Saturday, 6 August 2016

Hazel Ridge and Hidden Valley

On a chilly and windy morning we set off to walk to Hazel Ridge, a place in the Umtamvuna reserve which we last visited more than a year ago. This section of grassland has not yet been burned and there was little to see apart from some seed heads of Lopholaena dregeana, so we hastened to get out of the wind and descended towards Hazel Ridge. 

Lopholaena dregeana
As we approached the ridge, looking back into the forested stream below us we could see a prominent Syzygium gerrardii bearing a good crop of fruits above the canopy. As we worked (hacked) our way along the unused trail we were identifying the trees alongside us: these included Eugenia erythrophylla, Loxostylis alata, Canthium vanwykii, Cassipourea malosana, Cryptocarya wyliei, and many Maytenus acuminata, and of course Trichocladus crinitus (Black Hazel) after which this part of the UNR is named. We eventually dropped down to a beautiful tranquil stream where we decided to stop for lunch.

The tranquil stream 
A small cascade provides habitat for a Clivia robusta colony
Climbing out of this gorge heading inland we emerged again into grassland to overlook what has been called Hidden Valley, probably because of the relatively difficult access. Seeing a game path below us we worked our way down the slope and explored the forest edge. Here we saw the yellow flowers of the climbing creeper Acridocarpus natalitius and Erianthemum dregei with flowers just starting to open, as well as Lauridia tetragona with sparse open flowers.

Acridocarpus natalitius
Erianthemum dregei
Lauridia tetragona
This is an area which most of us have not visited previously and looks interesting enough for a further visit and perhaps a chance to find a way into the forest.

Overlooking Hidden Valley
Returning across our lunchtime stream we found a Peddiea africana with flowers of a rather unusual colour - an orange rather than yellow wash.

Peddiea africana
The group on the way home
Looking back to where we had visited
Patricipants: Anne S, Dorothy M, Graham G, Kate G, Maggie A, Mervyn T, Uschi T

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