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Sunday, November 4, 2012

A bit of an accident - 1st November 2012

A bit of an accident - 1st November 2012

Yesterday was not a good day for me. While packing, I was leaning over the trailer and the 100kg lid fell on me and hurt my back and chest. Later on, I opened the back of the cab and as the space between the car and trailer is not enough, I smacked the corner of the window into my cheekbone and eye. Today I am finding it hard to breath and it is difficult to do anything because my back hurts.

I left the house so late yesterday that I did not manage to get very far and slept in the back of the car at a garage along the way. I am very, very tired and arrived at Nylsvley, booked in and spent most of the day sleeping. It is one of the coldest nights and days I have experienced in a long time and cannot believe it is the beginning of November. This reminds me of a time way back in the beginning of the 1980’s when I even had a duvet on my bed over Christmas!! Needless to say, I did not manage to take any pictures but with the cold, there was nothing around anyway.

“Nylsvley Nature Reserve (from their pamphlet)

The Nyl River Floodpalin is one of South Africa’s largest and least impacted floodplain systems. It is located in the upper-reaches of the Mogkalakwena River, a tributary of the great Limpopo and stretches over a distance of about 70km, water may extend up to 16,000 ha. The three primary sources of water are small seasonal rivers that drain from the eastern slopes of the Waterberg range: the Olifantsspruit, Groot and Klein Nyl rivers.

The floodplain is not permanently under water; indeed it is dry almost as often as it is wet. The timing and extent of inundation is rainfall-dependent and years of below average rain often result in no floodwater reaching the plain. On average, this is the case one year in three, while flooding occurs to a greater or lesser extent in two year in three. Only once in about ten years is there a bumper flood that results in the entire floodplain being under water. Inundation typically occurs in late January and February; the water then gradually recedes, sometimes drying up completely before the next summer.

Nylsvley was purchased in 1974 by the Provincial Government with the primary purpose of conserving a section of the floodplain; it was proclaimed a nature reserve in the same year. The reserve, lies between 2436S/2840E and 2442S/2844E and straddles the floodplain near the towns Modimolle (Nylstroom) and Mookgophong (Naboomspruit). The reserve is 3975 ha in extent, lies at an altitude of 1080-1155m above sea-level; on average, 620mm of rain per annum. Summers are warm to hot (max temp 38-39°C), winters are mild to warm with temperatures rarely dropping below zero.

Nylsvley Nature Reserve was designated a Ramsar site in July 1998. Ramsar is an international convention that seeks to recognise and urge protection for globally important wetlands. The reserve is one of about 20 sites currently registered in South Africa and one of 1600+ in the world. Nylsvley is also listed by BirdLife International and an “Important Bird Area”. Much of this recognition stems from the variety and abundance of waterbirds that are attracted to the floodplain during times of flooding. More than 100 waterbird species have been recorder – more than that recorded in any other South African wetland. Many of these species are rare or highly localised elsewhere in the country – for example, the Great Bittern, Rufous-bellied Heron, Dwarf Bittern, Allen’s Gallinule and Streaky-breasted Flufftail – and Nylsvley is an important breeding ground for them in wet years. Nylsvley is not just about waterbirds; about 380 species recorder makes it one of the most bird-rich reserves for its size in South Africa.

Plant communities on Nylsvley are also diverse and interesting; the plant checklist currently stands at about 600 species. Among them is Rice Grass Oryza longistaminata, the dominant grass on the floodplain, a species that is virtually absent elsewhere in the country.

Acacias are the dominant tree species in the alluvial soils fringing the floodplain, with Acacia tortilis, A. robusta and A. karoo being the main species, along with lovely old examples of the shepherd’s tree Boscia albitrunca, dense thickets of the numnum Carissa bispinosa and fine examples of the jacket plum Pappea capensis and bushveld saffron Eleaodendron transvaalense. The southern part of the reserve is underlain by sandstone and resulting sandy soild support broad-leafed woodland dominated by red syringe Burkea Africana, silver clusterleaf Terminalia sericea, the lekkerbreek Ochna pulchra and others. The northern side of the floodplain is underlain by erosion-resistant felsities resulting in rocky shallow soils, with Combretum species dominating the tree community – C.apiculatum, G. erthropyhllum, C. molle and C. zeyheri. Also occurring are mature specimens of beechwood Faurea saligna and the giant naboom Euphorbia ingens.

The reserve’s mammal list currently 77 species of which the most commonly seen are giraffe, blue wildebeest, zebra, roan antelope, kudu, waterbuck, reedbuck, bushbuck, tsessebe, impala, warthog, black-backed jackal, vervet monkey and tree squirrel. The nocturnal species include bushpig, brown hyaena, leopard, porcupine, lesser galago (or bushbaby), aardwolf, aardvark, scrub and Cape hares and Jameson’s red rock rabbit, springhare, serval and caracal, African molerat and striped polecat. You could also encounter hedgehog, clawless otter, slender, banded, yellow, white-tailed and marsh mongoose, Juliana’s golden mole and large spotted genet. Less commonly seen; wildcat, plus 9 species of bats, 9 of mice, 5 rat species, 5 shrew species plus a dormouse and a gerbil.

Amphibians are well represented with 19 frog species of which the largest is the Giant Bullfrog Pyxicephalus adspersus. They come out of hibernation as soon as the wetland is inundated to breed in the ephemeral puddles along the floodplain margins where there is less likelihood of fish eating their tadpoles. Another noisy frog is the raucous toad and the most colourful is certainly the banded rubber frog. Apart from a crocodile that resided at Vogelfontein for a while a few years ago, the largest reptile present is the water monitor; it contributes to an impressive 58 species of reptiles and amphibians present in Nylsvley. The list includes a diverse complement of snakes including python, black mamba, snouted (or Egyptian) cobra, puff adder, boomslang and vine snake; their presence dictates that sensible shoes be worn when walking in the reserve.

Given the ephemeral nature of the floodplain, Nylsvley’s fish fauna is restricted to a dozen or so species, but what it lacks in variety, it makes up for, when flooded, in quantity. The first floodwater brings with it thousands, if not millions, of barbell and minnows riding the water coming down from the catchment, heading for the floodplain to breed. When it floods, their numbers and the numbers of waterbirds eating them, are one of Nylsvley’s memorable sights. Finally, Nylsvley is home, when wet, to at least 55 species of dragoinflies. Apart from these beautiful wetland ambassadors, 194 butterfly species have been chalked up. Other insect groups have been less well catalogued but they could number up to 10,000 species.

Nylsvley is proud of its biodiversity and Friends are working hard to maintain it against the threats of unrestricted development in the catchment.”

2nd November 2012
To make up for my laziness yesterday, I was up before the sun this morning and headed down the road to their famous bird hide. There has not been much rain up here and what there was, has soaked into the ground so there is very little water in the marsh. By the time I reached there, it was getting light and I had been hoping to get some pictures of the wonderful dragonflies I have heard they had. Probably due to the lack of water, there was not one in sight and I was very disappointed after the long hike to get there.

It is fairly green though and lots of trees and flowers are in bloom so I started taking pictures of those. There is an abundance of species not found in the areas I have been before and someone has gone to a lot of trouble to put name boards up by each tree species which is wonderful for people wondering what they are.

Then I found something really interesting ..... I have always wondered how dung beetles start that round ball they are always rolling around and now I know how they did it .... I will post the footage as soon as I have been able to edit it but I must first download the program and once again, no internet!!

The day was not much warmer than yesterday but later in the afternoon, I went for another long walk and found lots on interesting beetles on the flowers. As it was my last night here, I decided to put out a light to see what would come to it and was please to get two of the nocturnal dung beetles flying in.

The camp had filled up for the weekend but like all people who love the outdoors, most had an early night. The long walk had not helped my sore back and so I spent another uncomfortable night. I do hope it gets better soon.....

3rd November 2012
Arrived at a wonderful lodge and will do a post on it on Tuesday when I have finished processing the pictures. The manager, a lovely young lady, has allowed me to camp here for a couple of weeks.

Setting up the tent did not help my back but it is definitely on the mend and should be okay in a few days time. It is quite a job for one person to do. Unhitching the trailer was something else!! It is too heavy for me and luckily there was someone here to help me. I have to soon find a place where I can store most of the things I am carting around with me and get it down to manageable proportions. This hard work is not fun and I am having very serious doubts if buying the trailer and tent was the right thing to do. I was going to just buy a trailer and I should have stuck to that thought. I should know by now never to change my mind from what I first decide. Found a Brown Button Spider when I unpacked ...... wonder if it came with me from Pretoria??

If anyone out there has a storage place for me .... an old room outside or anything ..... please let me know.

The weather has turned extremely hot during the day and so it is nice to be able to dip into the pool now and then. At last I can take a hot shower too!!

There is no internet signal anywhere so will have to rely on posting when I get to an area where there is. I have to go into town on Monday and will post this then while treating myself to coffee at the Wimpy. My bread is starting to turn green in this heat so I guess I had better get some more. J Also, I could not get bananas when I was there last time and just an apple for lunch is getting a bit boring.

4th November 2012
I have found a lot of interest to photograph today including a spittle bug which I have long been after. They are found on the Rain Trees and as they digest the leaves, they exude the water in it so if you stand underneath, it feels like it is raining. Got some nice butterflies and at last saw some dragonflies. There has been a woodpecker making a hole in a dead tree. All day he has been at it hollowing it out and now two sparrows are trying to take it over!! LOL!! Poor woodpecker!!

Another disaster ........ Somewhere along the road my trailer licence disc and holder have fallen off and I cannot find it although I went back along the road to search. With the system they have right now, I cannot get a duplicate in the nearest town as it is another province and so have to go back to Gauteng to get it!! What a damn nuisance!! Seems like I was never meant to do this kind of life was I?? Something is always happening!!