This is a voluntary working relationship with the City of Cape Town and the Cape Bird Club since 1974.
The preceding day was very cold and wet. It had rained off and on all morning and the air was cold with a nippy wind from the west, as the passing cold front moved along. It was forecast to still rain a bit this afternoon.
Bert arrived and was keen to get going chopping some of the big trees down.
First we went to see if we could get to the big Black Wattle tree over the river. Not a chance the water we could see on our approach was more than ankle deep and would be knee deep in the reeds. So we went off to chop down some of the big trees further south in our area.
After last months deluge the Keysers River was flooding the suburbs to the north of Military Road. Debris blocking the flow under 3 important road bridges. Catchment Management had neglected this area for 25 years as it “was not seen, so was out of sight”. They had to urgently get equipment in to clear the over grown reed-beds and transport the mounds of debris away. This was a massive operation. The Westlake Wetlands were flooded as seen by drone photos published on social media. The wetlands were serving the filtering function, before entering the main waterbody of Zandvlei.
After doing the big trees, we went off to the railway line where there are some big trees. It is apparent people are coming to fetch the dry wood from a previous cutting as the March Lily clump (photographed in March this year) had branches dumped all over them and the piles of dead wood were considerably spread out and smaller. These piles were stacked to be burnt, which never happened. There were some berries on the Lycium afrum (Kraal Honey Thorn) to be seen it is very thorny bush. Cape Sparrows like building their nests in it as it offers good protection. It has beautiful dark purple flowers when in bloom. We also found a large Cocktail Ant nest in a shrub.
So Bert got stuck into the big trees one can see in the photos with the train passing. There were a number of resprouting tree stumps and missed sapplings along the edge of the railway line. There is some really impressive dune strandveld shrubs which have not been disturbed for a very long time and are about 6 metres high. There are very nice swales or depressions with a variety of plant species doing very well.
We got wet about 3 times during the afternoon with heavy showers coming down in-between bright sunshine. Fortunately we had rain coats, which are not very practical for working in. The sky turned quite dark as the heavy clouds with rain approached.
Surprisingly there was a lot of bird activity in the area. The most visible birds being African Sacred Ibis flying over towards the Westlake Wetlands from an easterly direction. Highlight was seeing a Bar throated Apalis at its nest and in flight a while later in another location, which was a chance sighting without binos. A total of 21 birds were seen this afternoon.
See this link for the past reports of what we have done.
photographs by Gavin Lawson.