The Railway Children

We were shrouded in mist on our annual pilgrimage to Geissorhiza outeniquensis (Near Threatened) along the Railway Line on the southern side of the Montagu Pass. Because of heavy rain forecast for Friday (it actually came true this time), we had to do some day-shifting from Friday to Thursday. The mist was thick and fortuitous, as temperatures to the north climbed to a sizzling 40 degrees. As we emerged from the first tunnel, someone suggested “Gorillas in the Mist” as a title for the Reportback. It was rejected on the basis of political correctness, although on this occasion, the joke was on 2 white Tannies from the Outramps Group. However, “Better safe than Sorry” and we opted for the Railway Children instead. We come from an era, where we frequently referred to our kids as monkeys and used to spank them occasionally, so we need to be careful.

The walk along the Railway Line is enlivened by wonderful scenery, stunning Fynbos and to add some spice - a tiny hint of danger. There are two tunnels ( one is long and goes round a corner) and there’s a bridge that wobbles when the Power Van comes past. Timing is everything. Last year we were caught on the bridge and we were not keen to repeat the experience. Sharing the long tunnel with the Power Van hasn’t happened yet and I hope it never does. It would be hugely scary. Even a head torch doesn’t make any difference to the almost total absence of light in part of the long tunnel. One is constantly a little on edge, listening for the distinctive hooter of the Van, which sometimes comes hurtling around a corner, with little or no warning.

For various reasons, we were late for the Geissorhiza this year. But this beautiful Irid decided to indulge us and we found a couple of plants still flowering to reward our efforts. We think the threat to the Geissorhiza should be raised to Vulnerable at the very least. Erica stylaris (Vulnerable) was well and truly over, but distinctive enough to give us a definite id. Erica unicolor ssp georgensis (Rare) was scattered along the length of the railway line. There are numerous kloofs coming down from the mountain and these were filled with Brachylaena neriifolia (Waterwitels), Cunonia capensis (Rooiels) and Leucadendron conicum (Near Threatened). The gorgeous little Disa sagittalis is surviving the drought and Nicky spotted Disa tripetaloides above a flowering Geissorhiza. Worrying, is a sharp increase in the invasive Acacia decurrens and Agapanthus praecox, which is a garden escapee from an old railway house. Action is needed!! We also noticed that the SOS (Skelms on Scramblers) are still busy tearing up the sensitive peat soil on the Cradock Pass Trail.

And 4x4’s were busy at the Diosma Reserve at Mossel Bay. Here is Sandra’s report.
Mossel Bay News
Diosma Reserve
The presence of more than one 4x4 vehicle in the Diosma Reserve was reported by an indignant neighbour the Saturday before Christmas. Presumed to be holiday visitors. When the vulnerability of the site was explained to them, once they abandoned their capers, the retort was: “But there are ramps and tracks for us” ! The municipality was notified.

Erf 19201
A provincial hospital was planned for this site and the appeal lodged against this during 2017 was unsuccessful. However, now it seems that the hospital has gone out the window and that low cost housing is on the cards. Meanwhile Nicky has logged another redlisted plant for the site. Holothrix pilosa (Near Threatened), bringing the tally of red list plants for Erf19201 to ten together with: Carpobrotus muirii (Near Threatened), Haworthia cloracantha var. denticulifera (worthy of red list status as Vulnerable according to Jan Vlok), Gladiolus vaginatus (Vulnerable), Athanasia quenquedentata (Vulnerable), Erica dispar (Near Threatened), Leucadendenron galpinii (Vulnerable), Thesium fragile (Data Deficient - Taxonomically Problematic), Euchaetis albertiniana (Endangered), Gnidia chrysophylla Near Threatened.

iNat success
Featured at the beginning of our Album this week are two of Sally’s photos. Crassula pyramidalis won the Obs of the week and Mr Stihl and the Rhinoceros Beetle took the coveted Obs of the Month award for December on iNaturalist. This is a huge achievement, considering that she was competing against the rest of the world. Congratulations Sally - very rarified air!!

Ruitersbos Fires
On Sunday 7th January Pam and I (and the dogs, don't tell anyone!) had a lovely stroll along the Kouma Trail at the top of the Robinson Pass on a perfect morning. We especially enjoyed the sight of the big red Cyrtanthus elatus dotted all over the slopes and I made a note to plan a seed collection.

On Tuesday 9th a fire started up in a kloof west of the R328 - we hear that clearing contractors were the cause - and rapidly spread west and into the plantations east of Bonniedale. Despite much manpower and good air support, the fire then turned and headed for the Ruitersbos area. The Robinson Pass was closed overnight on the 13th as very old fynbos took flame in quite a spectacular fashion - see the video I took late on the Friday night. The fire wiped out everything west of the road and firefighters later encouraged a complete burn of the area below Ruitersberg.

The weather cooperated and the fire teams were extremely pleased that their various back burns worked so well, preventing any damage to property. As of the 17th the fire continues to burn in the mountains between Ruitersberg and Engelseberg, with the plan being to stop it spreading beyond the Moordkuil valley
The Kouma Trail is a sad site but I'm looking forward to the next year of post-burn monitoring.

Herbertsdale Road
It turned out to be an overcast day, so not too good for photos, but great for people, on our Lowlands trip. This area is very dry, but there have been no more burns. Tritoniopsis antholyza was scattered over the whole area. Phylica imberlis var. eriophoros was also flowering and seeding. There was an Aspalathus flowering. We sent a photo to Brian to ID, and he has confirmed Aspalathus obtusifolia (Vulnerable)

The other find of the day was Holothrix pilosa (Near Threatened) - not seen by the group before. Two pretty Pelargoniums were in flower. P. carneum was one of them, the other is awaiting an id. We had obviously just missed a mass display of a Wurmbea and Sally was able to make a large seed collection from the now dry plants. Also collected were seeds from Senecio crenata and a couple of miserable-looking Acrodon bellidiflorus. A good time was had by all.

On Friday, SIM will be joining LOT on a field trip to Eseljacht in the Langkloof. It is virgin ground as far as the Outramps are concerned, so looking forward. Hopefully the temperature doesn’t skyrocket into the 40’s. That is an ever-present threat at this time of the year. As I write this report, our mizzle has reached just over 47mm and it is still mizzling. You can almost hear the plants gulping up the precious water.
Hamba Kahle
Groete en dankie
The 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, Christopher Whitehouse, Derek Tribble, Adriaan Grobbler, Prix Burgoyne, Dr Kenneth Oberlander, Dr Pieter Winter, Dr David Gwynne-Evans and Damion. Thank you all for your ongoing help and support. The South African community is busy migrating to iNaturalist and we will soon have projects etc up and running. When they are ready, I will provide you with the links.

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
iNFD – iNaturalist for Dummies as compiled by Sally
Mizzle – Mist and drizzle combined. A regular feature of George in the ”good old days”. Now seldom seen

Posted by outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi, January 24, 2018 12:05


Please contact Di if you want to attend the INaturalist course on 15-17 February.

Posted by tonyrebelo over 4 years ago (Flag)

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