09 January 2012

Silvermine: Amphitheatre Path at New Year

Date: 1 January 2012

Location: Silvermine Nature Reserve

Walkers: Michele, Helen, Claudia & Richard, plus dogs

*** Route plotted here ****

We've walked this path several times. Amphitheatre Path archive here.

I had a quiet New Year's Eve in this year and decided to celebrate the arrival of 2012 on the first, with my friends, doing what I like best: walking on the mountain... looking for flowers.

The Amphitheatre Path in Silvermine has become one of my "comfort walks". I know the route well now, and like to revisit favourite spots along the way. It is a hugely rewarding route, with wonderful varied fynbos and spectacular views. I prefer the counter-clockwise direction, so that's what we did. We started early and had really good walking weather too: it was partly clouded and cool.

On the lower flats tall Watsonia tabularis dominate the landscape this time of year. They range from a light salmon colour to a deep orange, and are so ubiquitous it is easy to become blasé about them. Do not fail to appreciate the Watsonia!

Also quite common to see, especially in the damper areas, is the fountain bush, Psoralea pinnata. They're often very spindly and I like the way they sway in the breeze.

There were fields of pink erica. (Not sure which one, perhaps Erica laeta?)

We left the road and made the short but steep climb up the hill. Three cheers for a "Happy New Year!"

On this slope: a different sort of erica. My best guess would be Erica mammosa.

And another shrub with a white flower, and a sweet herby fragrance. A buchu I think, perhaps Agathosma capensis.

Papery everlastings, Edmondia sesamoides, nodding over the sandy path.

Crassula coccinea too, not yet open. I think I prefer the leaves.

We rejoined the road and continued the trudge up the hill.

As we climbed up the view revealed itself. On these higher slopes the pink watsonia was still in flower. Late in the season for this one isn't it?

We left the road and joined the Amphitheatre Path. The first section is damp and ferny.

And here Claudia's sharp eyes spotted a tiny disa. A bright yellow, yes, but only about 10cm tall, and strange. Disa tenuifolia.

We ambled on, heading for the sheltered spot amongst the rocks where we planned to stop for a little snack. Ric kept Roxy busy by getting her to jump on all the big boulders. She's part-dog, part-mountain goat that one.

After refreshments, back on the path, climbing slowly around the edge of the ridge.

Fynbos... endless variety in the plant forms.

And more special surprises: Disa cornuta.

Pelargonium longifolium.

And Corymbium (not sure which one, glabrum or africanum... I didn't take note if the stem was hairy or smooth).

A more common sight: Penaea mucronata.

And this precious pink one (whose name escapes me right now. I cannot find it in my book - will update when I make an identification).
[Update: Lachnaea grandiflora, that's the one! Thanks Marie!]

And lobelia. Which one? No idea! There are so many different varieties of lobelia, how does one even begin to tell them apart? I'm just chuffed this photo is in focus. For some reason my camera usually refuses to photograph these little guys. I do love their deep purple colour.
[Update: Lobelia coronopifolia (what a mouthful). Thanks again, Marie!]

My favourite part of this walk is along the flat section on top.

A different everlasting up here: Cape snow, Syncarpha vestita.

After a while Noordhoek's Long Beach and Chapman's Peak came into view, and the weather looked a bit threatening.

Different sorts of pelargoniums hereabouts too.

We stopped to watch crows playing on the wind, swooping and soaring.

And then in was down - down - down.

And a few more new flowers. From the broomrape family: Harveya tubulosa.

A single stem of willowy Ixia dubia.

Just a few flowers left on this bloodroot, Dilatris corymbosa.

And most exciting for me, another new flower I'd never ever seen before. Thereianthus bracteolatus. What a beauty! A good walk and great start to the new year.



Firefly said...

We stayed in Noordhoek at the Chapmans Peak Caravan Park during our holiday and I passed Silvermine just about every day. I just didn't have time to make a detoir and check it out. The family required too much of my time. I missed out it seems.

Marie said...

Stunning. What a wonderful disa! Never seen it. Would love to find it. Could an x mark the spot on Google Maps?

The pink may be Lachnaea grandiflora? And the lobelia is my favourte one - L. coronopifolia (it's the only one I know)...

Helen said...

Sorry you never had time for Silvermine Firefly. But I bet your holiday was packed with activity. I look forward to seeing more on your blog.

Thank you Marie, and for the help with the identifications! I hope you manage to track down the little yellow guy.