דצמבר 05, 2020

Walking in Sardinia Bay - 03/12/2020

It would take a lot of work to find more idyllic scenery in Port Elizabeth than the ones you will encounter along the stretch of coast between Cape Recife and Sardinia Bay. This cordon of rocky shore, largely unspoiled beaches and vegetated backdunes has also grown increasingly familiar to me. Spending ten days of every summer camping at Schoenmakerskop, I have somewhat started a personal tradition of walking from the Malay Camp to Sardinia Bay beach and back. Each year, between 2014 and 2019, I have taken the same route: traversing through Sappershoek, towards the Sacramento Trail, onto Sardinia Bay beach and returning via Sardinia Bay road. The walk accumulates to roughly 21km and takes me up to seven hours to complete, but I hardly ever have a need to rush.

The pandemic has meant that I will not be camping this year, understandable since Nelson Mandela Bay has been declared the country's prime hotspot of infections. Despite the abandonment of my annual walk, I felt it important to at least visit Sardinia Bay this summer, planning to explore the area west of Sardinia Bay beach. This area forms part of the Sylvic Nature Reserve, mainly used for horse riding, and consists mainly of St Francis Dune Thicket and Fynbos Mosaic, with small patches of Schoenmakerskop Rocky Shelf Fynbos apparent. Further west, mesic coastal thicket borders coastal forest, delineated as Bushy Park Indian Ocean Forest. I stuck mainly to the open habitats and here the mature dune fynbos community is dominated by Erica chloroloma, one of the two Erica species occurring in this coastal ecosystem. Other conspicuous elements include Passerina rigida, Metalasia muricata and two members of the highly aromatic Rutaceae, Agathosma apiculata and Coleonema pulchellum.

Sardinia Bay is also known for its highly mobile foredunes which have buried much of the coastal vegetation, along with the parking lot! At the front of the encroaching wall of sand the remnants of what was beneath still poke out occasionally, mostly the galled branches of Acacia cyclops or Aloe africana, completely engulfed in sand but for the inflorescences poking out. The highly mobile sands do possess a floral community of its own, however, with species such as Ehrharta villosa, Tetragonia decumbens and even Osteospermum moniliferum residing in this harsh habitat. Unfortunately, the slightly more consolidated dunes further away from the sea has been heavily invaded by Acacia cyclops. Stands of the exotic legume reach almost forest like stature in some places, shading and outcompeting the surrounding fynbos. The extent of invasion in some areas creates an abnormally large fuel load, increasing the potential of "heat scars" forming after the next fire. The usual coastal thicket elements were present in the uninvaded areas, with species including candlewood, Searsia spp. and Euclea racemosa.

A couple of horse riders in the reserve did not appreciate the presence of a walker, so I exited the Sylvic Nature Reserve, crossed Sardinia Bay road and entered the Sardinia Bay Nature Reserve. Just off the road I saw a small patch of the highly localised Aspalathus cliffortifolia (CR). This species, thought extinct until recently, is only found on calcrete pavements in an around Nelson Mandela Bay. The shallower soils of this side of Sardinia Bay made for a different floral composition. The rocky outcrops and crevices were particularly appropriate for a variety of succulents including Crassula nudicaulis, Drosanthemum candens, Carpobrotus deliciosus and the rare Delosperma saxicola. The fynbos elements on this side were notably smaller, owing to the shallow soils, and at a glance, appeared more speciose. Achyranthemum sordescens, Chironia baccifera, Aspalathus recurvispina (CR) and the hemi-parisitic Thesium confusum were common here, with sporadic thicket bush clumps completing the landscape.

פורסם ב דצמבר 05, 2020 03:57 אחה"צ על־ידי abdullateefismail abdullateefismail | 7 תצפיות | 1 comment | הוספת תגובה

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