Wild flowers and Cape vultures
To say that South Africa is one of the top wild flower wonders of the world is a cliché. We are spoilt – from the extraordinary richness of Namaqualand to the roadsides down here on the lower South Coast, we have wild flowers aplenty.
As much as most of us enjoy them, however, few take the time to stop and smell (no, not the roses), but the wild flowers.
There is now a new book out for those who do want to stop. It’s the Photo Guide to the Wildflowers of South Africa, written by John Manning, a research botanist with the National Biodiversity Institute in Cape Town and a renowned author on wild flowers. And a great photographer to boot.
His co-photographer in this book is Colin Patterson-Jones, a name very well known in the wild flower world.
South Africa has about 19,000 different wild flower species, divided in this book into three broad geographical areas: Namaqualand, fynbos and grassland and savannah, the section into which we fall.
It covers about 900 species, with a photograph of each, all close-ups, but many of them showing their glorious natural surroundings, with its botanical and common names, a brief description, its habitat and some notes.
There is also an essential distribution map and a flowering season guide, a very useful innovation.
Each section is preceded by an introduction to the specific geographical area and there is of course a general introduction.
It’s a really lovely book and if you are into wild flowers, or thinking of getting into wild flowers, then it’s for you. Just one thing, though – I did a five-year apprenticeship as a compositor in the printing industry longer ago than you would like to know I feel strongly about printing – why then should this great – and entirely South African product be printed in China?
And from wild flowers to vultures. A group of organizations, including Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism and Ezemvelo KZN Wildflife, is conducting a study of Cape vulture populations in the northern part of the Eastern Cape and southern KZN.
A number of birds have been marked with satellite transmitted and/or wing tags. The group is asking members of the public, birders in particular, to keep an eye out for tagged vultures and to report them in.
The coloured tags are quite easy to spot on the wings and on the back of the bird and the information needed is the number on the tags, if at all possible, the date and the position (a GPS reading would be a bonus).
Cape vultures do not frequent the actual coastline, but as you know, we have a vibrant colony as close as Oribi Gorge, so they are around. You are not likely to see a flock of vultures down on the beach, but as Andy Ruffle of Birdlife Trogans has pointed out, a lot of us travel around particularly inland, where sightings are possible.
If you are lucky and spot a tagged Cape vulture, please contact Sonja Krueger at 082 877 4122 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers!