Look before you Sit

A walk in Fernkloof this morning was another opportunity to enjoy this beautiful reserve before the local authorities start to try and turn it into something else.  As usual, the veld was full of interesting birds, flowers and insects, not least of which was this scorpion which was casually basking in the sun on a spot where one might well choose to sit.  Just goes to show that one should always examine any area where one decides to park oneself before doing so, or the consequences could be painful!


Orchid hunting near Pringle Bay

An outing to Pringle Bay this morning in search of orchids was not very productive.  We found a few Disa bracteatus and some Satyrium Carneum as well as one Pterogodium catholicum.  It was not a wasted day, however, as we saw many other beautiful flowers, including lots of Moraea neglecta, and had a pleasant walk and lunch in the Harold Porter Reserve at Betty’s Bay.

Another Wednesday, Another Walk

But not just any Wednesday!  Today we walked up the Palmiet river in the Kogelberg Reserve and we were once again blown away by the wonderful display of Spring flowers along the valley.  Twelve of us covered 9 km and had the privilege of enjoying perfect weather, so much so that three of the ladies even had a skinny dip at the beach pool!

Not only were the flowers great, but we identified quite a few birds as well, including a cryptic Victorin’s Warbler, which we heard but did not see.

The Mimetes cucullatus was amazing and at times we found ourselves walking in tall floral avenues of these plants, which were mixed up with various Leucadendrons and Brunias. It was also good to see the river flowing strongly and we wished for rubber tubes with which to shoot the rapids!

Kogelberg to Harold Porter Walk

Our walk this morning from Kogelberg offices to Harold Porter was attended by 11 members.  We had very good walking weather and, as usual, the Kogelberg did not disappoint!  The fynbos was absolutely splendid with an endless carpet of flowers along the entire route, except in the forests where the streams were flowing and we had some welcome shade.

The Mimetes were abundant as were the Leacadendrons and Leucospermums, and there were endless Ericas and Brunias. At times we waded through Gnidias, which towered above us, all the while hearing the calls of the local birds, especially the Sombre Greenbuls and Grassbirds.

Our walk took just over 4 hours to complete the 8.2 km, but we were feeling the pain on the steep parts and proceeded fairly slowly.  I attach the map and stats from my hiking app.


Please Prevent Fernkloof being turned into a Theme Park!

Many readers are no doubt aware of the current proposals for the so-called upgrades to the Fernkloof Nature Reserve (FNR).  These can be viewed at the following website:  https://www.overstrand.gov.za/en/documents/strategic-documents/management-plans/4727-integrated-management-plan-for-the-fernkloof-nature-reserve-hermanus

The public is urged to lodge objections, as this development is likely to cause huge damage to the FNR.  These can be sent to ldevilliers@overstrand.gov.za

My own response (which has been registered) was;

As a member of the Hermanus Botanical Society and a keen walker, amateur botanist, photographer and birder, I wish to state my strong objection to the plans presented for the further development of Fernkloof Nature Reserve.

This reserve is world-renowned for its dedication to preserving the integrity of our natural heritage and serves as a window into the fascinating flora and fauna of the region.  All it requires in terms of future development is the retention and upkeep of its wonderful network of paths, which allow the public to wander freely and enjoy and discover nature at its best.  Trying to convert it to some form of theme park is abhorrent to all nature lovers and the idea of cableways and cafes reflects a mindset which is completely at odds with the original Fernkloof ideals.

I cannot stress strongly enough the antipathy which your proposals generate within the community of Hermanus nature lovers, be they birders, botanists, zoologists or whatever, and I urge you and your colleagues who are responsible for this new plan to think again and withdraw your proposals, in favour of retaining the present state of FNR, but with better attention to the maintenance of the paths so that more people are able to enjoy our wonderful heritage in safety and comfort.

Erica villosa

Another plant occurring on the ‘vacant plot’ that I recently described, is Erica villosa, also known as Kapokkie.  Gardening activities on this plot have removed almost all of the plants previously described, but these ericas and many aliens and thick grasses remain.

Erica villosa
Erica villosa – close up

An Interesting Moraea

When I saw a small yellow Moraea on the plot nearby and wrote about it in my blog ‘An Empty Plot’ I had trouble identifying it and eventually settled on M neglecta, knowing that the latter is normally around 25 cm tall, whereas the one I saw is only 10 cm tall.  I therefore misnamed it and it was only when Christine saw the image and recognised the flower that I became aware of M. papilionacea.  This then, is what it is and it around 10 years since one was last seen, so I found the plant again this morning and show it in all its glory!

I was also able to get a better photo of the Holothrix at this site and so confirm it as H. villosa var. villosa

Kanonkop after the Rain

What weather!  Monday was a real summer day and hot as could be.  Today, however, loomed cold and windy, as we had a cold front passing through last night and it brought some very welcome rain.  This made for great walking conditions, but once again I was saddened by the poor turn out – only 6 walkers!

We set off up Klipspringer path, up to the Jeep Track and then on up to the summit of Kanonkop.  The views were excellent, but the wind was icy!  From there we headed along the track and descended via Adder’s Ladder, seeing wonderful displays of Cyclopia genistoides along the zig-zags.

Fernkloof really is a wonderful place and we are so lucky to have it on our doorstep.  Flower identification was aided by the new Fernkloof Book

An Empty Plot?

There is an empty plot measuring only around 600 square metres close to our house in Prestwick Village, Hermanus.  At first glance one might think that it does not deserve a second look, however, this morning I took my camera there and had a good look at what is growing, and was amazed at what I saw, especially with my interest in wild orchids.

I counted around 80 Holothrix villosa plants, hundreds of Disa bracteata and hundreds of Satyrium odorum.  The latter were especially interesting from the point of view of their obvious symbiotic relationship with the sour figs (Carpobrotus edulis)  There were also many Cotula turbinata and Pauridia capensis, as well as Moraea papilionacea and occasional Indigofera glomerata.  There were also many daisies which I did not identify.

This piece of ground will no doubt soon be built on and another group of local wild flowers will be obliterated. How sad!