An African penguin population at Betty’s Bay provides opportunities for the public to observe them in their natural habitat. The African penguin is experiencing a catastrophic decline in its global population. As a result it is classified as endangered by the IUCN Red List. Stony Point is the only mainland colony of African Penguins that is known to be expanding.
The penguin colony at Stony Point started in 1982 and has subsequently grown to about 150 pairs. African penguins breed with one partner for their entire life. Each breeding pair will return to the same breeding colony and same nesting site each year. The age at first reproduction ranges between four and six years and life expectancy is up to 27 years in the wild.
African penguins are flightless aquatic birds with reduced wings that are modified to form efficient flippers for swimming. They have heavy bones to enable them to dive. The feathers in adults are specialized to form a thick coat of overlapping layers that assists with waterproofing, wind resistance and insulation. The penguin has a black bill and shortened tail. Each African penguin has a unique and distinct pattern of black spots on the white chest that can be used to distinguish individuals from one another.
The distinct pink patch of skin found above the bird’s eye helps the bird to cope with changing temperature. As the external temperature around the African penguin increases, the bird’s body sends more blood to the glands found at these pink patches of skin, causing the pink patches to change color and turn a darker shade of pink. This in turn causes the glands to be cooled down by the air surrounding it.
The African penguin’s black and white belly coloration is an important form of camouflage at sea. The white belly deters predation from underwater predators looking upwards and the black deters detection from predators swimming above the bird whilst looking down onto the dark depths of the water.
African penguins is a charismatic species that is known for its loud donkey-like braying noises (hence the nickname Jackass Penguin), distinctive black and white plumage and large breeding colonies. They are very clumsy on land, waddling upright with flippers held away from the body as if they are drunk.
Written by Van As Jordaan, uploaded by Jacques Jordaan.
Ever heard of the herd of horses roaming freely on the marshland near the coastal town of Kleimond? Many call them The Wild Ones but where did they come from and how do they fit into their habitat?
Discover the answers to these questions and more in the mini documentary about these Wild Ones.
I hope you’ve learnt something and you’ve been motivated to go and encounter this unique herd for youself.
The average student needs some time off every now and again. After a week of studying for a chemistry test, we thought it’s time to treat ourselves. Consequently we let ourselves loose on the Kogelberg 24km trail!
As seen in the video it was a clear and hot day. By the time we arrived at the beach our feet were aching and we were in desperate need of some refreshment before the last push home. Jumping into the cool mountain water after the long hike was a feeling I’ll never forget.
Another special sighting we made was of the Red Cluster Disa (Disa ferruginea) hidden between the fynbos adjacent to the trail. Being a big fan of orchids, I considered myself very lucky to see this scarce and special flower.
I hope you enjoy the video and the photos. Feel free to comment, like and subscribe.
Happy 2016 to all readers! May it be filled with lots of wonderful experiences!
Grandpa, my sister and I went on our annual expedition up Leopard’s Kloof to view the Red Disas in flower. See my previous post on Leopard’s Kloof to find out more about this stimulating route.
The Red Disas grow in the moist moss which covers the rocks surrounding the Leopard’s Kloof waterfall. We spotted one in bloom close to the base of the fall. This is considered lucky because in the past there were many more Disas at lower levels of the fall which have now gone because of environmentally harmful activities like the picking or total removal of these flowers.
Orchids (like this one) are some of the most beautiful creations on Earth. Seeing the Red Disas again was an amazing experience. A good kick off to 2016!
A ravine forest. Streams the color of black tea.Twisting past yellowwood and hard pear, towers of the forest. The thundering waterfall displays the red disa along the rock face.
The Harold Porter National Botanical Garden (located in Betty’s Bay, South Africa) features the magnificent Leopard’s Kloof Trail. The garden has a rich diversity of cape fynbos, including the renown marsh rose. Pay it a visit any time!
Leopard’s Kloof is a refreshing 3km walk in a ravine and turns around at a waterfall where the red disa can be spotted in December. The route has a few wooden ladders, but is otherwise quite easy. The forest is full of ancient, endemic trees like the yellowwood, hard pear and cape beech. A couple of waterfalls comes by where (if the sun doesn’t shine) one can take some beautiful long exposure photo’s. Look out for the metallic glint of the sunbirds in the garden and the small cape batis in the forest.
A place to replenish the soul. Make it one of your destinations!
With the african sun beating down upon us, we ascended Hangklip. What we got on top is an experience hard to describe. For many minutes we gazed at our vast earth.
Hangklip appears to literally be a “hanging” mountain. It’s situated between the costal towns of Betty’s Bay and Pringle Bay, South Africa. One can start at either Betty’s Bay or Pringle Bay. No permits required.
The hike starts easily along Hangklip. Once you start ascending, the slope becomes steep and you’ll be stopping for some periodic rests. Have courage. On top there’s a breathtaking 360′ view. The descent is much more gradual with nice scenery. I recommend ending your hike at the beach, for Brodie’s Link is the link between the mountains and the ocean. We covered 13km in 5 hours.
The fynbos was healthy when we hiked (in December). We found a blue disa, which I consider a special find. We also heard a troop of baboons and many sunbirds.
Remember your water, sunblock and camera.
The mountain air is clean and suddenly one feels alive again!
One of my very special places. A pleasant 5km hike along the Palmiet river. Lots of beautiful rock formations and swimming pools along the route to wind down. Various fynbos species thrive along the river. Situated in Kogelberg Nature Reserve which lies between the towns of Kleinmond and Betty’s Bay. Its accessible via a paved road in excellent condition. A route for the whole family!
All the different species of disa one can find amazes me. Keep an eye out for these pretty orchids!
Blue Disa (Disa graminifolia). Photographed in March on the Arangieskop trail. Note the spider and the bee.
A pink disa (Disa tripetaloides). Found this one in December at Oakes Falls on the Boesmanskloof trail.
Another Blue Disa (Disa venusta). Found on the hiking trail to Hangklip, Pringle Bay. Also in December.
Golden Orchid (Disa cornuta). I’ve just recently discovered that I photographed a disa. Seen on the Palmietriver hike at Kogelberg Nature Reserve. December.
The Red Disa (Disa uniflora). One of the prettiest. This one lives by the Leopards Kloof waterfall at Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, Betty’s Bay. Sited in early December.
There are still many I wish to find. Keep a look out for the disa in December. Its important to know which disa you’re looking for, some grow on sandstone slopes while others grow on wet cliffs. A field guide to the fynbos of Southern Africa helps a lot.
I’d like to see your disa photos and where you took them.