Dot’s Dash and the Erica pillansii

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Our walk in the Kogelberg this morning via Dot’s Dash was pure pleasure. The weather was perfect and, as anticipated, the endemic, scarlet, Erica pillansii was in full bloom. Not since the devastating fire of 2011 has the spectacle been better! Not only was this Erica showing well, but the Erica perspicua was also looking very good.

We were privileged to have some out of town visitors with us and they really enjoyed the spectacle. It ended up being a four hour hike as we stopped many times to take photographs and also to have a well-earned tea break at Spooknek

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Chameleon Rescue Project

Mary Ann Verster supplied the following article, with photographs by Marion Zeegers;

The Whale Coast Conservation Chameleon project went into high gear in advance of the scheduled, controlled burn of a section of the wetland in the Golf Estate, to make sure that as many creatures as possible could be rescued.  Local residents came out in large numbers in response to a call from project leader, Sheraine van Wyk to survey the area over 2 to 3 evenings for the presence of the Chameleons.  Walking through dense vegetation in the dark looking for these tiny well camouflaged creatures was challenging!    GPS points were established for each chameleon located, making it easier to find them again. The evening before the go-ahead for the burn was called, a team went back into the wetland and collected 10 individuals, close to the number located during the survey.  They were relocated into 4 tents on the golf course, a temporary home for the next few days, well supplied with fish heads and vegetable matter to attract an abundance of flies keeping them well fed.  Shifts of volunteers during their temporary stay, watched over them, made sure they did not escape and kept the males separated, preventing their aggressive territorial advances on each other.  All ended happily when they were returned to the vegetation in the exclusion zone, left specially for them.  Photographs of each chameleon taken recorded their identifying markings, they were weighed and GPS points recorded for pick-up and replacement points.

Footnote by Ronnie Hazell; There were also a number of Tortoises, Geckos, Snakes and at least one rat rescued before and during the fire.

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Easter Plant Sale

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Perdeberg Walk

Di arranged a wonderful walk along the Perdeberg Trail this morning, principally to see the full-flowering Nivenia stokoei. It was a cool morning, good for walking and around 24 members of the BotSoc were out to enjoy the fynbos. We were rewarded with wonderful sightings of the Nivenia and quite incredible Erica massonii, which were at their peak. There were, in addition, many other Erica varieties and they kept the botanists busy with identification and photography.

We saw three different coloured Nivenia stokoei as below;

I will not name all the species shown below, as the readers of this post probably know them all anyway, but enjoy the pictures!

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In Search of the Red Disa

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A couple of years ago we were lucky to see a wonderful display of Disa uniflora at Fault Falls in the Vogelgat Reserve, so we thought, “Its February; we should go and see them again.”

Sadly, they do not appear to be doing anything this year, as there was no sign of them. Perhaps it has been too dry. What we did see, however, was a great display of March Lilies (Amaryllis belladonna) at the start of the trail.

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Beyond Beautiful!

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When Tanja and David suggested meeting us for a hike in the mountains, we chose the Dot’s Dash walk in the Kogelberg, never realising what treat we were in for. Admittedly, we have always regarded the area as special, but mainly because of the Erica pilansii which flower so profusely in April. This time there was no E. pilansii, but wow – there was so much more, that I was, and still am, at a loss for words to describe the amazing spectacle which we saw!

We even got a couple of beautiful wild Orchids, Disa cornuta and Acrolophia capensis. The main colour, however, came from the endless displays of Leucospermum oleifolium on the lower slopes of the mountain, whilst further up it was the Erica tenella, Mimetes cucullatus and Aulax cancellata that really wowed us, along with many other species.

Fortunately the weather was really good for walking; overcast…

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Roellas and more Roellas

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Our walk along the Contour Path above Hermanus Heights was memorable for the thousands of Roellas in bloom over most of the area. They really were spectacular and it was interesting to see the variations in colour on display.

Of course there were many other flowers in bloom and it was good to see how the species change over time. Suddenly there are Tritoniopsis and Thereianthus flowers everywhere, along with some spectacular Harveyas.

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To Quark and back – Vogelgat at its Best

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Our last walk of the year was wonderful. Eight Hurriers walked up to Quark and back in the most sublime conditions. The fynbos was quite superb and we even got to see lots of Disa tripetaloides just below Vogel Pool. The slopes along the whole route are covered in Aulax umbellata, all in full flower – a wonderful sight, and there were hundreds of Syncarpha vestita, with their perfect flowers.

We also saw some good birds, including Vereaux’s Eagle and Ground Woodpecker. All and all it was a magnificent walk and it was wonderful to be back in Vogegat after a long absence!

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The Palmiet Trail at Nuweberg

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Anyone looking at the accompanying photographs might be forgiven for thinking this is a beautiful trail. It is not. Most of it is along a gravel road and much of this road runs through pine forest. The fynbos is not spectacular, but we did manage to see a few interesting flowers along the way. The best part of the trail, which measures 6.2 km in total is the short section of mountain path leading to the crossing of the Palmiet stream. This was flowing well and the bridge has washed away, so we had to take off our boots and wade through!

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Walking in Fernkloof – 28 October

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Eight Hurriers pitched for our walk in Fernkloof this morning – a pleasant change from the lower numbers we have been seeing, but I still wonder where the rest of you are. We walked up the Klipspringer Trail and onto Kanonkop, before traversing the Jeep Track to the top of Adder’s Ladder and then down the the Visitors’ Centre. It was pleasantly cool, but a strong West wind meant that we were constantly holding on to our hats.

Once again it was interesting to note the changes in the vegetation over a short period of a week, Suddenly the Aspalathus were out in glorious bloom, and there were more Ericas than we have recently seen. These included E. barbigeroides, E. parviflora, E. villosa and E. lutea as well as many more common varieties.

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