Shape Shifters

The craggy landscape beckons and the late afternoon light casts a spell.  Hiking along a ridge line above the coast from Olifantsbos (Cape of Good Hope Reserve)  shadows and shapes merge – figures appear.  Buck species like the shy Grey Rhebok keep a distance and then meld with the scenery. Red Hartebeest scamper behind boulders. Eland, the largest of the antelope species, show their majestic form.  As they pass in front of the ochre coloured sandstone they blend with the rocks, and with a shift in imagination – like slipping through a portal to travel through time and space, a different realm appears.   There was a time when animals were people and the San Bushmen captured scenes depicted in their rock art when Hare, Mantis and Eland had different stories to tell.

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Cape Grysbok

Cape_Grysbok_Raphicerus_melanotis

It’s almost a year since a devastating fire rushed down this section of the mountain in a destructive path.  The vegetation is recovering well and how wonderful it is to see this shy and timid species of endemic buck, the Grysbok on this rainy, drizzly-wet morning.   All the more remarkable is that it is so close to the suburban edge.  They are solitary animals, except during the mating season when they are found in pairs and here we see that this is a female (the male bears horns).    This is one of the smaller species of antelope – it weighs in between 9 – 12 kgs.  Residents in this area have occasional sightings and these close encounters leave the viewer with a sense of awe for these secretive little creatures.

Bontebok young

September through to November is the birthing season for Bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus dorcas); this antelope species is endemic to the fynbos region and is found here in the south western Cape.   It’s elegant colours blend well with the surrounding vegetation.   Within a couple of hours of birth the young are fit to go.

Beach traditions.

On Boxing Day tens of thousands of people head to the beaches around the Cape Peninsula and this year it was a hot,  sizzling kind of day.  Colourful scenes were cast,  revelers enjoying the day.  A day to chill, complete with barbeques, picnic fare, families in a day out with all their beach paraphernalia.  Many of the Peninsula’s fine white sand beaches are kept “pristine” by the regular removal of kelp and other detritus.   But some are left to nature’s cycles, and in this case local knowledge is an advantage, spelling the difference between comfort and discomfort.   In August i wrote about the anatomy of a working beach, the complex symbiosis of sea wrack and the legions of ‘detritus movers and shakers’.    Here is the summer guise of the same beach, still very much the domain of bird and buck, sand hoppers and sea lice.

Hanging-lose,-feathers'-awry_01What’s a gal to do when the mercury is rising and her feather’s equate to a winter’s weight duvet?  Feathers awry – Seeking-the-breeze_ruffling-feathersstretch to catch a little breeze?

High,-hot-sheen-of-summer;-swishing-tails.

The heat of the day catches, mirages form shimmering on the horizon.  Even the buck are caught in a state of ennui.  A swishing tail flicks away the bothersome flies.

The-bachelorsThe young bachelors hang near the dried-out stream bed.

Swift-terns,-ruffled-feathersSwift terns line the rocks, feathers’ slightly ruffled in a soft sea breeze.

Slender-sunfish,-Ranzania-laevisThe rotting dried out corpses of Slender Sunfish lie on the beach; victim of the southeasterly winds and the upwelling of the chill Benguela current.

Beach-partyAn intrepid party of beach goers arrive; foreigners – French speaking.   As they set up in the midst of sand hopper terrain, not far from the high methane scent of rotting kelp,  i can’t help but wonder how long they’ll last before moving to a more hospitable venue.

Lift-off