Zandvlei Trust


What a difference a tree makes!

Working with Clifford Dorse from the SPA a "Kingfisher Tree" was erected in the Westlake Pond at the end of Rutter Road. The tree comprised several old branches set in a 44-gallon drum in the water.
Cormorants moved in almost immediately to hang out their wings to dry, then two days after the tree went up a Giant Kingfisher came to perch. Giant Kingfishers were previously regular visitors to the Westlake Pond but we haven't seen or heard them at this end of the vlei for months. A nice indication of what can be done to enhance our bird life by adding perching sites, food trees or sheltered nesting areas.

So far so good
In January and February this year, a major weed–clearing exercise was undertaken in the Westlake Pond. Hyacinth, Kariba weed, Parrot's feather and some typha were taken out by SPA. Funds did not permit a total clearing of the channels from the Westlake Pond through to the Keysers and Westlake Rivers at the railway bridge. Previously the winter rains and prevailing winds drove the weeds from these rivers back into the Westlake Pond and packed them at the southern end.
To try and prevent this a floating boom with a fishing net was placed across the northern mouth of the pond. Behind this boom the hyacinth is thick enough for a man and two boys to climb across (we know this because that is what Geoff Bailey and his sons did trying to get through to the vlei with their canoe). Despite the strong winds and some fairly heavy rain the boom has held back this mass of weed and there has been no new influx of weeds into the cleared area. This is good news as we now have a way whereby we can cordon off selected areas and progressively move along the channels clearing and then holding back new infestations.
Pockets of weed will be left to give the "bugs" a chance to multiply. These are the biological controls that have been introduced. Previous attempts have been thwarted by our cold winter weather. Four new species have now been introduce and so far they seem to be doing well. Once established they should provide a natural control into the wetland areas that cannot be reached by boat.

A late season
We have a strong population of Leopard Toads in our western waterways. These chaps are also called Snoring Toads or August Toads. Normally they are very punctual to their August name, starting up on the 1st of August. This year they ran late and it was the 5th before we heard them call. The Egyptian Geese are also  late with their second brood this year and the jasmine has bloomed later than usual. I guess we had a colder and longer winter than usual.

 John Fowkes.

Top of page  Back  Home