Journal archives for October 2017

October 17, 2017

In the Shadows of Fouriesberg

This field trip to the North-Western Outeniquas proved to be a kaleidoscope of new experiences, which is remarkable, if you consider that one’s 80th birthday is approaching with the speed of Summer lightning. The Buchu Bus was driven down a track much more suitable for a proper 4x4 and rattled across it without any obvious damage to either the occupants or herself. It was certainly the most testing terrain that has faced the BOB and she came out with flying colours. And instead of our usual tuna and smash from the squatter camp kitchen, we ate gourmet meals, which included a stir-fry with couscous and a delicious mince concoction of Evie’s. It was a wonderful 2 days and I’m delighted to find that I still enjoy rough camping.

We met Mr Fab at Eight Bells on the Robinson Pass and then drove west. We received a very warm welcome from Cornel Fourie. His farm Paardebont is at the foot of Fouriesberg and life is very hard out there in the middle of nowhere. A fire 2 years ago killed a whole lot of his cattle and razed many 100’s of hectares. It took out most of the fencing and to date, he has received no compensation from the Dept of Agriculture. He tells hair-raising tales of the fire and how his house narrowly escaped being engulfed in the 40m high flames. They were fire-fighting for 3 whole exhausting days. Now, simply doing enough to keep body and soul together, takes up all his energy and time. For him, financial recovery seems to be a far distant dream.

He drove ahead of us through rocky riverbeds filled with huge boulders and through thick sand that had the Buchu Bus slewing sideways. He assured me that the vehicle would make it. Well it did, but I must have aged about 10 years in the process. Finally, I said, “So far and no further” and we set up our squatter camp some 300m downstream of the water hole. Leaving the cars mostly unpacked, we headed up the jeep track that leads to the base of Elandsberg. The slopes were gloriously yellow with a mixture of Aspalathus acanthes and sceptrum-aureum. Vygies provided vibrant patches of magenta along the way. A worrying feature was a huge upsurge of post-fire Hakea sericea. We must institute biological control and we must do it soon. If we don’t, the veld is going to be lost to this predatory invader in the foreseeable future.

It was a crack of dawn start the next morning. Evie and Brian set off to climb Fouriesberg and I walked up a branch of the jeep track heading up the water course. This only continued for about 300m, so I went back to the Elandsberg jeep track and followed it right up to the end. The only new Rare found on this section was Acmadenia tetragona and there was confirmation that Rafnia vlokii and the Otholobiunm extended higher up the mountain. Evie and Brian had a long day, but didn’t encounter any huge difficulties in their 800m ascent of Fouriesberg. They did have some tricky route-finding and some rock scrambling on the ridge near the summit. For both of them it was a first ascent. They were delighted to see fields of Geissorhiza roseoalba just below the top and Brian came back with an Otholobium not seen on the lower reaches. He also managed to collect 12 different Thesiums for Daniel, who is a student working with Prof Muthama Muasaya at UCT.

After a very pleasant evening and a windy night, we drove back into the real world first thing on Thursday morning - Mr Fab to continue his field trips, Evie to pack up for her ascent of Sleeping Beauty with the MCSA on Saturday and Di to organise the entertainment for the Interclub Regatta at George Lakes Yacht Club. I got home to the news that Bill has to have an emergency hip replacement in Cape Town today. What with lots of curved balls hurtling around, “It’s a good life if you don’t weaken”.

Rares seen on the Jeep track
Leucadendron conicum – Near Threatened
Aspalathus pedunculata – Rare
Lotononis filifolia – Endangered. These were scattered along the jeep track for about 1km
Rafnia vlokii – Vulnerable – Sparsely scattered over the higher reaches for about 3km
Serruria fasciflora – Near Threatened
Macledium sp. nova – TBC
Argyrolobium rarum- Rare
Otholobium sp. nova or carneum - TBC
Tritonia pallida ssp taylorae - Vulnerable
Acmadenia tetragona – Near Threatened
Pelargonium denticulatum - Rare

Rares seen on Fouriesberg
Acmadenia tetragona – Near Threatened
Erica unicolor ssp mutica – Endangered
Lobelia dichroma – DDT
Lotononis filiformis - Endangered
Aspalathus glabrescens -Endangered
Erica sp. - TBC
Disa bolusiana
Haworthia arachnoidea var. arania – Not evaluated
Indigofera sp. 14 – Not Evaluated
Di

Napier & McGregor to Greyton (October 2017)
Our first stop was Napier where we spent a day exploring the Napier Mountain and surrounds. The fynbos created a beautiful picture. Some of the plants providing colour were pink and white Phaenocoma prolifera, Ericas grisbrookii, articularis, imbricata, spumosa, viscaria, gracilipes, Serruria elongata, Lobelia jasionoides and the large, mostly nearly over flowers of Protea cynaroides; blue Lobelia pinifolia, Aristea and Psoralea aphylla; yellow Lachnaea aurea, Gnidia, Leucadendrons and various daisies and orange Leucospermum cordifolium. It was however concerning to see that although some effort is being put into the removal of aliens and there is evidence of bio-control, pines (I think Pinus halepensis), Leptospermum laevigatum (Australian myrtle) and Acacia longifolia continue to invade the landscape.

Fred and I then headed to Greyton where we off-loaded most of our luggage and picked up my cousin and her husband for the trip to McGregor. On arrival in McGregor I discovered that my carefully packed bag of hiking gear had been off-loaded in Greyton! A quick survey revealed that I had shoes, back pack, hiking poles, two hats, the clothes I was wearing and one dirty sock! After rummaging in her pile of single socks our hostess found one I could use to complete my hiking outfit for the next day.

Before dawn we were driven up the mountain to the start of the Boesmanskloof Hiking Trail. As the sun was coming up, in swirling mist, we set off along the path. Although the hike is usually completed in 6 to 8 hours, Fred kindly agreed we could take the entire day so that I could spend time appreciating and photographing plants, bugs etc., the aim to get to Greyton before dark. The trail was busy and a lot of people passed us as we wandered along the path, many of them doing the there-and-back to the waterfall, although others were walking the complete trail in both directions. Some trail signage at the McGregor end is either missing or incorrect, in need of an overhaul. We were not the only hikers to wonder which route to take. The path was in good condition and as I had been told, the scenery and flowers were stunning! We were disappointed to see that aliens are also invading this fynbos! 12 hours after we started, at dusk, we arrived in Greyton having really enjoyed this beautiful hike.
Nicky

Millwood, Friday 13th October
Most of the Outramps were busy elsewhere, and the remainder were keen for a short day, so it was only three of us that headed for Millwood. We parked the car at the entrance to Bendigo mine and wandered off to explore along the roads. There were streams of running water flowing next to the jeep tracks and the ground was wet, quite a change from what has been the norm lately.

As usual, there was debate about the identification of some Ericas. Site sheets for Ocotea bullata (stinkwood) and a large stand of Rapanea melanophloeos, were completed, although the latter is now LC. The one track we followed through a patch of Afrotemperate forest and fynbos came to an abrupt dead end. We started along another but it seemed to wind down the valley for a long, long way so, as there was little change in the vegetation we decided to retrace our steps. Some research on Google Earth is needed before our next visit. We drove back along the road to a site where in we had seen a number of orchids in the past. Although we were a bit early for most of the orchid flowers, (the beautiful scented Satyrium stenopetalum subsp. stenopetalum was the only one open), we did not find as many plants as previously. It appears that the drought has resulted in reduced numbers. It was lunch time when we drove past Totties and after inspecting the menu, we caught up with news and discussed future outings over some beautifully plated food.

On my way home after dropping Sandra and Rusell at the White Bridge, I stopped at Villa Castollini to see what had come up after the 7th June 2017 wild fires. There was a lot of colour, amongst others, flowering Freesia leichtlinii subsp. alba and Gnidia chrysophylla (both redlisted NT). Although it is now four months since the fire, a detailed search did not reveal any sign of Nanobubon hypogaeum (EN) or the metal tags that Vatiswa, Ismail and I used to mark the position of plants in May 2010. I expect it takes longer than 4 months to re-grow after a fire!
Nicky

This week the Outramps are going to be busy. Ismail and 4 Crewites from Cape Town are coming up to do some post-burn monitoring in the Southern Cape. We will organise a supper for Tuesday evening and then do one of the Robberg Corridor properties on Wednesday and Goukamma on Thursday. Hopefully there will have been some significant regeneration after reasonable rains over the last couple of weeks.
Hamba Kahle
Groete en dankie
Di Turner
Outramps CREW Group
Southern Cape

Abbreviations Glossary
MCSA – Mountain Club of South Africa
MSB - Millenium Seed Bank based at Kew in the UK
WIP – Work in Progress
HAT – High Altitude Team
LOT – Lowland Team
SIM – Somewhere in the Middle Team
WAGS – Wednesday Adventure Group
VB – Vlok Boekie “Plants of the Klein Karoo” and our Plant Bible
ITRTOL – Another thread “In The Rich Tapestry Of Life”(It describes a challenging situation, usually to do with the Buchu Bus)
ITFOT – In the fullness of time
WOESS – Fair Weather Hiker
FMC and JW – too vulgar to translate, but the equivalent is “Strike me Dead” An expression of surprise and delight on finding a new “Rare”
Kambro – same as above
Fossick – A meter per minute, scratching around looking for rares
SIDB – Skrop in die Bos – Another name for a field trip, this one coined by Prix
BAFFING – Running round like a blue-arsed fly
SYT – Sweet Young Thing - Anyone under the age of 40
TOMB – Get a move on
Mayhem - Needless or willful damage or violence
SESKRYNG – “Sit en staan kry niks gedaan” ,with thanks to Brian
SOS – Skelms on Scramblers
FW – Idiot
BOB – Another name for the Buchu Bus when she’s misbehaving.
CRAFT – A symptom of Old Age
DDD - Metalasia tricolor (Damned Diabolical Daisy)
VP – Vrekplek – Retirement Village
Qàq – Self-explanatory Inuit word describing some of our local problems
Mr Fab – Our Fabaceae specialist, Brian Du Preez – originally Boy 1
TMCH -The Mathematician or the Computer Helpline – Peter Thompson
Boy 2 – Kyle Underwood who works on Orchids and is still at school
Sharkie – Finn Rautenbach – Our latest SYT is a surfer in his spare time
Sicko – Someone who suffers from Car Sickness. With 4 in the Group, allocating seating in the Buchu Bus is tricky
VAG – Virgin Active Garage, which is our meeting place when we head north
MATMUE – Meet At The Mall Under E - Meeting place when we head West
WG – Waves Garage in Wilderness East. - Meeting place when we’re going east.
VU- Vulnerable
DDT – Data Deficient and Taxonomically ?
NT – Near Threatened
EN – Endangered
CR – Critically Endangered
PE – Presumed extinct
LC – Least Concern
TBC – To be Confirmed
TLC – Tender loving care
JMS – An expression of absolute disdain
FOMO – Fear of Missing Out
Milk – the fruit of the vine
Condensed Milk – Scotland’s finest export
Full Cream Milk or Fat Milk – Any product of Humulus lupulus eg. Milk Stout
Milk of the Gods – Rooibos and Brandy
Milk Shake - Sparkling Wine
NS – Species of conservation concern new to the Outramps
PS -Priority Species allocated to the Outramps by our CREW Cape Co-ordinator , Ismail Ebrahim

Posted on October 17, 2017 03:33 by outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi | 0 comments | Leave a comment

October 23, 2017

Phoenix Rising

When we noticed a fairly manageable path leading down from the blackened slopes to the coast, the temptation to investigate a patch of unburnt veld down on the shoreline became overwhelming. The reality was disappointing and bore testimony to the local fishermen’s drinking habits. There were empty and broken bottles littering the place. In a moment of madness, I suggested to Quentin that we go up another route back to the top. He and the youngsters bounded up like Klipspringers. Lucille was bit more circumspect and Ismail was transformed into “a Knight in Shining Armour”, as he escorted me up a loose, nearly vertical slope, with no vegetation to stabilise me. He must have had some bad moments, as I teetered along. With vrot legs and crutches, it was no place to be. As we finally made it to the top with much huffing and puffing, Fuzile said, “I hope that when I’m nearly 80 I’ll be able to do what you do.” There was only one possible answer to that. “ I’d hope that you’d have more sense.”!!

Ismail, Lucille (volunteer) and the 3 interns, Luke, Fuzile and Randall drove up to George on Tuesday to help the Outramps with post-burn monitoring in the area. We had a gesellige supper on Tuesday evening and were off to the Eden municipality-owned section of the Robberg Corridor first thing on Wednesday morning. Quentin, who manages Fynbos Estate and Andrew who is the Chairman of this Conservation Initiative were there to meet us. Stunning views did something to alleviate the lack of stunning Fynbos and we did see some Rares. We noted Oxalis pendulifolia (Near Threatened), Freesia leichtlinii ssp alba (Near Threatened) and Acmadenia alternifolia (Vulnerable), the latter in some Fynbos that had escaped the fire. But the regeneration is slow and there are millions of alien Acacia seedlings rearing their ugly heads. Lots of hard work lies ahead.

Next morning we were off to Goukamma. A couple of wind-driven squalls rather dampened the early morning enthusiasm, but the blues soon disappeared in the excitement of finding 3 exquisite Satyrium princeps (Vulnerable). I had expected to see them fairly littering the place, but surprisingly, these were the only plants we saw all day. Freesia leichtlinii ssp alba (Near Threatened) was scattered sparsely over the reserve. But the most exciting find was undoubtedly the unusual parasite Hyobanche robusta (Pussyclaws - Endangered), which was a crowd-stopper and had all the cameras clicking. It was interesting that the regeneration was most evident on the north-facing slopes. Most of the south-facing slopes are still completely bare. In a couple of weeks, we will take the whole team armed with cameras to capture pictures of all the plants that are putting up their heads. Fortunately the rain has been relatively light and frequent. Despite this, there was some nasty erosion starting on the steeper slopes. The path along the edge of Groenvlei is becoming very overgrown and will be impassable before long if it isn’t cleared. I will discuss this with the new Reserve Manager, Thubani Ndlovu.

Sleeping Beauty
… Finally HAT Evie could take her group of 7 hikers, from the S. Cape MCSA to the Riversdale Langeberg. My group were the “soft option “group – as we opted to stay at a cottage and rustic campsite “Kings Glen” near the Korentepoort Dam. This meant we did 2day hikes – the special one was of course the ascent of the Peak on the Sleeping Beauty Trail. The gorgeous Fynbos was pristine and rewarding at every turn of the path. This area has escaped recent S. Cape fires and despite extreme dry, hot conditions on the high slopes during the winter, it is looking refreshed after some good September rains. Numerous Erica sp. dot the landscape, as well as Proteaceae sp, the Berzelias bright and white, - 2 specials are the Leucospermum mundii - Rare, and Cliffortia reniformis - VU.

A second group of 6 hikers “the tough option” lead by HAT Derek had permission to hike the full 2day overnight trail from “Ou Tol” on the Gracia Pass. They were treated to the best Fynbos ever, including a Riversdale special - Erica blenna var. grandiflora (DDT). Sadly this trail has been closed for several years. With such a perfect infra structure in terms of huts and footpaths – we really hope that Cape Nature and Riversdale will be able to reopen this trail – Soon, Soon! HAT Derek did however have a mild mishap- he was given the incorrect key for the 2nd hut. Thus, his group were able to enjoy a lovely breezy night under the stars, after an 8 hour hiking day. Well – they had joined the “tough option” group. ....
Evie

On Friday, we will be exploring the Sedgefield Dunes in search of Orchids and whatever else we can find. It will be something of a relief to be out of burnt veld, although this whole Sedgefield area is shockingly infested with aliens.

And finally, most of you will be aware that we have been having big problems with iSpot since the new programmers took over. It eventually became intolerable and after a comprehensive survey of South African users, the decision will probably be taken by SANBI to go with iNaturalist for the time being. This interactive website falls under the umbrella of the California Academy of Science. For some of us oldies, it is going to be a difficult transition, but worth it in the end. Dr Tony Rebelo has promised that he will come up to George and give us a course, as soon as the finer details are sorted. They say, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. Well, someone is going to have to teach at least one old bitch to use the new technology and Sally is currently feeding us info under the title of iNFD – iNaturalist for Dummies. Challenging times lie ahead.
Hamba Kahle
Groete en dankie
Di Turner
Outramps CREW Group
Southern Cape

Abbreviations Glossary
MCSA – Mountain Club of South Africa
MSB - Millenium Seed Bank based at Kew in the UK
WIP – Work in Progress
HAT – High Altitude Team
LOT – Lowland Team
SIM – Somewhere in the Middle Team
WAGS – Wednesday Adventure Group
VB – Vlok Boekie “Plants of the Klein Karoo” and our Plant Bible
ITRTOL – Another thread “In The Rich Tapestry Of Life”(It describes a challenging situation, usually to do with the Buchu Bus)
ITFOT – In the fullness of time
WOESS – Fair Weather Hiker
FMC and JW – too vulgar to translate, but the equivalent is “Strike me Dead” An expression of surprise and delight on finding a new “Rare”
Kambro – same as above
Fossick – A meter per minute, scratching around looking for rares
SIDB – Skrop in die Bos – Another name for a field trip, this one coined by Prix
BAFFING – Running round like a blue-arsed fly
SYT – Sweet Young Thing - Anyone under the age of 40
TOMB – Get a move on
Mayhem - Needless or willful damage or violence
SESKRYNG – “Sit en staan kry niks gedaan” ,with thanks to Brian
SOS – Skelms on Scramblers
FW – Idiot
BOB – Another name for the Buchu Bus when she’s misbehaving.
CRAFT – A symptom of Old Age
DDD - Metalasia tricolor (Damned Diabolical Daisy)
VP – Vrekplek – Retirement Village
Qàq – Self-explanatory Inuit word describing some of our local problems
Mr Fab – Our Fabaceae specialist, Brian Du Preez – originally Boy 1
TMCH -The Mathematician or the Computer Helpline – Peter Thompson
Boy 2 – Kyle Underwood who works on Orchids and is still at school
Sharkie – Finn Rautenbach – Our latest SYT is a surfer in his spare time
Sicko – Someone who suffers from Car Sickness. With 4 in the Group, allocating seating in the Buchu Bus is tricky
VAG – Virgin Active Garage, which is our meeting place when we head north
MATMUE – Meet At The Mall Under E - Meeting place when we head West
WG – Waves Garage in Wilderness East. - Meeting place when we’re going east.
VU- Vulnerable
DDT – Data Deficient and Taxonomically ?
NT – Near Threatened
EN – Endangered
CR – Critically Endangered
PE – Presumed extinct
LC – Least Concern
TBC – To be Confirmed
TLC – Tender loving care
JMS – An expression of absolute disdain
FOMO – Fear of Missing Out
Milk – the fruit of the vine
Condensed Milk – Scotland’s finest export
Full Cream Milk or Fat Milk – Any product of Humulus lupulus eg. Milk Stout
Milk of the Gods – Rooibos and Brandy
Milk Shake - Sparkling Wine
NS – Species of conservation concern new to the Outramps
PS -Priority Species allocated to the Outramps by our CREW Cape Co-ordinator , Ismail Ebrahim
iNFD – iNaturalist for Dummies

Posted on October 23, 2017 13:32 by outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi | 0 comments | Leave a comment

October 30, 2017

Knee-Deep

Jen is a really clean person and always beautifully groomed. After a visit to a burn site, she emerges spotless, whilst the rest of us rival Chimney Sweeps. This is probably partially due to her job and training as the Theatre Matron at Grey’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg, where she worked before she married Thys. At Dune Molerat on Friday, we ignored the “Closed” notices and did the longest route around the northern and eastern shores of Swartvlei. The mouth is obviously closed and the water is at the highest level that I’ve ever seen it and I have been hiking here since 1970. It wasn’t long before we were up to our knees in water and sometimes suppurating mud, which smelt awful. Jen’s cream hiking pants were soon covered with black mud, much to her displeasure. She had joined us for the first time after a long absence because of looking after her sick husband. It was great to have her back, if only for a day. She still manages to help us with all our Erica id’s.

The shady spots were alive with the magnificent Green Wood Orchid (Bonatea speciosa). Lots of Crassula orbicularis in full flower were companionably growing next to it . The wet and muddy walk was all made worthwhile by finding Printzia polifolia in full flower on the new path on the south-eastern side of the Reserve, which leads up to the Lookout. Here we also saw Gnidia chrysophylla (Golden Stripper – Near Threatened). We saw one Pelargonium lobatum in flower. Of Nanobubon hypogaeum (Endangered) there was no sign. Other show-stoppers were Gladiolus tristis (Yellow March Afrikaner) growing in the wetland, the tall Hibiscus diversifolius, Eriocephalus racemsous (Vat hom Fluffy) and fields of Geranium incanum (Carpet Geranium) side by side with the bright orange Papaver aculeatum (Wild Poppy). The Dune Molerat Reserve always has something for us to Ooh and Ah about, although walking along the tracks between the huge molehills is fraught with the danger of the path collapsing under you.

We then moved over to the Sedgefield Dunes, which are very depressing. They are covered with aliens like Lantana, Black Wattle, Bluegums, Kikuyu and a host of others. There are lots of Rares fighting for survival in these infested Dunes. It is more than time that the place was cleaned up. Sedgefield property owners and the Municipality need to wake up and do something about the situation. Apart from all other considerations, the fire hazard is enormous. Don’t wait until we have another situation like the June fires in the Southern Cape.
Di

From Forest to Vlakte
In late September Pam and I headed off on a short Western Cape jaunt. Generally we struggle to find places that are as peaceful as our home but on this occasion we excelled in finding quiet spots.

After checking out the Vetplantfees we headed to "Keurkloof", a very neat farm near Matjiesfontein. The area was very dry and the weather was cold and windy but our short forays onto the low koppies produced some pleasant surprises. Crassulas were in full flower and some specimens were utterly breathtaking, like the very pink C. barbata and the adorable squat C. pyramidalis.

Our next stop was a night outside Montagu on the farm of friends. If anything, the Klein Karoo looked even drier than Matjiesfontein; our friends proudly pointed out the one new species they'd come across recently, a Holothrix. We had a little rain overnight and the mesems were quick to open their seedpods in response.

The next two nights were in a rather dark and draughty (but peaceful!) cottage on Honeywood Farm, which borders Grootvadersbosch. Most of the farm is grazed, but there is the odd strip of fynbos and thicket and access to the forest. I was astounded to come across a giant earthworm the size of a snake, having no idea these occurred in South Africa, It was quite hard to hold, being incredibly slimy.

We weren't sure what to expect at Platbos, "Africa's southernmost forest" (http://www.platbos.co.za/index.html) where we'd booked a tent - this private reserve near Gansbaai is only 27ha in extent but is completely magical. What a surprise to discover massive, ancient Celtis africana and gnarled old milkwoods on the windswept coastline. As charming as the old trees were, I think I was most excited about finally seeing Ferraria crispa in the flesh!
Sally
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Groeneweide
…HAT Evie joined in with a WAGS hike on Wednesday. Lovely day out, good socializing as well as mainly flora observations. This stretch of easily accessible Garden route indigenous forest is always a treat with towering Outeniqua yellowwoods looming throughout. On the forest margins – mauve Virgilia spp; and interesting shaped orange and white fungi, as well as Cladonia sp on the forest floor/or tree branches. The forest though still under stress from dry weather- evidence of thick dry old leaf carpeting, numerous trees lying sideways, and branches scattered on the ground - no doubt uprooted by the high winds during the winter months. As the pictures show an adventurous outing with numerous obstacles - to circumnavigate, or stretch straight through the middle of. Had our amazing Outramps Di been there – we would also have been treated to some interesting comments.
In the open Fynbos on higher ground – Agathosma ovata was in flower as well as being studded with 5 chambered fruit; a few special Erica unicolor subsp georgensis were close to the river descent with a couple of delicate miniature Erica peltata.
Evie
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The tale below has already appeared in a Reportback in March 2017. But it is worth retelling and has a sequel, which I have added at the end.
The Ant Story
On the 11th of February I (Sally Adam) tagged along on a Mountain Club hike in the Ruitersberg/Moordkuil area. It was a large group and some of the hikers were struggling and slowing the party, so with other members clamouring about their rumbling tummies it was decided to take the lunch break a good two kilometres early. This proved to be most serendipitous.

We sat on a rocky outcrop overlooking a stream with a lovely view of the mountains to the north of us. While the others were tucking into their lunch boxes and complaining about all the ant activity on the rocks, I busied myself taking a few pictures of the flowers around us. I also took photos of a pair of ants on a Crassula flower, careful not to disturb them. I soon realised they were undisturbable - they were not only dead but their jaws were firmly clamped to the flower.

I was reminded of a nature documentary I had seen: ants, infected by a fungus, are compelled to climb to the very ends of branches or blades of grass, embed their jaws in the vegetation and die. The fungal fruiting bodies then grow out of the small corpse and the spores can be spread more widely due to the elevated position.

I started looking around and immediately found at least 10 other corpses on grass, restios and other bushes. Something was going on! I took lots of photographs but failed to spot any fruiting bodies. I duly posted my find on iSpot and it became obvious that this is a phenomenon not many people have come across. I also spoke to an entomologist friend at UCT who kindly forwarded me a paper on ant parasites. It was suggested that I contact the lead author, David Hughes, who I tracked down at Penn State University. He responded immediately, confirming that the ants had been attacked by the fungus Ophiocordyceps. He also wrote:

"It is very rare so I would be very keen if you could collect other samples. Is that possible? "

So a couple of weeks later, and with the help of Greg and Janet Moore, I anxiously retraced our route. I kept an eye out as we walked but there were few live ants and no dead ones. After 5km we reached our previous lunch spot and as soon as the habitat changed to rocky outcrop/Crassula sp., we started seeing dead ants attached to a wide range of vegetation (what a relief). I pulled out prepared matchboxes lined with cotton wool and gleefully got to work pulling ants from leaves with a pair of forceps.

The ants will be posted off to Dr Hughes in two separate batches and I can't wait for the results of his sequencing. More details can be found on the iSpot observation http://www.ispotnature.org/node/869711
Sally
PS – A note from David Hughes “We sequenced the fungi you sent and it is a really interesting finding. They are a group of fungi called Entomphthora which are evolutionarily very distant from what we studied. About 500 million years apart. What is cool is that your ants were manipulated so this is an undefended evolutionary event where a fungus manipulates ants to bite. We do know that this group of fungi do this to ants in Northern Europe (attached)” . This all very exciting and if that wasn’t enough for 1 week, Sally won the Observation of the day on iNaturalist with her magnificent photo of Crassula pyramidalis which is featured on the Album. She has only been posting on iNat for about 1 week.
Once again, we have a busy week ahead of us. Prof Muthama Muasya from UCT and Prof Charlie Stirton from the UK are coming up to the Southern Cape for a series of Field trips. They will be staying at Strawberry Hill for 2 nights. We will have dinner for them on Wed night with the Outramps and then join them for a field trip on Thursday. In the meantime we are grappling with iNaturalist, but with combined resources, even the “oldies” are beginning to get a handle on it and we’re starting to go great guns. The final decision (on whether or not we’re going the iNaturalist route) will be taken by SANBI later this week.
Hamba Kahle
Groete en dankie
Di Turner
Outramps CREW Group
Southern Cape

Abbreviations Glossary
MCSA – Mountain Club of South Africa
MSB - Millenium Seed Bank based at Kew in the UK
WIP – Work in Progress
HAT – High Altitude Team
LOT – Lowland Team
SIM – Somewhere in the Middle Team
WAGS – Wednesday Adventure Group
VB – Vlok Boekie “Plants of the Klein Karoo” and our Plant Bible
ITRTOL – Another thread “In The Rich Tapestry Of Life”(It describes a challenging situation, usually to do with the Buchu Bus)
ITFOT – In the fullness of time
WOESS – Fair Weather Hiker
FMC and JW – too vulgar to translate, but the equivalent is “Strike me Dead” An expression of surprise and delight on finding a new “Rare”
Kambro – same as above
Fossick – A meter per minute, scratching around looking for rares
SIDB – Skrop in die Bos – Another name for a field trip, this one coined by Prix
BAFFING – Running round like a blue-arsed fly
SYT – Sweet Young Thing - Anyone under the age of 40
TOMB – Get a move on
Mayhem - Needless or willful damage or violence
SESKRYNG – “Sit en staan kry niks gedaan” ,with thanks to Brian
SOS – Skelms on Scramblers
FW – Idiot
BOB – Another name for the Buchu Bus when she’s misbehaving.
CRAFT – A symptom of Old Age
DDD - Metalasia tricolor (Damned Diabolical Daisy)
VP – Vrekplek – Retirement Village
Qàq – Self-explanatory Inuit word describing some of our local problems
Mr Fab – Our Fabaceae specialist, Brian Du Preez – originally Boy 1
TMCH -The Mathematician or the Computer Helpline – Peter Thompson
Boy 2 – Kyle Underwood who works on Orchids and is still at school
Sharkie – Finn Rautenbach – Our latest SYT is a surfer in his spare time
Sicko – Someone who suffers from Car Sickness. With 4 in the Group, allocating seating in the Buchu Bus is tricky
VAG – Virgin Active Garage, which is our meeting place when we head north
MATMUE – Meet At The Mall Under E - Meeting place when we head West
WG – Waves Garage in Wilderness East. - Meeting place when we’re going east.
VU- Vulnerable
DDT – Data Deficient and Taxonomically ?
NT – Near Threatened
EN – Endangered
CR – Critically Endangered
PE – Presumed extinct
LC – Least Concern
TBC – To be Confirmed
TLC – Tender loving care
JMS – An expression of absolute disdain
FOMO – Fear of Missing Out
Milk – the fruit of the vine
Condensed Milk – Scotland’s finest export
Full Cream Milk or Fat Milk – Any product of Humulus lupulus eg. Milk Stout
Milk of the Gods – Rooibos and Brandy
Milk Shake - Sparkling Wine
NS – Species of conservation concern new to the Outramps
PS -Priority Species allocated to the Outramps by our CREW Cape Co-ordinator , Ismail Ebrahim
iNFD – iNaturalist for Dummies

Posted on October 30, 2017 13:14 by outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi | 0 comments | Leave a comment