Journal archives for May 2018

May 07, 2018

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.
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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
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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
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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 on May 07, 2018 05:17 by outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 21, 2018

A magical Weekend

Here are the PHOTOS. . 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 - Haarwegskloof, Hartenbos Heuwels with the Butterfly Man, a search and rescue mission and Spitskop with MCSA.

Spitskop in the Northern Swartberg
The trip through Meiringspoort must be one of the most dramatic and beautiful drives in the world. The towering cliffs of the Cape Folded Mountains reach high up into the sky, dwarfing the mere mortals who drive through the poort on the valley floor. We arrived at Wilgemond on the northern side of the Swartberg in late afternoon to join the Mountain Club on their expedition to climb Spitskop. The pictures in the Album give you some idea of the beauty of this house and its furnishings, making it a very pleasant and affordable stay.

Bill and I started off on the climb, considerably earlier than the rest and almost in the dark. For most of the day, the mist was swirling around and visibility was at a premium. Predictably, Bill wanted to do the ascent of Spitskop from the north, whilst I was quite happy at the thought of just climbing Consolation Peak slightly north of Spitskop at a height of 1846 meters. The Mountain Club party caught up with us, as we were starting to climb the ridge leading to Spitskop. The moment there is rock-scrambling involved, I am unable to use the crutches and it becomes a severe struggle. When Bill caught his foot in a rock crevice, it was clear that our speed was hampering the party. So we bailed out and climbed Consolation Peak instead. There was plenty to keep me interested.

Felicia oleosa Rare) was scattered all over the mountain. Protea montana (Vulnerable) and Protea venusta (Endangered) were found on the southern slopes below Consolation. Rafnia rostrata ssp pluriflora (Rare) is growing well after the most recent fires and we were delighted to find “Vat hom Fluffie”, Cyclopia alopecuroides (Foxtail Honeybush Tea-Endangered). Helichrysum saxicola (Rare) was also growing out of a rock crevice. On the descent from Consolation Peak we found Phylica nigromonatana (Rare) and a very green, very strange plant hiding under a rocky overhang. Unusually, Jan doesn’t know what it is. We will need to pursue this id.

After a very convivial evening, we left early next morning to drive along the north to Prince Albert and then home via the Swartberg Pass. Thank you Cheryl and the Mountain Club for allowing us to share this trip with you. It was a magical weekend.
tanniedi

Here is Evie’s account of a search for a lost Georgite and the ascent of Spitskop from the north.
HAT Evie’s Leaky Dam report.
A Saturday (5 May) hike – only Tony and myself. Beautiful day on the mountain. Some of us hikers call it the “Leaky Dam”, as it leaks through weep holes in the dam wall – official name “George Dam” – water now harnessed within the “Garden Route Dam”. The dominant plant today was the very colourful Erica unicolor subsp georgensis (EN). Red and yellow covered the slopes. Super to see this red listed Outeniqua Erica making such an impact. On the higher slopes closer to the Dam – tall grey Mimetes pauciflorus(VU). Pretty Liparia hirsuta -just beginning to show some new pea flowers.

However, a difficult day for both of us. We formed part of a search party (South Cape MCSA members and others). The search was for a George resident who had gone missing 5 days earlier. We combed the area from Saasveld/ Pepsi pools/Leaky dam and returned via a different route. We peered into various openings in the thick Fynbos- followed old disused paths, scanned the gorge below- to no avail. The Fynbos is currently exceptionally thick.

(Note- news since my outing - the missing person was found a couple of days later - in fact in the forested area close to his home suburb). Sadly, this looks like suicide.

HAT Evie’s report: The Peak at Spitzkop in the Swartberg.
One of my favourite peaks in the Swartberg. An interesting ridge line, followed by a bell shaped rocky peak – which looks impossible while standing just below the peak – however a few sideways scuttles, and a few more rocks and cracks to climb up and down in- and hey presto the peak itself is gained.

I climbed the Peak as part of an SC. MCSA meet – a party of 11 hikers (including Outramps Dave Underwood) made the peak. Sadly, the views were hampered by swirling mist – only the odd opening to view the steep ridges and huge boulders below, and catching a glimpse of the farms way down in the distance.

The plants were saying “We were burnt about 18 months ago- don’t expect too much!” Dave and I were amazed to discover how many different plants of the ground Proteas there were. Both Protea scolopendriifolia and Protea montana were thriving on one of the south facing slopes. About 3 years ago Brian (Mr Fab) and I had difficulty finding more than a few plants in the extremely dense overgrowth.
On the peak much debate – were the low growing Protea bushes/-old seed heads only, Protea venusta (EN), Evie’s guess, or in fact Protea rupicola(EN). One of the party promptly solved the debate -a ‘WhatsApp ‘to our local Annelise Vlok – They are in fact Protea rupicola. Some of the old seed heads – look like a shaving brush!!
Evie

A note from Peter Thompson, one of our 2 Master’s students at Stellies
Haarwegskloof- Buffelsjagrivier - Koleskloof
I spent the weekend of the 28th of April on Haarwegskloof for Jannie's birthday. On Friday we headed out to the western side of Grootvadersbosch to see what we could find. The highlight for me was seeing Protea lorea for the first time, although it was not in flower. From here we drove to the Buffeljagsrivier Dam where Jannie showed me Stapelia divaricata (Vulnerable) and a multitude of Haemanthus sanguineus pushing out their fresh foliage.

We spent that night at Wolfkloof near Swellendam, where I was lucky enough to see Nerine humilis in mass flower (easily thousands of plants under a pine forest). On Saturday, we headed to Koleskloof near De Hoop, where we were rewarded with Velthemia capensis and a Scadoxus species. Both of these were a first for me.

I'm making progress with my masters and will be sure to fill you in when I see you again!
Peter Thompson

Hartenbos Heuwels with the Butterfly Man – Thursday 10th May 2018
Dave Edge has been appointed to do a butterfly survey at Hartenbos Heuwels where they are planning a large property development. A few weeks ago, he contacted the Outramps to find out if we were familiar with the area. None of the group knew it, but LOT expressed an interest in visiting this piece of ground north east of Mossel Bay. Dave organized to take a few of us into this area on Thursday 10th May.

On Thursday morning it was a real treat to be collected at my front door in Brenton. We then picked up Gail and Ann and headed west. After being let into the property, we made our way towards the reservoir, stopping to look at anything interesting along the way. Dave was particularly interested in looking for Hermannias, possible host plants for Aloeides trimeni southeyae, a rare butterfly found in a restricted range, seen on this site. Hermannia saccifera was not in flower but a few plants of the numerous Hermannia lavandulifolia had lovely yellow bells hanging from their branches. Arriving at the reservoir, we quickly bagged the beacon before exploring the site. Crossyne guttata leaves were popping up from the hard clay soil, their dried flower heads blown off the bulbs and wedged in other vegetation. Clumps of Drimia elata leaves (DDT) were also making an appearance. As the morning progressed, the pink flowers of Oxalis confertifolia (DDT) and Oxalis imbricata var. violacea opened. We also think there was a population of Carpobrotus muirii (NT), but no flowers make ID’s tricky.

All too soon it was time to head back east. Thank you, Dave, for organizing a trip to this piece of Groot Brak Dune Strandveld new to the Outramps and for doing all the driving. We had a most enjoyable outing. We hope that some of this interesting vegetation is preserved by the developers.

On Friday I did a local walk in Brenton and am happy to report that the Nanobubon hypogaeum (EN) population on the fire break is doing well. Wendy Dewberry invited Fred and I to visit the Noetzie Conservancy Outdoor Classroom on Monday. It is recovering well after the fire with a healthy population of Oxalis pendulifolia (NT) providing lots of colour.
Nicky van Berkel

That covers a very busy week, with the members of the Outramps CREW Group going in different
directions to explore both lowland and high altitude habitats. In our next Reportback, we will cover the GCBR meeting at Rooiberg Lodge, an adventurous trip to the Rooiberg Massif in the Drifter and a field trip to Robinson Pass in search of Oxalis ioeides. This report will be sent out some time in the middle of the week. Then we will revert to normal (almost) with our usual crack of dawn Monday missive.
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, 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.

Posted on May 21, 2018 12:40 by outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Another Thread

Featured this week – Eyed Pansy, GCBR meeting, Rooiberg Massif with the Drifter, Diosma Reserve and the Oxalis ioeides hunt on the Robinson Pass.

Another Thread in the RTOL

Eyed Pansy
Junonia orithya (Eyed Pansy) is a new species for the farm Slakplaas on the Robinson Pass. I thought it might be the first WC record for this butterfly on iNaturalist, but, remarkably, I was pipped to the post by Stuart from Great Brak, who saw one two hours earlier and posted it 4 minutes sooner.
Sally

GCBR Meeting
We left Strawberry Hill at 6.30 in the morning on Tuesday 15th, drove through Oudtshoorn and Calitzdorp and over the Rooiberg Pass to the Rooiberg Lodge to attend The Gouritz Biosphere Cluster Reserve meeting. The theme for the day was Wetlands and the presentations were totally enthralling. They just seem to get better and better. If you feel that Ramaphoria is ebbing and that the problems of this beloved country are too great to be solved, come to the next meeting. A small group of passionate and dedicated people have created a miracle. They have accessed generous funding from Europe and have set in motion a number of projects that are not only improving our physical environment, but are busy uplifting whole communities. It is difficult to single out any one person, but let’s concentrate on Andre Britz for now.

For all the world, Andre looks like the archetype right-wing Afrikaner conservative. Well, think again! Andre’s roots are very firmly anchored in Van Wyksdorp, which is truly the middle of nowhere. They don’t even have a petrol pump. He started the “Jobs for Carbon” project and drives it with huge enthusiasm. In a nutshell, the local community are employed to plant Portulacaria afra ( Spekboom) on badly degraded veld. The community have been trained to do the job and have been taught managerial and financial skills. They now have an ATM in the town, a number of them now sit on the PTA committees of the various schools and they have been coached in the art of public speaking. The whole village is in the process of being transformed.

With the European funding, the first stage of VDI (Van Wyksdorp Initiative) has begun. They are building a campus on the outskirts of the town, which will teach all sorts of skills like plumbing, welding etc to the local people. They will be taught how to run small to medium enterprises, which is the only way in which the grinding poverty that prevails in this country will be alleviated. So if you think that there is no hope, take some time and have a look at Van Wyksdorp and what is happening there. And if you have some extra cash, please throw it in that direction.
Casey’s wheel was puncture no1

Rooiberg Massif and the Drifter
Another Thread in the Rich Tapestry of Life (ITRTOL)
This phrase refers to a challenging situation, usually to do with the Buchu Bus. This time, the culprit was the Drifter…..

We left directly after the meeting and drove to the top of the Rooiberg Pass and to the west on the jeep track that leads from the top of the Pass to Bailey Peak. This had been pre-arranged with the Gamkaberg Nature Reserve and Tom Barry. The Drifter is a marvellous vehicle and can practically climb mountains, but her capabilities were to be stretched to the utmost on a very difficult road. The first evening we made it to the Rooiberg Peak area, where we stopped, unloaded the car and set up camp. It was a glorious evening with the spectacular, panoramic views that are a feature of this area. We were early to bed on mattresses in the back of the bakkie and up at first light to continue the journey.

The Jeep Track steadily worsened and eventually my nerve failed and I handed over the driving to Bill. When the s—t hits the fan, he is an excellent driver. On ordinary roads his focus is poor and he tends to fall asleep. He negotiated the truly terrifying gradients with competence and aplomb, altho towards the end he was looking a little pale. At this stage I was walking. In sight of Bailey Peak, we decided that “Discretion was the better part of Valour” and turned. I left Bill to drive and walked up and down all the bad bits. I wasn’t being a wimp. My excuse, “I was here to monitor the plants”.

It was on one of the flatter parts that we became aware of a peculiar noise. On investigation, (O donder hier kom n ding) the front wheel was completely flat. It took us ages to change the wheel. We had to dig to get the jack in, the wheel screws were in so tight that it took the strength of both of us to loosen them. We battled to get the spare wheel on and eventually we tied a rope on to it, Bill lifted on the one side and I hauled it up across the bonnet, so that he could position it. This Heath Robinson method worked and after about 2 hours we were on our way - Puncture no2.

When we got to the end of the jeep track, I proposed we take the peopled and safer route home through Calitzdorp and Oudtshoorn to George. Bill won that battle and we drove through Van Wyksdorp en route to Herbertsdale. Once again we heard that ominous strange noise. And yes, it was another puncture! What now? About 300m away there was a farmhouse with locked gates. To no avail, we shouted. Bill went to scout and while he was away, I suddenly saw a moving tractor. Much waving and hooting and the gate was opened. In a trice, the wheel was jacked up and a plug was put into the leaking tyre. Clarence Thornley, Samuel and Johnson had saved our bacon. I have no idea what we would have done without them. This time we went via Riversdale with stops in every town to top up the air and we managed to limp our way home in the dark. It was a long day – Puncture no 3

That adventure had everything to do with vehicles, but what about the plants, which were my primary objective? The regeneration post-burn is going well, despite the dry conditions. There were small pockets of unburnt veld in amongst the devastation. Many of the Nivenia inaequalis have survived on the rocky outcrops. Leucadendron sp. nova was scattered sparsely across the massif, with many plants burnt and a few survivors. Some adult Leucospermum pluridens are in evidence, but most of them have burnt. There are lots of small Proteaceae seedlings emerging, giving promise for the future. Cyclopia intermedia is busy resprouting all over the place. There was a magnificent Heliophila that I don’t recognise. We will consult Pieter Winter on iNat. This was a recce trip for a bigger expedition in the Spring. If there are good rains this Winter, who knows what we will find? Looking forward!
Tanniedi

Diosma Reserve & Hospital Erf 19201 - 18 May2018
It is Aloe time in Mossel Bay. Aloe ferox (bitter aloe) is in full flower along the N2 embankment holding their flaming candles up to the sky. Just so beautiful and almost vying with the outline of the Outeniqua mountains clearly etched on the northern horizon.
The Diosma reserve looks less burnt 11 months after the June 7th fire, but is bitterly dry. Hoping to find Diosma aristata (Critically Endangered) seedlings or a flowering survivor at least, we botanised at the lower end of the reserve heading for the tiny unburnt section in the north western corner.
Gail and Rusell immediately noticed an APIACEAE just over flowering. There were several plants scattered about and it seems to be Alepidea cf. capensis. Curious about its common name, Kalmoes, I drew one of my favourite books closer. Smith’s “Common names of South African Plants” gives the lovely common name’s derivation as a corruption of the ’real Kalmoes’ (Calamus acorus). “KALMOES: Several Umbelliferae (now Apiaceae) with rhizomes of balsamic odour are known by this name. The vernacular name is of long standing and was first applied to the real Kalmoes .” There are two varieties for Alepidea capensis. One indicated as DDT on the redlist and the other as Least Concern.
Rusell once mentioned that she had seen Euchaetis albertiniana (Endangered) in the reserve. Once we were in the unburnt patch no surviving Diosma plants were found, but one Euchaetis surrounded by Carpobrotis muirii (Near Threatened) and Erica dispar (Near Threatened) some magnificent white Protea repens (Suikerbos) and equally gorgeous Thamnochortus insignis (Dekriet).
During teaching moments on the Highveld, charismatic Prof Braam van Wyk would often flummox wannabe botanists, explaining the term ‘geoxylic pyrogenic suffrutex’. It refers to the miraculous phenomenon where woody species hideaway underground and survive the Highveld Grassland fires (an example is Lysistemon zeyheri or ploegbreker). Well, we have been puzzled by a resprouting buchu in the reserve. Now there are patches of these little plants surrounded by seedlings. A guess is that it could be Agathosma capensis, sporting a Fynbos version of geoxylic pyrogenic suffritices! No confirmation as yet of Diosma aristata seedlings.
Ann arrived assuming it to be botanising at Robinson pass. However last minute switch around of days and trips meant the benefit of her knowledge of the RESTIONACEAE. She was quite delighted as there are RESTIONACEAE babies galore, in some instances stands of Restio triticeus. She could also id Thamnochortus fruticosa. Hopefully the first of many visits to fill out the species list for the reserve!
Other species of note: Tricochephalus stipularis, Phylica imberbis, Searsia laevigatua, Erica lasciva, Erica pulchella, Erica discolor subsp. discolor, Searsia rosmarinifolia, Agathosma apiculata, Chironia baccifera covered in red berries, Hermannia flammea and an interesting prostrate Psoralea.
Being in the middle of a particularly stressful move (my 24th!!!)…. my camera battery got left behind. At least, the positive upshot of not taking pictures was that like the other three, I could handpull numerous Acacia cyclops (Rooipitjie) seedlings. The resprouting of Acacia saligna (Port Jackson) will have to be addressed sensitively by chemical means.

Erf 19201 -Human awfulising
We hoped to log Gladiolus vaginatus (Vulnerable) on this site, found flowering here mid-May 2017. Erf 19201 was even more dismally dry and abused by human rubbish than Diosma Reserve. At two spots there is the leftover mess of cable stripping (copper theft) and piles of clothing, probably unwanted burglary bounty. We flushed out twenty odd plovers, a hare and two Dikkop, a bright green Padloper and another tiny noenoe, one (Homopus areolatus, but despite their presence we hurried off the site. It is part of the ‘agony’ of Mossel Bay and the botanising in the lowlands, witnessing the magnitude of human awfulising.
Leucadendron galpinii (Vulnerable)(eight alive and six dead plants noted. https://www.ispotnature.org/communities/southern-africa/view/observation/709597/ailing-ld-galpinii-phytophthora-the-villain), Erica dispar (Near Threatened) and Euchaetis albertniana (Endangered) are the 3 specials we encountered.
Sandra

The quest for Oxalis ioeides
The day dawned clear and crisp and we reached Robinson Pass without incident. At this time of year the sun is really low on the horizon and the picnic spot was still in deep shadow. We got out to look for Acmadenia rupicola and Erepsia pentagona both known from the Robinson Pass and walked westwards along the rocky outcrops that are Erepsia’s preferred habitat. The other species we were targeting was the elusive Oxalis ioeides. We were looking for it, as it should be in flower now.

The blood-red flowers of Tritoniopsis caffra dotted the landscape of stony outcrops, boldly outlined due to the fire in November with a few of its sister species Tritoniopsis revoluta present in spots. Many interesting resprouters and reseeders were up but very few were in flower. Oldenburgia paradoxa was in flower and some huge plants probably over 100 years old were seen. Tetraria thermalis was resprouting and we discussed the fireproof leaf bases of this remarkable plant.

On the west slopes we came across a patch that had evaded the fire and there were a few Acmadenia rupicola holding on and also in flower. No Erepsia pentagona plants were found but the habitat was right.
We decided to check out the southern slopes near the northern end of the pass and walked along the trail a way. There were many Oxalis plants but not one that had reddish under the leaves. Not far along below the path, a different Oxalis was sighted, this time with the right characteristics. We got down on our knees (I always seem to be worshipping at the altar of the small plants) and photos from every discernable angle were taken. These will be posted on iNat so that the Oxalis guru (Kenneth Oberlander) can determine if we have been successful in our quest.

Watch this space for a yeah or a nay.
Priscilla

As you can see, the Aunties and Uncles have been very busy. It is getting close to Midwinter and we are already running around like the proverbial blue-arsed flies. One shudders to think what Spring is going to be like. This week we will be doing more post-burn monitoring on the Fynbos Estate in the Robberg Corridor. Warrick from Resilience has been appointed as an evaluator for the CREW programme by SANBI. He will be joining us for the day to see how we operate.
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, 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.

Posted on May 21, 2018 12:46 by outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 28, 2018

Nog 'n Piep

The aftermath of the Rooiberg trip continues to haunt us. Casey had a puncture on the way to Rooiberg Lodge for the GCBR meeting, the Drifter developed one on the Rooiberg Jeep track and another one on the way home. And the morning after the night before, the Drifter sat sadly, slumped on yet another puncture in one of the rear wheels. Bill is becoming a familiar sight at Palm Tyres. This must surely be some sort of record. Four punctures on one trip is unusual, even for the Outramps, who are used to vehicle adversity. FMC!

Bill and I joined WAGS on Wednesday on a hike to the leaky Dam and back, which is a round trip of 16km. I’m not going to cover this, as Evie did so a week or so ago, when they searched for a missing hiker. Sufficient to say that it was a glorious day, although walking mainly on roads had the inevitable result. My aged joints take strong exception to this sort of going and I was singing like a canary by the time we reached home.

On Friday, we continued our post-burn monitoring at Fynbos Estate, which is owned by Chris von Christierson and managed by Quentin who was there to meet us at the gate. This property is part of the Robberg Corridor Conservancy and we were initially asked by Cape Nature to do some work there. Joining us for the day, was Warrick Stewart who owns the company Resilience Advice and is based at Knysna. He is the Managing Director and Principal Environmental Advisor and does environmental planning. Richard Cowling at NMU was one of his supervisors when he did his Masters. He has been appointed by SANBI to assess the CREW Programme and the CREW Groups, to see how the initiative can be improved and made more productive. For us, at first it felt a bit like an inspector visiting a school. As my last day at Holy Cross Convent Aliwal North was about 62 years ago, I only have a very hazy memory of those visits, but I do remember that they were anticipated with some dread. This feeling didn’t last long. In a very little time, we were seeing Warrick as an ally and a potential conscript to the Outramps. He had all the qualities we look for in new members. He was young(ish), fit, intelligent, knowledgeable and fun to be with. Obviously he has a company to run, but he may be able to join us on field trips about once a month. We certainly hope so.

But back to the Fynbos Estate. The regeneration since our last visit in November is good. Anisodontea scabrosa is all over the place doing an excellent pioneering job. Bobartia aphylla is also still in evidence, although not in flower. Osteospermum moniliferum is resprouting well and we were delighted to find Nicky’s Blue Fountain Pea (Psoralea vanberkelae) making an excellent post-fire recovery. Teedia lucida is looking lush and green with tiny pink flowers. This plant looks like an alien and is very unfynbossy (?), but it is obviously one of the pioneers in amongst Virgilia oroboides, Leucadendron salignum and Leucospermum cuneiforme. We also found Oxalis pendulifolia (Near Threatened) and Selago burchellii (Vulnerable). Of Muraltia knysnaensis (Endangered) there was no sign. Its continued absence is becoming worrisome. We need to find it soon.

Unfortunately, Fynbos regeneration comes hand in hand with the aliens. This property is well-looked after, but they have a job on their hands. Acacia cyclops, Phytolacca sp, Kikuyu and other alien grasses, Bugweed (Solanum mauritianum), Black Wattle and Bluegums are the main protagonists enjoying the lack of competition post-fire. The Bluegums have all been ringbarked, but some of them are still surviving. It’s going to be a long hard haul for Quentin and his Team. Builders are currently working on the house built of local sandstone. It was severely damaged in the June fires of 2017. In an understated way, it is going to be magnificent, as it looks over the jagged coastline to Kranshoek and the Harkerville Trail to the west.

Weatherwise, it was a gloomy day with dark ominous clouds rolling in overhead, a nippy southeaster bringing the promise of Winter and the odd drizzle with some rain. In every other way it was rewarding and a whole lot of fun. Thanks to all who contributed to this.
tanniedi

Demographics of CREW
Chatting to Warwick, he mentioned demographics, which is a difficult one. Most of you are aware that the Outramps are largely white, old and female. The young have a tendency to call us the “Aunties” and the “Uncles” and Brian irreverently refers to me as “tanniedi”. The reality is that young people are busy working and mostly don’t have the time or money for things like CREW. Unfortunately, to do the job, you need to have time and some money. Running around the countryside in the Southern Cape does not come cheap, especially when you add punctures and vehicle maintenance into the equation. We have got round this dilemma, by adopting “young” as part of the Group and sponsoring them on field trips. And this is the list and where they are right now.
Vathiswa – Head of CREW Eastern Cape
Patrick – GIS Cape Nature
Alistair – Law Enforcement Cape Nature
Rudi – EIA consultant
Verdi – West Coast Biosphere
Brian – Masters at Stellies – Revision of Polhillia genus
Finn – Curator of the George Botanical Gardens
Lee-Anne – Masters at University of Pretoria
Sandile – Botany Dept NMU
Peter Thompson – Masters in Artificial intelligence at Stellies. He has a Cum Laude degree in Maths and his thesis is somewhat above me - it is evidently on an environmental theme.
Our latest “young” is Thabang Sibiya of Sanparks. Unfortunately she couldn’t make it on Friday, because of a meeting commitment.
tanniedi

Some more info on the eyed Pansy from Stuart Thomson of the Great Brak Conservancy
Junonia orithya madagascariensis - Common name: eyed Pansy.
This butterfly is widespread but uncommon., Although mostly inland grassland and savanna, it has been recorded from Port St John's in the E Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Swaziland, Mozambique, Limpopo, NW province, Gauteng, Free State, Northern Cape, Namibia and Botswana.

Host plants are Antirrhinum spp, Plectranthus spp and Hygrophila spp.

Lepidopterist Dr Dave Edge commented
“ This butterfly seems to have really established itself in the Mossel Bay area this year. Also recorded from Hartenbosheuwels. It has steadily been moving south-west over the last few years - we think that this is a combination of climate change and its shift to a new host plant - Plantago sp. “

Before receiving feedback from Dave Edge I commented to Sally of the Outramps’, mentioning that with the climate changing…… who knows what we will find in our surrounding area? More food for thought…. If a prestige wine farm in Somerset West can find a black mamba in a consignment of trees purchased from a Nursery in KZN, then what else is hitching rides to other parts of the country??
Stuart

SIM are hoping to do and thereandback from De Hoek to the ridge above Bothashoek in the Swartberg on Friday. I will be in touch with KG to get permission. LOT are proposing another visit to the Robinson Pass area. It would seem that Oxalis ioeides continues to elude them.
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, 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"
VHF - Vat Hom Fluffie - describing a furry or woolly plant

Posted on May 28, 2018 09:01 by outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi | 0 comments | Leave a comment