Alison Young joined the inaugural walk on Mbona Mountain Estate, which is now part of the Regular Midlands Walks calendar -on the third Friday of every month, She wrote this account:
Nearly 20 people turned out on a beautiful day in between the soggy spring weather to join Keith Cooper for one of the many walks through the Mbona Estate. It was a very interesting walk with some magnificent views which we were lucky to see on this rare mist free day for this time of the year. We even heard the rare Delagorge’s (now Bronze-naped) Pigeon calling in the forest.
Mbona Estate has a large reservoir of Montane Forest and some lovely grasslands with some of the biggest populations of Scilla natalensis (Merwilla plumbea) in the area. The Cape Chestnuts were flowering (pink) as was the Climbing Turkey-berry, Keetia gueinzii with clusters of cream flowers.
The shady forest floor was covered with many different fern like Lycopodiums and Selaginellas; also flowering Streptocarpus gardenii, Impatiens hochstetteri and Geranium flanaganii. Hypoxis species are well known for their ability to thrive on rehabilitation sites and two unfamiliar species littered the more exposed sunny patches on the roadside. Always a joy to see is the little endemic Nemesia silvatica with pretty white flowers and which can grow into an attractive bushy 1m shrub.
Keith has been part of the Mbona Estate conservation committee for nearly 40 years and he showed us some of his very interesting projects. He has several sponsored plots on which he is doing different forest rehabilitation trials on ex-pine plantations. I find this intriguing because we hear so much about the destruction of our forests and how difficult it is to rehabilitate them. I think it is sterling work and look forward to the results and observations that come out of this.
Dave Pullin commented: “It was a very interesting morning thanks, albeit very hot. Keith Cooper was so hospitable, so knowledgeable as well as enthusiastic that one could not help but enjoy it all. He really is doing an amazing job there with his rehabilitation of the forest. Thank you Midlands Conservancies Forum for being the driving force in making these areas accessible to the likes of us.” Pat Cahill also joined the group (and contributed some of these photos) “The walk was pleasant, but steep – mostly on roads. I would like to join one of the walks to the top of the ‘mini-mountain’ pictured below. There are magnificent views towards Albert Falls Dam which must be better from the top. Keith Cooper is very knowledgeable about trees and the rehabilitation of old plantations.”
The next Mbona walk will be on 21 December. Phone Keith Cooper to book 082 574 1958 Donation R20