Having parked our vehicles next to a Eucalyptus plantation at the edge of the reserve, we set off across the grassland towards Hazel Ridge. On the way down we came across some scattered Watsonia pillansii with their orange flowers. Despite this being winter, the sun was warm and we were glad to reach the shelter of the low trees along the ridge. Growing in the leaf-litter under these trees we noticed several Haemanthus albiflos, one of which was in flower.
A little further along the ridge we came across Trichocladus grandiflorus, the witch hazel after which the ridge was named. Unfortunately only old fruit capsules remained.
|Trichocladus grandiflorus fruit capsules|
We were surprised at the number of Manilkara nicholsonii we saw along this trail. Many had obviously flowered recently, much later than those we saw flowering at Manilkara Meander at the beginning of June. At the end of the ridge we dropped down into the surprisingly cool streambed and then scrambled up the opposite bank, emerging into rocky grassland fringed by forest. On the forest edge we saw a single flower on an Ochna arborea and nearby was an Erianthemum dregei - below it we found several of its seeds starting to establish themselves as new parasites on a Dahlbergia obovata.
|Erianthemum dregei seeds starting to parasitise a Dahlbergia obovata|
Re-entering the forest we came across a few Mystroxylon aethiopicum in fruit and in the undergrowth were Crassula sarmentosa flowering.
We decided to stop here to enjoy our lunch in the shade of a Manilkara nicholsonii. Some of the group elected to sit out in the open on a large rock and while there, Phakimani spotted a discarded snake skin in a tree some 5 metres below the rock - and then saw the snake itself, a large black mamba (one of our more poisonous species) enjoying the winter sun on the top of a tree nearby.
|The visible portion of the live black mamba|
|The head end of the mamba's shed skin|
Being at the edge of a densely forested cliff, prudence dictated that we should proceed no further so we made our way back along the same route finding Clivia robusta as well as Dermatrobotrys saundersii growing in a small hollow in a horizontal branch.
Driving back we were fortunate in seeing a Gymnogene fly overhead - a fitting end to a great walk.
Participants: Anne S, Debbie K, Dorothy M, Gail B-W, Graham G, Kate G, Liseka G, Phakamani M, Sarah B-W, Sarel C, Uschi T.