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29 February 2012

Management apologises, particularly to dog walkers, that the aquifer hand pump was non-operational for two weeks. This was due to a failure in a non-return valve that was blocked with small stone particles. The valve was replaced, a newly cut suction diaphragm was fitted and the unit well oiled. Thank so much to Mike St Quintin for continually looking after this relic of the past.

This source of water has become most popular with many of the dogs that enjoy walking in the Reserve.

  aquifer hand pump
19 February 2012
The annual count in the Reserve of flowering blooms of the Brunsvigia orientalis has been completed and the number counted for 2012 at 472 is slightly lower than the count a year ago. Figures over the past 14 years have been: 1999 402 2000 880 2001 799 2002 714 2003 850 2004 647 2005 417 2006 350 2007 290 2008 310 2009 220 2010 350 2011 525 2012 472 Thanks so much to the four ladies who undertook the count this year.
Brunsvigia orientalis
5 February 2012
During the past ten days Brunsvigia orientalis have started to appear and are pushing through all over the Park. The next two weeks should again produce a wonderful spectacle of these wonderful candelabra plants that are indigenous to Knysna.

It will be interesting to see whether we have an increased number of blooms this year as a result of the excellent rains in 2011.
candelabra plants
3 February 2012
Following the upgrade last year of the parking area at the East entrance to the Park indigenous planting has been extended to link to the sea wall. As the plants mature they will provide an enhanced welcome to all who use this popular entrance point. This development has been made possible by a generous donation from John Fraser a nearby resident. Thank you John for your support and interest in Steenbok Nature Reserve.
donation from John Fraser
31 January 2012
During 2011 good rains fell, particularly in May, June and July, and above average rainfall of 1002mm was recorded in Steenbok Nature Reserve. The average rainfall for the last ten years was 798mm. 2006 and 2007 were years of exceptional rainfall, with 1080mm (2006) and 1166mm (2007) being measured. Then followed three years of lower rainfall, with serious a drought being experienced in 2009 (471mm).
18 January 2012
In the past few weeks certain of the gum trees (Eucalyptus grandis) have shedded copious quantities of bark. In order to ascertain reasons for this unusual situation we approached Kasey Voges of Trees S.A. Garden Route.
"My observation with various species of that nature: bark shedding rate is directly correlated to growth rate in stem diameter. It really just pops off as it gets tight. So I assume lots of water, a good dose of high growing temperature while it lasts = lots of spare bark. As the heat carries on now & moisture becomes depleted, I would predict a distinctive slowing until we get useful rainfall again. Mirrored by some Angophora costata which I have growing in the nursery; a close Eucalyptus relative with stunning shedding bark patterns."
Eucalyptus grandis
3 January 2012
Early one morning on the Kingfisher Creek beach 8 black oyster catchers were spotted feeding at low tide within a distance of 50m of each other. Lorna Watt chairperson of the Knysna Branch of WESSA (Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa) advises that this phenomenon is not unusual especially towards the end of the breeding season where the oyster catchers tend to socialize. Lorna who organises the half yearly bird counts in the Knysna area has seen more than 20 together on a number of occasions around the estuary.
black oyster catchers
19 December 2011
The picture of this Barn owl (tyto alba) was taken recently on the roof of a Leisure Isle home. We are told that it is one of a pair of Barn Owls that, like the Spotted Eagle Owls, have also recently raised a family on Leisure Isle. It will be added in the new year to our bird species listed on this site under fauna.

Barn owl
13 December 2011
A proposal "that a long term plan for the replacement of the Links Drive gum trees be implemented" was unanimously adopted at the Annual General Meeting of LIRA. The plan involves thinning out (eight trees will be removed), pruning and gradual replacement with trees and shrubs indigenous to Leisure Isle. Full details can be viewed at the Leisure Isle Library. Knysna Municipality will be requested to proceed with removal of the specific trees and progress could be hastened by donations earmarked for this project.

Links Drive gum trees
3 December 2011
Rainfall during the latter part of the year has continued at above the ten year average and could reach 1000 mm for the year. The result has been the return of many of our grasses that have lain dormant for many years.

Rainfall during the latter part of the year
28 November 2011
As part of the Steenbok 2011/2012 plan the main parking area at the main entrance to Steenbok Nature Reserve in Links Drive has been upgraded. This project was funded by Friends of Steenbok and was made possible by donations of paving bricks donated by two members.

Thanks are extended to all those concerned for their support. The gardens in this area are currently being extended and replanted.

main parking area
22 November 2011
The baby owls finally took their first flight this morning and for a while, much to the consternation of concerned residents worried about passing traffic and dogs, were wandering up and down Links Drive exploring their new surroundings. However they soon settled down and on the day that these photographs were taken the one was sitting on a bench between the club house and the tennis courts whilst the other was on a garden wall between two homes on the south side of Links Drive. It is understood that the chicks then found a large nearby garden which they have used as their base with their parents. Two portrait pics to be featured side by side

baby owls
4 November 2011
In September we advised that environmental approval had been obtained from SANParks and Knysna Municipality for repairs to the Steenbok Seawall. In order that an accurate costing of the repairs could be established we arranged at our cost for two sections of the wall to be rebuilt. This was successfully undertaken by a local stonemason who has given us an indicative price of R60000 to undertake all the repairs. Knysna Municipality has budget availability to cover this amount and we will press in the new year for the work to be undertaken.

repairs to the Steenbok Seawall
2 November 2011
Following the heavy rains experienced earlier in the year Aristea ecklonii provided a magnificent carpet of blue in the natural grassland immediately west of the tennis courts. Flowers open early in the morning and by mid afternoon disappear.

Aristea ecklonii
28 October 2011
Our unique and beautiful Satyrium princeps ground orchids have now been flowering since early October.

These orchids are classified in the South African Red List as "endangered" (facing a high risk of extinction in the wild) and were registered a year ago by The South African National Biodiversity Institute. They have drawn interest from as far afield as BBC Scotland.

Satyrium princeps
28 October 2011
In our last issue we reported that mother owl was in the owl box sitting on eggs. The chicks have now hatched and will be making their first flight to ground within the next few days. This owl box was put in place in April 2009 and since then has been occupied each year in August and September by a pair of Spotted Eagle Owls who each year have produced two chicks.

owl box
24 October 2011
The annual Leisure Isle Festival was a wonderful success with record crowds over two most beautiful days. Leisure Isle has never before experienced such a traffic jam with cars parked in every available nook and cranny, and along the causeway to George Rex Drive. A record R19000 was raised for Friends of Steenbok Nature Reserve and will go towards new projects in the Reserve in the year ahead. We are grateful to all those who came to buy from the large selection of mainly indigenous plants and record our appreciation to members of Gardening at Leisure, our local garden club, who arranged the plant sale.

Leisure Isle Festival
11 October 2011
At the request of Leisure Isle Resident's Association management of the Reserve produced a draft policy covering the gradual replacement of the Links Drive Eucalyptus trees. This document and a formal plan, featured here, were on view at the Leisure Isle Festival held last week end and will be displayed at the Leisure Isle Library from early November until the date of the LIRA Annual General Meeting on 13 December. At this meeting members will be asked to decide whether to adopt the plan or to retain the current status quo. Copies of both these documents are available in digital format and can be emailed to readers on request.

Links Drive Eucalyptus trees
28 September 2011
Our magnificent Satyrium princeps orchids are in bud and should be flowering by mid October. These plants are classified in the SANBI Red List as vulnerable i.e. "facing a high risk of extinction in the wild". Their GPS locations in the King Fisher Creek area were registered by CREW a year ago with SANBI Pretoria, SANParks and Cape Nature. They cab be viewed west of the tennis courts along the Nature Walk

Satyrium princeps orchids
23 September 2011
The project to upgrade the east end parking nears completion. Following leveling and re-grassing of the area a new pole fence has been erected nearer to Links Drive and the original rather complicated set of fences is being removed. This will provide space for more parking than was originally the case and permits expansion of the existing shrubbery along the inside of the seawall. Diagonal parking will be encouraged, initially with "one-off" painted white lines.

Upgrade the east end parking
19 September 2011
Management successfully prepares with SANParks a Maintenance Environmental Management Programme for the Steenbok Nature Reserve sea wall and this was approved today by Knysna Municipality. The next challenge is how to persuade the municipality to provide funding to start a regular maintenance routine into the future.

Maintenance Environmental Management Programme
3 September 2011
After short visits to the owl box in the Eucalypus tree near the tennis courts "mother owl" commenced earlier this month with the long sit-in on eggs while father perches close by ready to protect and feed his family.

This is the third year that this box has been used by the owls and already is attracting considerable interest of islanders and visitors. The normal incubation period is five to six weeks and we can therefore expect the young ones to hatch in a few weeks time.

owl box in the Eucalypus tree near
1 September 2011
With four months still left in the year we are already fast approaching the average rainfall for a full year. In the past four months rainfall has been more than double the monthly average. Leisure Isle has stood up well to the abnormal rainfall and heavy seas, and dams along the Garden Route are overflowing.

rainfall for a full year
22 August 2011
The Steenbok annual plant sale is one of the hi-lights of the Leisure Isle Festival that is being staged for the ninth time on the weekend of 22 & 23 October. All members of the family are catered for with art & craft, an exciting book sale, barrel train and many other activities for the kiddies, lots and lots to eat and drink, nursery featuring local indigenous plants, doggie walks in Steenbok Nature Reserve and scrumptious food and produce to take away.

All proceeds from the plant sale are in aid of Steenbok Nature Reserve. Plants are sourced from the Reserve and from two nurseries (New Plant and Pezula Nurseries), and members of Gardening at Leisure (the local garden club) pot up plants. 90% of the plants on sale are indigenous with a focus on those indigenous to the Garden Route.

The Steenbok annual plant sale
17 August 2011
We are proud, with the agreement of Prof. B A Allanson, to publish an article he wrote in September 2004 for the Leisure Isle Residents Association entitled "The environmental sensitivity of Leisure Isle". The contents are as valid today as they were seven years ago.

Click here to read the full text.

Environmental sensibility of Leisure Isle
29 July 2011
An exciting new website www.wildenvironment.co.za has been launched and as its first project is featuring the Southern Cape Proteaceae CD. It pays tribute to the incredibly diverse and beautiful Southern Cape environment and has been produced in memory of Betty Pfeil. It began with The Protea Atlas Project when amateurs with a love for nature and hiking managed to collect a much larger amount of data over a few years about the Proteaceae in Southern Africa, than could have been accumulated by the few busy academics and students.

It is planned in the future to add various other similar interactive digital botanical or environmental CD’s, booklets and other publications. The site also features environmental news and events in the western and southern Cape and the public is asked to send in news of interesting events and news to do with the environment and nature.

Click here to view www.wildenvironment.co.za

Wild Environment
16 July 2011
The Knysna Review has consented to our publishing an article appearing in their latest Review headed "Knysna Estuary – Maintaining an invisible balance". Prof. B A Allanson is acknowledged for his generous input to this article.

Click here to read the full text.

The Knysna Review
13 July 2011
The management committee decides that every effort be made to publish widely an article on the “Seagrass Beds of Knysna” recently written for the Reserve by Dr. Richard Barnes a fellow of St Catherine’s College Cambridge.

"Knysna is ... South Africa's foremost locality for seagrass, containing more than half the entire country's seagrass meadow. And the shores around Leisure Isle ….. contain some of the best stands of seagrass in Knysna. Seagrass meadows have been described as being the poor relation of coral reefs. Both these shallow-water marine habitats are centres of great biodiversity, are highly productive, and are currently disappearing from the planet at an alarmingly fast rate (some 7% or more than 100 sq. km per annum), yet it is only the fate of coral reefs that seems to have stirred the public imagination and given impetus to their scientific investigation, leaving much seagrass ecology poorly understood."
Seagrass Beds of Knysna
5 July 2011
A small group gathered at the West end of the brick pathway at Steenbok Park to honour those who from 1995 to 2005 took the initial, and important steps, in establishing the Park. At the beginning of this period the pole fencing, entrance pergolas, and signage was put in place, water and electricity supply arranged, the first water spike established and grass and path cutting plans formalised A large group, led by Dough Coghlan, had initially been involved until Robin Midlane, who died two years ago, took over. They worked hard and passionately to develop an indigenous garden and started the identification of plants. Mac Bunyard, who passed away recently, then took over as chairman and continued to lead the enthusiastic group.

Thanks to all who contributed in many ways during this ten year period.

10 Year Contribution
3 July 2011
Despite the bitterly cold weekend a large crowd braved the elements to support children participating in Spur Sponsored Kiddies Cycle Races. Three different sections catered for children from ages 2 to 9 and started to gather early in the grassed area between the Boat Club and the seawall. The races followed various routes along the seawall, into the entrance gardens, back into the Park and then on to the brick pathway and back to the Boat Club.

Parents, grand parents and friends took great delight in photographing the 315 participants and it was clear that this was the most photographed event of the year!

Kiddies Cycle Races
23 June 2011
The Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa caffra, is a common sight around Knysna. Belonging to the Insect Order Hymenoptera, they are the largest of bees. In the south-western Cape the female is black, ±20mm long with two prominent bands of yellow hair. The male is completely covered with a dense coat of yellowish hair. The female starts nesting in spring, usually in a partially rotted branch or aloe stem, into which she bores a neat tunnel. She then sets about collecting food (pollen) on her hairy hind legs and mixes it with regurgitated nectar. On top of this mixture she lays an astonishingly large (12mm) white, curved egg, then seals the cell with a sawdust/saliva mix. After making 6-7 of these cells she rests in the tube guarding her nest from intruders. After hatching and pupating in summer in the cells, the young adults sweep the rubbish out of the nest and live as a family in the burrows during autumn and winter, emerging fully only in spring, when the most aggressive female retains possession of the nest.

Carpenter Bee
14 June 2011
Has the drought been broken? Judge yourself from these statistics recorded from actual rainfall recorded on Leisure Isle during the last 3 years. The table plots annual rainfall and average over the past 10 years, during the periods June to May. It will be seen that rainfall in the two years to June 2010 was 21% and 37% below average whilst rainfall in the past twelve months was 14 % above. To make matters even better we have recorded rainfall in the first two weeks of June at over 100 mm.
Rainfall stats
9 June 2011
We were delighted to receive recently delivery of our annual requirement of Neutrog Bounce Back donated to us by Neutrog Fertilisers for the second year running. We record our thanks and appreciation to them for this generous support. The Reserve continues to flourish and we have recently witnessed a blaze of colour with the autumn flowering of a host of species. Neutrog’s nourishing fertiliser has played a significant role in achieving and maintaining the rapid and healthy growth of our varied plant life.
Neutrog Bounce Back
2 June 2011
The parking area at the east end of the Park is being upgraded and will be closed for some months until management is satisfied that it is sufficiently established to handle vehicle traffic. The whole area is being leveled with a front end loader, top soil bought in to provide a good base and "roll-out" Kweek grass (Cynodun dactylon )planted by professionals. Kweek is indigenous, withstands salt water and is particularly hardy.
Kweek grass
28 May 2011
A familiar siting at the west end of Links Drive disappeared today with the permanent closing of the gravel road that led down to Kingfisher Creek. Prior to the construction of the Small Boat Harbour in 1992 this road served an important access link to the launching point and the mooring area for small craft. During the past 20 years this need fell away and there has been limited use for vehicles involved in alien control. In recent years even this has not been necessary as alien control is now largely under control.

As part of our 2011 plan it was decided, after public consultation, to close the road and re- establish the natural vegetation with a winding foot path running down to the high water mark. The work to achieve this has now been completed, including the removal of the “chain gate”, and the move of the ranch style fence to run parallel with Links Drive.

The surrounding area is been cleaned up and in the process a Lantana camara (Category 1 Declared Weed) that had stems reaching 4 metres high into a handsome Sideroxylon inerme (white Milkwood tree) was removed.
Old Bye Road
27 May 2011
Diary note: A new bench, to honour the contributions of Robin Midlane, Mac Bunyard and others, has been placed in the Park. A short memorial ceremony will be held to mark this event on Tuesday 5 July at noon. All are welcome to attend. We will meet under the Milkwood tree at the north end of the brick path in Steenbok Park.
Memory bench
23 May 2011
We love to have the school visits. This time it was by Stepping Stones with the children so smartly kitted out in their red track suite tops. Different groups moved around the Reserve and also had time to bird watch from George Rex Drive. It is wonderful to see these youngsters so interested in the treasures of the Reserve.
Stepping Stones
11 May 2011
One of the irritating factors in managing the Reserve is the pilferage that happens at times. Unless carefully hidden hosepipes and tools disappear and the odd plants are taken. However the most irritating of all is the continual petty theft of plastic poo bins with holes in the bottom. We have now resorted to chaining certain of the bins to the timber boxes in which they are housed and will over time lock them all.
Poo Bin
15 April 2011
Autumn is a delightful time in the Reserve with large splashes of colour, especially blues and orange. The blues are mainly from Ribbon bushes (also white) Hypoestes aristata) whilst the orange bushes are Wild dagga. The sunbirds are especially attracted to the Wild dagga (Leonotis leonurus) where they can be seen from dawn to dusk.
upgrading the Reserve
14 April 2011
Over 100 learners of all ages from Oakhill School visited the Reserve spending all morning focusing on environmental issues. One group of older children was seen to be passing on their knowledge to their younger counterparts whilst other groups armed with questionnaires were answering pre-set questions. Management of the Reserve is always thrilled to welcome groups such as these, especially the children.
upgrading the Reserve
3 April 2011
Sunday afternoon in the Reserve produced this rare sighting of a male and female Knysna Dwarf Chameleons with the male in hot pursuit.
male and female Knysna Dwarf Chameleons
28 March 2011
A week after commencement of the upgrade of the Reserve in the area immediately east of the bowling greens old remnants of the water supply systems of the old Leisure Isle Hotel were unearthed. These included two large underground concrete tanks, manhole covers leading to disused pipe lines and a host of rubble. The tanks have either been removed or filled in. Work continues with removing invasive grasses that will be replaced in time with low growing indigenous plants.
upgrading the Reserve
24 March 2011
After a period relatively free from illegal bait collecting at Kingfisher Creek activity has increased considerably in recent months. Due largely to the efforts and persistence of Martin Green, a local resident, with a home near Kingfisher Creek, LIRA has been involved with Martin in making representations to SANParks and Knysna Police. The authorities are sympathetic but it seems they are ineffective due to lack of funds and so the practice continues unchecked.
upgrading the Reserve
21 March 2011
Work has commenced on upgrading the Reserve in the area immediately east of the bowling greens: The large “exotic” Cotoneaster shrub near the entrance to Rogers Way has been removed and a wide grass walkway will be cut to link Links Drive with the existing mown area. Attempts will be made to substitute low growing indigenous species for rampant Buffalo and Kikuyu grass
upgrading the Reserve
17 March 2011
Following negotiations with the Knysna Municipality the Council has decided to extend by 10 years the agreement with Leisure Isle Residents Association (LIRA) covering the joint management of Steenbok Nature Reserve. This will be achieved by replacing the existing agreement with a new agreement that will run until 2021. Under the new arrangement there will be a more equitable sharing of maintenance costs by the Municipality and LIRA and the management structure will be changed to recognize the role of The Steenbok Nature Reserve Trust. The Reserve will now function under a re-structured Mancom comprising two parties nominated by each of Knysna Municipality and LIRA and one party nominated by each of the Trust and SANParks.
10 years the agreement
15 March 2011
40 members and interested people attended the Annual General Meeting of Friends of Steenbok Nature Reserve Trust held at the Boat Club where office bearers were appointed and Maretha Alant of SANParks gave a most interesting talk on “Conservation outcomes in priority natural areas of the Garden Route National Park”. In particular she spoke on the importance of Steenbok Nature Reserve in the context of the Knysna Corridor and explained that new legislation requires authorisation for developments encroaching on the Knysna Estuary. Other than Mike St Quinton all existing Management Committee members and Trustees were re-appointed for another year. .
Annual General Meeting
25 February 2010
A most attractive and informative website dedicated to Leisure Isle was launched today. Operating under the domain www.LeisureIsleKnysna.co.za the site provides most informative and comprehensive coverage of leisure Isle. The website, hosted by the Leisure Isle Residents’ Association (LIRA), will give newcomers and visitors an insight into life on Leisure Isle and answer questions that they might have. It is a must for anyone visiting this beautiful part of the Garden Route.
The site was designed by S² Web Solutions of Knysna. A spokesman for LIRA advises that "from our first contact with the team of Sharon, Sasha and Simon they provided outstanding creativity and excellent service". Margaret Richards, a resident of Leisure Isle, was the author and is very happy with the final product that features 150 photographs.
Lira Website visit
22 February 2010
As a result of the continual removal of rubble, and cleaning of the inlet/outlet pipes to the estuary, the salt marsh in the vicinity of the board walks on the inward side of the seawall continue to spread in this area of the Park.
removal of rubble
5 February 2010
This year 525 "candelabra" flower-heads were counted in Steenbok Park. This is the most prolific flowering of these Brunsvigia orientalis since 2004 when a count of 647 was recorded. The highest count on record is 850 in 2003 and the lowest 220 two years ago in 2009. The flowering season is now past its best and dried flower-heads can now be seen "tumbling" along blown by the wind.
3 February 2011
As part of their environmental experience a group of learners from Knysna Primary School led by Marietta Lieske visited the Reserve on Thursday afternoon. An interesting time was had by the children identifying trees as they followed maps around the Park. Here we have the happy group in the Lapa before leaving for home.
Knysna Primary School visit
28 January 2011
30 additional trees, mainly Buddleja saligna and Vigilia oroboides (commonly known as Keurbooms) were planted at the west end of Rogers Way in an attempt to thicken up the vegetation on the northern boundary with the Boat Club. This is the area that was flooded with salt water in August 2008 as a result of the highest spring tide recorded in the last 25 years. Subsequently berms were put in place to ensure that flooding does not occur again. To help overcome the excess salinity in this area these trees were planted with considerable quantities of compost, Neutrog Bounce Back and bone meal.
21 January 2011
Following a generous donation of R3500 from Mrs Ginny Grieve planting of the tree copse near the intersection of Horne and Links Drives has been completed. This copse now consists of nearly 50 trees with about 25 species indigenous to the Garden Route. Many are forest trees and have been planted in close proximity to mimic the natural conditions of the Knysna forests. Most of the trees were supplied by Pezula Nursery at generously discounted prices.
13 January 2011
The first flower stalks of the Candelabra flowers (Brunsvigia orientalis) push through. This is some 4 weeks later than the first flower stalks appeared last year.
Candelabra flowers (Brunsvigia orientalis)
1 January 2011
Due to exceptionally good rains in June, July and December the past year ended with total rainfall approximately equal to the 20 year average.
rain graph 2011

© Steenbok Nature Reserve 2009
P O Box 676, Knysna, 6570
Tel (083)754 5390 or 044 384 1896
Email: info@steenboknaturereserve.org.za

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