18 February 2012 – It’s amazing what’s so close to home…
With not too much planned for the weekend, we were all too grateful when friends, Cliff and Suretha Dorse, invited us to spend Saturday night with them at Blaauwberg Conservation Area. They have recently renovated an old building at the top of the hill overlooking Melkbosstrand into new accommodation and we were going to check it out. And what makes it even better was that this spot is really close to home – in fact, we can probably see it from our house!
We arrived after lunch heading up to the accommodation from the eastern side of the koppie. The accommodation was absolutely stunning. An open plan unit that can sleep 4 with gas stove, fridge and geyser and solar power for the lights. But the view was the highlight. I’ve lived my entire life in Cape Town and, every now and then, you see a view that makes you appreciate this creation that you live alongside every day. This was one of them.
After settling in and soaking up the view, it was time to get to business. On a drive through the conservation area, we managed to tick only a handful of common bird and butterfly species as well as a Striped Mouse. It must be noted that it was 35 degrees up there, so not too many things were active.
We headed back up to shelter, trying to escape the heat, but not with too much success. An early dinner planned so we could take a night drive hoping to see a White-tailed Mouse. This endangered animal has a small population in this area and it is still a full lifer for us, so we were only too happy to give it a try. We managed to find some scorpions, a Marbled Leaf-toed Gecko, several Southern African Pygmy Mice, a few Spotted Eagle Owls and a Fiery-necked Nightjar or two, but unfortunately, no White-tailed Mouse. We’ll just have to go back again sometime…:)
On the way home, we spotted a gecko running across the pathway: a Marico Thick-toed Gecko. A first record within the boundaries of the City of Cape Town and the most southerly record ever for this species!!! And, of course, a new species for our challenge list. Very exciting indeed!!! And on that high note, it was off to bed.
The next morning saw us take another quick drive around the area hoping to find one or two new ticks for the trip, but not even the reptiles were terribly interested in being found.
With the car all packed and ready to go, we got slightly distracted by the butterflies. Trying very hard to take some macro photos of butterflies is definitely not the easiest thing to do. We also scratched around for a few reptiles and managed to find a few Cape Girdled Lizards and, more excitingly, a Delalande’s Beaked Blind Snake, a new reptile species for our challenge list and only the second ever record for the reserve! Even with all this excitement, eventually it just got too hot out in the sun and we headed back home.
A great weekend with good friends in a wonderful place.