FoBCA Member Newsletter – July 2018

1. Friends' matters

Being the eyes and ears: People often mention that Friends’ members are the eyes and ears that alert authorities about conservation matters.  A good example of this is a recent event where a member of the public saw road kill on the R27 between Melkbosstrand and Bloubergstrand and thought it looked like ‘an animal with a fluffy tail’.  It was reported to the Chairman of the Friends of BCA, who in turn reported it to the Conservation officer of the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve.  It turned out to be the carcass of a Black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas).  This is a sad, but a very interesting sighting, as the last confirmed sighting of a Black-backed jackal in BBNR was in April 2013 on the Cape Flats Sand Fynbos restoration site, east of Blaauwberg Hill.  
Not an issue with fauna or flora, but just as disturbing, is the vandalism of BBNR signboards. Signs at Haakgat and Derde Steen were recently spray-painted, rendering them unusable.  If you see or hear anything that can help prevent this sort of costly destruction to City of Cape Town property meant to inform the Reserve users, please contact BBNR Management Staff.

The Flower Guide, product of our CREW members, has been selling very well at the various nurseries in Table View (Starke Ayres, Plants on 6th , etc).  With Spring coming, now is the time to get your brochure and take a walk on the Coastal Dune Trail.  As the flower guide is arranged according to colour of flowers, identifying flowering plants is easy!

2. WESSA BFG (Big Friends Group) event – Sat 4 Aug 2018

You will remember last year we reported back on the 2017 event, as it was a great success with fascinating lectures that elicited a lot of interest.  We have no doubt that this year’s event will again be of similar appeal.  All members of the Friends of BCA are welcome to attend.  The due date for booking is on 31 Jul 2018.

Click here for all the details including the programme for the day

3. News and call for suggestions from Nicky Rheeder, Councillor – Ward 107

Please read the excerpt from Nicky Rheeder, even though it is past the 23rd - perhaps your idea is so good they will still consider it:

'The budget for the renovation of Marine Circle has finally arrived and we are now ready to spend it. We would like community input and ideas on what we can do with the traffic circle at Marine Circle to make it look good! Please do share the request with your members and ask them to send any ideas to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

I’d like to have as many suggestions as possible by 23 July 2018 so that we can start the planning and action!'

4. Update on Reserve Fauna and Flora

We were always under the impression 10 Eland in the Reserve is something to brag about, but after confirmation from various sources, we can safely and proudly say that there are now 12!  Here are some pictures taken very recently, showing the two new arrivals:

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The last group of hikers on the Two Hills walk was very lucky to have seen them very close by.  Eland are naturally very curious and they were eyeing the group with keen interest.  They seem to be flourishing in their Reserve habitat.
 
The question is often asked – where do the animals in the Reserve find water to drink, especially in view of the recent drought?  The answer is that there are various small waterholes on the slopes of the two hills (Kleinberg and Blaauwberg Hill) that have water - albeit little - and they were cleared to allow for easy access during the dry months; Borreldam, the fountain close to Blaauwbergsvlei, also had a little water; a water tank was placed close to where the honey badger was housed during his rehabilitation just below the contour path; and the dune fields where the alien vegetation clearing is taking place, also have a few waterholes.
 
With the recent rains, pans in the Reserve, that have been low or totally dry in the last few years, are all suddenly filled up with water!  Here are a few examples of these beautiful sights: 

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According to Petra Broddle, the vernal ponds ON Blaauwberg Hill are also full of water.  On Thursday 19th July the BCA CREW found Miniature Waterblommetjies  Aponogeton angustifolius in one of the ponds.  A small and delicate species, it is less than half the size of the Waterblommetjie that people eat in waterblommetjiebredie.  This species is red listed as Vulnerable, and is of conservation concern.  These pools have been dry for a long time, but these plants managed to survive.

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Two new Quarterly reports, for Blaauwberg Nature Reserve (BBNR) and Table Bay Reserve, have been added to the BCA website on the Reserve Management page.  Please take time to read them.  Have you for instance heard of the Ocellated Thick-toed Gecko or the Obese Lily Weevil?  Well, they have been spotted in the Reserve.  The BBNR report also contains more background information to the Caracal/Atlantic Beach Estate issue.

Feel like some colouring in?  We recently noticed this lovely colouring-in book:

pic07Colouring-in is a favourite children’s pastime and has become a therapeutic form of adult relaxation.  This new addition to Struik Nature’s ‘Read, colour and keep’ series will give hours of fun, while also expanding the reader’s knowledge of the natural world.

Why is Bulbine such a useful plant? Which flowers can we eat, and which are poisonous? What is South Africa’s national flower? Why do some flowers give off a rotten smell? Who pollinates our beautiful flowers?  Children and adults alike will learn interesting facts while enjoying hours of fun colouring in this selection of our most striking flowers. They can consult the colour guide in the middle of the book when choosing which shade of crayon or paint to use for the more than 40 outlined images – or make up their own fantastically-hued flowers! Now available here or check your local book store.

6. Forthcoming events

  • Sat 28 Jul   - Two Hills Family Walk - (More info)
  • Sat 4 Aug    - WESSA BFG Big Bash - (More info)
  • Sat 4 Aug    - CREW Coastal Trail Botanical Walk - (More info)
  • Thu 23 Aug - Battle of Blaauwberg presentation at Rietvlei cabin.  Dave Honour, whom you will know is our resident expert on the topic, has some research and new findings to share.
  • Sat 25 Aug  - Two Hills Family Walk
  • Fri 14 Sep    - Launch of coastal area of BBNR as a Green Coast site (More detail will follow at a later date)
  • Sat 22 Sep   - Battle of Blaauwberg Walk
  • Sat 29 Sep   - Battle Up Blaauwberg Trail Run.  A few people have been working hard behind the scenes planning for this annual event: the new routes starting at the southern BBNR gate close to Table Bay Mall have to be measured out; a fun walk is being planned; there will be a promotion of the event held over the preceding days inside Table Bay Mall; etc.  Please diarise this date and spread the word, so we can have a good turnout - the event is open to everyone: trail runners, fun walkers and all their supporters.

FoBCA Member Newsletter – June 2018

Feedback from recent events

The first post-AGM FoBCA committee meeting was held, and your new FoBCA committee was established to serve for the next financial year.  With the exception of Roy Fuller-Gee, most of the previous committee members carried over their current portfolios.  Our long-standing chairman has finally chosen to step down as chairman in order to focus on other areas of conservation.  Stephanie Muller, whom many of you have met on walks, has been elected as chairwoman in Roy's place.

pic01Roy Fuller-Gee ... pic02... in his element.

I am sure everyone will agree that Roy has become an important figure in the conservation environment in Blaauwberg, and we want to express our heartfelt thanks to Roy for his hard work over the many years he served the FoBCA as chairman.  Roy has grown the FoBCA into a prospering entity, with a stake in many developments and representative bodies in the region, while attracting members from all walks of life.  Under his chairmanship the committee has been built up and steered to operate extremely smoothly.  Roy will remain a valuable member of the committee and, as you can see from the portfolios below, he will still be as active as ever!  As he concentrates his passions on the Green Coast initiative and the cultural heritage projects, we wish Roy every deserved success. 

Read more ...

FoBCA Member Newsletter – May 2018

The AGM of the Friends of BCA was held on Sat 26 May 2018.  Attendees heartily greeted each other, taking their coffee and rusks in the wonderfully warm winter sunshine prior to the meeting.

Rob Slater from WESSA gave an excellent talk on the Green Coast initiative, what it entails and what will be required from responsible parties in order to retain this status.  The Blaauwberg beach within the BBNR is the first pilot site in South Africa.  Big Bay beach, Bloubergstrand lost its Blue Flag status a while ago, and it is imperative that we succeed with this initiative.

Rob has given us a copy of his slide presentation, to share with members on request.  Keep a look out on the FoBCA website where it will be made available for your perusal.

The area included in the 1st Phase of the Green Coast initiative is shown below. As we gain experience with the initiative, we intend to include additional areas adjoining the Blaauwberg beach and coast line.

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The business part of the meeting started with the Chairman’s Report and election of committee members.  The FoBCA treasurer's report revealed an excellent financial year, building its funds through various events, and a substantial increase in membership numbers.  A proposal to increase membership fees was accepted and to come into effect from 1 April 2019.  With immediate effect, members can now opt to pay membership fees for either 5 or 10 years in advance at the current rates.  This means members can avoid having to renew membership each year and, as an added bonus, save on future fee increases. (See updated Membership Form for new long term fees.)

For a peek at what your membership fees have covered in the last few months:  salt licks for the eland and hartebeest antelope on the BBNR; printing of the new FoBCA information brochure (which was introduced to all at the AGM); bus transportation of under-privileged children to an environmental education session; website maintenance; gun powder for cannon firing; and the list goes on – thank you Friends for your continued support!

 A wonderful time was had by those who joined the 5 May Two Hills Walk.  All of them were inspired to become new members of the Friends of BCA.  Take a look at the photos from the day on our Facebook page.  

 The Tortoise Talk was held on Sat 21 April at the Rietvlei cabin, and was extremely well attended.  Some very fascinating facts were shared.  Did you know for instance that if a tortoise releases that smelly liquid on being picked up, they become dehydrated?  Once picked up, people often take them to a spot unfamiliar to the tortoise, and if there is no water nearby and it is a sunny day, the tortoise can then die of dehydration!  So please always place a bowl of water close to the tortoise if it has been moved.  For those interested in knowing more and who were not able to attend, click here.  The presentation will also be made available on the FoBCA website.  

GENERAL NEWS:

Battle of Blaauwberg 1806 Interpretive Centre on Blaauwberg Hill
Remember the generator room close to the top of Blaauwberg Hill on the left?  Those who have done the walks to Blaauwberg Hill will know this last slightly steep section of the route.  The FoBCA was given a donation of R100 000 with which to renovate and refurbish the room for display, information and meeting purposes with chairs, a video projector and a generator.  These improvements are nearing completion, and the Battle of Blaauwberg 1806 Interpretive Centre will soon be available for use.  You will all be invited to an official opening  - keep an eye on your emails for details.
 

FORTHCOMING EVENTS:

   Sat 7 Jul 9am (and first Saturday of every month) - CREW Botanical Walk starting at Eerste Steen - contact Petra Broddle on 079 776 3701
   Tue 5 Jun - World Environmental Day
   Fri 8 Jun - World Oceans Day
   Sun 24 Jun - Battle of Blaauwberg Walk - contact Dave Honour at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 082 906 4875
   Sat 28 Jul - Two Hills Walk - contact Stephanie Muller at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or SMS 083 679 4642
   Sat 29 Sep - Battle Up Blaauwberg Trail Run - new starting point to be at Table Bay Mall!

FoBCA Member Newsletter – April 2018

~ The WESSA BFG (‘Big Friends Group’) event that we advertised in our last newsletter, was held on Saturday, 17 February, and well attended by FoBCA members.  Below is an overview of the event that appeared in the Argus 26 February.  It was a great opportunity to meet members of all the different Friends groups across the Peninsula, all with a common purpose – to protect and conserve.  The speakers were all well received.  Get your hands on a copy of Cormac Cullinan's book "Wild Law" - it's highly recommended reading.  The next BFG will be held on Saturday, 4 August – please diarise it so that you can be sure not to miss out on this very informative and entertaining social event.

Standing together for nature

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~ The Battle of Blaauwberg Walk held on 24 March was once again well attended by a number of people, with some becoming repeat attendees!  Also on a historical note, the FoBCA  hosted the ‘Orde van den Prince’ (a society for people of Dutch origin in South Africa) monthly meeting on 17 March at Eerste Steen Educational Cabin, where Dave Honour gave an overview of the Battle of Blaauwberg from the Dutch angle.

~ The Coastal Walk Flower Guide 2ed, produced by our enthusiastic CREW team, is proving to be very popular.  As an invaluable educational reference, it has been presented to all the local public libraries, as well as the Kirstenbosch Gardens' library.  You can get your personal copy, not only at Eerste Steen and Starke Ayres Garden Centre (ask at the information desk as is it not on the shop floor), but now also at Plants on 6th in Melkbosstrand.  With its colour-coded index, it is a fun guide to use, and makes a perfect gift at only R100.

FORTHCOMING EVENTS:

NB - AGM - SAVE THE DATE!
Please diarise 26 May 2018 for the next FoBCA Annual General Meeting.  We will let you have more detail in due course, but as usual, we plan to have a guest speaker, and to give an overview of the many activities in which the FoBCA are involved.
 

GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY APRIL BRANCH MEETING:
The FoBCA also focuses on heritage conservation, and the following event might interest our members:  The April branch meeting of the Genealogical Society will be held on Saturday 14 April 2018 14h00 at SASNEV Building, Central Square, Pinelands (directions).  Gavin Cowley (well-known Commentator and former Rugby player) is the speaker and his subject is “The Cowleys – from Derbyshire to Plettenberg Bay” and it will outline the family history of many families in the Southern Cape.  See attached leaflet with more information.  The Dutch library in the SASNEV building is very interesting in itself, and has the FULL “ATLAS AFRIKA” available to read.

INTERNATIONAL CITIZEN SCIENCE DAY!
SANBI’s CREW Citizen Science Programme
, together with partners in Cape Town, will be hosting a Citizen Science Fair in Cape Town to showcase the wonderful projects that people can get involved in and create a platform for people to connect with these projects and hopefully inspire new citizen scientists to get involved:

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Citizen science has played a significant role in collecting biodiversity data in South Africa. We have many examples of successful programmes that have generated impressive biodiversity datasets and contributed to distribution mapping, understanding population trends and conservation prioritization.  Advances in technology also provide new opportunities to connect and share observations, and have made it possible to engage a wider community for more varied projects. These technologies and citizen science projects have engaged members of the public in innovative ways and provided many opportunities for informal education.
Click here for more information.  Click here to RSVP.

YOUR TICKET TO TOP WEST COAST PLACES:
West Coast Way will be launching the West Coast Way Wildflower FAm Fest on Wed 18 April at 15h30 (for 16h00) – 17h00 at the annual WTM (World Travel Market) Show, CTICC (Stand J09).  All FoBCA members are invited to attend the exciting launch.  This unique event is held to showcase the West Coast’s tourism talents and attractions and to network with 77 countries, 1000's of visitors and people in the travel and tourism industry.  Click here for the event programme.
GUESTS OF HONOUR:

  • Shadow Minister of Tourism James Vos - speaker
  • Di Brown - the Roaming Giraffe - speaker
  • Guy McDonald - MC .

The West Coast Way will be launching its invigorated Swartland Tractor Route as well as the brand new Cape Way Route, making up a total of 101 road trip stops on 6 Routes: Cape Way, Culture, Berg, Foodie, Tractor and Wild Routes.  West Coast Way Wildflower FAm Fest will have performances, artists, sustainable foods like oysters from Saldanha and famous craft beer like Darling Brew, to serve guests to the stand. 
It is important to register BEFORE 16 APRIL and download your ticket. Note: without the ticket, you will not be allowed to enter.  Click here to register.

ARE TORTOISES YOUR SPECIAL INTEREST?

The FoBCA is in the process of arranging a Tortoise Talk at Eerste Steen by well-known Prof Retha Hofmeyr from the Biodiversity and Conservation Biology Dept of UWC.  There are many interesting facts about tortoises, and as many misconceptions, especially with regards to domesticated tortoises – their habitat, nutrition, etc.  We will let you know the date as soon as arrangements are in place.

FLOWER POWER!

Please remember our regular first-Saturday-of-the-month Coastal Dune Walk with our CREW members who will give you up-to-date information on what is flowering. 
At the moment, for example, there are some red-listed species to be seen at Derde Steen, and, as you might have noticed, the Brunsvigia orientalis has just started flowering on the dunes east of Kreeftebaai.  See if you can spot the Brunsvigia along the R27 between Sunset Beach and Dolphin Beach, on the Rietvlei side and also keep a look out for the pink March Lily Amaryllis belladonna in full flower along the burnt section of Rietvlei. 
To join the walk contact Petra Broddle at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more info.  Don't forget to bring your Coastal Walk Flower Guide along with you.

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TWO HILLS WALK:
The next Two Hills Walk will be on 5 May.  Spread the word to family and friends about this is ever-popular event, but please book well in advance, as numbers are limited.  Contact Stephanie Muller at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to reserve your place.

Battle of Blaauwberg Commemoration event, held on Sat 6 Jan 2018

The year started off with a bang, and a puff of smoke! 

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For the second time since the 210th anniversary of the Battle of Blaauwberg 1806, in collaboration with the local staff of the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve and with the kind permission and hospitality of the owners of Blaauwberg Farm, the Friends hosted a commemorative event on Saturday, 6th January 2018 at the Blaauwberg Farm.

Read more about it under Special Events.

Spotted Harlequin Snake

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This beautiful specimen was seen during a recent Archaeology Survey being done in the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve.  Nobody was prepared to put their pinkie next to it for size reference!

Spotted Harlequin Snake