The Wiborgiella Hunt

It is round about this time of the year that “the Chickens come home to roost”. All the undone tasks seem to funnel into the hysteria that is late November and early December. If you are female, Christmas looms large on the horizon, with its volume of shopping and cooking, arrival of families and end of year parties. Trying to cope with this in the Southern Cape, where the population explodes to 4 times its normal size causing frustrating traffic congestion, is enough to give anyone a nervous breakdown. Last week was a reflection of this manic activity.

Monday - The week started with a meeting with Mossel Bay Municipality officials, Carlo van Tonder from Cape Nature and 3 Outramps CREW members at the Diosma Reserve on Monday. This small Reserve to the west of Mossel Bay is home to the Critically Endangered Diosma aristata and was burnt in the June fires. You will see from Sandra’s photos that there is some regeneration. It is difficult to say at this stage, but we think there may be some Diosma seedlings coming up. The recent good rains should give all the plants something of a “Hupstoot”. A worrying feature - the fastest growing new growth is the invasive Port Jackson, which is coming up in huge mats. The discussion was mainly concentrated on how to deal with this problem. It was decided that teams could clear the perimeter, but clearing inside would need to be done by very small teams, well supervised to avoid trampling sensitive plants. The Municipality is also going to start fencing the area. We are very grateful for the interest that is being shown by Mossel Bay Municipality. This bodes well for this tiny Reserve and its very precious inhabitants. It is teeming with “rares”.
Sandra’s comprehensive report to the Mossel Bay Municipality and Cape Nature will be sent out separately.

Tuesday - We drove back to Mossel Bay to attend the last meeting of the GCBR (Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve) in 2017. It kicked off with a fantastic presentation on the “Historic Mountain Passes of the GCBR” by Niel van Wyk. It was wonderfully researched and Niel had the audience spellbound. It was followed by an excellent talk on “The Sustainability of the Honeybush Tea industry by Gillian MaGregor of Rhodes University. Willem Botha, GCBR Chairman talked about the evolution of the organisation and the way forward. There are going to be some changes in the near future to cope with the shifting landscape and the funding received from a Dutch company. Prof Mandy Lombard gave a highly entertaining and informative explanation on “How to play South Africa’s new Marine Spatial Planning Game”. Finally Nicky du Toit had an uphill battle trying to convince and teach a largely geriatric audience that Instagram was the way to go in order to publicise the GCBR. Having tottered my way around Facebook and iSpot, I now find that I have to deal with Instagram and iNaturalist. “O Donder”, as they say in the classics.

Wednesday - saw us housebound as the wonderful rain came pouring down. We had 64mm on Strawberry Hill, but some areas around the Southern Cape had much more. And this time it penetrated into the Great Karoo – where they had their first rains since April this year.

Thursday - A small team drove to Cloetes Pass and beyond. Parts of the road were iffy after the rain and it was great to have Dave’s Amarok instead of the ageing Buchu Bus. We drove to the quarry on the western end of the Bonniedale Road and parked. Dave and Sally went up the southern side and I went north. Paranomus longicaulis (Exploding Baked Apple – Vulnerable) on the southern side was either dead or dying. I had more luck to the north, with a good stand of about 20 plants that are thriving. Unfortunately the beautiful flowers were mostly a little bedraggled after the wonderful rain, but the plants were in fine fettle. We were delighted to find Protea sp. nova (woeskaensis - Data Deficient and undescribed) on both sides. Leucadendron teretifolium (Strawberry Conebush – Near Threatened) was looking good and Acmadenia tetragona (Near Threatened) was all over the place.

We then parked the car on the southern side of Cloetes Pass and searched up and down and on both sides for our target plant Wiborgiella fasciculata (Critically Endangered). Quoting from the Red List, “there are two small, severely fragmented subpopulations consisting in total of only 15 plants which are declining due to the effects of habitat fragmentation, including a lack of fire.” As hard as we hunted, there was no sign of it. Some consolation was large tracts of the beautiful Protea coronata (Applegreen Sugarbush – Near Threatened). Erica unicolor ssp mutica (Endangered) was scattered along the Pass and there were lots of Aspalathus, which would have excited Brian. Dave discovered Phylica velutina (Near Threatened and a new Special for the Outramps) in a patch of wet clay and an Agathosma that he still has to id. Dave is trying to find out whether this is also a new location for Otholobium heterosepalum (Rare). We have previously only found it in Camferskloof. A prostrate Psoralea may turn out to be rare and Gnidia anthylloides was a first for Sally and Dave. A first for me was the stunning purple Hilliardiella pinifolia. Pelargonium denticulatum (Rare) was thriving in a sandy patch below the entrance to a small kloof.

Friday Early morning at Ebb and Flow and I attended a meeting with Sandra Taljaardt and Jessica Hayes to discuss the future of the Outramps Research Project in Sanparks areas. The mood was positive and we agreed on communication lines for next year. We are also hoping to get involved with ranger-training in 2018. We are looking forward to a mutually beneficial year. After the meeting, I met Nicky and we did the Giant Kingfisher Trail and the Bosduif Loop on a spectacularly beautiful day. Washed clean after the rain, the forest was stunning and the volume of water coming down the Touw and over the waterfall was an added bonus. Stacks of Europeans ( mostly Germans) were either walking or canoeing and the trail was very busy giving us a taste of what is to come in the next few weeks. The strenuous Bosduif Loop was much quieter and we only met one German couple along the way.

We saw Dioscoraea mundii (Near Threatened – about 8 plants in total.) Baboons had raided the south side of Bosduif, digging out Ledebouria ovalifolia bulbs and lots of Crassula orbicularis. We were puzzled by marker tape on roots and stems along this trail. Presumably this is for workers maintaining the Trail. Hopefully this tape will soon be cleared away, otherwise it is going to degenerate into litter. We met a group of Coast Care beauties on the Giant Kingfisher and Sanparks must be congratulated on their maintenance of this high-traffic trail. The section opposite the gabions needs some attention. There are about 6 invasive Aussie Tree Ferns (Sphaeropteris cooperi) and some Black Wattle and Blackwood that urgently needs clearing. We also spotted Lantana camara amongst the other suspects on this piece of land in the middle of the river. Clearing should be relatively easy when the water levels drop. There is also lots of Phytolacca and Bugweed on the trail. At this stage it can be pulled out quite easily. Early next year, we would be happy to supervise a clearing team, if Sanparks needs help.

Saturday - And then it was time to write the Reportback and compile the Album.

Sunday - Instead of sailing, spent the day working on the presentation for the SCLI on Thursday. Shjoe!! That was the week that was.

On Thursday this week we will be attending the SCLI post-burn seminar. Nicky, Sandra and I will do a presentation on the regeneration of the plants after the devastating June fires. And on Friday, the Outramps are going Orchid-hunting in Doringrivier. No doubt there will also be other things that crop up and fill the week to overflowing. Some of us may be old, decrepit, grumpy and lots of other things, but we are never bored!!
Hamba Kahle
Groete en dankie
Di Turner
Outramps CREW Group
Southern Cape

Abbreviations Glossary
MCSA – Mountain Club of South Africa
MSB - Millenium Seed Bank based at Kew in the UK
WIP – Work in Progress
HAT – High Altitude Team
LOT – Lowland Team
SIM – Somewhere in the Middle Team
WAGS – Wednesday Adventure Group
VB – Vlok Boekie “Plants of the Klein Karoo” and our Plant Bible
ITRTOL – Another thread “In The Rich Tapestry Of Life”(It describes a challenging situation, usually to do with the Buchu Bus)
ITFOT – In the fullness of time
WOESS – Fair Weather Hiker
FMC and JW – too vulgar to translate, but the equivalent is “Strike me Dead” An expression of surprise and delight on finding a new “Rare”
Kambro – same as above
Fossick – A meter per minute, scratching around looking for rares
SIDB – Skrop in die Bos – Another name for a field trip, this one coined by Prix
BAFFING – Running round like a blue-arsed fly
SYT – Sweet Young Thing - Anyone under the age of 40
TOMB – Get a move on
Mayhem - Needless or willful damage or violence
SESKRYNG – “Sit en staan kry niks gedaan” ,with thanks to Brian
SOS – Skelms on Scramblers
FW – Idiot
BOB – Another name for the Buchu Bus when she’s misbehaving.
CRAFT – A symptom of Old Age
DDD - Metalasia tricolor (Damned Diabolical Daisy)
VP – Vrekplek – Retirement Village
Qàq – Self-explanatory Inuit word describing some of our local problems
Mr Fab – Our Fabaceae specialist, Brian Du Preez – originally Boy 1
Muisvoel -The Mathematician or the Computer Helpline – Peter Thompson
Boy 2 – Kyle Underwood who works on Orchids and is still at school
Sharkie – Finn Rautenbach – Our latest SYT is a surfer in his spare time
Sicko – Someone who suffers from Car Sickness. With 4 in the Group, allocating seating in the Buchu Bus is tricky
VAG – Virgin Active Garage, which is our meeting place when we head north
MATMUE – Meet At The Mall Under E - Meeting place when we head West
WG – Waves Garage in Wilderness East. - Meeting place when we’re going east.
VU- Vulnerable
DDT – Data Deficient and Taxonomically ?
NT – Near Threatened
EN – Endangered
CR – Critically Endangered
PE – Presumed extinct
LC – Least Concern
TBC – To be Confirmed
TLC – Tender loving care
JMS – An expression of absolute disdain
FOMO – Fear of Missing Out
Milk – the fruit of the vine
Condensed Milk – Scotland’s finest export
Full Cream Milk or Fat Milk – Any product of Humulus lupulus eg. Milk Stout
Milk of the Gods – Rooibos and Brandy
Milk Shake - Sparkling Wine
NS – Species of conservation concern new to the Outramps
PS -Priority Species allocated to the Outramps by our CREW Cape Co-ordinator , Ismail Ebrahim
iNFD – iNaturalist for Dummies as compiled by Sally

Posted by outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi, November 20, 2017 04:44

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