Winter vs Spring

Here is the ALBUM. For captions or info click on i on the top right-hand side. A good way to go - the Slideshow is found at the top of the page on the rt hand side by clicking on the 3 dots. Featured this week – Goukamma in early Spring, Swartberg Pass East, Attakwaskloof, Garden Route Dam Circuit with WAGS, Herbertsdale with LOT and Safraanrivier with SIM.

Goukamma is looking spectacular. The valleys are covered with a carpet of Dichisma ciliatum, Ursinia chrysanthemoides and Selago burchellii coloured in pale lime-green and bright yellow, with deep purple in between. The regeneration of the vegetation has taken a huge step forward, since we were last there. The greens were bright and sparkling, the sea was deep blue and Groenveli was a bright blue-green, living up to its name. A kaleidoscope of colours!

Bill and I celebrated the last Sunday before sailing starts again, with a walk to Goukamma last Sunday. Ignoring the “No Entry signs”, we walked the highways and byways and ended on the dune overlooking Groenvlei, Swartvlei, Vic Bay and the Outeniquas. The air was crisp and there had been recent rain. Freesia leichtlinii ssp alba (Near Threatened) and Selago burchellii (Vulnerable) were the only rares we saw all day. It was a wonderful day out.

I cannot imagine why Cape Nature is still closing this little reserve. Maybe they are waiting for signage or something? The danger of erosion is long past. But we will probably never know. Despite weekly reports on the state of the reserves, which are painstakingly written, with details on the plants seen and the state of the paths etc. there is never any reaction. This is not surprising, as the only people from Cape Nature who read the reports are Dr Annelise Vlok and KG when he knows that the report is about the Swartberg. Both AL and KG are hugely supportive and encouraging. As volunteers, we are so grateful for this. But for the rest, it does feel a bit like “A Voice crying in the Wilderness”. With chronic staff shortages, we are doing a lot of Cape Nature’s plant monitoring. It would be good if we knew that the information was being used by the Reserve Managers.

HAT visited the Swartberg recently, to hike along the Ridgeline path from the top of the Swartberg pass – going East. A wonderful high-level path with great views out- an interesting mix of ups and downs with views to both the north and south side of the Swartberg. Sadly, the vegetation is looking particularly grey and bleak. Little rain or snow this winter – so I am hoping that once the real spring arrives it will prove to be a more worthwhile outing.

An intense north westerly wind on the day made looking for plants on the ridge line, and their photography a tricky experience. So mostly, it was a case of “just keep going” and “grabbing a few stukkies’. Numerous plants of Berkheya cruciata appearing in some of the old burns- while among the rocks a few grey Berkheya francisci (Rare) seem to be surviving. Jenny Potgieter has identified some of the Erica’s- many thanks to Jen. Mostly only white Erica glomiflora, and Erica fimbriata seen, while other Erica’s were still in bud. However, on the south facing aspect amongst some old flowers -two rocky cliff-face Erica’s: Erica transparens and Erica costatisepala (Rare). The wind continued to buffet the hikers and as a result the day out on the ridge became shorter, and Albertberg will have to wait until next time.

GCBR meeting
The AGM went by in a flash, ably chaired by Willem Botha. It was certainly not the usual rather tedious affair, which makes an AGM something to avoid at all costs. I spoke about the work done by the Outramps CREW Group and it was very well received. I made a few very useful contacts. Charl Wade of the SC Fire Protection Unit had some plans to help with the clearing of the Acacia cyclops on the Lobostemon belliformis site. This was music to my ears and I will pursue it next week with the new owners.

Although fish are not really my thing, there was a very interesting presentation, Dynamics and economics of fish populations in the Goukou Estuary – Jean du Plessis (CapeNature). Mary Carr’s presentation on ‘Rethink Bags’ was inspiring and we are hoping that this initiative will go from strength to strength. In amongst all the huge problems in South Africa, there are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Does that give us just a little ray of hope?
It was well worth driving to Jongensfontein for this meeting. Jongensfontein was a first for me, but sadly not many of the locals supported the event. The GCBR has achieved incredible things with a handful of people. Now that funding is more freely available, lots more should be achieved. We look forward to a very bright future for this wonderful initiative. Thanks for giving me the opportunity of sharing the work that the Outramps do in the Southern Cape. tanniedi

A second HAT outing – in the way of an exploratory trip for a future MCSA outing from the Moore’s farm to the West of the old Voortrekker Route – Attakqua’s Pass (or Attakwaskloof). An interesting day out – no path but as there were fires in the area about 2.5 years ago – the Fynbos not overly thick. Evidence of numerous new Protea plants coming up. Lobelia sp. were a very special sight – slopes of blue all over – however my camera says” no there were no blue flowers today”. Difficult to photograph!! Psoralea shrubs/trees in abundance and numerous Acmademia tetragona (Near Threatened). Ericas – some whites and pinks, an unusual pink glossy sticky Erica, and one small stand of Erica unicolor subsp mutica (Endangered). However, the special plants of the day - in full flower on all the rocky ridges were 2 different Agathosmas/ A mucronulata and A. blaerioides. Both Buchus previously seen on Fouriesberg and ID’d by Dave. Then along a steep rock face “a cliff hanger” peering out at me, while I peered back– I guess Lobelia dichroma (Data Deficient). Difficult to see, while my companions all said – Evie a closer encounter is not on!!”

A Meadow and Splashes of Gold
As always it is a treasure trove to explore Herbertsdale road. The bulbs were flowering and Rusell and I were greeted by Gladiolus floribundus, Babiana fourcadei, Watsonia laccata clad in orange, the dainty Gladiolus mutabilis, a white Disperis capensis (Moederkappie, Granny Bonnet). Two populations of Satyrium muticum (CR), though there were more leaves than flowers in the second group and Freesia leichtlinii ssp. leichtlinii (VU). Nearby was a dense stand of tall Protea neriifolia.

This is Hermannia land and in a post fire patch Hermannia angularis was prominent and flowering profusely. With eyes peeled for orchids we were suddenly surprised to be in the middle of a large stand of resprouting Cyclopias. It can only be Cyclopia intermedia, but this has to be confirmed.

A spectacular slope and meadow of Leucospermum cuneiforme was filled with busy bird chatter and here Brunvigia josephinae (VU) with its prominent display of leaves stopped us dead in our tracks. Just the perfect lunch stop. Tall restios, a stand of waist high Hermannia hysoppifolia and the very attractive Cliffortia strobilifera, sporting some galls, made us pause, but I found mý plant of the day next to a snowy display of a Struthiola - Erica glandulosa spp. glandulosa with its almost translucent peach coloured tubes! Much of the plant is covered in glandular hairs and for some reason it just made my ‘wielietjies pap’ – colloquial Afrikaans for an all in one of being of impressed, charmed and weak at the knees at the same time!

We passed a weird spot where there might have been a strange ritual. A hole in the ground was surrounded by the remains of a very big bird and the remainder of the leafy top of a Hypoxis. Still with noses down for orchids our path was now paved by several Romulea species, mostly the beautiful bright Romulea rosea var. rosea. Walking back we were looking for a Hermannia species I had only seen here before. And there it still was - only one plant with tiny yellow flowers and scrumply leaves. I also found a name for it - Hermannia microtesticulare, though it does not appear as such in Cape Plants or the redlist! However, my little plant has a name and Rusell and I had a glorious plant-filled day.

Garden Route Dam Circular
This last Wednesday – a walk with WAGs at low altitude – around the Garden Route Dam and on to Pepsi pools. A pleasant morning out. Some Fynbos -dominant pink heath (? Erica sparsa and canaliculata ) – although most of this walk is through the bracken and old tracts of Wattle trees. There has been a good deal of clearing along the various jeep tracks in the area – so now much more accessible than previously. I was so glad that our leader Jan, knew his way – what with so many different options it would be easy to get lost. There were some enjoyable bits of indigenous forest in between, and Pepsi Pools was sparkling with its white foamy bubbles. Sadly, it was too cold to swim.

Baby,it’s cold outside
Spring may have been in the air at Goukamma a few days earlier, but it was Midwinter at Safraanrivier on Friday. We planned to explore some of the foothills on the northern side of the Robinson Pass. We came with no clear idea of exactly where and as we drove over Robinson Pass rain/sleet sped across the windscreen of Bloody Mary. (The Buchu Bus had been left at home to sulk, until her inner workings have been sorted, which was just as well. Once again she had refused to start and ended up at Roelf and Jack’s (her home from home) with a broken solenoid or some-such. Bill and Ena both say that I should talk more kindly to the BOB, so maybe that will be our next strategy.)

We turned into the Paardebont road and drove until we found an open gate, with some signs of life. Kobus, who was the foreman on the farm, gave us a warm welcome, when we explained our mission to explore for plants. So we set out to climb up a kopje overlooking the farm. It was freezing, freezing cold, even with gloves, beanies and every bit of available clothing. There was an icy, biting wind that heralded the regular squalls of rain and sleet that swept over us en route to the Swartberg. It looked as if it was snowing on Gamkaberg and the Swartberg and we really hope that the falls were significant, so that the plants can have a hupstoot into Spring. At times it seemed as if there was a window of blue sky above us, with rain/sleet all around us.

The route up to the top of the foothill was varied. There was Renosterveld, Fynbos and a large area of burnt veld, with lots of interesting plants, despite the obviously dry conditions. Geology varied between shale, sandstone and silcrete. Babiana sambucina was in early bloom. There were lots of curlywhirly Albucas with early buds. Machairophyllum albidum carried a selection of spent capsules and new golden flowers. Lapeirousia plicata (I think) was a crowd-stopper, with lots of Oohs and Aahs. Post-fire, Pteronia hutchinsoniana was flowering and we must have seen about 50 plants in the area of 1500m x 50. Prior to 2018, we had only seen a couple of plants on the Rooiberg, but this year we have found a whole lot more localities, after the 2017 fires. Aloe lineata var. muirii was spectacular, as it combined with Aloe ferox to give definition to the scenery.

We had lunch just below the top of the ridge under an overhang, as another squall swept over us. We took a slightly different route down back to the cars, with the resolve to come back, as winter develops into spring. I will contact the owner of the farm, to discuss our way forward. So much to do – so little time!

Forthcoming Field trips
Alien Invasive Plant clearing at Diosma Reserve
Carlo van Tonder of Cape Nature brokered official permission from the Mossel Bay Municipality to pursue a low impact alien invasive plant clearing regime at the Diosma Reserve. It will be a collaboration between Outramps CREW, Cape Nature interns and the Fransmanshoek Conservancy rangers. First day will be this coming Wednesday, 22nd of August. All willing and able bodies are welcome to help with careful handpulling of Acacia cyclops!

On Friday, SIM will be visiting the Walker Bay properties at Buffalo Bay to do some more exploration, before giving producing a report. Myles Mander and Chris Gow of the Western Head Conservancy will be joining us. From Myles, “As the Western Heads Conservancy, we are assembling information on the conservation value of this site for a representation to the municipality before they may start considering changes to the development footprint. Dave Edge is going to look at the butterflies and we wondered whether your team may have done any botanizing here in the past and possibly have a list of high value conservation plant species occurring in the area – or likely to occur.”
Hamba kahle
Groete en dankie
Di Turner
Outramps CREW Group
Southern Cape

All id’s subject to confirmation by Doc Annelise and Jan Vlok, Steven Molteno, Dr Tony Rebelo, Nick Helme, Prof Charlie Stirton, Dr Robert Archer, Dr Robert McKenzie, Dr Ted Oliver, Dr Christopher Whitehouse, Adriaan Grobler, Prix Burgoyne, Dr Kenneth Oberlander, Dr Pieter Winter, Dr David Gwynne-Evans and Mattmatt on iNat. Thank you all for your ongoing help and support.

Outramps Projects and Places on iNaturalist – You can browse through the observations or refer to the checklist which is in alphabetical order eg. Animals, birds etc.
Cola Conservancy -
Dune Molerat Trail -
Featherbed Nature Reserve -
Gouriqua -
Heaven in the Langkloof -
Herolds Bay -
Kammanassie -
Langeberg Grootvadersbosch -
Kranshoek -
Masons Rust -
Mossel Bay Diosma Reserve -
Mossel Bay -
Mossel Bay -
Mossel Bay -
Natures Valley -
Outeniquas Bobbejaanberg -
Outeniquas Camferskloof -
Outeniquas East -
Outeniquas Flanagans Rock -
Outeniquas Lange Berg -
Outeniquas Paardepoort East -
Outeniquas Paardepoort West -
Outeniquas Southern Traverse -
Rooiberg -
Spioenkop -
Strawberry Hill -
Swartberg Spitskop -
Uitzicht Portion 39 -
Uitzicht -
Western Head -
Western Head –
Western Head -
Western Head -
White Heather -
Wilderness Brown Hooded Kingfisher Trail –
Wilderness Kingfisher Trail -
Abbreviations Glossary

MCSA – Mountain Club of South Africa
MSB - Millenium Seed Bank based at Kew in the UK
WIP – Work in Progress
HAT – High Altitude Team
LOT – Lowland Team
SIM – Somewhere in the Middle Team
WAGS – Wednesday Adventure Group
VB – Vlok Boekie “Plants of the Klein Karoo” and our Plant Bible
ITRTOL – Another thread “In The Rich Tapestry Of Life”(It describes a challenging situation, usually to do with the Buchu Bus)
ITFOT – In the fullness of time
WOESS – Fair Weather Hiker
FMC and JW – too vulgar to translate, but the equivalent is “Strike me Dead” - An expression of surprise and delight on finding a new “Rare”
Kambro – same as above
Fossick – A meter per minute, scratching around looking for rares
SIDB – Skrop in die Bos – Another name for a field trip, this one coined by Prix
BAFFING – Running round like a blue-arsed fly
SYT – Sweet Young Thing - Anyone under the age of 40
TOMB – Get a move on
Mayhem - Needless or willful damage or violence
SESKRYNG – “Sit en staan kry niks gedaan” ,with thanks to Brian
SOS – Skelms on Scramblers
FW – Idiot
BOB – Another name for the Buchu Bus when she’s misbehaving.
CRAFT – A symptom of Old Age
DDD - Metalasia tricolor (Damned Diabolical Daisy)
VP – Vrekplek – Retirement Village
Qàq – Self-explanatory Inuit word describing some of our local problems
Mr Fab – Our Fabaceae specialist, Brian Du Preez – originally Boy 1
Muisvoel -The Mathematician – Peter Thompson
Boy 2 – Kyle Underwood who works on Orchids and is still at school
Sharkie – Finn Rautenbach – Our latest SYT is a surfer in his spare time
Sicko – Someone who suffers from Car Sickness. With 4 in the Group, allocating seating in the Buchu Bus is tricky
VAG – Virgin Active Garage, which is our meeting place when we head north
MATMUE – Meet At The Mall Under E - Meeting place when we head West
WG – Waves Garage in Wilderness East. - Meeting place when we’re going east.
VU- Vulnerable
DDT – Data Deficient and Taxonomically ?
NT – Near Threatened
EN – Endangered
CR – Critically Endangered
PE – Presumed extinct
LC – Least Concern
TBC – To be Confirmed
TLC – Tender loving care
JMS – An expression of absolute disdain
FOMO – Fear of Missing Out
Milk – the fruit of the vine
Condensed Milk – Scotland’s finest export
Full Cream Milk or Fat Milk – Any product of Humulus lupulus eg. Milk Stout
Milk of the Gods – Rooibos and Brandy
Milk Shake - Sparkling Wine
NS – Species of conservation concern new to the Outramps
PS -Priority Species allocated to the Outramps by our CREW Cape Co-ordinator , Ismail Ebrahim
iNatFD – iNaturalist for Dummies as compiled by Sally
Mizzle – Mist and drizzle combined. A regular feature of George in the ”good old days”.
FE – Fire Ephemeral – only appears immediately or after a couple of years after fire
Squirrel – aka President Ramaphosa
WOG – Wrath of God – eg. incurred when you put a young Pine tree on iNat as Leucadendron album
Skedonk - A banger - old, battered motor car more than 30 years old
Hoedown - redneck gathering, usually involves shouting catchy phrases like "yee-haw" and "the south will rise again"
VHF - Vat Hom Fluffie - our nickname for furry or woolly plants
OTL - Out To Lunch is used to describe the Buchu Bus when she's taking a break after she's behaved badly

Publicado por outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi, 20 de agosto de 2018


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