Category Archives: ECOLOGY



Sometimes everything works in your favour. Just for once!  Such was the case when Nina & I visited the Postberg Flower Reserve within the West Coast National Park  last  week. The Reserve is only open during Flower Season, in August and September, when our fabulous Spring wildflowers pop out. So I thought I’d share our lovely day with my readers. And also to show the more positive side of South Africa instead of the usual drama and disasters that blights our country.

Firstly here is a  pic of my faithful photographers standing in a field of flowers.  As I have said before  we’re the perfect combo – she likes to take pics and I  like to go on outings

.I couldn’t resist this pic – the carpet of purple flowers was gorgeous. Thanks to the strangers who provided perspective for Nina’s pic.


This was the one and only patch  of cerise flowers we saw – a genuine shocking pink!

Not so dramatic, but still beautiful.  If you look carefully at the two close-ups you will notice more tiny flowers in the pics. The white background is a mixture of sand and pulverised shells.


What a glorious day we had!







GATHER YE ROSEBUDS etc, but in my case:SNAILS

 2014 084

where’s the Escape Route?

I wonder how you start your day?

I’ll lay you a small bet you’re not out in your garden, poking around in the undergrowth with your trusty braai-tongs, SNAIL HUNTING in the cool, early morning hours. Let me tell you that snails emerge from their shelly homes while the dew is still on the leaf, and they come out brandishing their knives and forks, starving for greenery …. my greenery, my plants – what’s left of them, that is. Those snaily jaws are munching manically every morning and not only on the plants, but on the paintwork on the walls and patio. If my entire house disappears,  it will be due to the ravenous molluscs. So out I go, cursing steadily while bending my aching back, but its Woman versus Garden Pests, and the war is on. My daily harvest fills up an empty 500ml yoghurt carton. Daily, mind you. The reproductive power of the snail is truly terrifying. Sometimes I wonder if my garden isn’t infected with a genus of super-snail that will eventually munch the rest of us out of existence. Forget about changing climate, Fukushima, political mayhem and the rest of it. It’s the snails that have got me worried!




I heard a fascinating radio programme on Sunday morning which related how the Little White Butterfly migrates from the Kalahari, right across Africa, to end its journey (and its life) off the Mozambique coast, and sometimes, as far away as Madagascar.  Apart from the mind-blowing physical feat of such a tiny insect flying thousands of kilometres what is even more astonishing is that nobody has managed to work out why they do this.

As a rule, animal migrations are connected with moving to better grazing areas (the great annual migrations of antelope across the African plains) or returning to birth places to breed – think of turtles or salmon.  But: the puzzling thing about the butterfly migration is that they breed immediately upon hatching from the chrysalis stage, and having laid their eggs upon the Shepherd’s tree, (also their hatching location) they then flex their wings, and fly off to their doom, 2 000 kms later.  It’s inexplicable. Lepidopterologists are scratching their heads. I’m shaking mine in amazement.

A FaceBook page has been opened so that members of the public can post reports of time, location and other data when the butterfly swarms – do we call them swarms? flocks? clouds? *I don’t know – arrive in their neighbourhood. By collating this data, it’s hoped to learn more about  the phenomenon. If you’re interested the link is:

Thinking about butterfly migrations leads me to Barbara Kingsolver’s most recent novel Flight Behaviour, which deals with the Monarch Butterfly migrations in North America. Having seen a marvellous TV documentary on the myriad orange butterflies, and the spectacle of roosting insects  creating vast swathes of orange trees in evergreen forests, and marvelling at the phenomenon, I was dead keen to read the book. Furthermore, the blurb indicated that the migrating butterflies had a transformative effect on those who witnessed their flight over the continent, and I thought: what a wonderful theme for a novel, the healing and transformative power of nature! But alas! I abandoned the book after the first 30 or so pages – the characters were so plain awful, I just could not bear to read any more about them and their miserable lives. Yes, I lack staying power and fortitude, I bow my head in shame, but – hey, guys! Life’s too short to read dreadful books. Sorry, but there it is.

*I am enchanted to discover that there are a number of collective nouns to describe large numbers of butterflies:  rabble, flutter, swarm, kaleidoscope, rainbow or swarm of butterflies.  A rabble of butterflies? doesn’t sound right, somehow, whereas ‘A rainbow of butterflies’ is sheer poetry. Take your pick! (thank you, Google, for the info).


Filed under ECOLOGY