In many of our country’s provinces, the arid landscape reminds us of the seas of sand of the Namib desert rather than of South Africa’s fertile bread basket (Leon Schreiber, Rapport Weekliks, 6 December 2015). Large parts of our country are suffering from the worst drought in three decades, with five of the northern provinces having been declared as disaster areas. Water levels of all the largest dams are critically low, while the taps in some towns have long since run dry.

Winter's dust and smoke is with us once again, which means that people suffering from sinusitis are doing good business with our local doctor and pharmacist.

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, one finds it is attached to the rest of the world” (John Muir). 

Do we have a balanced outlook on protecting our natural resources in Hartebeestfontein – or not?

When I see and hear how people react to events in our environment I often ask myself this question. Often, opinions are expressed that clearly indicate ignorance, assumptions and self-interest, with the latter mostly given preference. It is often said that humans will be responsible for their own downfall, and sometimes, one cannot but wholly agree with this and relate it to events in one’s own environment.

One of our members, Lourie Laatz, sent us a beautiful photo of a Cape Robin (Afr Gewone Janfrederik, or Cossypha caffra) that has come to fetch a worm from her every day, for a while now. This cute little fellow will therefore be our bird of the month.

The colourful Cape Robin is greyish brown above, with an orange rump, conspicuous white eyebrow, black face and bill, brownish pink legs and feet, light orange breast and throat, greyish white belly and orange tail with black centre. When disturbed, they make a harsh 3-syllabled alarm note, WA-deda, and their call can be likened to someone reading off a shopping list – teeu teetoo, teeu tiddly-too, teeu teetoo teetoo. They are common throughout South Africa, except in much of the Northern Cape. Their favourite habitat is forest edges, wooded kloofs, riverine bush, gardens, parks, farmyards, wattle and Eucalyptus plantations. They like feeding on insects, spiders, worms, small frogs, lizards and fruit. The breeding season lasts from June to December, when they usually lay 2-3 pale pinkish or greenish, spotted eggs. Incubation and nestling usually takes about 18 days. (Source: Roberts’ Birds of Southern Africa, sixth edition, 1993).

At the moment, pecan nut farmers in the valley are harvesting. As was reported in our previous newsletter, these farmers suffer losses because of the large troops of Vervet monkeys that cause widespread damage. The annual harvesting season is also accompanied by large scale NIS theft, and you can be sure that those packets of nuts for sale along the roads, had been stolen somewhere.

State to crack down on invasive aliens – landowners could face legal claims: In the wake of the recent destructive fires in the Cape Peninsula, government is to crack down on landowners who have failed to clear invasive alien vegetation on their properties along the urban fringe.