Fernkloof Under Threat

Readers of this blog may not be aware that proposals are afoot to construct a new bypass road around Hermanus.  Those who know Hermanus, however, will realise that the only ground available for such a project lies to the north of the town and is, therefore, in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve!

The can be no doubt that the Reserve is a precious resource and must be protected at all costs.  Various endemics occur solely in the areas under consideration and I implore readers to join any proposed actions aimed at stopping this bypass.  Imagine losing some of our magnificent natural heritage, just so that a few trucks can thunder past, polluting the mountain with their exhaust fumes and noise!

In the meantime, I will continue to bring news of exciting plants and animals to your notice whenever I can.

Erica hermani – one of the threatened species

Disa bodkinii

I was interested to read in ‘The Cape Orchids’ that previously located specimens of this plant showed up to 9 flowers.  This led me to take another look at my pictures taken on Friday and I was surprised to see that one plant, shown here, had around 13 flowers, in various stages of age.  Small buds were not counted, so the plant may well have one or two more.  This is obviously a very fine specimen!  We saw around five plants at this site.

Sandstorm on the west coast

I received a photograph taken between Port Nolloth and Alexander Bay during the recent freak weather there associated with the cut-off low pressure system.  It shows an approaching sandstorm – an event that is not often seen, even  in that part of the world. Apparently it was followed by a violent electric storm that knocked out power over most of the region. Thank goodness we don’t get similar events here in Hermanus!


Another Rare Orchid

One of the Prestwick Village residents had the savvy to report an Orchid growing near the estate.  This morning we tracked it down and were thrilled to find a fine specimen of Orthochilus litoralis (previously Eulophia litoralis).  As it is an endangered species, this is a particularly important find!

Three More Orchids in Fernkloof

What an exciting day we had!  Firstly I (the lone man!) was accompanied by nine lovely ladies, then we saw a trio of Klipspringers, I saw a large Cape Cobra, we put up a Hottentot Buttonquail, A pair of Jackal Buzzards engaged in some aerobatic flying above us, and our regular Sentinel Rock Thrush was on hand to welcome us.

The fynbos was particularly good along our chosen route, from the top of the Voelklip ZigZag, via the firebreak to De Mond se Kop and then on to the Jeep Track until the Mossel River causeway, after which we took the path to Galpin, before returning via White Rock and Adder’s Ladder; a distance of 11.6 km.

What made it special was the fact that, in addition to the many common Orchids that we saw along the route, we got a good patch of Pachites bodkinii, a single Eulophia tabularis, and a few Disa bodkinii.  These were all lifers for me, so I was in my element!

The group split towards the end and I was sorry to miss a pair of Amur Falcons in flight – a truly rare sight in this part of the world!


Walking the ‘Burn’ on 18 November

Luckily we had good weather for a change, but missed many of our regular participants. Liz led us a merry dance, however, and we covered around 13 km over a period of just under nine hours!  I was certainly exhausted by the time we got back to base!  Luckily we saw most of what we were aiming for, including Satyrium rhynchanthum and Evotella rubiginosa – which really buoyed Liz who had missed the last few outings when they were first seen! Our Orchid count numbered 21, and I may even have missed one or two, however, it must be said that many were well past their sell-by date.

On our return we got to within 10 m of a pair of Klipspringers which was pretty exciting. They seemed quite unconcerned about our presence. We also recorded Ground Woodpecker and Red-Chested Cuckoo, although we only heard the latter.