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Weather station

As it was raining we found ourselves alone at the Reserve and a good time to do some unusual things. We have been intrigued by the weather station for some time now and have phoned all over to find out who the owners are but to no avail so I decided to open it up and have a look inside. Here is my assistant being careful not to tip the rain gauge and cause spurious readings. Mind you, holding it like that actually might cause a few .2 mm downpours.

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We took a whole bunch of photos and back home we managed to trace the origin to Australia and via the importer in Johannesburg to the agent in Port Elizabeth and thanks to the serial number the owner was found to be the saweather bureau and, thanks to some very helpful people there we may get access to some rainfall figures at the Reserve.

To stay with water we also helped Goodman out with a leaking tap on one of the tanks by the house. Quite a tricky operation at we had to put on a new tap with the tank almost full. Thanks to a clever gadget of a pole with a garden hose spray of just the right shape attached we managed to block the hole from inside and screwed the new tap in with hardly any loss of water.

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Still raining so time to tidy the Fovs room to create some space and then we had enough and, as we needed the gps track of the Three Dam Trail for the new map, we took a walk along the trail. It needs a bit of mowing but Pottaman ensured us he will do it soon. Inspite of that it is quite a lovely walk with all the new growth after the fire, that is if you ignore all the Podylarias of course.

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Thankfully it cleared and off to the arboretum to treat the saplings to some more Bounce Back and plant two more of Jenny’s trees to replace the Natal mahogany which is beyond rescue and must be cut down some time. We have been very fortunate with the new trees as we’ve had such regular rain that it has not been necessary so far to water them.

After lunch it was time to do some more exploring how to best open up around the Lilly Pond and get to the thriving aliens around there without too much hassle.

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Some beautiful Proteas and other “stuff” around there.

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Quite scratchy though so we were glad to reach the Lilly Pond

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Not that it made that much difference because the fynbos further to the old explosives store is just as scratchy

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Quite an interesting little feature, we suspect though that some of the Aloes in there have been planted.

On return we met some visitors and it was satisfying to see that they had made good use of our pamphlets to find their way around the Reserve.

Finally we lent a sympathetic ear to Goodman who has a lot of human resource issues to contend with and needed to blow off some steam. All in a day’s work at Van Stadens.

Shade cloth and chain saw

It would be very interesting to get access to the weather station data at Van Stadens but so far all attempts at finding out who actually is responsible for this station have met with “Duh??” The rainfall must be quite a bit higher there than in PE. It was overcast when we left but on arrival it was raining and fairly miserable, not for the first time.

Fortunately it eased up a bit and Rob and Cathy decided to do some weeding in the nursery while Keith set of with the chainsaw to cut down another pine.

We had measured and prepared the shade cloth for the braai and were keen to put it up. At first it looked quite untidy bellowing in the wind:

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Afterwards though we were very pleased with the outcome, the braai is starting to look not half bad. Later we also planted some trees in the empty holes on the side and some creepers along the fence.

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Still lots of tidying up and fastening to do though and we are worried about some irresponsible people make a huge fire and melting the shade cloth. Time will tell.

In the meantime Keith managed to drop the pine tree, why do they always fall in the opposite direction to the one intended? In doing so he unfortunately broke the chain and bent the blade so no further progress was possible.

After lunch our necks were getting rather sore from craning upwards so the finishing off was left for another day and instead we scouted about for some possible paths to and from the Forest walk. We’re not sure if that was a good thing because along our route we saw plenty of aliens, a good collection of pine, wattle and hakea with a few rooikrans thrown in for good measure.

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The lower section follows an old track all the way and should be fairly easy to open up. The section around the dam would be a bit more of a challenge and is not quite the route we would want to follow anyway.

On the way we spotted some interesting plants including this grass aloe.

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Of birds and trees

First I must mention the epic felling of one of the huge pine trees Keith cut down on Wednesday all by his lonesome self.

Two down two to go and then part of the Reserve’s skyline will be free of alien trees. Some new trees have already been planted and there are plans afoot to plant quite a few more. As it is, six of the trees we fetched from Jenny on New Year’s day have been planted out already on the Arboretum, main picnic site and the nursery.

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Also on Wednesday Stuurman did his best to catch up with some mowing and he had cleaned up around the braai area, it looks so much better now. The pump in the nursery was not working and it took some figuring out what the problem was but it was traced to the overload trip on the switch so reset and voila, sprinklers going.

Sunday was our first public meeting of the year, as it was a work party and not widely publicised we were only a small group of ten and we tackled the forest of Podalyria seedlings in front for a few hours, we made good progress but a lot still remain. It seems only FOVS sees it as a potential problem which needs to be sorted out.

It was good to meet up with the bird research people doing a catch, ring and release project to determine movement patterns of mainly Cape Sugarbirds.

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Here they are busy ringing in the shade of a tree on the main picnic site. Notice the large gap in the bluegum treeline.

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They start very early in the morning so when we arrived there were only a few birds still caught, it is quite a delicate operation to avoid sharp claws and beaks when handling them.

After tea it was good to see everybody just wandering around catching up after all the holiday trips and festivities, enjoying the various places we created such as the Arboretum, Wesley’s bench and the flower beds. Only negative note is that the larger number of visitors to the Reserve also means more idiots who leave rubbish a few steps away from the bins.

We also assembled the bench I made from a cut down bluegum which was well received.

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Lastly some of us went for a short walk in the forest to find a pock ironwood tree. We had a request to grow them so we took some cuttings and hope that the misting house will do the trick.

Old and New

New Year’s eve was treated like just any old Wednesday which meant that the usual group assembled in the Reserve. Rob,Cathy and Keith tackled some hakea in sector ‘January’ of the Invasive Species schedule.

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This is quite an ambitious program and Rob will need all the help he can get, perhaps a few more of the now more than 160 friends on Facebook could come and pitch in.

 

We were a bit hamstrung as we were looking after our granddaughter so most of the time was spent weeding. Here she is supervising Ellie.

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Later we hiked to retrieve Rob’s camera, after the good pictures of the baboons there hasn’t been much activity. From the vantage point we had a good view of the gorge and it is good to see the result of Working for Water’s efforts as the trees are definitely dying.

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In the afternoon we moved to the arboretum to check up on the trees and do some more weeding. Tammy was very intrigued by this tortoise.

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On New Year’s day we visited Jenny to collect some bigger trees which didn’t fit in her car anymore. I had expected five or six but we ended up with 23 in our trailer! We drove quite sedately and all 23 found a good spot in the nursery and next week we will plant some.

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In the meantime work is progressing on the log bench. Quite a change from the usual fiddly woodwork to be juggling big logs.