Greetings to all Friends of Die Oog
We are very pleased to have our little sanctuary open throughout this lock down period as the third wave of Covid-19 pandemic unfortunately peaks.
We’ve had some exciting events at Die Oog over the past couple of months. Firstly, the city of Cape Town invited Friends of Die Oog to partake in the iNaturalist Global City Nature Challenge and we extended the invite to our members. Over 150 cities worldwide took on the challenge, capturing photographs of wildlife and flora over a few days at the end of April-start of May. On Sunday the 2nd May Friends of Die Oog met up as a fun family day out.
We have some budding little photographers who joined us and together with other nature lovers around the city, helped Cape Town to, once again, win the title of most diverse city in the world, as well as having the most participants. Together Cape Town participants were able to record 71 142 observations and 4766 species across the city. Runners up included Hong Kong with 29 781 observations and Houston, USA with 33 452 observations.
Cape Town really rose to the challenge, with 1315 participants from around the city using this opportunity to explore their natural surroundings.
Thank you to everyone who contributed. Our biodiversity carries so much value and is globally recognized. For more information you can visit 2021 City Nature Challenge-Cape Town wins in 2 categories.
Fynbos Seed Project
Another exciting initiative that we are proud to be a part of is the fynbos seed project. A team from the Biodiversity and Ecological department of the City of Cape Town have initiated a pilot project at Die Oog to reintroduce Peninsula Granite fynbos which is endemic to the Western Cape and contains 9 species that are threatened by extinction.
Seeds were collected from Die Oog and other areas around the southern suburbs during spring and summer at the end of 2020. The seeds were then stored at the SANBI Millennium Seed Bank where they were smoked and later subjected controlled x-ray analysis to determine viability for germination.
The team returned to Die Oog on Friday the 14th May to select an ideal location to distribute viable specimens (minimal plant cover and complimentary soil type) selected as part of the “Adopt-A-Plot” project. The soil was tilled using a rake and the seeds were carefully dispersed and covered ahead of good rainfall that weekend.
This is a project that will take a few years to mature, but it’s an exciting start to re-establishing and preserving the Cape Granite Fynbos. Friends of Die Oog welcomes those who would like to be more involved in this project moving forward. For more information you can click on the link provided here: Saving Critically Endangered Peninsula Granite Fynbos from extinction and rising from the ashes, species that rely on wildfires for seed dispersion and germination.
During the school holidays, some young enthusiasts helped us with weeding whilst learning more about the indigenous plants at Die Oog. This was a monitored project to ensure that only the weeds were removed, and indigenous plants preserved.
Water levels and water quality
Recent heavy winter rains have been welcomed by the local residents at Die Oog, with water levels rising from a mere puddle around mid-May up to approximately 1.4m deep now.
Water quality at Die Oog has improved substantially with all the rain that we’ve been getting. The chart below shows a particular water quality indicator, Chlorophyll, which is indicative of algal blooms and trophic state.
Source to Sea River Corridor Initiative
For more information on rivers and water bodies in our area we’ve included an excellent video compiled by the City of Cape Town together with WESSA and SANParks.
It is titled the Source to Sea River Corridor initiative, which links the Table Mountain National Park with the Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve, via two primary river corridors – the Diep river, and the Prinskasteels-Keysers rivers. You can click on the link for the video here: Source to Sea Corridor Project.
With Die Oog being so shallow, environmental indicators can vary quite significantly between seasons. Water quantity and quality are key factors for healthy water systems and biodiversity. Temperature and chlorophyll for example, can vary more at Die Oog than in larger deeper water bodies. The chart here compares Chlorophyll-a results for recently sampled water bodies in the area, including the Little Princess Vlei north & south outlet points and Langvlei.
About Birds and Toads
Interestingly, the yellow billed ducks have visited Die Oog as the winter rains have set in but have not yet returned to reside permanently. On the other hand, our coots, Egyptian geese, and spotted thick-knees (dikkop) have been thriving.
The weaver birds have just returned (beautiful weaver photograph taken by Lance Watermeyer), with the males busily building the nests and calling to the females to come and approve. We have recently welcomed little Coot chicks as well.
We hope that the good winter rains will lead the endangered and endemic Western Leopard Toads back to Die Oog once again.
Please keep an eye out, or rather an ear (a snoring sound), for breeding season which is due to start anytime during August and September.
To find out more, visit our website to find out more about the toads and what we can do to help them.
An important aspect of our role as FODO is to engage with the City and relevant organizations like WESSA for the overall maintenance and improvement of our beautiful City. In terms of security and maintenance, the electronic striker for the entrance gate was fixed in June and the council recently returned to paint the gate and clear the overgrowth along the paths around Die Oog this month.
Die Oog is a safe space to visit in a socially distanced setting. We kindly urge all visitors to please adhere to social distancing and health safety protocols.
Please respect the space as a natural sanctuary free from littering and vandalism and encourage others to be mindful and to do the same.
We are still collecting membership fees for 2021 but have also started taking fees for 2022. Membership is only R50 per year for a family and we rely heavily on your subs and donations. Please put your name and surname as reference when making payment.
Please also extend an invite to your neighbours, families and friends who might be supportive of the preservation of Die Oog. We are very grateful for every membership sign-up, renewal or donation.
Considering Covid-19 safety, the annual AGM will unfortunately not take place this year, but information is available on request
From all of us on the Friends of Die Oog committee, may you and your loved ones have a blessed and healthy year ahead.
Co-chair for Friends of Die Oog