Thursday, August 26, 2010

In Search Of ...

Meandering … an honorable pastime. Meandering in Cape Town … a pleasurable pastime! We began the day with two goals: breakfast in one of our favorite spots – then find a birding location for our favorite in-laws.

Goal one is a little café in Blaubergstrand. You might want to translate that as the beach of the blue mountain. Betsy is watching a family meandering over the shoreline rocks in search of tiny fish. The blue mountain, Table Mountain, is in the background. Our breakfast was terrific.

Goal two sent us to locations on the other side of the blue mountain. We didn’t know exactly where we were going – just a general idea. Our first stop was a good-sized, as it turned out, dog-walking park named Island Park. Winter in Cape Town is the time for many of the bushes to bloom. Betsy is standing beside an eight-foot tall shrub covered with little white blossoms. Stunning!

Yellow blooms covered other shrubs and there were Calla Lilies everywhere.

We finally spotted some (significant) birds. There were any number of coots cruising around and a few pelicans. I get a kick out of the fake red eyes on the coots. They’re actually deemed attractive by females during the breeding season.

The area seems much like we we’ve seen along the waterways in Florida, only on a smaller scale. The boats tied up at the docks tended to be canoes instead of yachts.

Other neat stuff that we spotted on Park Island included a Pelargonium (Geranium) that only my brother Marshal would recognize,

and a Weaver Bird nest under construction. A finished product was nearby.

We had come out to this specific location because of a rumor of a pod of resident hippos. When we asked a dog-walking couple about them, they said we were in the wrong place and that we should backtrack down the main road a bit to a location called Rondevlei (Ron-de-flea). So, off we went.

This was a real park, admission fees, brochures, toilets, museum, the works. The trails were over four feet wide and covered with a heavy-duty rubberized mat. There were occasional breaks in the matting – round in shape with a pattern on one side which looked a lot like animal toes. Never any more than three or four in a row – it looked like a hippo might have used the path for short distances between grassy areas. This realization brought some degree of discomfort, particularly when we saw the Hippo Crossing sign and the path through the rushes.

Rondevlei has two observation towers from which you can see the bird hides and locate the large gatherings of waterfowl. We did not see the pod of hippos, so we set off down the trail.

Along the way we found some interesting flora. This plant is one whose flowers are pollinated by rodents. I rather suspect that it is not native to the area but belongs several hundred kilometers to the North.

We did find some birds including this group of Sacred Ibis.

However, the find of the day came as we sat for a minute at the end of the trail. This little critter, a mongoose, seemed to be scouting for a meal. Perhaps a cobra?

So, did we find what we were searching for? Hard to tell. We had a great time – took a nice long walk in the fresh air – found some beautiful flowers – saw some interesting birds – met Riki-Tik-Tavi. I’d have to say that, yes; we found what we were looking for.


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