Midlands Bioblitz

The endless rain stopped on the morning of the Midlands Bioblitz and it was a perfect day to wander about photographing flowers.  Almost 50 nature enthusiasts turned up at the KZN Crane Foundation headquarters at Bill Barnes Nature Reserve in Nottingham Road to take part and do their bit for biodiversity conservation. More plants have gone extinct in South Africa than any other country and one in four species are currently threatened.

The Midlands Conservancies Forum had organised the day and invited learners from Shea O’Connor school nearby to join in the activities.

After a presentation by Suvarna Parbhoo of SANBI on CREW (Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers) and iSpot, everyone headed out into the reserve to find all the living things they could.  Amongst the Themeda triandra and other grasses, there were some tiny, tiny flowers like these Lobelia

Sarah got up close and personal, photographing small grassland plants.

In the rocky outcrop on top of the hill, there were Veronia, Arums and Kniphophia

and lots of Alepidea natalensis in the places the cows can’t get to.

Charlene and Mark searched the wetlands for frogs but didn’t manage to catch one to phtograph. They saw common river frog and heard clicking stream frogs and painted reed frogs too.

Not everything was easy to identify – some plants puzzled the spotters.  This Hermannia was a nice find.

Aristea and Wahlenbergias literally glowed in the low light.

Amanda looked out for animal scats and Nora searched for orchids, but it was a little early – they flower in January and February.  We found plenty of Brunsvegia which will be in flower in mid-summer too.

Cups of tea were on tap on the verandah of the KZN Crane Foundation, with views across the dam. “What a lovely day. I enjoyed it very much. It was great to be with so many people who know so much about plants and wildlife. said Molly Perret

Lindiwe found porcupine quills and four Oribi were spotted bounding away from the action.

After all the rain, the Dierama luteaoabidum and Pelargonium luridium weren’t looking their best, however these little mauve ones were in abundance.

Helichrysum aEriosema, Hypoxis, Pentanisia and Commelina were all flowering happily.  Ipomoea and Scabiosa were plentiful on the road verges.

Quite a few birds were seen, including long claws, swallows, egrets, yellow billed kites, jackal buzzard, widows and red bishop.  There were lots of fuzzy little caterpillars in the damp grass.

This group of girls was very excited to discover them and other creeppy crawlies amongst the flowers.

girls discover a caterpillar. crop.JPG

“What an awesome day of networking, getting to know interesting people, not to mention capturing the beauty of nature. I’m looking forward to another Bioblitz!”  Andile Vilakazi.  Environmental educators – Nkanyiso, Lindiwe, Andile, Antonia and Sanele took some great photos and will be visiting the Bews Herbarium soon to learn more about plant identification.

Then we all looked over our pictures, tried to identify the species and enjoyed a picnic beside the dam.

Vusi, Thembela, Quiniso and Sanele had fun checking out iSpot and loading photographs.

All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting day. In early 2013, we will be starting a Midlands CREW group to survey patches of natural vegetation in the area for threatened plant species.  Should you be interested in joining this group, please contact Nikki at info@midlandsconservancies.org.za

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9 thoughts on “Midlands Bioblitz

  1. David

    Lovely photos, great achievement; congratulations to Midlands Conservancy Forum, CREW, Nikki, Suvarna and all the others who played a part

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  2. Karen Zunckel

    We also had a ball at the BioBlitz. We were surprised and really chuffed that our girls enjoyed it too and were riveted to finding new flowers & grasses with their new found Zulu friends. Armed with Kev’s cell phone, Jessie took some really lovely pics which she is very proud of (we had a family slide-show last night to show off her work) an she has gone off to school this morning to ‘show-and-tell’ her friends her grasses and sedges she collected.

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  3. Tshego Leeuw

    Hi Nikki, howzit?

    This is just to confirm that I eventually found my way out from Usher Conservation what-what after a good hour of chilling and taking pictures. I need to tell you that this was mainly influenced by the belief that I was stuck in the mud.
    However, after much scary pictures running through my mind about my small car toppling to the side and my poor parents having to rush all the way from Pampierstad, Northern Cape to come bade me farewell, I gained the courage to whistle for help at what I thought was two figures. The two figures turned out to be a matric boy who luckily had chosen not to join his peers for a matric farewell function the previous night. He claims that his parents don’t like him sleeping out, but I suspect he just may be scared of the opposite sex. His name is Mxolisi.
    We chatted for a bit. I let him onto my problem with my broken isiZulu. His face suddenly showed worrisome when I told that I was travelling all by myself and he didn’t know who to call for help.

    Guess what??? So, it turns out I was not stuck all along. Mxolisi did not touch my car. All he did was tell me to move forward. Huh!

    I figured he was silently thinking blithering idiot so, I offered to give him a ride to the gate where he was going to meet his sister. I hope I have redeemed myself from whatever thoughts he may have about me.

    All in all, I had a great day. I now know where to take my God-child when she comes through for the holidays.

    Can someone please pass me strong headache tablets.

    Blessed week further.

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    1. Nikki Brighton

      Aaah, what a picnic you missed. Organic champagne, handmade feta, chickpeas with mint, new organic potatoes, sundried olives, just picked lettuce and spring onions, chutney, crackers, boerenkaas and bluberries. Next time.

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  4. Liz Gow

    Well, that was my first Bioblitz and it was great fun. It really gets you focussed on what’s directly under your feet and all sorts of thingies come into view: gorgeous golden and blue worms to fungi in the dung to meadows of flowers. Head down, camera in hand, concentrating: I could have walked slap-bang into an oribi without knowing it was there! Now I’m excited about the Makhambatini Table Mountain Blitz on Sunday & practice those camera shots again.

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  5. Pingback: Bill Barnes Nature Reserve Wildlife News – December 2012 | Midlands Conservancies Forum

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