During July the Karkloof Conservation Centre on Gartmore Farm became the sundown destination of choice for many Howick residents drawn by the spectacle of large numbers of cranes coming in to roost at the pan at one of the bird hides. On 2 July several members of the club travelled together to the site where we counted 20 Wattled Cranes and 53 Grey Crowned Cranes, as well as more than 150 Sacred Ibises. On my last visit I counted 25 Wattled Cranes and two flocks of Crowned Cranes settling at the pan as well as in an adjoining field. Listening to their melodious calling in the deepening dusk are moments to treasure.
What came first, the ants or the Ambers? Many residents complain about their gardens or homes being invaded by these insects. I am not aware of what conspired between the developers of the Greater Ambers and other occupiers of the land when the property was first built on, but many people enjoy sharing the space with the mammals and birds, and reptiles such as skinks. When it comes to ants, they are less tolerant, it would appear.
Speaking for myself, knowing about the devastation wreaked by poisons on wildlife and biodiversity, I am loath to resort to a can of spray from a supermarket shelf to deal with the perceived problem posed by ants. Over the past few months I have experimented with some suggested remedies that would repel the creatures. I can emphatically state that soaking citrus peel in vinegar and spraying it on the ants was unsuccessful. More promising though, is using diatomaceous earth – a natural substance used by farmers for the digestive health of their animals. Sprinkling the powder on the cracks or pathways used by the ants seems to have the desired effect of deterring them.
The diatoms can be bought from the local farmers’ cooperation, but I also found it works better when it is mixed with essential oils, like the product sold by St Peter’s Gate herbal farm.
Appeal to anglers
A club member reports seeing a Woolly-necked Stork with nylon fishing line wrapped around its feet. This is a major problem for birds, as reported in the latest issue of Africa Birds and Birding. We plead with anglers using the dams in the Ambers not to leave fishing line lying around, but rather to take it home and place it in the recycling bags.
Apart from ants, many people are very protective of the game animals on the estate, especially if it appears as if they are in trouble. Any emergency involving the animals should be reported to the control centre (X5000) for them to activate a response.