Disa uniflora

A quick foray into Vogelgat Reserve this afternoon to see the Red Disa was everything we wanted.  Never before have I been able to photograph 10 blooms in close proximity to each other.  It really was magnificent!  Adding to the fun of the afternoon, we had a downpour – not typical Western Cape rain, but more like a monsoon with large drops raining down and absolutely drenching us.  Of course this started just as we reached the flowers, so we had to be quick with the camera to avoid any damage!

Disa uniflora

Wednesday Walk – Fernkloof

Fifteen walkers turned up this morning for a quick two hour hike in Fernkloof.  The weather was good with some cloud, but no rain (much needed in these parts).  There was not a lot to see on the flower front, however, we met up with the BotSoc flower group, who seemed pretty enthralled with what they were looking at!

As far as birds were concerned, there were the usual Orange-breasted Sunbirds and many calls from Cape Grassbids, but the highlight of the day was a trio of Ground Woodpeckers, whose loud calls drew our attention to their presence on a rock above us.

Diastella divaricata

I think this is my favourite member of the Proteaceae.  The Diastellas, bearing their tiny (15mm) flowers, occur only in the south-western portion of the Western Cape and this particular species, Diastella divaricata subspecies montana, is only known in the Kogelberg to Franschhoek region. We saw this one whilst walking on the Perdeberg Trail in the Kogelberg.

Diastella divaricata
Diastella divaricata subspecies. montana

Walking the Perdeberg Trail

This morning 9 Hurriers took to the Perdeberg Trail for the first time in around 10 years.  Why we haven’t walked it more often remains a mystery, as it is one of the most beautiful places imaginable.  The fynbos was absolutely stunning, dominated by a myriad of ericas, including the magnificent Erica massonii, looking better than ever before!  The weather was perfect and the walk is relatively easy with no steep sections.  Being a track, rather than a path also allowed for good communication, as we did not have to walk in Indian file.

It would be a gross underestimation to say that we were not blown away by the beauty of the Kogelberg Reserve.  Our hike was 6 km out and then back along the same route, but we were never bored.  It was like being in a garden all the way!

We saw very many Orange-breasted Sunbirds and a few other fynbos species, but the main find was a Hottentot Buttonquail which suddenly rose from our feet!

There was, unfortunately, evidence of flower poaching with bundles of Brunia hidden beside the path for later collection.  We reported this and were pleased to meet up with a group of rangers who responded immediately to investigate the matter.  Let’s hope they catch the perpetrators.

Holothrix schlechteriana at Papiesvlei

Today we were lucky enough to be invited to Papiesvlei, where we were taken to the site of a recently discovered Holothrix schlechteriana, a new Orchid for most.  It was quite an effort chasing through thick bush to the site, on a small outcrop of Calcrete.  Conditions are incredibly dry and it was amazing that this little plant could thrive and look so healthy in such a harsh environment!

From there we had a look around the farm, taking in the extensive salad production, excellent water reticulation schemes and, of course, some wonderful birds, including a pair of African Fish Eagles and a family of White-Faced Ducks with ducklings. Tea under the magnificent Oak trees was a fitting way to celebrate our successful venture.  Many thanks to Sandy and Brent for their hospitality!

Chasing Disa uniflora in Fernkloof

Here we are in February and thoughts of Orchids are eating away at us, so this morning Liz organised a walk into the far reaches of Fernkloof Nature Reserve to try to find Disa uniflora, which has not been seen in the Reserve for around 20 years.  Luckily the weather was cool and we even experienced some drizzle, but that was definitely preferable to the heat we have been having lately.  We walked for 7 hours and we not only found 7 beautiful D. uniflora specimens, but we also found 4 other Orchid varieties, namely D. tenuifolia, D. racemosa, D. tripetaloides and D. cornuta.  The fynbos in the higher reaches of the Reserve was very good, considering the dry weather we have been experiencing, and is no doubt a testimony to the damp mists which often cover the mountains.

It was interesting to note the enthusiasm displayed by some of our group.  When faced with a damselfly (White Malachite – Chlorolestes umbratus) on the other side of a pool of water, Sandy just walked in up to her waist in order to get a photograph! (like a Labrador wanting to cool off!!)

We also found fine specimens of two Ericas, E williamsiorum and E ioniana named after Ian Williams, who was so instrumental in the preservation of our floral heritage.

I decided to try to record our walk with my phone, rather than with a camera, but although initially very excited by the results, I was brought down to earth when editing them on my computer.  They cannot compare with the real thing, so please accept my apologies for the not-so-good images herewith.