Summer 2009/10

With the gentle mists of summer, the Buff Spotted Flufftail begins it’s plaintive call.  They are notoriously difficult to spot – have you managed to actually see one?  How wonderful that all the cuckoos, the yellow billed kites and swallows are back on schedule. Does anyone keep a record of the exact arrival dates each year?  This sort of information is now extremely valuable to Climate Change researchers, along with flowering times, leaf fall and similar seasonal occurrences.  Should you be interested in sharing information you have gathered, please contact Nikki on 033 234 4289.

Interesting sightings in the Dargle during the past couple of months have been:
Two sleek water mongooses happily swimming and eating in the uMngeni river at Lane’s end farm.
Two Bushbuck fighting (for over an hour) on the edge of the forest at Dargle Farm.
A European Sand martin in the bedroom at Oaktree cottage and a Black Shouldered Kite sitting in a tall, dead tree and a dwarf chameleon with a snake bite on its tail!
At Riverfront farm, an African finfoot (terribly exciting as this is the absolute edge of it’s range) and less exciting - a group of invasive European Starlings.
An otter was spotted leaving the dam at dusk on Old Kilgobbin farm.
The grasslands are dotted with tiny floral treasures – Hermizygia teucrifolia, Kohoutia amatymbica, Hypoxis hemerocallidea & angustifolia, Aster bakerianus, Gerbera ambigua, Pelagonium luridum, Albuca setosa, Veronia fastigata, Trachyanda asperanta, Helichrysum cymosum, Gladiolus daleni.

Forest Walks Report Back
15 people joined the November walk on the most glorious freshly washed and sparkly spring day – lots of Cape Batis came to see what the action was and everyone enjoyed the red flash of Knysna Loeries overhead. 

The December walk came soon after the “tornado” so visitors were distressed to see two huge Cape Chestnuts which had blown down. To clear the path, part of the trunks were cut and it is estimated that they are at least 500 years old. Many other trees were also damaged.

Next walks scheduled for 7 January and 4 February.  Call Barend on 082 787 0797 to book.

Development Portfolio
We have registered as an Interested and Affected Party and submitted comments to the two proposed developments in the area: The Highgate Wine Estate and the low cost housing development in Lion’s River. Our responses are consistent with the stance we have taken on previous development issues and in line with our Constitution.

Alien Plant Control
January to March is the best time to spray American Bramble – green leafy branches need to be at least knee high in order to absorb enough chemicals to have any effect. 

Workshop – 28 January 2010 (2-3 hours)
Demonstration on methods of control, Advice on Chemical utilization & costs, Staff training, Contractors, Working for Water, Working on Fire Team. Take advantage of the opportunity to get practical onsite advice from the experts. The venue will be as central as possible to all members. Please contact Mike Farley on or 082 8732 932.

We have negotiated a preferential rate for Ranger 240 EC through Eco-Guard for paid up members. 20 litres at R55.00 per litre excl VAT or 5 litre container at R65.00 per litre excl VAT.  EcoGuard has a list of current paid up members to check before supplying the product at the discounted price.   Ecoguard accepts cheques or EFT's. Please speak to Melissa on 033 330 6985.

A warm welcome to new members:
Nola and Colin Barrett – God’s Grace
Thanks to everyone who has paid their subscriptions promptly. Your support for local conservation initiatives is appreciated. Would your new neighbours also like to join?  Contact Clive Shippey 033 234 4354 for details.

Dargle Dassie Update
Quite large groups have been observed and some smaller individuals which may (or may not) be new babies. At the beginning on November, Graham Griffin spotted a Crowned Eagle above the forest. He has not seen one for many years, so it looks like our efforts to build the food chain may be working.
Have you Adopted a Dargle Dassie yet?  It’s so easy and great fun and offers you the opportunity to make a real difference to conservation in the Midlands.

Graham will host a walk to the Dassie Release site on Saturday 6th of February.  Meet at the homestead at Dargle Farm at 9.30 for about a 2 hour walk.  Please note that there are no paths, so this will be a fairly strenuous walk with some ‘bundu bashing’. Numbers will be limited to contact Graham on 082 606 1085 to book your place.

Would you like to spend some time getting to know the dassies better and helping sharing our conservation efforts with a wider audience?  The Adopt a Dargle Dassie Project needs a campaigner – it could be YOU.   Call Andrew for details.

DVD Evenings
We are planning to show a series of DVDs about Climate Change/Peak Oil/Sustainability during 2010.  Titles such as Kiss your Gas Goodbye, The 11th Hour, Power of Community, Age of Stupid, The Power Down Show and End of Suburbia.  This is a great chance to update your CC knowledge and gather inspiration to make the transition to living more sustainably on a rapidly changing planet. 
First Showing: Tanglewood Country House – Wednesday 20th January at 5.30 sharp. Donation R10
Phone Nikki Brighton on 033 234 4289 for more information.

Cape Parrot Count
Diarise now the Annual Cape Parrot Count which happens on 8 and 9 May 2010 (this year is the thirteenth year). With flocks of up to 40 parrots being counted this year, we really are a hot spot and need more volunteers to count birds and ensure that this annual research programme is conducted successfully. See our website or contact Andrew for details.

Conservation Season
How about making a contribution to Conservation this Christmas, rather than the usual predictable gifts for family and friends?  No postage, no packaging, no made in China sticker – you couldn’t go greener if you tried! We suggest three simple online options which will contribute to our environmental efforts in the Dargle:

Contact Us
Anything to discuss or offer? Chat to one of the Conservancy Committee Members, we would really appreciate your input: Andrew Anderson - 082 4940668, Graham Griffin- 082 606 1085, Barry Downard - 033 234 4360, Clive Shippey - 033 234 4354, Vaughan Koopman - 083 228 7949 and Nikki Brighton - 033 234 4289

Breaking News - Noisy too…
A Buff Spotted Flufftail has taken up residence outside the Downard’s bedroom window - they have politely asked it to move to another spot further down the garden, but it has refused. The humans have now de-camped to the other end of the house in an attempt to get some sleep.

Enjoy sharing the arum-filled vleis, green hills and delectable pizza with guests who visit our beautiful part of the planet for the Celebrations.
Good wishes to all.

For any additional information please contact us.