I'm guessing you've never heard of it – I hadn't even a year after I'd watched the sunrise over it on several occasions on drives through the eastern frontier of the Klein Karoo towards Baviaanskloof. Technically, its another Cape Fold mountain island, this one connecting the eastern tail end of the Swartberg to the Baviaans mountains. It is delineated by Guarriepoort on the western edge, where the N9 cuts through between Uniondale and Willowmore, and on the eastern side by the R342 from Willowmore to the Baviaanskloof.
I havn't yet found out who Antonie is or was. Perhaps a local landowner with a particular fondness for high mountains. On top of the mountain my GPS altimeter read 1721m. It had been a hard climb – part of a transect line to conduct point counts as part of the Fynbos Endemic Birds survey. It had started easily enough on a rough 4x4 track leading north from the game farm Elandspoort. But that trail wore out after a kilometer and I was left to scrape my way through 13 year old Fynbos for the next two kilometers of steep ascent, picking my way between malevolent Metalasia acuta and broken boulders. On reaching the ridge, the harsh winds keeps the vegetation at a manageable level and I was able to enjoy the view north towards Aasvoelkrans (the tail end of the Witteberg mountain range just north of Willowmore, named for vultures long ago eradicated by poisoning programs) and south towards Blue Hill.
The journey resulted in records of all six Fynbos endemics, and while the reason for the journey was a bit of a disappointment – it was to determine if the local Protea eximia patch was still being guarded by a contingent of Cape Sugarbirds – there were plenty of highlights and distractions that go with exploring new territory. One of these was a healthy population of Leucadendrom album – by far my favourite conebush with its silvery leaves and the red cone of the female. The orchid Satyrium humile was also flowering close to the beacon on the top of the mountain. And birdwise, while I had not seen much in terms of terrestrial bird numbers, was more than made up for by aerial insectivores: Greater Striped Swallow, Barn Swallow, White-rumped Swift and what I thought may have been Bradfield's swift (a large, brownish swift), but the photos I looked at later only revealed African Black Swift.
Thanks to Renier, manager at Elandspoort, for allowing me access, and the large cool drink that went some way to replenishing my energy levels sapped by the summer sun coming off the mountain. For a visit to Antoniesberg or the 5000ha Elandspoort game farm, contact Renier on: 0447711006 or 0826962325
|African Black Swift swooping in like a kamikaze pilot|
|Aasvoelberg, north of Willowmore|
|Satyrium humile (orchid)|
|Leucadendron rubrum (female)|
|Orange-breasted Sunbird (male) on Erica wendlandiana|