The good autumn and winter rains have been welcomed by the local inhabitants down at Die Oog. Water levels are rising again, the weavers are very busy building and showing off their beautiful nests hanging from the trees, the coots are securing their nests in the water and we are looking forward to heading into the breeding season of the endangered Western Leopard Toads.
Western Leopard Toad breeding season migrations typically fall somewhere between late July and early September, timed with the arrival of the first post-winter warm weather. The toads made their way back to Die Oog during the second half of 2021, after avoiding the wetland in 2020 following a few years of drought, and we were excited to see thousands of toadlets actively migrating around homes surrounding Die Oog during the first week of November 2021. We hope they come back to Die Oog again this year.
We have been notified that school children have been collecting tadpoles in the lower Silvermine Wetlands, and while this is an interesting activity towards school projects, we wouldn’t want to encourage the removal of tadpoles from any of the wetlands.
Some good news is that the council has been working at Die Oog for over a month to remove the overgrowth of Typha which took over the water surface from the end of last year. They had to wait for water levels to drop to the lowest levels for access.
The area was mostly cleared of all invasive plant species, but in some areas the typha was cut and not pulled from the roots, so it may start to grow back. The clearing of the invasive weeds should enhance the water quality by improving oxygen levels, and the good rains that came through the following weekend would have complemented this initiative by enhancing the freshwater quality. We received around 100mm of solid rain between 12-14 June 2022.
A crew from the council arrived again on the 7th July to clear more of the invasive Wandering Jew (Tradescantia zebrina) from the banks around the dam wall, just as more good rains came in.
Chlorophyll levels are generally highest when the water levels are low. The good winter rains of 2021 maintained some water within Die Oog the entire summer/autumn season for the first half of 2022, while Die Oog almost completely dried up from April into May of 2021. The team from the council arrived to clear the water weeds from May this year, which was well timed ahead of the rains that we received from mid-June. And we can see that chlorophyll levels have dissipated over the past month, back to within acceptable recreational limits, with the good rains received over the past few weeks.
We spent a lovely morning with the biodiversity officers from the City’s Recreation and Parks Board on Sunday the 1 May, as they shared their knowledge and inspired residents to look for the beauty and amazing little creatures that thrive at Die Oog. The Cape Dwarf Chameleon enjoying the sun in the fynbos garden was a welcome surprise for the children who came to partake in the iNaturalist City Challenge that day.
Capetonians were encouraged to explore the City’s nature reserves and natural open spaces, and to record all of the local plant and animal species that they spotted between 29 April and 2 May 2022 by using the iNaturalist.com app on their phones. Together, Cape Town participants were able to record 66 144 observations and 4 388 species across the city, achieving second place among 450 cities across the world. The results of this global challenge can be found on the City Nature Challenge website: citynaturechallenge.org/collective-results-2022/
In terms of security and maintenance, the council came to repair and repaint the electronic gate in June 2021. The gate locking mechanism unfortunately faulted again in September 2021 and has continued to be an issue for most of this year, with the implication of FODO committee members having to open and close the gate every day. We have been communicating with the council to have this addressed and hope that they can arrange to fix it soon.
An important aspect of our role as FODO is to engage with the city council and relevant organizations like WESSA for the overall maintenance and improvement of our beautiful City.
Many hands make light work
Our committee is made up of 8 volunteers who are resident in the area. We are looking for some more volunteers who are able to give some of their time to support with communicating, building and maintaining relationships with the biodiversity team and ward councilor office of the City of Cape Town. There are also other tasks such as social media management, opening and closing of gate duties and other secretarial duties. Please reach out to us via firstname.lastname@example.org if you are able to support us. Even a few hours a month will make a huge impact.
Remember to renew
For those who have not yet renewed their membership for the small sum of R50, please will you do so as we rely heavily on your subscriptions and donations. And please feel free to extend an invite to your families and friends who may like to join as well.
Please click on this link for membership renewal or donations.
From all of us on the Friends of Die Oog committee, thank you for your support and may you and your loved ones have a blessed and healthy second half of 2022.
Co-chair for Friends of Die Oog