Ann Burke, Director of the KZN Crane Foundation , based at Bill Barnes Nature Reserve compiled this report:
Wattled Crane Pair: On 1 December (day of the BioBliztz), the pair of Wattled Cranes was observed flight calling over the reserve at 1400. Afterwards, Andrew Ferendinos sighted them with their chick on the reserve. On 2 December, the pair flew low over and across the UCC dam, flight calling. The Wattled Crane chick was ringed by an EWT crew on 14 December. I found five Wattled Crane body feathers impaled around a barb on a fence in Camp 9 (where the family spends the majority of its time) on 21 December. However, the pair with the chick was observed foraging together in close proximity and appeared healthy and normal. On December 31, the pair of Wattled Crane and their chick was walking towards the north western end of Camp 9, when a pair of Crowned Cranes flew low and fast over their heads. Although the cranes reacted by lengthening their necks and looking at the birds in flight, the pair did not vocalize or move towards them even after the CC pair had landed in Camp 10 across the wetland from them. (The pair exhibited a much different response to these birds as compared to their reaction to the presence of Blue Cranes within their territory).
Other sightings: Pair of Southern African Grey Crowned Cranes observed flying over Camp 8 (3 December) and wading and dancing in roosting wetland on 20 and 21 December; they roosted on a pylon south of the UCC dam on 27 December and were observed foraging together in Camp 9 on 28 December; a pair of dabchicks and four newly hatched chicks were observed first on the UCC dam on 12 December and sighted repeatedly through the month. A duiker lamb was observed suckling from its mother and a female bushbuck was observed later the same day in the clump of gum remaining near the top gate (28 December); Single oribi observed during the BioBlitz, pair of oribi observed foraging together in Camp 7 (28 December); pair of Wattled Plovers and three Amur Falcons in Camp 9 and three new fledged Forest Canaries in Camp 4 (31 December).
BBNR hosted a Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) sponsored BioBlitz on 1 December. As quoted by CREW: “During a Bioblitz, experts and members of the public work together to survey a natural area, seeking, identifying and recording as many species as possible in a single day. Photographs are taken and loaded onto the recently launched iSpot portal, an interactive website where sharing of observations and identifications across the broad spectrum of biodiversity is encouraged. (www.ispot.org.za). Sites selected for Bioblitzs are relevant for conservation or are areas requiring attention and data-collection. To take part in a Bioblitz, you do not need to be a scientist or even an avid gardener, just a keen nature enthusiast who likes to use your digital camera or electronic tablet and who wants to do their part to assist us in monitoring South Africa’s plants and animals.” Alipedia natalensis was one of them:
After a short presentation by CREW Manager, Suvarna Parbhoo, the 50 participants took to the ungrazed portions of the reserve to observe and photograph “all things living.” They returned to the UCC to download their photos to iSpot and enjoy lunch. View photographs of the plants found at Bill Barnes at http://www.ispot.org.za/taxonomy/term/8852 or read all about the day at https://midlandsconservanciesforum.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/midlands-bioblitz/
One participant commented, “At first I was disappointed upon entering the reserve, as I thought it would hold very little diversity or interest. I was amazed however, to find myriad wildflowers amongst the tall grasses and greatly enjoyed the experience!”
Plant Rescue from Spring Grove Dam – 20 December
Volunteers Rob Lolli, Sarah Ellis, Dawie Scholtz and Ann Burke received visitor inductions to the Spring Grove Dam and transplanted wetland-dependent plants from the dam that appeared on the movie set, “Racing Stripes.” We hand dug a bakkie load of: Typha capensis, Phragmities, and various Cyperaceae and Scirpus and transplanted them along the edges of the UCC dam and island on the eastern shore. As of this writing the transplants appear to be doing well. Here is Sarah re-planting one of the saved plants into the dam.