December 2014

Editor’s Message

How quickly we’ve come to the end of the year! It has been an eventful and successful year for FOSNA. In her chairman’s report Sue has highlighted our main achievements.

Although this newsletter is only due out at the beginning of January 2015, I am writing it before Christmas. By the time you read this I will be on the high seas on my way to St Helena Island in the middle of the Atlantic. I am, once again, very privileged to be taking part in the Governor’s Cup Yacht race from Simons Town to St Helena. The race starts on the 27th December so hopefully with fair winds we should make St Helena by the 9th January. After enjoying the island for about a week we then catch the RMS St Helena, the last of the mail ships ploughing the oceans, leaving St Helena on 17th January and arriving back in Cape Town on 22nd January 2015.

Presently the only way to get to St Helena Island is by sea. This has ensured a slow relaxed pace to the Island which is part of its quaint charm. As you no doubt know, they are currently building an airport on the Island which is due to be completed at the end of 2015. The first airplane is expected to land there in early 2016. Once this happens the RMS St Helena will no longer carry passengers to the island and I think the whole nature of the place may change. So I am very grateful to be visiting before that happens.

Enough of me-I can’t wish you a happy and peaceful festive season as you will only get this next year so I can only say I hope you had a wonderful, relaxed, safe and happy time.

Let us hope the New Year brings Peace and Goodwill to all. Wishing you all a wonderful 2015!

Happy hacking and hiking.

Meryl Hutchison


Chairman’s Report

On behalf of the committee of Friends of Silvermine Nature area, we wish you all very happy, healthy 2015.

Last year was good in that a number of goals were achieved.

SANParks upgraded the path to the toilet and  jeep track from the parking area at Gate 2. The path was widened and hardened to accommodate wheel chair access to the toilets. Some rain gulleys were cleared and others created. This was funded by FOSNA.

We purchased ten beautiful trees (4 Yellow woods, 3 Boekenhout and 3 Wild Olive) from a nursery in Noordhoek.  These healthy specimens were planted around the parking lot at the reservoir.  It is not that simple- planting a tree.  We originally wished to plant trees on the path leading up and away from the reservoir on the north face of the mountain.  However SANParks were quick to point out that trees do not naturally grow in this area or, for that matter, in any part of Silvermine. (with the exception of along river beds).  If conservation is to be taken seriously, and we are a conservation group, then we must respect the natural pattern and keep within the boundaries of conservation. The area around the parking lot has already been disturbed unnaturally so it was deemed suitable for our trees, which should grow to provide glorious shade, to be planted there.

Two 50m bales of chicken mesh have been purchased and will be stapled to the wooden walkways along the River Walk and around the reservoir.  These walkways become terribly slippery when wet and absolutely treacherous when iced in winter.  The chicken mesh will provide extra grip.  Please let us know how you experience this.

At our last Committee Meeting it was suggested that regular walkers “Adopt a Path” on Silvermine.  It would then become their responsibility to keep clear and maintain that path.  Each path needs an annual ‘overhaul’ if it is to remain conducive to hiking and this is becoming increasingly expensive.  If you would like to adopt a path please let us know.

Some concern has been expressed over the leaks on the reservoir wall.  Over the years there has been confusion as to who is actually responsible for this reservoir, The City of Cape Town or SANParks.  It would appear that SANParks have been allocated the responsibility.  According to this body they have had the wall checked (November 2013).  Certain recommendations were made for immediate attention, while others made for a long term plan.  However the bottom line is that the wall must be constantly monitored.

Please make a note that Berties’ Breakfast, which is the official opening of our Walks Programme for the year will take place on THURSDAY the 29th January, 2015.  We meet at Gate 2 at 7.30 a.m.  We should be back at our cars by 11.00.

Sue Frew

Flora Documentation Program

 Flower photography on the Peninsula

Long-standing members are aware, but new members probably do not know, that a group of FOSNA members has been photographing wild flowers from Signal Hill to Cape Point for 24 years!  The purpose is to create a useful record which, in conjunction with other records, may help to indicate changes in flora that may take place over time due to climate change.  For example, areas may become wetter or drier and plants may occur more or less frequently in certain areas, or may occur in new areas and disappear from previously familiar areas.

At the moment, our Flora Documentation Programme [FDP] database lists 2343 species on the Peninsula and FDP has photographed 1506 of these. This year, FDP has signed a partnership agreement with Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers [CREW] and recent outings with that group have shown that both groups will benefit from this connection.

As a result of our work FOSNA/FDP has been able to produce a compact disc [CD] listing and describing all the species in our database, accompanied by photographs of those we have already photographed. It sells at R120.  Our slender booklet Wildflowers of Silvermine groups flowers by colour and is ideal to keep in your bag on walks. It is available to members at the special price of R60.  Lastly our Botanical Names, what they mean has been in print for 14 years. It was updated three years ago and, by popular demand, it is currently being reprinted. The price to members is also R60. Our publications can be ordered from Yvonne Viljoen: Tel: 021 788 5620 or    These publications are also available at Kirstenbosch, but of course, not at members’ prices!


News from Riverine Rovers

The great news for the Silvermine Wetlands is that our Biodiversity Agreement has been signed and we are now, officially, a Conservation Area!  The conserved area is from Main Rd Bridge up to the end of the Clovelly Golf Course – along the river.

We have our new big Information Boards up and they look lovely.

Four of our big cement and pebble rubbish bins were vandalised – 1 being pushed into the pond at the 2nd gabion and 3 others rolled into reeds and on either side of the Boardwalk.  They are very heavy, so a couple of people must have been involved!  We are lucky that we don’t get a lot of vandalism down here.

Unfortunately, there is no spare money from Council for further path rehabilitation, so we won’t get that done soon.

With the recent fire on Elsies Peak and the huge amount of water taken by helicopters for the fire, it makes me very aware of what could happen here in a howling gale if a fire started in the reed beds.  It would so easily get out of control and into Clovelly and then into the mountain.  We haven’t seen the final Management Plan for the Wetlands, so I don’t know what contingency plans have been made for this.  We did ask for it to be included.

Our annual Source to Sea Walk will be in the Walks programme.

The Sun Valley EcoWatch group are keen to have an official trail from Sun Valley to the Wetlands, and we look forward to working with them to get this project underway.  Maybe, in our dream, we could have a Sea to Sea walk one day!!!

Spotted Eagle Owl Chicks in Kirstenbosch

The pair of Spotted Eagle Owls, resident above the cycad garden in Kirstenbosch, hatched 2 chicks at the end of Sept.  We found them in the hollow of a big rock at ground level under a large tree.  The first time we saw them they were snuggled up, peeking out from under mother’s wings while father  perched on the branch of a tree several metres away.   They were incredibly cute, white & fluffy.  The photo was taken on our second visit on 8th Nov when the chicks were more visible.  They were just as cute, still fluffy, & were moving freely from one side of the tree to the other, though still on the ground.  Mother was not around this time, but father was perched just above them, keeping a wary eye on them.  A sign saying “Please keep off the rock.  Owls nesting.  Please do not disturb” kept onlookers from being too enthusiastic in approaching them.  We felt very privileged to be able to see these beautiful chicks & hope they fledge safely.

Baby Spotted Eagle Owls in Kirstenbosch. Photo: Friends of Silvermine Nature Area

Baby Spotted Eagle Owls in Kirstenbosch. Photo: Friends of Silvermine Nature Area

12th Dec 2014 – The chicks have now fledged.  They are flying, but not yet very strongly, so are still in the vicinity of the nest site.
However, two more spotted eagle owls nested in a most unlikely place – a flower basket above Vida e Caffe’s terrace at Kirstenbosch’s bottom gate.  The chick, Cappuccino, is now happily wandering around under the tables on the terrace while a parent perches in a nearby tree in the car park.

Lynda Downing


Frankie and Barrie’s Flowers in Bloom

Among the pinks of the several Gladioli and Watsonia species which beautify the slopes of Silvermine in spring, are many members of the Daisy family (Asteraceae), often with bright yellow flowers some flowering on into summer.

The Senecio riigidus, an erect shrubby plant with rough leaves and large flower-heads of small bright yellow daisies, are currently in bloom. A smaller, but equally bright flower, is that of Chrysocoma coma-aurea which has small button like blooms and grows alongside many paths. Athanasia crithmifolia, growing near the ‘dog’ corner of the dam, and Hymenolepis parviflora, growing on little rocky path where the car park meets the jeep track, look similar.  Hymenolepis parviflora has disc like bloom while Athanasia crithmifolia does not. Another quite large bright yellow daisy flower, which is not common, belongs to Oedera imbricate.

Also in bloom are two “paper” flowers. Syncarpha vestita has striking white flowers with a dark centre and Edmondia sesamoides has a delicate stemmed creamy yellow flower.

Blue Aristea capitata is flowering prolifically along Ou Kaapsweg and on Wynberg hill.

Forthcoming Environmental Days

World Wetlands Day            2nd February

National Water Week         16-22nd March

World Water Day                   22nd March

World Meteorological Day      23rd March

World Health Day                   7th April

Earth Day                               22nd April


Newsletter Contributions & Useful Contacts


Our membership portfolio is run by Tammy Weinberg. For any membership related queries please contact her at:

Our chairman Sue Frew can be contacted at:

See also