Friends Of Silvermine Nature Area Newsletter of August 2015 contains information about the infra-red motion activated camera which FOSNA presented to SANParks, the ADU (Animal Demographic Unit) Citizen Scientist Day held at WESSA, a working afternoon around Silvermine Dam, flowers in bloom in Silvermine after the fires and news from the Silvermine wetlands.

Hot of the Press:  Silvermine Eastern Side (Gate 2) will be opened on the 1st September 2015

Editor’s Message

Can you believe we are well into the second half of the year and winter has really arrived with a vengeance in Cape Town with some very cold, windy and, recently, wet weather?

I often hear people saying “Gee it’s soooo cold this year! Much colder than last year!” The thing is we seem to say that every year. Perhaps it is a function of getting older, our memories are not that good or is it a case of confabulation? Whatever it is, it does seem to be very cold especially when the SE/SW wind blows icy air from the South Pole! Another funny thing about winter is that if it is overcast, grey and rainy I feel cold. As soon as the sun comes out I feel warmer and am happy to spend time outdoors. But when I look at the ambient temperatures, (I have a temperature gauge in my car) the temperatures are the same; let’s say about 14-15 C. This mind is a funny old thing!

One thing I know for certain is that the best thing to do when feeling cold is exercise. I find that at the end of the afternoon after I have been sitting for a couple of hours a brisk walk around the block is the best way to warm up and get the blood circulating again, come rain or shine.

It feels like we haven’t yet had that much rain for this time of the year so I decided to check the dam level and found this to be the case. Looking at the dam levels in the Western Cape the values range from 40% (Voelvlei Dam) to 67% (Steenbras Upper) with the average being 54%. In the previous four years the range for this time of the year was from 77% to 100%.

It is important to bear in mind that the time to save water is when there is water to save, and we should therefore not become complacent about our water saving efforts. Cape Town will never be in the position of having sufficient water to waste, and we must continue to be vigilant.                                     (

On a few Sundays recently when we have been walking from Constantia Neck the parking area has been very full. Cars were parked in all available spaces. It is great to see so many people enjoying the mountain but it highlights how the restriction on walking in Silvermine has resulted in pressure on other places.  As yet we haven’t heard from SANParks when we can expect Silvermine to be opened to the public but we look forward to it and hope it is soon.

Happy hacking and hiking.

Meryl Hutchison

 Chairman’s Report

Warm winter greetings to you all.  I wish I could add ‘wet’ to the salutation but that is yet to happen!

The AGM was held on the 13th May 2015.

At the AGM FOSNA presented a Cam Bushnell Trophy infra-red motion activated camera to Hennie Delport, Acting Section Ranger of SANParks. This will be used to ascertain movement of animals on the mountain as well as possible unwelcome intruders.  Other similar cameras used by the Parks board have picked up activity of different game including a karakul which moved from Devils Peak to Vlakkenberg and onto Silvermine Dam where it took up residence for a couple of days. FOSNA was able to purchase this camera due to its members’ loyalty and generosity. So thank you for your continued support.  We can look forward to some interesting photographic reports from Hennie.

Jay Cowen delivered an in-depth account of our finances and reported that we had a fair amount of cash in hand.  He called for ideas on how this could be used productively on the regeneration of Silvermine. On that score please note that Subscription Fees will be increased to R50-00 per family/person as from 1st April 2016.

Meryl Hutchison entertained us with tales and slides of her trip to St Helena after the Governor’s Cup Yacht Race.  Unfortunately the imminent opening of an airport may irrevocably alter the unique character of St Helena.

Seven o’clock Saturday morning the 6th June 2015 saw a few FOSNA members braving the cold at the WESSA headquarters in The Sanctuary, Kirstenhof. The day, ADU (Animal Demographic Unit) Citizen Scientist Day, began with the catching and ringing of local birds by Dieter Oschadleus and a team in the Kirstenhof wetlands. It was fascinating to watch, and learn of the different types of birds, their movements and their behaviour when captured.  Some little birds are quite peaceful and philosophical in their capture while the weavers are determined to punish their captors, wriggling around and pecking at anything that comes within reach. The morning continued with speakers from various organisations including the Cape Leopard Trust, the Peninsula Paddle Association, ADU from UCT and more.  A delegate from Nigeria stressed the ongoing battle between the conservationists and the economists. This is a battle waged in many countries not least South Africa.  I wonder when the powers that be will realise that natural resources, i.e. wild animals, trees, water, are not commodities to be sold to the highest bidders but resources to be jealously conserved and protected against any exploitation.

Silvermine dam 11 June. Photo: Meryl Hutchison

Silvermine Dam on 11th June.

On Thursday the 11th June we had a very successful work party at the reservoir and surrounding paths on Silvermine.  We were required to create culverts on the paths to drain the water away and prevent erosion.  This work party was very well attended.  Many thanks to all the members who turned up armed with spades and tea!  There were a number of patches of Red Hot Pokers flowering against the desolate grey ash. It was a perfect day – still and sunny but not blistering hot.

We hope to organise another work party in the not too distant future.

Working around the dam

Thank you so much to all members who have offered and contributed money, trees, planks, plants and help over the past three months. Unfortunately we have not been in a position to accept any of the trees as SANparks will not plant any vegetation that is not endemic/peculiar to an area.

Working party at Silvermine Dam. Photo: Meryl Hutchison

Please note that the present committee and chairperson will be standing down at the next AGM.  It would be lovely to welcome some new members onto the committee so please do step forward and join us.

“When the last tree is cut down, and the last fish eaten and the last stream poisoned, you will realise that you cannot eat money.”(this saying has been attributed to the Cree Indian tribe.)

On that rather sobering note let’s renew our conservation energy and live by its code.

Sue Frew


Flowers in Bloom in Silvermine after the Fires

   On 11 June [the Silvermine path repair meeting] the following flowers were recorded:

Asteraceae: Haplocarpa lanata, Othonna bulbosa, Capelio tabularis [nearly over].

Ericaceae: Erica cerinthoides.

Iridaceae: Gladiolus maculatus [1 plant] and Watsonia tabularis in flower.

Solanaceae: Lycium ferrocissimum.

Crassulaceae: Crassula capensis – a carpet of plants in flower.

Oxalidaceae: Oxalis 3sp.

Asphodelaceae: Kniphofia uvaria, flowering.

And, in general, lots of leaves and resprouting bushes and grasses that were not in flower.

Iridaceae species are flowering now [mid-July] on Ou Kaapseweg:

Moraea ochroleuca, Chasmanthe ethiopica, Gladiolus priorii [probably the last ones of the season].

Red hot pokers in Silvermine nature Reserve. Photo: Meryl Hutchison


Photographs of all the above flowers can be seen on our CD “FloraDoc” which lists and describes all the species on the Cape Peninsula from Signal Hill to Cape Point and has photographs of over 1,800 species.  It is priced at R120.

Our slender booklet Wildflowers of Silvermine groups arranged photos of flowers by colour and is ideal to keep in your bag on walks. The discount price to members in R60.

Lastly our Botanical Names, What they Mean has been in print for 14 years and was significantly updated four years ago. The discount price to members is also R60.

Our publications can be ordered from Yvonne Viljoen: Tel: 021 788 5620 or   The CD is also available at Kirstenbosch for R120.  While booklets are also available at Kirstenbosch where their prices are marked up, although Bot Soc members enjoy a 10% discount.


News from Riverine Rovers

Silvermine Wetlands

It has been very quiet down here, and we really need the rain to wash out some of the gunge that we have in the ponds.  Councillor D’Alton very kindly managed to get some of the boardwalk structure repaired.

We now have a dedicated Green Warden supervisor who is showing a lot of interest in our flora database. Albert continues to do a good job in keeping the paths clear and picking up rubbish.  He has been issued with new PPE and is thrilled to receive a new T shirt and gumboots!

Squatters have been proving a bit of a problem, although the Law Enforcement did have a blitz recently.  We wait with interest to see if they move back in.  The amount of rubbish generated is bad, and our black bags are regularly removed from the bins for use in the shelters etc.

A Rock Kestrel has been patrolling the area recently – a not very common sight.

The WLT board is up and I hope there will be a successful season, although the Rothwells will not be here to listen out for them – being in UK for 2 months.

It will be interesting to hear from the rest of the Committee as to how much new growth there is on the mountain – we are still having ash being blown onto our verandah!


National Arbour Week   31 Aug-6 Sept


World Ozone Day           16 Sept

World Tourism Day          27 Sept

World Habitat Day           1 October

National Marine Week     19-25 October


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:

For the Friends of Silvermine Walks programme for Sept – Dec 2015 see