Even though we had said ‘Never again’ it didn’t take long before we got to think about a new bird hide and this time with a twist. To give it some protection from the inevitable fire we would put in in the water!
This of course gave raise to a whole new set of challenges. Not only just a hide, but also support in the water and a walkway connecting hide and shore.
Various outlandish ideas were considered such as a dome or an octagonal but in the end we decided to rebuild the one we had and duly some materials were bought. Out of the blue however a radio amateur friend, Colin, had heard about our ideas and promptly offered us his old Wendy House.
We didn’t have to think long and the various sections got delivered to our house. Pressure hose got applied and here’s our raw material for the hide on 17 November 2017
Of course we needed to apply our own ideas and added observation posts, slide windows, new doors etc. and soon the hide took shape inside my workshop.
It was quite a challenge to work out dimensions and compound angles. Slowly it got there and was ready for three coats of varnish expertly applied by Ellie. We even had a color scheme.
The old roof was rotten and broken so the roof section was completely rebuilt. The side windows were quite fun to make using curtain rollers as guides.
Finally, within the limited space, saloon type doors were more effective, so duly made.
Now with the hide nearly finished and assembled after three months of work it is time to turn our attention to the construction site.
The first hide constructed by the Friends was in the Arboretum, design and execution by Neil. It was put up in March 2015 and well liked but it suffered from lack of birds and view. Here some Woodridge students have fun during an excursion.
In March 2016 a fire swept through part of the reserve including the Arboretum and the hide was irreparably damaged. A lot of the work we did creating the Arboretum was wiped out, including signage and fencing.
It was a good opportunity to rethink the location of the hide and, after much discussion, we settled on the wall of the Lilly Pond, part of the Dodds dam area. The views are better from there and there is a mixture of water birds and others. Rudi set out to build the new hut, constructed mainly from bits salvaged from the old one. It was put up in June 2016.
In June 2017 another fire swept through. This time nearly the entire Reserve was burnt by a very hot fire. Even parts of the forest on both sides of the gorge were affected. Only some of the sections that had burned the year previously were spared.
The fire was long overdue so in the long run the fynbos will benefit but seeing all our signage and other work destroyed was rather devastating.
This was left of our precious hide we were so proud of and, judging by all the positive comments in our visitors book (also burnt) was well liked by the public. We set about cleaning the remnants away and gave up the idea of ever having another hide.
We had to be at the Reserve early today because the Wednesday Walkers had told us they wanted to give us a donation as a thank you for laying out trails for them and what a generous donation it was.
They will probably make even more use of the Reserve now that other places such as Groendal and The Island Nature Reserve have pushed up their prices to a prohibitive level.
As a thank you I offered to guide them along the Boulder Trail which was much appreciated and they enjoyed the views even though it is very desolate after the fire and some sections of the path were a bit scary.
Further we busied ourselves with looking after the trees, trying to make the Aloe koppie a little more respectable and working in the nursery.
For various reasons most of the usual members could not make it today so we had a pathetic turnout I had a faint hope some of the recent new Facebook friends would show up but no such luck.
One advantage of that was though that no lengthy explanations were required and like a well oiled machine we took 3 lengths of pipe to the fence and attached them in preparation for the reroute of our water supply. By now we are quite expert at unrolling the big coils of pipe and dragging them up and down the slope.
We are getting used to the burnt trees and ashes but hopefully Thomas and the other neighbours will grab the opportunity to do some serious clearing of the still standing bluegums. One can only dream.
In the afternoon we went to the Boulder Trail armed with loppers and pruning saw to clear the path. It turned out to be a lot more work than envisaged and we only got away after five.
Whilst we could get by in the nursery using municipal water for the time being the community veggie garden is entirely dependant on our pipe so we decided to tackle that first.
It turned out to be quite a complicated affair as our next door neighbour, Thomas, is not keen to have our pipe across his land and suggested we use this opportunity to reroute it along his perimeter. This adds a considerable distance but at least it would run through a servitude and be accessible to us.
Thanks to the generosity of various people we managed to get the pipe donated as Ellie’s FB post shows:
A very big THANK YOU to Wesley Goddard from Ideal valves, to Andre Pietersen from Multi plastics and Kyle Trytsman from Astore, you all made this possible. If it wouldn’t have been for your generous donations we would never have been able to get this fixed already. The community vegi’s got water this afternoon and from what we heard they are already looking much happier. Just a thank you is far not powerful enough for the gift you have given!
We would not be able to finish the whole project in one go so Ellie used her considerable charms to talk Thomas into allowing us to do a temporary repair and just replace the burnt pipe across his land which we set out to do together with Cathy, Keith and Rob and also with David and Tony from the Farming God’s Way vegetable garden project.
Ellie checking out where we can attach the new pipe with the arboretum in the far distance.
The damaged pipe snaking through the burnt trees.
The new temporary pipe being laid.
Part of the new route where we attach the pipe to the fence.
Rob opened the stopcock on the far side and, after what felt like an eternity, the water is flowing again.
Tony is very happy he can water his plants again.