FoBCA Newsletter 2020 No. 3

We trust you are all still safe and healthy. We are living in uncertain times and we can only hope the current situation that the world finds itself in, will in time be resolved so we can go on with our ‘new normal’ lives. However, even in these negative, confusing times, we can start with some good news -

Good news!

The City of Cape Town’s reserves have recently opened to the public again with some restrictions still in place. No group activities are allowed, so the picnic and braai facilities at Eerste Steen are not yet open.
Important: Please wash your hands before visiting the reserves, and keep your masks on at all times.

Blaauwberg Nature Reserve hosts the Coastal Dune Trail, with its very typical Cape Flats Dune Strandveld vegetation. The trail offers a pleasant 4.5km level walk with a variety of interesting flowers and plants en route. With the Flower guide in hand (see below for details of how to get your own copy), it is fun to identify all the colourful flowers along the trail. Many of them are getting ready to bloom as we speak and the next few weeks will be a show of colour, insects and birds. The trail starts at Eerste Steen. Remember - FoBCA members walk the Coastal Dune Trail for free – one of the benefits of being a member of FoBCA. With the Visitor Controller's Office now open you can join FoBCA or renew your membership at the gate.

We are planning to resume our regular monthly walks (ie the Two Hills, Battle of Blaauwberg and Botanical walk) as soon as we are allowed and will let you know once we have arranged dates.

Blaauwberg Nature Reserve

A few committee members explored the eastern side of the Reserve after it opened again, and can gladly report that all is well – the Eland herd is looking healthy, there is water everywhere after the good rains, and we saw much evidence of various animals – big and small. Below are some photos taken during the walk:

The waterlogged road towards Bloubergsvlei
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Bloubergsvlei – full of water
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Vygies (Lampranthus explanatus Near Threatened) starting to bloom
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Huge Brunsvigias (Brunsvigia orientalis) seen where the vegetation has been cleared of aliens
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The Eland herd looks healthy
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Sasol releases new version of birding app

For the birders and prospective birders amongst you, take a look at this very user-friendly app. You'll have to act quickly to take advantage of the special price of R179.99, but even at the normal price this is well worth having.
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Here’s an excellent offer only available until the end of July. Upgrade to the new and improved version of Sasol eBirds Southern Africa app at half-price during July!

WHY UPGRADE TO THE NEW VERSION?
• Covers all 989 bird species in line with the latest taxonomical changes
• Updated information with fresh input from new contributing authors
• All species text in English AND Afrikaans
• Over 1000 bird calls
• More than 2700 photographs (no in-app purchase required)
• New illustrations with finer attention to detail
• Distribution maps updated with latest known ranges
• Expanded life list functionality:
• Quick-Play bird calls right from the menu

UPDATE PLAN:
This app will be updated regularly over the coming years. These updates will aim to improve on the content, features and functionality in the app, and they will be free to the customer.

Download the new version of the app here:
Apple: https://apple.co/38hVLbP
Android: https://bit.ly/3eNF22w

If you (like me) have been using the old version, it is easy to export and import your My List entries to the new version.

Extracts from the most recent WESSA newsletter

Friends groups like our own, are all registered with WESSA and as such we receive their regular newsletter. Here are extracts from the latest newsletter we thought might interest you..

  • Take a look at the amazing work done by the The Litterboom Project! A simple, cost-effective and scalable way to remove litter from our rivers. They are trying to expand their pilot project in Cape Town, so connect with them if you can help! 
  • CLANWILLIAM DAM WALL TO BE RAISED – WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE (EMC)?

    This is probably for someone with time to spare for a 3-hour meeting 4 times per year, interested in keeping an eye on things environmentally speaking. Write to Clanwilliam Project Management Office: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Friday 31 July 2020
  • OFF-SHORE DRILLING NEAR US – WANT TO HAVE YOUR SAY?

    While on the topic of energy, TOTAL has begun the application process for gas and oil exploration off South Africa’s East coast including off the Aghulas bank where it has existing rights. As we all know the world is, with much good scientific reason, transitioning steadily towards a low carbon future that needs more renewable energy, not the fossil-based kind. Moreover, just prospecting for off-shore oil and gas can damage the environment and disturb marine animals that are already being affected by pollution, overfishing, acidification and warming. To ensure that the environmental impact assessments required in such projects are as rigorous as possible it makes a difference when as many people as possible register as interested and affected parties and send in comments. Here is a link to the scoping report

The due date for public comment is: 21 Aug 2020.

Important concerns are:
- Fossil fuels are affecting global climate, hence new sources should not be explored
- On-shore infrastructure and distribution network causes land-based environmental problems
- South Africa is experiencing significant biodiversity loss
There are known impacts on many marine species from electromagnetic surveys
- Oil/gas finds can lead to long-term potential risks and impacts from pollution such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

  • Biological Invasions in South Africa is a new encyclopedic book containing information on 1 422 alien species - flora and fauna, marine and micro organisms, some of which have become naturalized, as well as some disease carriers - that has been released as open access on the internet, meaning you can get the ebook for free

Forthcoming events:

Due to the current pandemic and continuing lockdown rules, no FoBCA events have been organised even though BBNR is open. We hope to start our regular events again soon, once the rules relax further, and will keep you posted.

Flower and Field Guides!!

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You definitely NEED the FoBCA Flower Guide at this time of the year when our plants are preparing to burst into flower. The regular guided Botanical Walks are not yet back to normal, but the Coastal Dune Trail is open for your enjoyment, so why not take the book along as your guide. It is a handy size for carrying with ease, and flowers are quick and easy to find with its colour-coded search facility. Ask for the guide at Starke Ayres Garden Centre (at the information counter), at Plants on 6th Nursery, Melkbosstrand and at Eerste Steen. Still available at only R100 each.

To add to your collection of guides, the first ever field guide to the Overberg Renosterveld will shortly be available and if people pre-order before 7 August there is a 30% discount and free delivery! Details are on their website: OVERBERG RENOSTERVELD CONSERVATION TRUST.

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