The burnt area near Pringle Bay is awash with the most wonderful array of colourful flowers. We went to see if we could find the rare Disa sabulosa, but were unsuccessful. We did, however, see a fantastic display of Watsonias, Wachendorfias, Pterygodiums, Gladiolis, Pelargoniums and much more. It was a worthwhile trip!
A short walk in Fernkloof this morning was a pleasure after the good rains of the past two days. Everything was clean and wet and the waterfall was flowing well; just a pity about the ugly boardwalk that leads up to it. It was sad, however, to see the deterioration and overgrowth on the contour path heading west above Hermanus Heights. The municipality really should do something about clearing and maintaining the paths in the Reserve, instead of wasting time and money on plans to destroy part of our heritage!
At one time we were rained upon, but for the rest, it was a beautiful day and a beautiful walk – pity there were only 4 us us doing it!
A chance happening on a juvenile Brimstone Canary right close to our cottage, whilst Orchid hunting at Barrydale, provided an opportunity to get close to this interesting little bird (what a fantastic hairdo!). It’s parents were nowhere to be seen and it did not appear to be bothered by our presence. We were worried as it was sitting in a cold wind and had a somewhat forlorn look about it, so I was relieved to note that an adult pair frequented the same area the next morning, suggesting a nearby nest and a re-united family!
Our day started with a visit to the Barrydale Information Centre, where we hoped to get directions to a nature reserve in the area. There wasn’t one there, but the very helpful lady in the office contacted the local conservation officer who gave us permission to visit a portion of the mountain which had been burned in the pass. This was great news, but there was more to come.
She put us in touch with Hildegard Crous, who propagates wild orchids in her own laboratory in Barrydale, so we set off to visit her. This turned out to be a great move as she is doing fantastic work and had a number of interesting specimens at hand. She was very happy to show us around and we were very impressed with her knowledge and hospitality. Years of patient work are starting to pay off and we saw the results of her dedication in the form of beautiful specimens of Disa barbata and Bartholina etheliae. She also showed us a couple of really spectacular Pelargoniums that she had grown.
We then proceeded to the Tradouw Pass again and this time into the burnt section of the mountain, where we immediately started to find Orchids. We managed to identify Pterygodium acutifolium, Ceratandra atrata, Disa bivalvata and Disa reticulata, Evotella carnosum, Satyrium stenopetalum and Satyrium acuminatum. It was wonderful to be back amongst our favourite flowers!
There were, of course, many other wonderful species to see and we were well pleased with our day, and the entire Barrydale experience. We had met some wonderful people and had achieved around 12 different orchid species, albeit that a few were well past their prime. We also identified 58 bird species in the area.
We set off with friends on Monday, full of enthusiasm for our trip to Barrydale, where we hoped to get access to the recently burnt sections of the Tradouw Pass in order to seek new orchids. Our lunch stop at Swellendam was something of a let-down (literally) when Brent found he had a flat tyre and it took quite an effort to get it changed and repaired.
This meant a later-than-intended arrival at our accommodation, Bronze Grove farm, a delightful spot between the pass and Barrydale. We did, however, stop near the pass summit and had a look at the roadside plants, of which the yellow Chinkerinchee (Ornithogalum dubium)was the most abundant. Also present were some Moraea ramosissima and Pterygodium catholicum, although the latter were somewhat past their best. It was too late once we arrived at the farm to do much more than settle in and make plans for our first day in the area.
On Tuesday morning we made our way into the pass and set off down the old road, where we started to see some interesting plants, although the area had not been burnt. Amongst them was a patch of Disa sagittalis, a new plant for all of us, so we were not disappointed. The scenery along the river was spectacular and we wished we could access the burnt area on the other side, but we found no way across. There were many other good species, but my lack of knowledge of the area precluded much in the way of identification.
In the afternoon we managed to get permission from a neighbouring farmer to walk on the burnt section of the his mountainside farm and had a good few hours exploring. The veld was beautiful, with abundant, Moraeas (especially M angusta), Bobartias, Pelargoniums and Watsonias. We found dead Holothrix species and on or two Disa bracteata but no other orchids
Ten good friends set out on Monday morning to hike the Oystercatcher Trail. We had spent the night in Mossel Bay and started our walk full of enthusiasm and excitement at what lay ahead. Our route took us south to the St Blaize Trail which hugs the cliff top to the west of the town. It was a good day for walking and Alicia, our guide, was a mine of information, stopping frequently to point out interesting features of the landscape.
We were soon within the Pinnacle Point estate and were somewhat bemused by the opulence of the housing there. Each new builder seems to strive to make something bigger and better than any other and it all appeared to be an exercise in bragging. Luckily we had to go past the clubhouse, and made the most of the opportunity to down a cold beer as we were pretty tired by this stage. A few kilometres further on we arrived at Dana Bay, our destination, having completed 14 kms and feeling every bit of it as the route had taken us over some rough ground, which was hard on the aging legs and feet!!
We returned to Mossel Bay for the night, having been let down by our original Dana Bay accommodation, but returned the next morning for our hike to Boggomsbaai. This entailed 14 km of beach – a doddle some might say, but the tide was coming in and this made for soft sand underfoot and we were once again a bit bushed by the end of the day, especially as it was a hot one and we had to climb up to our accommodation at the comfortable Sandpiper cottages. There we were very well looked after and had great food! Alicia had been joined by Chris, and between the two of them, we were kept apprised of our surroundings.
We were scheduled to walk 21 km on the last day, but sore feet dictated that we reduce that distance by 10 km, so we started from Fransmanshoek and completed the last 12 km to our pick-up point on the bank of the Gouritz River, whence we were ferried across to the right bank before returning to Boggomsbaai for our last night. There we had another excellent meal preceded by fresh oysters and champagne – what a pleasure!! Well done to the team and well done to the Trail staff. We enjoyed it all!