Respecting Symmetry

Who would have thought that a Monkey Beetle, whilst seeking nourishment in a wild Orchid, would arrange it’s hind legs so as to conform to the symmetry of the flower it is busy attacking.  Well, this one did and it looks, to the uninitiated, as if it is merely a part of the flower!

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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!

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Lichen and Sand Fleas

A walk along the Onrus/Vermont Coastal path this morning in search of a Southern Tchagra was unsuccessful, in that we did not find the bird.  It was, nevertheless, a very enjoyable outing and I was fascinated by the beautiful lichen growing on the weathered quartzites.

Another sight that caught my eye was a pool full of dead Sand Fleas.  There must have been many thousands of them and I was left wondering why.

A Walk in Fernkloof

This morning 8 Hurriers arrived at the Visitors’ Centre for our weekly walk.  We covered 5.2 kilometres in perfect walking weather and it was pleasant to walk on wet ground for a change, after the recent light rain.

A pair of Victorin’s Warblers made for a lucky sighting and we later saw a wonderful spider, which I am unable to identify, possibly a yellow-coloured Bark Spider. Its abdomen was around 25 mm across.

Hermas villosa

The Hermas villosa or tontelblaar, is currently putting on a wonderful show in Fernkloof Reserve, especially in the areas that were burnt a year ago.  The plants have shiny, rigid leaves at ground level and hemispherical flower heads on long smooth stems.  Seen at a distance they look fairly mundane, but by using a Macro lens, one can get really close up and see the myriad of small flowers that make up the globose flower clusters.  They are certainly very photogenic!

Another Day in the Burn

There were eight participants in this morning’s post-fire plant monitoring walk in Fernkloof Reserve.  We set off early so as to avoid some of the day’s heat and were up on the Jeep Track by 7:00 am.

Sadly, the Orchids appear to be somewhat static, with no new species in evidence.  There were, however, many Disa cornuta, now in full flower, abundant D. bivalvata, some D. racemosa and a few D. atricapilla.

Walking in the burn provided its fair share of entertainment and I think I can safely say that Renee and Liz won the prize for the dirtiest trousers!!

I attach a selection of photographs which will give the reader some idea of what we saw. Perhaps the most interesting plant was a parasite,  Cuscuta angulata, which most of us had never seen before.  Of special note was the vast number of Hermas villosa, in full flower and providing a wonderful spectacle, especially on Adder’s Ladder.

Flowers …. or Insects?

Looking at the flower head of a Nanobubon capillaceum, one sees only flowers, but photography allows one to look more closely and I was surprised to see no less than 23 insects in this picture – most of them ants.  Callan, who walked with us yesterday, spoke of how shaking a plant can reveal a vast array of insects.  Well, he was certainly right about that!