Living in Gardens Cape Town is a privilege. The views are extraordinary. Here are some night time photos. Venus and the moon in close conjunction.
We went on a cruise with 2000 other birders looking for pelagic birds.
Lions head and Table Mountain
Then next day, the birds
There is a video here
Amanda and I ended up going to the SANG today and found the most amazing military vehicle. A Casspir, completely covered in bead work with a Bible quotation to justify the work. Absolutely beautiful, and in another sense horrible.
Photo credits to Amanda and I as I am not sure who shot which image.
But first a description of the art work by the gallery
We were approached to test an app for logging birds during a competition. The organisers needed people to log birds from all over the country in an arbitrary manner. We volunteered.
My wife Amanda and I live in Cape Town on the slopes of Table Mountain.
Table mountain is the base of a triangle of land, a peninsula and being really original, we call it “The Peninsula” but we may on occasions refer to parts of it as the “South Peninsula”.
The first European name of “The Peninsula” was the “Cape of Storms” so named by a very wind blown Portuguese explorer who was blown past the tip of Africa and had to beat his way back to find land again. This picture of a yacht under a single genoa sail and trailing a sea anchor will give you and idea of the power of our local wind.
Winds can gust up to 70 km/h which is when the harbour is closed, people get blown off their feet and buses get blown over. Cape Town is beautiful, but you do not really want to go out in one of our serious gales. You can see pictures of a serious winter storm here. We did, and survived. We reserved tent in the Smitswinkel Tented camp for Saturday evening and set out at 12 on Saturday morning to our first stop, Milnerton Lagoon. The mountain on the right is Devils Peak
It doesn’t look windy but at that stage it was blowing at about 30 km/h. The white spots you can see in the water are Greater Flamingos. In the following picture, Pied Avocecs work the mad flats.
Having scored about twenty bird species we moved on to Intaka Island and still in sight of a bit ofTable Mountain and Devils Peak through the construction site. The cloud you can see is the Table Cloth and only arrives when the wind is really moving.
Intaka island is a water reclamation site for Century City. It really is a special place surrounded by the city and is open to the public. You can take a ferry from the big shopping centre and cruise at your leisure around the whole area. Read more about Intaka here. We scored the cute picture of the day here too.
Red Knobbed Coot chicks just starting to fledge.
Bath time, weavers in partial mating plumage. We moved onto Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens where we “knew” there were baby owls to be seen. No such luck they had moved on. But the scenery and the flowers made up for it.
The top picture is a Mountain Dahlia and the bottom one is an unusual picture of a King Protea. Normally they are shown fully open. This one is partially open which, I think makes a nice difference. Kirstenbosch is in the Fynbos Biome which has the most species of plants (9000 ) in any biome but it is also the smallest biome in area. See more on Kirstenbosch here.
We moved on towards Smitswinkel bay and we both assumed we knew where the tented camp was. Down by the sea, at Smitswinkel bay.
You can see the settlement with the end of the peninsula, Cape Point, in the distance. The only access is down a gravel path so we loaded our bag with sleeping bags, dinner and a bottle of bubbly and set off down.
Nestled in a grove of wind blasted flowering gums, it is one of the overnight stations for the four day Hoerikwagga Hiking Trail which traverses the Table Mountain chain.
The accommodation is basic, but comfortable. Problem is that when the wind is blowing the tent thunders quite dramatically.
By this stage we had gotten 44 birds and were seriously considering going straight home, but the Cape Point Nature reserve was right next door, so next morning we headed that way.
Looking back toward Cape Town, the sea blown flat by the howling wind. The wind was really strong, we watched with some amusement as a Cape Longclaw flew up, was blown backwards, gave up and took to walking.
Everlastings. The hillside was covered in them.
A Black Headed Heron caught and lost a snake, then stood staring into the bush the snake had vanished into for a long while before giving up and moving on.
This is a screen shot of the BirdLasser App we use for tracking our sightings. A great app, limited to South Africa.
In all we got 62 birds, which considering the wind was not a bad score
I climbed Table Mountain and found the red disas that endemic to table mountain. Red Disas or more accurately, Table Mountain Disas is the flower that the Western Cape sports teams use as their emblem.
Aside from nearly killing myself in the climb up, it was an amazing experience and well worth the sore legs.
The really nice thing about being in the richest floral kingdom on earth is that there are ALWAYS a number of species flowering, no matter what time of the year you go out looking. This trip was no different.
Just to give you some idea of the difference between our floral kingdom and the rest of the world, Table Mountain alone has more flowering species than the entire United Kingdom has.
Here are some of those pictures:
I went up Skeleton Gorge and you can see the steepness of the trek.
Me. I had to prove I was there and not looking too exhausted.
The top. At last! Muizenberg in the distance and False Bay in the background.
An unidentified blommie until I looked it up and lo and behold, another disa! Disa Ferruginea. Pays to do some reseach doesn’t it?
King Protea (Protea Cynoroides). The dew drops are for real. I was up there very early.
Campylostachys cernua. I was sorry I looked this one up. Blommie is so much easier to spell.
Gladiolus Monticola. I think. If you are a botanist, break it to me genly if I have gotten it wrong, but it is rather photogenic.
And here ladies and gentlemen is the star of the show. Disa Uniflora, the red disa, pride of table mountain. Take your pick. Pretty isn’t it and really worth the walk.
This guy came out to see what all the fuss was about and kindly agreed to be photographed.
More gladiolus? There were lots of them and they really look much better than the pictures make them out to be.
There were literally hundreds of disas. They are DIFFICULT to photograph. They live in dark holes surrounded by bright sunlight. Metering the camera is a nightmare and camera shake quite a common problem.
A waterfall. It had disas in it, but I couldn’t get disas and the waterfall, so just imagine disas!
He joined me for lunch.
This scene was so much like something from Lord of the Rings, I just had to take it. The End of the Road!
Agathapanthus Africanus. Growing wild on the Back Table.
Hely Hutchison reservoirs on the Back Table and the end of the disa route.
The way down. Nursery Ravine. And believe me it doesn’t nurse anyone!
During that photographic session I saw a green deep sky object. I am still battling to identify it and figure out why it is green. The red circle on the right is a hiker, the red circle on theleft is Venus, but what is the green object?
There are some interesting and different doorways around Cape Town and I am going to post pictures as I collect them. The page is here.
But here are some to start with