31 July 2012

Baboons and Brakkloofrant

Sun on Sunday for a change! And some spaniels and a bouvier were waiting for us when we arrived at the start of the Elsie's Peak walk, but the spaniels soon left - and there they go with Omie Domes (their human) past the piles of quarried stone that is left over from when Elsie's Peak was a quarry for building stone and road gravel. We think the walls and ruins at the start of the walk on Mountain Road must have something to do with the quarry works. Sue and Thea soon joined us after taking the wrong road thanks to the Food Lady's incorrect instructions! An unconcerned Cape Grassbird. They have recently changed family (which is what I would like to do too sometimes) thanks to molecular research on their genes. They used to be part of the warbler family Sylviidae (larks and swallows) but now have their own family, the African Warblers (Macrosphenidae) which only share a distant relative with the Sylviidae.
There were lots of these little plants growing in the damp sand of the path, and when you open them up ... they look like this. Men-in-a-boat (Colchicum eucomoides). We walked across to the other side of the mountain with lovely views over Glencairn and Simons Town.Then Alice and the Food Lady saw an interesting plant - the rare (on the Red List) False Heath (Audouinia capitata), which is only known from about 15 localities on the Peninsula and near Hermanus. It is member of the Brunia family (Bruniaceae) but masquerades as an erica. It is a resprouter – which means it needs fire in order to maintain a healthy population. According to Tony Rebelo, most resprouters thrive in the two to five years after a fire and then die down - so that in 10-year old veld they are often leggy and half dead. On the other hand many of these fynbos resprouters are astonishingly old - as much as 300-800 years old! Every fire prunes and revitalizes them, so although they are very old they don’t look their age (in young veld that is). For more interesting facts on fynbos resprouters and Andouinia click here. And look how patiently Maddy is sitting while all this is being explained! I, on the other hand had left long ago with the Alph, and we had discovered some ... BABOONS! But before we could get at them, the Alph clapped us in leads. Spoilsport.
So all we could do was watch - and quiver a bit. Just you keep watching out baboon! Shirley Strum is strumming up support to have you lot chased FAR away where you belong.While we fantasized about chasing baboons all the way to Cape Point, the Food Lady and the others carried on botanising. This is a Granny Bonnet/Moederkappie (Disperis capensis var. capensis) that is also sometimes called a Cape Witch Orchid.
A pretty blue Pyjamabush or Agtdaegeneesbos (Lobostemon fruticosus). A member of the Forget-me-not family, Boraginaceae.
Teatime! With shaved kudu carpaccio (we dogs only got a faint whiff of this most delicious offering from Thea), Sue hiking biscuits (ditto), same old same old rusks (a tiny crumb), and same old same old beanos (two each). Maddy, Alice, Sue, the Alph with me still on the lead because of baboon smells, and Thea. FL taking the photo, and Dougal deep in a rodent hunt somewhere.
Beautiful pink and silver Amphithalea ericifolia - a member of the fabulous Fabaceae. Someone on iSpot called it a Winter Pea which we think is a nice name seeing it flowers in winter.
We saw this sign so knew we were on the right track to the trig beacon at the other end of Brakkloofrant.
Cup Fungus (Peziza) in the sandy path. These grow on rotting wood or dung.
Alice admiring a snake thistle bush Cullumia setosa growing on the sand dunes.
Help needed over this rocky bit please.
Turning round to look back over Elsie's Peak and False Bay. Nearly at the end of Brakkloofrant now. It seems to be mainly sand dune, and we wish we had a geologist with us.
A dainty little Weeskindertjie probably Nemesia versicolor in the sand.
The Alph and me on the top! The chap on the left got cross because he thought the Alph was taking a swipe at his dog with THAT stick, but in actual fact, he was taking a swipe at Dougal who was trying to sink his teeth into the other dog.
The Alph with Thea at the trig beacon.
View over Sun Valley.
All this and heaven too!
Dougal surveying the suburb where he was born. Noordhoek in the far distance.
This kid decided to try and fix the broken trig beacon.
One last flower photo on the way back - Manulea cheiranthus.
Then almost at the end of the walk we saw a tortoise! It was legging it across the path and disappeared into the undergrowth. Phew - quite an exciting walk.
Click here for a description of the route.

26 July 2012

Up the airy mountain

Last rainy Saturday morning we left for the Cederberg full of expectation for some good tortoise hunting. There were rainbows over the farmlands but as we were stuck on the floor of the Honda, there was precious little we could see. So we were happy to be allowed out to explore the Rietdakkie Farmstall even though it was spitting with rain. We don't mind ice cold rain. We are bred to endure such weather! But the Food Lady was complaining a bit about the lack of Vitamin D over the past few weeks, so the Alph bought some rooster koeks to cheer her up. (They were rather stodgy bread rolls with cheese and jam in the middle. Nothing to do with crowing roosters.) Dougal was eyeing the brooms as he absolutely HATES brooms and likes to shred them to little slivers. We managed to distract him though before he embarrassed us. It poured with rain and blew all night long, but Sunday morning looked quite hopeful. The best part of the Cederberg is being allowed to sleep in the same room as the humans - as long as we don't lick and scratch.
We were really keen to get out now that it had stopped raining and check the place out for tortoises, but the humans were equally keen to stay under the duvet. Come on! Hurry up!
There was a sprinkling of snow on the highest peaks,
and EVENTUALLY we set out on the puddley road. Just look at me with a spring in my step!
This is one of many cats that live on Riversong. They are bold and brazen and didn't run away when I tried to chase them which is most disconcerting to a Scottie.
We carried on to the Tadpole Pools where we bumped into Jack the Black Labrador who lives with all the cats at Louis and Era's house. He was happy to see us but didn't stay as he was on a serious walk with some of his humans.
There were waterfalls cascading off every cliff - like these ones on Geelberg.
The Grey-leaf Sugarbush (Protea laurifolia) was starting to flower.
As were these pretty pink everlastings -which the Food Lady thinks are probably Edmondia sesamoides.
Then - BIG excitement! Baboon smells and evidence - but despite several intensive investigations and frantic searching, not one did we even see!
We were so busy hunting for baboons that we didn't have time to catch fairies but when we got home, the Food Lady put some fairy bog roll in the bathroom. Probably too cold for fairies, but all the same, I found a nicely elevated rock, settled down and waited for tortoises, or lizards, or dassies, or ANYTHING to venture out.
All too soon it was back in the car and homeward bound. Snow on the peak that we can never remember if it is Sneeukop or Sneeuberg as there seems to be several Sneeukops and Sneeubergs around here. Whatever, it is the highest peak in the Kouebokkeveld area.
A bit of excitement when we went over the low bridge into the Slangkop Valley - scary snary! We have never seen the river so high.

15 July 2012

Raindrops keep falling on my head

Its STILL raining - the third wet Sunday in a row. There were several other mad dogs and Englishmen - and a small boy - already ahead of us, but Sue was the only one of our regular group crazy enough to join us on a walk
up to the waterfall.
Stopping for a breather, we were bombarded with raindrops and strange creatures in rain bubbles that appeared on the camera lens.
The streams were flowing really strongly, and YIKES, there is that horrible lurgie that Dougal keeps seeing! Even the Alph seems to have seen it.
No wonder Dougal is nervous about crossing the rushy streams!
Everywhere was drippy,
and the fynbos and forest was alive with creatures to chase.
Hope there are no lurgies in here, but Dougal is across safely. Me next.
Fairies can cross at the top.
More fairy bubbles in the waterfall.
Looking back into a misty Cecilia Ravine. I just KNOW there is a bunch of squirrels or gnomes and pixies, or caracal cats down there and it was very unsporting of the Food Lady to put my lead on to stop me going to investigate.
These Sunshine Conebushes (Leucadendron salignum) were glowing in the gloom.
A Green Protea (Protea coronata).
Fairy toadstools growing on the side of a rock.
A drippy Table Mountain Hairy Heath Erica hirtiflora var. hirtiflora). Looking a bit Middle Earthy with yellowwoods, Tree Ferns and mossy rocks. Almost home and dry - just the last bridge to cross - Sue and the Alph with me and Dougal.
Blisterleaf (Knowltonia vesicatoria subsp. vesicatoria) growing near the Cecilia carpark,
and a Fynbos Fairy on what appears to be Moraea flaccida - the One-leafed Tulp or Groottulp.

Now, lets hope that next Sunday is dry.