Journal archives for November 2017

November 04, 2017

Donder en Bliksem

The Southern Cape Coast is not renowned for thunderstorms, but we’ve had some monsters during the last week, accompanied by searing daylight temperatures. Pyrotechnic displays lit up the night sky and lightning started a fire on the Robinson Pass closing the road. These unusual storms caused a flurry of power failures. No power = no water on Strawberry Hill, which is an irritating side effect. Rain was very patchy. In one bout, Heather Park had 14mm and we had 3. If anything, that’s even more irritating than having no water. We are all hoping that the little Karoo shared in this unforecasted (?) bounty and that it has had some relief from the ongoing drought. The area is turning into a desert.

Prof Charles Stirton and Prof Muthama Muasya arrived on Wednesday evening. We had a pleasant dinner with the Outramps and early on Thursday morning we drove to Kleinplaat, to hunt for Legumes and Sedges. The Bergplaas office was in darkness and a frustrated Nellie sat in front of a blank computer screen with no electricity. The day was warm when we started, but by about 2pm, the temperature must have been a sizzling 35 degrees. There was very little shade on the Duiwelskop Pass and towards the top, enthusiasm was flagging. Charlie was very pleased to see Aspalathus bowieana (Endangered) and managed to collect 8 other Legumes. Muthama seemed to be happy enough with his range of Sedges, but by the end of the day we were all distinctly “hot and bothered”. That evening Charlie spoke to the Trust members of the Botanical Garden and walked around the garden looking mainly at Frogs. Next morning the Professors were off to their next port of call somewhere to the east. We enjoyed having them so much. They are both excellent teachers and highly entertaining. We do hope that we’ll see them again next year.

I was off early on Friday to walk along the cliffs at Herolds Bay to count flowering Drosanthemum edwardsiae (Data Deficient) with Prix, Sandra, Gail and Jenny. We counted 153 plants between the cross and just beyond the entrance to the cliff path. They seem to enjoy exposed granite outcrops and are certainly thriving there. We also checked on the population of Euchaetis albertiniana (Endangered) that grows next to the Typha capensis. We took some specimens to try and see if the leaves had an apical callus. Evidently that is one of the other distinguishing characteristics that divide Euchaetis albertiniana/burchellii. It was a short morning, which was good for me, as I try to keep things under some sort of control. Crisis management is my style, but can become a little tiring after a while.

Buffalo Bay to Brenton (28th) Endlovana (29th)
On Saturday, Fred and I decided to walk from Buffelsbaai back to our house in Brenton-on-Sea over the dune field recently cleared of impenetrable Albany Thicket by the June 2017 wild fires.

We parked our car at the parking lot opposite the start of the Buffalo Bay Trail near the Goukamma Estuary and started along the path. The Albany thicket at the start of the trail was not burnt. I was very pleased to find Dioscorea mundii (NT) plants, as the single plant I saw along this trail a few years ago was removed, only a hole remaining on a subsequent visit to the site. As we came over the primary dune, the scenery abruptly changed to a burnt barren landscape. We cut across the east-west trending fossil dunes, up and down and up and down. Very few signs of reptile life or other animals were seen. The usual bushbuck spoor and snake trails were not evident but there were a number of burnt tortoise shells. The insects congregated on the few plants that have reappeared after the fire. An Addo Flightless Dung Beetle (Circellium bacchus) (VU) scuttled away from my camera as did a Red-spotted Lily Weevil (Brachycerus ornatus).

However, a few plants of the bright yellow Eulophia speciosa, masses of Albuca and Androcymbium eucomoides, blue Heliophila and white Nemesia bicornis gave the blackened surface some colour. There were a few scattered Freesia leichtlinii subsp. alba (NT), but their flowering season is coming to an end. The highlights of this walk were the Satyrium princeps (Vulnerable) The beautiful rose-pink to carmen-red flowers stood out against the burnt sand and there were lots of them, some over 0.5m tall and they were scattered across the south-facing dune slopes. On close inspection, most of the flowers had been attacked by insects, but they were a sight for sore eyes (we were walking into a strong headwind!). After about 7 hours and a total ascent of about 500 m we were ready for a cup of tea before we drove back to fetch our car.

On Sunday (29th) we drove to Endlovana (Uitzigt 216 Portion 39) to look at the control-burn site. There is so much more re-growth here than in the area burnt by the wildfires three weeks later. We found healthy populations of Gnidia chrysophylla (NT), a few nearly over Freesia leichtlinii subsp. alba (NT) and a few Satyrium princeps (VU) growing among lots of Gladiolus rogersii, Bobartia aphylla and resprouting fynbos and Albany thicket species. I wonder what we will find as the fynbos continues to recover?
Nicky

Sputnik to Camferskloof Nek
.. HAT Evie joined in with the usual Wednesday hike (WAGS) It was a short hike from the Sputnik up to the saddle known as the Camferskloof nek. A hot morning to begin with- and so pleasant to eventually reach some shade under the aliens! – the little pine tree forest near the top of the neck. Today even HAT Evie decided she was too hot to make Peak ‘Ten67” – and got as far as some flowering (both pink and white) Agathosma ovata and rather faded Oldenburgia paradoxa. On our return, a delightful cooler breeze and some mists ‘rolling in from the sea”.
The fynbos on the south slope -looking good. Colourful – numerous nodding heads of pink Erica seriphiifolia; glowing yellow on Leucadendron uliginosum ssp uliginosum and plenty of white Buchu, mostly Agathosma mundtii, as well as A. planifolia near the stream crossings. However, on the top saddle and on the north facing high ground – the vegetation still looking severely parched. …..
Evie

Meanwhile some of our young are out there doing great things. You will have read Brian’s report on the 2nd stage of his Spring field trips. This young man has a very bright botanical future and has made some spectacular finds. Peter Thompson is a newer recruit and has been doing a lot of climbing with Mo who is also a CREW member. We have just heard the wonderful news that Peter achieved the highest mark in the science faculty for his 3 year stint as an undergraduate. He is currently doing Honours in Mathematics at Stellenbosch. Peter was the school Dux in his last year at York High in George. In his spare time he is working on an app. He says, “ The long term goal is to have an app one day where people can take photos of a Protea in the field and it will identify it - obviously not very useful for any (amateur) botanists, but still exciting and definitely useful for someone that knows nothing about Proteas. I am thinking of adding in the spatial data and maybe one or two questions so that anyone can nail down exactly what type of Protea they are looking at”.

Closer to home, it’s going to be another busy week, as the year gallops to its close and leaves us with lots of unfinished business. On Thursday 9th some of us will be exploring the Herolds Bay cliff path to the Gwaing River mouth to count Drosanthemum edwardsiae and to establish the boundaries of this population. It is unlikely that we will complete the survey in this flowering season, but there is always another year. That is, if Trump and Dear Leader haven’t completely destroyed the earth and everything that lives on it. On the same day, LOT will be visiting the Pledge Nature Reserve to do post-burn monitoring for the morning. On Friday 10th Dave Underwood will be back from Namibia and he is keen to explore the newly opened path to Kamiesberg from Farleigh. I will contact Carel van der Merwe later today to discuss the modus operandi and to get the name of the farmer on the northern side of the Outeniquas. It will be entirely new territory for the Outramps.
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
Muisvoel -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 as compiled by Sally

Posted on November 04, 2017 13:17 by outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi | 2 comments | Leave a comment

November 05, 2017

Mr Fab's October Fest

This past month has yet again been hectic with several long and exciting field trips. The first one was a 10-day round trip which included searching for the long lost Polhillia connata (CR PE), join the Outramps at Fouriesberg and a few days at Haarwegskloof. The first day of the trip was a long drive from Stellenbosch to Riversdale, followed by a few very productive hours in the field. Before the rain caught me, I managed to find a new population of Erica physantha (CR – only one population known), Euchaetis longicornis (CR), Protea decurrens (EN), Otholobium pungens (EN), Leucadendron teretifolium (NT) and Notobubon collinum (NT). Yet again no luck looking for Polhillia connata, it is most likely extinct, but there are so many small pieces of land and it is impossible to visit them all solo.

The next few days were spent with the Outramps at Fouriesberg and proved to be very fruitful. We found several specials and possibly even a new Centella species up on Fouriesberg, but the undescribed Otholobium remained elusive. The next stop was to look for Polhillia connata on the northern side of the Langeberg. Unfortunately, again unsuccessful and it seems that the chances of finding this species are becoming increasingly unlikely. I arrived later that afternoon at Haarwegskloof and we headed out to visit a population of Polhillia canescens (VU) in full flower. We also made a trip to a burnt area of limestone fynbos south of the reserve. There we found Argyrolobium harmsianum (EN), Wiborgiella sessilifolia (NT), Otholobium sp. nova (Local endemic) and a tall Psoralea in the kloof that I cannot match with any species in the recent Pinnata complex revision.

The next two days were spent monitoring Polhillia canescens (VU) on several farms. We also managed to find several other rares including: Aspalathus incompta (NT), Diosma passerinoides (VU), Gibbaeum haaglenii (VU), Lobostemon capitatus (VU), Aspalathus barbigera (VU) Aspalathus cf pycnantha (VU), Notobubon collinum (NT), Notobubon striatum (EN), Moraea debilis (EN), Aspalathus smithii (EN), and a variety of Haworthia species. We were also treated to a rare glimpse of a Cape Honeybadger, Jannie appeared to have walked too near its burrow and gave a mock charge, leaving Jannie hysterical and me laughing for days. For a change of scenery, we headed for a day to explore around Suurbraak. We had a good day before rain cut the day short finding a new population of the Suurbraak Polhillia taxa, along with Drosanthemum lavisii (EN), Eriospermum bowieanum (VU), Otholobium pungens (EN), Aspalathus incompta (NT), and Aspalathus steudeliana (VU). The final day of the trip was to count Polhillia brevicalyx (CR) at its only known location. We managed to count over 160 plants, most of which had previous not been found in a small kloof downstream of the type site. To top it all off, we also managed to find some more Moraea debilis (EN) and Wiborgiella bowieana (CR). This bringing a very long, but rewarding trip to an end.

The next field trip took place between 21-24 October, a 4-day round trip with Prof Charlie Stirton on a legume (and sedge) hunt. Our first mission was a two day visit to Drie Kuilen with Cape Town CREW team, led by Ismail. Driving towards Drie Kuilen, we stopped at a road cutting to have a look at some Otholobium when we made a great discovery. Growing in the road verge in full bloom was Polhillia involucrata (EN), only known from the Roggeveld escarpment and a single (questionable) record from this area. Other notable finds along the road were Amphithalea spinosa (VU), Otholobium cf rupicolum (NE) and a new locality for Aspalathus rostrata (Rare).
After arriving at Drie Kuilen and pressing our morning’s collections, we set out to explore the recently burnt reserve and track down the Cape Town team. The legumes dried up for a while, and so we spent some time collecting some potentially interesting sedges which will be identified by Prof. Muthama Muasya ITFOT. Just before we headed for home, we were treated to some beautiful Lotononis gracilifolia (EN) in flower. For the second day, we took the long drive towards the top of the mountains and although the veld is very young and dry, we got a taste a what occurs in this wonderful reserve. We feel fairly confident of at least two new Aspalathus species that we are waiting to see in flower, Indigofera cf burchellii (NE), Lotononis argentea (VU), Ixia parva (VU) and this is only the start of it… We then took the long (and hot) drive to Sutherland to stock up on the bare necessities before tackling the 100km of horrible gravel road to reach the Polhillia involucrata on the escarpment. We were duly rewarded with Polhillia involucrata (EN) in beautiful bloom at several places along a stretch of several kilometres of the escarpment road. We also found several other interesting legumes including what may turn into a new Argyrolobium and an interesting Lessertia we somehow neglected to collect (with great regret…) FMC. After enjoying the Polhillia for a few hours, we made the 100km journey on more bad gravel road to our accommodation for the evening, where I prepared a proudly South African braai with steak, boerewors, potato salad and some peas (the tinned kind).

Leaving the Roggeveld escarpment the next morning via Osberg Pass, we made a quick visit to Kanariesfontein. This farm is home to a small (and sadly not very healthy looking) population of Polhillia involucrata (EN) and is home to the only remaining population of Secale strictum subsp. africanum (SA Rye Grass – CR). The very friendly Oom took us around to see both species and we are glad to report that both are still there and that the Oom is doing his best to manage the Rye grass as a livestock farmer in the worst drought in recorded history. The plants have been grazed, but are still looking healthy and will not be grazed until after they have finished flowering. The drive through Tanqua Karoo was hot and there seems to be absolutely nothing alive there. We made a quick stop on Gydo Pass where Charlie showed me his secret legume hunting spot which included Aspalathus desertorum (NT).

Finally, on Saturday 28 October I joined Dewidine to visit the potential Aspalathus ferox (CR PE) plants at Vrojlikheid NR near McGregor to try and confirm the ID. We managed to locate the plants on several koppies and took ample material for specimens. Unfortunately, I can confirm that the plants are not Aspalathus ferox, and are most likely Aspalathus lactea subsp. breviloba (VU). We also managed to find Drosanthemum micans (EN) in flower and not much else in the very dull and dry Karoo.

October was a very successful and tiring month, with more than half the month spent away from home. I must admit that I am looking forward to the end of the field season as my specimen tally for the year already stands at 142, never mind the several hundred CREW site sheets and MSc work that lies ahead too… Enjoy the last month of spring, summer is on the way!
Groete,
The Boy / Mr Fab / Dr Pea (thanks to Tony Rebelo for another name…)

Posted on November 05, 2017 06:14 by outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi | 1 comments | Leave a comment

November 14, 2017

Hier Kom die "Ou Groote"

And no, I am not referring to Kobus Wiese, the ex-Springbok lock and genial host of Super Rugby on Supersport. Despite having the horrific weekend Rugby on my mind, the weather forecast and the “Big Rain” for the coming week is currently looming larger in my thoughts. Heavy rain on a southeaster is indicative of a cut-off low, which is at all times unpredictable. It may just disappear (unlikely), but is more likely to bring exceptionally heavy rain to the Southern Cape. With very little post-fire plant regeneration on the steep slopes around George, Knysna and Plett, this could have devastating consequences. Floods and landslides are a distinct possibility. On Strawberry Hill, we are deepening the drainage lines on the driveway, clearing out the gutters and filling the baths with water. Our tenuous electricity supply is unlikely to withstand the onslaught that is forecast. “Batten down the hatches”!

On Thursday, Sally and I walked from Monate to Oubaai and back. We were trying to establish if Drosanthemum edwardsiae (Data Deficient) was also growing on the eastern side of Herolds Bay. The answer to that is an unequivocal, “No”. The final count on the western side was 430 adults and 73 juveniles. The veld to the east was looking good and there was lots in flower, including a number of Vygies, which we have yet to id. The only rare we found was a pale green version of Erica glandulosa ssp fourcadei (Vulnerable). I had some difficulty getting hold of entrance codes to Monate, but on our way out, we met Pieter Erasmus, who was very welcoming. He has also sent me the Plant List for Monate, which will help on other expeditions. This coastal walk is one of our regulars and we are busy building up a pictorial record of all the plants that grow there. When the transition from iSpot to iNaturalist is complete, I will send out new links to the projects. We are currently sitting with a foot in both camps. Here is the iSpot link from previous occasions. I am still trying to get permission to hunt for Drosanthemum edwardsiae on the stretch to the west of Herolds Bay from the cliff path to Maalgate river mouth. It’ll probably have to wait until next year, as 2017 hurtles to a close.
https://www.ispotnature.org/communities/southern-africa/view/project/743507/monate-to-oubaai/observations-gallery

On Friday, with permission from Carel van der Merwe of Sanparks, a much bigger party set off to explore the newly-opened track on Kagiesberg above Farleigh. HAT (Dave, Evie and Finn) took off up the steep track leading to the contour path. The views were exquisite, but the vegetation was disappointing, with huge tracts completely engulfed by Kystervaring (Gleichenia polypodioides). They found lots of Leucadendron conicum (Ruby Conebush – Near Threatened) and some patches of Mimetes pauciflorus (Flame Pagoda – Vulnerable). Nicky, Sandra and I took a lower track leading west and had better luck. Nicky was very excited to find a small population of Phylica keetii (Keets Flylicker – Rare). This is probably the original location of the type specimen and it was our target species for the day. Other than that, there was also lots of Leucadendron conicum on these lower slopes.

But our SIM day was not without adventure. The lure of a newly-cut path leading steeply down to the river was irresistible. There were patches of burn, which were probably due to lightning strikes during the pyrotechnics of last week. There was evidence that a team had been dousing the burning patches of kystervaring, but some were still smouldering. The track eventually became death-defyingly steep and we had to beat a retreat. Leopard crawling up on all fours through the thick underlay of Kystervaring and up almost vertical slopes was difficult with sticks and crutches that sank up to the hilt – never mind that a couple of knee replacements were under severe strain. We made it in the end. We are very worried about the aliens that abound in the area. Bluegums, Pines, Blackwood and Black Wattle are simply taking over the vegetation that hasn’t already been gobbled up by Gleichenia, which is out of control because of too infrequent fires. Sanparks needs to take urgent and comprehensive action, if this area is to be saved from a total Alien invasion.
Di

Robberg Peninsula
.. HAT Evie joined with the WAGS outing to hike around the Robberg peninsula at Plettenberg Bay. Always a pleasure to visit this well managed reserve, and enjoy the varied walking terrain encountered along the coastal footpath. There were numerous other day walkers out- and it is wonderful to note how many visitors (mostly foreign language speakers) make use of this facility run by Cape Nature. The peninsula was lucky to escape the June 2017 fires – not so the entrance /gate house of the reserve, which is currently being rebuilt.
Numerous splashes of spring colour along the way: -
yellow Ornithogalum dubium and Zygophylum morgsana; blue Jamesbrittenia microphylla; mauve flowers on the pretty feathery sea lavender (Limonium scabrum ) ; white Agathosma apiculata seemed to dominate on the rocky hillsides; red on the flowers of Gasteria brachyphylla; however no colour on Brunsvigia orientalis = ”leaf stage” only. …
Evie

Visit to Pledge Nature Reserve – Thursday 9th November 2017
Pledge Nature Reserve is currently closed to the public as large parts of it were burnt during the Knysna fires in June this year. The Pledge Nature Reserve Trust is working hard to do all the necessary repairs so that it can, once again, be opened to the public.

On Thursday Gail and I visited the reserve to see what had come up after the burn. On arrival we were confronted with locked gates, but after a call to Mervyn Crous, the Reserve manager, we were kindly allowed to enter the reserve. As we made our way along the paths we were pleased to see all the restoration work that has already taken place. There were heaps of burnt vegetation that had already been cleared, new wooden bridges made the crossing of the stream easier and trees donated by various schools were already replacing those burnt in the fire. An unexpected shower of rain dampened our clothes, but not our spirits.

We were surprised by the amount of colour around. Dietes bicolor, Moraea bellendenii, Zantedeschia aethiopica, Crinums and Aristea ecklonii were growing along the water course. There were large patches of Oxalis incarnata in the Albany thicket, while Bobartia aphylla, Gerbera serrata, Wachendorfia paniculata, Oxalis pendulifolia (NT), Cyanella lutea, Ornithogalum dubium and Watsonias coloured the blackened fynbos section. A row of Disa bracteata lined a section of the path and beautiful strings of Cyphia digitata twined up blackened stumps. A fire-damaged Encephalartos plant has produced heads of bright orange seeds encased in yellow cones and patches of Drosera cistiflora buds awaited the sun. We were very happy to find a healthy population of Dioscorea mundii (NT) climbing up the burnt remnants of other plants.

As with the other burnt areas we have visited, there were large areas greened by alien seedlings. The removal of these plants will be an ongoing challenge for a long time to come. Thank you for the opportunity to visit the reserve and we look forward to future visits and seeing the progress of the ongoing restoration.
Nicky

STOP PRESS We have just heard wonderful news from Prof Charlie Stirton. He writes, ” The exciting news is that the tree-like Agathosma we found at Bergplaas is a new species according to Terry Trinder-Smith who has never seen anything like it. Prix must get this into cultivation in the gardens. It is a horticultural winner”.

Today, we are meeting Warren Manuel at the Diosma Reserve just west of Mossel Bay. Warren is the Environmental Officer at the MB Municipality and is taking a huge interest in preserving this small reserve, which is the home of Diosma aristata (Critically Endangered). This initiative is spearheaded by Carlo van Tonder of Cape Nature and Sandra Falanga of Outramps CREW. We were also hoping to meet our CREW Cape Co-ordinator Ismail Ebrahim at the Reserve, but with the forecast at hand, it has been decided to postpone his trip to do post-burn monitoring. It will be impossible to get any work done in those weather conditions.

On Thursday, we will be visiting the Cloetes Pass area. Our target plants are Prismatocarpus cliffortioides (Endangered), Paranomus longicaulis (Vulnerable) and Wiborgiella fasciculata (Critically Endangered) and one of our target species). Hopefully, the rain will have cleared by then. On Friday, I am meeting with Jessica Hayes and Sandra Taljaardt of Sanparks to discuss the Outramps CREW Research Project in the Wilderness National Park. We are hoping to do a local field trip in the Wilderness area after the meeting.
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
Muisvoel -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 as compiled by Sally

Posted on November 14, 2017 14:52 by outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 20, 2017

The Wiborgiella Hunt

It is round about this time of the year that “the Chickens come home to roost”. All the undone tasks seem to funnel into the hysteria that is late November and early December. If you are female, Christmas looms large on the horizon, with its volume of shopping and cooking, arrival of families and end of year parties. Trying to cope with this in the Southern Cape, where the population explodes to 4 times its normal size causing frustrating traffic congestion, is enough to give anyone a nervous breakdown. Last week was a reflection of this manic activity.

Monday - The week started with a meeting with Mossel Bay Municipality officials, Carlo van Tonder from Cape Nature and 3 Outramps CREW members at the Diosma Reserve on Monday. This small Reserve to the west of Mossel Bay is home to the Critically Endangered Diosma aristata and was burnt in the June fires. You will see from Sandra’s photos that there is some regeneration. It is difficult to say at this stage, but we think there may be some Diosma seedlings coming up. The recent good rains should give all the plants something of a “Hupstoot”. A worrying feature - the fastest growing new growth is the invasive Port Jackson, which is coming up in huge mats. The discussion was mainly concentrated on how to deal with this problem. It was decided that teams could clear the perimeter, but clearing inside would need to be done by very small teams, well supervised to avoid trampling sensitive plants. The Municipality is also going to start fencing the area. We are very grateful for the interest that is being shown by Mossel Bay Municipality. This bodes well for this tiny Reserve and its very precious inhabitants. It is teeming with “rares”.
Sandra’s comprehensive report to the Mossel Bay Municipality and Cape Nature will be sent out separately.

Tuesday - We drove back to Mossel Bay to attend the last meeting of the GCBR (Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve) in 2017. It kicked off with a fantastic presentation on the “Historic Mountain Passes of the GCBR” by Niel van Wyk. It was wonderfully researched and Niel had the audience spellbound. It was followed by an excellent talk on “The Sustainability of the Honeybush Tea industry by Gillian MaGregor of Rhodes University. Willem Botha, GCBR Chairman talked about the evolution of the organisation and the way forward. There are going to be some changes in the near future to cope with the shifting landscape and the funding received from a Dutch company. Prof Mandy Lombard gave a highly entertaining and informative explanation on “How to play South Africa’s new Marine Spatial Planning Game”. Finally Nicky du Toit had an uphill battle trying to convince and teach a largely geriatric audience that Instagram was the way to go in order to publicise the GCBR. Having tottered my way around Facebook and iSpot, I now find that I have to deal with Instagram and iNaturalist. “O Donder”, as they say in the classics.

Wednesday - saw us housebound as the wonderful rain came pouring down. We had 64mm on Strawberry Hill, but some areas around the Southern Cape had much more. And this time it penetrated into the Great Karoo – where they had their first rains since April this year.

Thursday - A small team drove to Cloetes Pass and beyond. Parts of the road were iffy after the rain and it was great to have Dave’s Amarok instead of the ageing Buchu Bus. We drove to the quarry on the western end of the Bonniedale Road and parked. Dave and Sally went up the southern side and I went north. Paranomus longicaulis (Exploding Baked Apple – Vulnerable) on the southern side was either dead or dying. I had more luck to the north, with a good stand of about 20 plants that are thriving. Unfortunately the beautiful flowers were mostly a little bedraggled after the wonderful rain, but the plants were in fine fettle. We were delighted to find Protea sp. nova (woeskaensis - Data Deficient and undescribed) on both sides. Leucadendron teretifolium (Strawberry Conebush – Near Threatened) was looking good and Acmadenia tetragona (Near Threatened) was all over the place.

We then parked the car on the southern side of Cloetes Pass and searched up and down and on both sides for our target plant Wiborgiella fasciculata (Critically Endangered). Quoting from the Red List, “there are two small, severely fragmented subpopulations consisting in total of only 15 plants which are declining due to the effects of habitat fragmentation, including a lack of fire.” As hard as we hunted, there was no sign of it. Some consolation was large tracts of the beautiful Protea coronata (Applegreen Sugarbush – Near Threatened). Erica unicolor ssp mutica (Endangered) was scattered along the Pass and there were lots of Aspalathus, which would have excited Brian. Dave discovered Phylica velutina (Near Threatened and a new Special for the Outramps) in a patch of wet clay and an Agathosma that he still has to id. Dave is trying to find out whether this is also a new location for Otholobium heterosepalum (Rare). We have previously only found it in Camferskloof. A prostrate Psoralea may turn out to be rare and Gnidia anthylloides was a first for Sally and Dave. A first for me was the stunning purple Hilliardiella pinifolia. Pelargonium denticulatum (Rare) was thriving in a sandy patch below the entrance to a small kloof.

Friday Early morning at Ebb and Flow and I attended a meeting with Sandra Taljaardt and Jessica Hayes to discuss the future of the Outramps Research Project in Sanparks areas. The mood was positive and we agreed on communication lines for next year. We are also hoping to get involved with ranger-training in 2018. We are looking forward to a mutually beneficial year. After the meeting, I met Nicky and we did the Giant Kingfisher Trail and the Bosduif Loop on a spectacularly beautiful day. Washed clean after the rain, the forest was stunning and the volume of water coming down the Touw and over the waterfall was an added bonus. Stacks of Europeans ( mostly Germans) were either walking or canoeing and the trail was very busy giving us a taste of what is to come in the next few weeks. The strenuous Bosduif Loop was much quieter and we only met one German couple along the way.

We saw Dioscoraea mundii (Near Threatened – about 8 plants in total.) Baboons had raided the south side of Bosduif, digging out Ledebouria ovalifolia bulbs and lots of Crassula orbicularis. We were puzzled by marker tape on roots and stems along this trail. Presumably this is for workers maintaining the Trail. Hopefully this tape will soon be cleared away, otherwise it is going to degenerate into litter. We met a group of Coast Care beauties on the Giant Kingfisher and Sanparks must be congratulated on their maintenance of this high-traffic trail. The section opposite the gabions needs some attention. There are about 6 invasive Aussie Tree Ferns (Sphaeropteris cooperi) and some Black Wattle and Blackwood that urgently needs clearing. We also spotted Lantana camara amongst the other suspects on this piece of land in the middle of the river. Clearing should be relatively easy when the water levels drop. There is also lots of Phytolacca and Bugweed on the trail. At this stage it can be pulled out quite easily. Early next year, we would be happy to supervise a clearing team, if Sanparks needs help.

Saturday - And then it was time to write the Reportback and compile the Album.

Sunday - Instead of sailing, spent the day working on the presentation for the SCLI on Thursday. Shjoe!! That was the week that was.

On Thursday this week we will be attending the SCLI post-burn seminar. Nicky, Sandra and I will do a presentation on the regeneration of the plants after the devastating June fires. And on Friday, the Outramps are going Orchid-hunting in Doringrivier. No doubt there will also be other things that crop up and fill the week to overflowing. Some of us may be old, decrepit, grumpy and lots of other things, but we are never bored!!
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
Muisvoel -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 as compiled by Sally

Posted on November 20, 2017 04:44 by outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Diosma Reserve Update – Site visit Monday, 13 November 2017

Representatives of: Mossel Bay Municipality, Di & Sally - CREW, GCBR, CapeNature – Carlo van Tonder and Nickey le Roux - Mossel Bay Advertiser. Apologies: CREW co-ordinator for SANBI - Ismail Ebrahim (Cape Town).
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Warren Manuel of the Mossel Bay Municipality convened a site visit at the behest of Adv Thys Giliomee, the Mossel Bay Municipal Manager, to rid the Diosma Reserve of particularly the resprouting Port Jackson (Acacia saligna).

Site meet & Discussions
It turned out to be quite a contingent and after a short walk and discussion the following:
• No undue disturbance in the Reserve. Ditto number of feet!
• Dirk Zietsman, Mossel Bay Municipality, to oversee eradication in two sections (close to the sidewalk & no access into the reserve) of previously cut and treated, but now sprouting, Port Jackson plus other invasive and problem plants along the church border. One of the mature Port Jacksons infected with the biological control (gall rust fungus) will remain.
• Hand-pull of seedlings (or larger plants) of Port Jackson and Rooikrans (Acacia cyclops) during 2018 as a gradual process, but to be overseen. The Fransmanshoek student rangers could possibly tackle this.
• Warren indicated that funding is available for 80m of ‘ClearVue’ fencing. An application is in for additional funding to complete a barrier on the eastern border (Kershout st) with the urban interface. Fencing will allow for wildlife movement access underneath and between the panels. Fencing in the past has never lasted long due to vandalism and theft. It is only considered now to due to the sensitivity of the site and to prevent mindless rubbish & garden tipping, quad- and mountain biking activities and sand mining. Unfortunately fencing the eastern border will not completely block access to the reserve.
• Originally the site had been prepared for housing and several built storm water manholes (± 7) following two ‘streets’ are now fully exposed after the fire. These pose a danger for tortoises and small antelope traffic. Adv Giliomee indicated that these will be covered.
• A ‘Friends’ group is emerging and Di Turner (Outramps CREW) reiterated the need for an information sheet to be circulated to the neighbours. Sandra to pursue this.
• Carlo van Tonder of CapeNature endorsed the proposed actions. Carlo also provided the Mossel Bay Municipality with a map which indicates some pre-fire localities of Diosma arista plants.
• Some additional signage to discourage dumping was put up opposite New Life Church.

Journalist, Nickey le Roux’s ensuing article in the Mossel Bay Advertiser already resulted in neighbour coming forward with information and pledging his support. He has been removing alien invasive plants and rubble. https://www.mosselbayadvertiser.com/News/Article/General/erns-gemaak-met-reservaat-20171116
A big thank you to the all for goodwill, interest, actions taken and those in the pipeline.

Post-fire Recovery
Four of the Pelargoniums are present and flowering: P capitatum, P betulinum, P triste and P candicans. Searsia rosmarinifolia was flowering and 3 other species resprouting. In terms of the buchus there is a mystery tuft with very hairy leaves and two Agathosma muirii (Vulnerable) plants alive and well (eastern border). No signs of the eagerly awaited seedlings of the Critically Rare Diosma aristata. Protea seedlings were seen, in close proximity to burnt single-stemmed protea skeletons, assumed to be Protea repens. No P lanceolata or the Mossel Bay pincushion Leuscospermun praecox (Vulnerable) recruitment noted as yet. Leucodendron salignum was resprouting all over and the presence of the following common plants were: Trachonathus littoralis, Myrsine africana, Carissa bispinosa, Bobartia robusta, Trichocephalus stipularus is out in full force, three Hermannia species and a H saccifera in flower, the little fern Schizaea pectinata, Gladiolus rogersii, Wahlenbergia capense, Leonotis ocymifolia, Senecio elegans, Dawidjieswortel – Cissampelos capensis. Only burnt tufts of the thatching reed Thamnochortus insignis remained, with several patches of characteristic hair-like restios-to-be emerging and looking good. Some of the Ericas were resprouting, but it will have to be a wait and see before these or other redlisted species such as Erica dispar (near Threatened), Euchaetis albertiniana (Endangered) can be identified.
Sandra Falanga - Reporting for CREW

For circulation to: Mossel Bay Municipality, CREW, CapeNature, GCBR, Nickey le Roux, Friends of the Reserve

Posted on November 20, 2017 08:43 by outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 27, 2017

The Premier comes to Town

The Premier comes to Town
With the exception of 2 elections, I have voted for the Democratic Alliance (in its various forms) since I turned 18 in 1956. In 1994, I changed my allegiance to the ANC for 2 elections. During the AIDS debacle I went hotfooting it back to the DA. I have never heard Helen Zille speak live and she was very low on my list of favourites. This changed at the SCLI seminar on Thursday. Firstly, she was dressed in dead ordinary clothes that hadn’t cost much and certainly hadn’t come from a renowned fashion designer. Here, I think of the rampant consumerism that created Black Friday. There were no blue lights or sirens. Despite reading a prepared speech, her innate sense of humour was very evident. She answered the questions she was asked in a straightforward manner and she was totally down to earth. Her knowledge of a wide range of topics was impressive. I am now a fan. But enough – Sandra will write the report on the first day of a highly successful seminar and Bill will cover the second day. I will send it out on Tuesday morning. Congratulations Cobus on a job very well done.

On Friday we went Orchid-hunting at Doringrivier. With climate patterns changing, it becomes more and more difficult to find the plants at the perfect time. I thought that we were late, but in fact, we were there too soon, with most of them in early bud. Last year they were in full flower on the 25th November. Nicky found 8 Eulophia platypetala (Vulnerable), which was our target plant, but none of them were in full flower. One Ceratandra atrata was open, but the magnificent Ceratandra grandiflora was nowhere to be seen. There were a couple of luminous-green Disa cylindrica and a couple of Disa inflexa, but nothing much else in the way of Orchids to shout about. We were pleased to see some Lobelia dichroma (Data Deficient) , although most of them were looking fairly dessicated and not at their best. Despite reasonable rains in the last couple of weeks, Doringrivier gives the impression of being dry.

But dry or not, the Proteaceae regeneration is massive. There were young plants and new growth all over the place. In a couple of years, they will start flowering and the true magnificence of this fabulous valley will return. Protea eximia, P. repens, P.neriifolia, P. lorifolia and P.aurea ssp aurea, Leucadendron eucalyptifolium, Ld. salignum, Ld. spissifolium, Ld. conicum (Near Threatened)and Ld. uliginosum, Serruria fasciflora , Paranomus dregei and Spatalla barbigera (Near Threatened) will all be back to their former glory. Further down the valley, Leucadendron olens (Near Threatened) and Ld. ericifolium are already close to flowering. I am just hoping that my “vrot” legs will last until then. If not, someone is going to have to carry me up there – dead or alive!! Young Phaenocoma prolifera plants have sent out their first flowers, the floriferous Aspalathus acanthes and ciliaris were just going over, Mimetes cucullatus was striking in scarlet and Leucadendron uliginosum ssp uliginosum was looking gorgeous in yellow. Two young professionals (Engineering and Geology) from the USA joined us for the day. Catherine is Nicky’s niece from Houston and Rebecca is a friend. We so enjoyed having them with us. They were hugely enthusiastic about our scenery, which is always gratifying. As is our wont after Doringrivier, we repaired to Bobby and Ria’s Famous Pizza Place for pizzas and a cool one after the field trip. This set the seal on a most enjoyable day with good friends in beautiful surroundings.
Di

Glentana coastal hike
This week HAT Evie joined in on 2 coastal walks. One of which is known as the ‘Glentana beach “walk. I am however suggesting a name change to “Glentana Coastal”. What an exciting hike this beach walk has now become. Very suitable for our South Cape MCSA outing on Sun 19 November. Recent storms, high seas and the erratic Indian Ocean have reclaimed the beach sand and moved it elsewhere. I previously walked this hike during both May and January 2017 – on those 2 occasions, plenty of sand and beach to meander along. On this Sunday the walk entailed numerous rocky cliff edges; as well as numerous “in and out and over the rock” manoeuvres!! We walked past the old dry dock wreck (stuck there since 1902 and a reminder of stormy seas) and we then continued as far as Cape Windlass, where there are a few caves at sea level. Now the delightful beach at the caves – no longer exists and a rock pool will have to suffice for swimming.
Lovely day out – on route - patches of yellow daisy heads; patches of purple Vygies; white Ornithogalum dubium here and there; as well as shady Lobelia pubescens . On the forest margins – a few stunning Bonatea speciosa in flower, and Agathosma ovata.
Evie

On Friday, we are hoping to head for the Swartberg to climb Waboomsberg to the west of the top of the Swartberg Pass. The weather looks fair for most of the day and there is a very light wind forecast at this stage. There have been many occasions when we have had to retreat off this mountain, because of gale-force winds. This, when it has been dead calm in the valley. I can remember clearly one occasion when the temperature in Oudtshoorn was 40 degrees and we nearly died of exposure on Waboomsberg. It was freezing. So we will see. I will be watching the weather forecast closely. With the good rains that have fallen recently, perhaps the vegetation would have had a much-needed boost. And if the mountain rejects us, there is always the alternative of the northern foothills on the Gamkaskloof Rd, Platbos or the jeep track leading to Bothas Hoek.
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
Muisvoel -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 as compiled by Sally

Posted on November 27, 2017 14:22 by outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 28, 2017

Garden Route Environmental Seminar

Garden Route Environmental Seminar Day 1
In opening Prof Fabricius of NMU advocates that Knysna should bounce back in its rebuild to a caring place. “To return to the old Knysna would be a trap”. The rebuild community has to use leverage points for transformation and within a socio-ecological framework establish greater equality in order. …“ to be and become worthy ancestors”. He referred to a friend’s quote “How to get out of a hole – stop digging”.
The very worthwhile symposium of the Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI) brought together various layers, perspectives, disciplines and people. Many of these would not intersect in day-to-day life. Clearly it has become a common task to rebuild, but also to review the drought and fire events which in many ways defied some pre-held conceptions. The firestorm left trauma in its wake, this was noticeable during several presentations. A wee peek and some points to ponder- for detailed updates - join the Buchu bus:
• Following her keynote address in a Q&A Premier Helen Zille touched on ‘Managed Aquifer Recharge’. After abstraction, aquifers are recharged by partially treated waste water.
• Pam Booth, environmental manager at Knysna Municipality, as from June the 12th , impressed. She is instituting real environmentally friendly options into the urban domain, one being SuDS – Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems and another Fireproof houses made of alien wood.
• The timber industry was hit hard and we caught an emotional undertone whilst Heine Muller of PG Bison explained the magnitude of accelerated harvesting and the stockpiling of timber (for up to four years). The ramped up scale of the operations to save the timber has required fast tracking of equipment, labour, methodology, infrastructure and even assistance from Mpumalanga and KZN. To preserve soil, heavy machinery on high flotation tyres travel only on brushed tracks of the de-branched, harvested pines. Eleven new borehole wells irrigate the stacked timber 24/7 at a rate of 50mm per day in order to preserve it. The anaerobic conditions prevent rot, fungus, insect access. He claims the eventual 2,8km long stockpile of logs will be noticed from space, together with the gaps in the Stormers’ backline! Demand for timber for agriculture dropped due to the drought (i.e. vineyard structures). Heine has been very helpful to the Outramps CREW monitoring Team on their trips to Spioenkop, Ruigtevlei.
• Dr Tineke Kraaij’s (now at NMU) presentation re post- fire vegetation recovery, the nature of the fire, its intensity and a pie chart analysis of vegetation in which the fire occurred - dovetailed with the Outramps findings and answered many of the group’s questions. The fire was intense. Recovery is slow. The humus layer burnt which may affect available seed stores and recovery. It is now very clear that to assume thicket succession in a Fynbos dominant landscape would exclude or retard fire, is mildly put, a folly.
• Although Dr Dave Edge of Brenton Blue fame has found substantial regrowth of Indogofera erecta, the larval foodplant of the Brenton Blue Butterfly, the butterfly and the ants it is associated with have not emerged yet. I am very happy to report that he is incredibly interested in butterflies and vegetation in Mossel Bay, including the Diosma reserve. Looking forward to positive collaboration with him.
Thank you SCLI & the many role-players. Well done!
Sandra Falanga
082 578 4953
sandra.falanga@gmail.com

Garden Route Environmental Seminar day 2
22 of us met over a cup of coffee at the Nautica Restaurant on Friday at 08.30 after which we set off on in a motorcade on the field visits.
First stop was at the Brenton Blue Butterfly Reserve, where Dave Edge enlightened us. This is a 2 hectare reserve characterised by coastal fynbos and thicket. Here there was already good regeneration of clusters of a fine grass-like sedge and much regenerating bracken. Pterocelastrus tricuspidatus (candlewood) skeletons were also showing early resprouting. Several Indigofera erecta, which is the food source of the BBB, were also emerging. Unfortunately no surviving BBB have been demonstrated after the fire thus far, but as the larvae feed for part of their lives underground on the roots of I. erecta, there is hope that survivors will re-colonise the reserve. They are also dependent on a symbiotic relationship with a species of ant of which no survivors in the reserve have been noted as yet.

Next stop was on the top of the Western heads were we could see most of the extent of the Brenton area fire. Here again there was good regeneration mainly of grass-like sedges, P. tricuspidatus was also resprouting here and there. There was also a fair scattering of small alien rooikrans seedlings. It was felt that these would be best removed by hand rather than spraying with herbicide. In other areas the burn looked relatively bare. These were mobile dunes originally mainly stabilised with rooikrans, so now prone to erosion on steep slopes and gullies post fire, which is of concern.

Next stop was at the Featherbed Reserve. Again there was active regeneration as before, however there is a major problem with erosion on the steep slopes and embankments flanking the access road. Here the management is working hard to prevent further erosion with large “sausages” consisting of biodegradable wood waste wrapped in netting, and also similar biodegradable matting. Plant regeneration on these steep slopes is sparse and the possibility of hydro seeding with Teff was discussed. Teff is an annual grass which would provide dense cover initially but then make way for the underlying natural seeds.

Last visit was to Susan Campbell’s property, which is 80 hectares lying in a valley just behind the coastal dunes between Brenton and Buffalo Bay. The recent ecological controlled burn, carried out a few weeks before the main conflagration, borders it to the north. The area consisted of coastal fynbos and thicket. The Campbell property showed severe fire damage with relatively sparse regeneration. However resprouting P.tricuspidatus, Elaeodendron croceum (saffron) and even some resprouting milkwoods (Sideroxylon inerme) were noted. Sadly a visitors rest camp with overnight facilities was totally gutted. In contrast, veld regeneration in the neighbouring controlled burn is much more advanced.
I was fortunate to travel this last leg with Peet Joubert, Benjamin Walton and Keith Spencer, 3 professional ecologists whose observations I found inspiring.

We finally enjoyed a picnic lunch, well organised by Cobus Meiring.
Bill

STOP PRESS – News just in – The Brenton Butterfly is back

Posted on November 28, 2017 05:22 by outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi | 0 comments | Leave a comment