A Plan comes Together

At Strawberry Hill we get our water from the Silver River. The main pump is down in the gorge, about 100m below the house. When the pump alarm went off on Tuesday there was consternation all round. This alarm was put in after cable-theft about a year ago. Before long, the police and Chubb were at the farm and the whole delegation went down with Bill to inspect the pump. Nothing was found, but we spent an uneasy night worrying about it.

In stark contrast on Wednesday morning early, Flanagans Rock on the northern side of Cradock Peak was beautiful and unstressful. I didn’t envy Bill and Pieter retracing the path of the pump cable up to the house - this is over very unfriendly terrain. After all that, it seems the alarm was a false one. But I didn’t spare many thoughts for them, as I walked the FR track at first light, safe in the knowledge that WAGS was right behind me. As always, the views and the Fynbos were an absolute delight. This is one of my favourite hikes and I was pleased to find Lobelia dichroma (DDT) on a rock face and Indigofera sp 19 scattered sparsely along the path. The lovely shuttlecock Proteas were stunning in pink and white and Erica discolor var. hebecalyx was beautiful in pale green. Senecio crenatus provided a bright yellow splash of colour in amongst the greens and russet of the Restios. It was manna for my soul.

On Friday, Heine Muller gave us permission to go to Spioenkop in the Ruigtevlei Plantations. Having seen Dioscorea burchelli (Vulnerable)in its natural habitat at Goudveld, I had a feeling that we might find it on some of the southern slopes at Spioenkop. We were looking for seeps in Fynbos in between the plantations. The steep southern slopes below the Uitkyk tower looked like possible sites. Sandra zigzagged across the higher slopes and was rewarded with a lovely patch of Gnidia chrysophylla (Near Threatened). I went down a precipitous path to a lower road, but found nothing of particular interest. But it was Dave, with strong, young(ish) legs and a high level of fitness that took on the very bushed and inaccessible slope slightly to the east. We left him to explore, after deciding on a time to be back at the Bus.

The rest of us walked along the firebreak to the west, descended to the valley and walked past the distinctive Chestnut trees. All the time we were looking for seeps on the southern slopes above us. But there was nothing until we got back to the Buchu Bus and Dave handed us a specimen? “Could it really be Dioscorea burchellii”? The location was perfect and the plant looked exactly like the pics of our posting on iNat of the Goudveld specimen. So we are very optimistic, although it still needs confirming. There was huge excitement and we repaired to a local watering hole for a celebratory drink with slap chips. It is so wonderful when a plan comes together. It is slightly alarming that Dave could only find one plant, despite a very careful hunt.

Many thanks Heine for your support. It is a vast area and we are hoping to return for more exploration in the next couple of months. Dave is also hoping to find Cyclopia laxifolia (Critically Endangered – Presumed extinct). From the Red List, “Cyclopia laxiflora is a very rare and poorly known species, known from only four collections from a small area (EOO <600 km²) in the southern Cape, where it was last collected in the late 1800s. These early collectors gave no specific locality information, nor a description of the habitat the species was found in. Natural vegetation on the coastal lowlands between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay is extensively transformed for coastal development, commercial forestry plantations, agriculture and degraded due to alien invasive plant infestations. Fynbos in the coastal mountain ranges in this area have also been extensively converted to timber plantations, and many areas are densely invaded by alien plants, but some natural areas still remain. Several searches for this species have failed to locate any remaining wild populations, but as the species' preferred habitat is not known, a small chance remains that it may still be rediscovered.” Sounds like a bit of a challenge doesn’t it?

tanniedi

HAT Evie – spent the long weekend 27 April through to the 1st of May on a camping weekend in amongst the towering Swartberg mountains. What majestic scenery. From the banks of the Gamka River – the mountains just rise upwards and seem to be unbelievably higher than ever!
The South Cape MCSA camped in the valley – Matjiesvlei, near Calitzdorp. From here, HAT Derek organized 3 wonderful, all day hiking outings. The first day –was spent in and out of the Spekboom countryside, with good views of the surrounding low hills and high Swartberg. Currently very little colour- some pretty Polygala pinifolia; Macledium spinosum; and various showy Crassulas in flower. Sadly just too early for flowers on the numerous tall Aloe ferox and other Aloe species that are dotted around.

Day 2 – we followed part the route of some of the early inhabitants of the Gamkakloof ( Die Hell) farming community. Apparently, the locals from Die Hel would walk the long stretch through the Gamka River Gorge to reach Calitzdorp for supplies and trade. We walked partly along the rocky river bank, and at various points we followed an old disused path to clamber up and over some of the cliffs lining the gorge. Vegetation – very Karoo like - Crassulaceae and exceptionally spiney Euphorbias much in evidence.

On the 3rd day – 2 of our HAT members- Derek and Clive took full rucksacks and climbed up into the Swartberg to spend a night on high ground. They were lucky to see two Protea aristata (VU) trees- hidden between 2 rock bands– and probably well out of the way of previous fires in the area. Some of us took the easier option of a day hike on higher terrain. We explored along a ridge up to about 800m. Grandiose views from rocky outcrops down into the Gamka River Gorge. On this day we hiked through Fynbos, all very dry though - numerous Erica sp. mostly the flowers over; Paranomus dispersus; Phylicas in abundance ; Buchu plants on all the rocks , some Leucadendrons as well as a small forest of Liparia trees. I found only one yellow pea flower in amongst the trees! Some of the Paranomus dispersus plants are in a very poor condition – very dry and dying off - ?? hot drought conditions.

All in all a wonderful trip – and Outramps need to go back to explore this wild and somewhat inaccessible Fynbos of the higher Swartberg mountains.

Evie

Some of us will be joining the MCSA on their trip to Spitskop in the Swartberg over the weekend. All sorts of interesting plants occur on the northern side of the Swartberg, so we are looking forward to that. The next week, we will attend the GCBR meeting at the Rooiberg Lodge on Tuesday15th. From there, with permission from Tom Barry, we will take the Drifter into the Rooiberg Nature Reserve to have a look at the post-burn regeneration for 2 days. The Drifter will be our mobile home. As a result of all this, there will be no Reportback on the 14th, but expect a bumper edition on the 21st May. LOT are planning to visit the Robinson Pass area on the 11th. They will be looking for Oxalis ioeides (Data Deficient) and Erespsia pentagona (Near Threatened)

In last week's Report, I mentioned the weed growing on the Garden Route Dam and asked for id's. Ann Symons sent me this link which tells the whole story. https://www.georgeherald.com/News/Article/General/weeds-in-the-spotlight-201804251201

Hamba Kahle
Groete en dankie
Di Turner
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 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.

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”.
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"

Posted by outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi, May 07, 2018 05:17

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