Sunday, 18 June 2017

Mid-winter Saturday walk at Rookwood

winter time at Rookwood

Saturday was close to the middle of winter and it was a long weekend.  All the dogs were restless and with the rest of the family leaving for a vintage car and air show in town, I decided best to take the dogs for a long walk on Rookwood.

My choices, as usual, are numerous but I decided because I had Jack and Sam, who are now nearing the age of 10 years, water was a priority.  So after stocking up with some drinking water for myself and two bread rolls (to be shared with the dogs), we set off down the road towards the river.  Of course when the binoculars, blue backpack and camera are spotted, this means WALK for the collies at Rookwood.

Charlie's corner

As most of the river is dry with diminishing stagnant pools to the fountain, I skipped walking in that part of the river.  I climbed the hill above the fountain and headed for the Rooikat camp.  Once through the little gate Angie and Oz run on ahead.  This camp borders onto the river which has at least one permanent fountain in it and therefore permanent water further down.  

Scott and Sam surveying the scene

I did not head towards the kranzes  and down to Charlie’s corner, which is the permanent fountain, but headed straight down on the inside of the camp to where a side stream feeds into the Tuli river.  Jack and Angie find warthog residences but are encouraged to leave the inhabitants alone.

the autumn colours of the bush on the opposite bank


On my way down I saw two kudu cows eating quietly in the camp next door and disturbed a mountain reedbuck ewe ahead of us.  At our feeder stream, I stopped to give the dogs (especially the older guys) a bit of a breather and a bit of bread roll.  The opposite bank ahead of us still had some lovely autumn colours with the Cussonia trees still holding their grey-green leaves.   

the Cussonia tree holding its grey leaves

After a while I head through the wild olive tree grove to the gate that leads into the weir camp which is the last camp on the river before it runs into the neighbour’s veldt.

the olive tree grove

Walking in the weir camp is always nice as one often feels like you are walking in semi-forest with lots of tall White stinkwoods, Red currant Rhus and thorn (Acacia)trees either side of the river.  

the Tuli river still trickling along

the dogs enjoying the weir camp

forest scenes

like walking in the forest

the lovely Half-collared Kingfisher

The river is still is trickling along quite nicely and Oz, Jack and Buksie take to swimming in the deeper pools.  It is here were we see the Giant and the lovely Half-collared Kingfishers

baboons watching us pass by

The troop of baboons watches us from the rocks above on the opposite bank.  The banks are covered with kikuyu grass which has turned crispy with the frost that is typical of this time of the year.

At the end of the camp just before I turn up left to head up the bridle path we come across some Vervet monkeys.  Here we meet some cattle that are chewing their cud.  It is quite a long climb up to the top of the windmill camp.  As we pass the rock dome I spot a lovely male Kudu with Eland grazing up in Gary camp.  At the top of the next camp we meet up with a huge herd of cattle lying around the water and see that Sally the ‘hans’ Angus has calved a little ox calf.

Aloe ferox with White stinkwood without leaves

We leave the reservoir and the cattle behind and turn for home.  On our right I can see the Aloe ferox flowering – such a typical Eastern Cape aloe

The wind is blowing quite strongly and the high level cloud dropping the temperature considerably.  Our last stop is at the trough at the top end of the kraal camp.  Here we take a decent break as Jack and Sam are really struggling along now.

typical winter scene at Rookwood

the long road through the dry grass

Our final descent down the hill gives us views of the valley below and the house against the hill.  As I walk the last kilometre up to the house, some of the dogs run ahead to wait at the last gate while the stragglers as well as my little shadow, Scampie walk right behind me.

Even though the days are now really short and the veldt has this dry brittle crisp feel about it, Rookwood still offers much to enjoy.

the setting winter sun with the White-browed Sparrowweaver nests in the foreground and Mapassa on the horizon

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