fires in the mountains on the way home, but they arrived back safe and sound.

12 February 2012

Silvermine morning

Luckily for us the Food Lady and the Alph did not feel like hiking up the mountain after those bloody red flowers so, after a bit of a lie-in, we were bundled into the car and taken to see our human grandmother and the spaniels. But first, we stopped off at Clovelly to walk along the paths that had been built by some of the Friends of Silvermine in the newly renovated wetlands of the lower Silvermine River that flows into the sea at Clovelly (next to Fish Hoek). They seem to have a few problems with vandals,
but we knew we were in a dog-friendly neighbourhood when we saw this sign. Sometimes we meet the lady who began the whole TEARS society who also walks her dogs on Fish Hoek beach every Friday morning.
We then crossed a bridge,
and came to another sign all about otters that live here. We would love to chase an otter! But we didn't see any.
As usual, the Food Lady was snapping away. This is a Snake Berry (Lycium ferocissimum).
Another bridge. What fun. These wetlands are quite recent as the original ones had been destroyed but they built a series of retention ponds to prevent flooding, and have allowed the indigenous bush to return. We were interested to hear that the original wetland here was the type site for the endangered frog - the Cape Platanna - which no longer occurs here. The whole community enjoy the wetlands now and we met lots of joggers, walkers and dogs.
A Balloon Milkweed (Gomphocarpus physocarpus), which is an introduced weed from tropical Africa and now occurs all over South Africa. It is the main foodplant of the African Monarch butterfly which is immune to the poisonous alkaloids in the plant and indeed, stores them away to use against its own predators.
It really was a nice and easy walk, with lots of smells for us and views along the Fish Hoek Valley for the humans.
One of the retention ponds which forms part of the resotred wetland. The Silvermine River is the most pristine of all the rivers on the Cape Peninsula and this section of the lower river is looked after by the local community. Most impressive we thought. We then crossed the busy road, and walked onto the beach. Can you see the shark flag flying (an arrow points to it) - black today.
Black means that visibility is not good, but lots of people were swimming and doing nippers - including our human cousins.
We met lots of friends.
And were much admired.
We then got back into the car, and drove up the hill to see the spaniels and Omie-domes. You can tell that the Argus Cycle Tour is coming up soon! We were not locked out of the house and had to stay in the garden. WHY? Hey, you have forgotten us! LET US IN. PLEASE! HEY! OI! (Just cant believe they are doing this to us!) HEY!
But then it was time to go and we bade Thomas and Aiden goodbye.

For more about the Lower Silvermine River Wetland Conservation Area click here.

05 February 2012

Heat and dust

Extra early start today because of the heat. Only Sue was there. We set off at six thirty five or so, with the sun already beating down. Long shadows to prove that it was early.
Shortly after the start at Cecilia we veered off into the the lovely cool forest where we could have a dip.
But sadly Sue was not feeling well and the Alph said she should go home again and have a rest. So we walked her back to the car park. Look at the dusty path. It was now about seven thirty and mighty hot.
Someone had left a birthday message for Vivian in the sandy road.
Looking back over Cape Town with Muizenberg mountain in the background. You can just see us hot Scots in the road: a little unsure about this walk. We are not very good at heat.
But then, after a short slog up Rooikat Ravine, we all disappeared into the deep dark shade of the indigenous forest. What a relief!
A rather in-your-face King Protea (Protea cynaroides) on the way,
and a little Gnidia.
At the waterfall the Alph and FL had a cup of tea, and we met some dogs who all wanted to swim in my pool. I let this one in and look how happy she looks. All the humans just stood under the waterfall cooling off. One old chap took off all his clothes - well almost - and had a shower.
The mossy green drippy ferny falls.
Eventually we had to leave, and boy did we have some adventures on the way back! We saw some red disas which made the FL happy but the Alph seemed unimpressed. "Its just another bloody red flower. So what!" he said. Then I went after some good smells and got a bit sidetracked. I heard the FL screeching and yelling for me, but I was not ready to get back on the path just then. In my own time I sauntered back looking surprised by all the fuss. Then Dougal had a fight with an Alsatian and his friend who were hogging the path and getting up Dougal's nose. Luckily the Alsatian was old and his friend rather small, so no injuries were inflicted.By then the humans were so mad at us both that they chased us all the way back to the landrover. Look at our dust!

The Alph phoned Sue when we got home and she said she was feeling ok.