Swallows

Signs of autumn appear and last week the swallows (Hirundo albigularis) were gathering, swooping  and wheeling in large flocks, getting ready for their long flight back to the northern hemisphere.

We wish them a safe journey.

“Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning.”  Peter Pan (JM Barrie).

WPC: Wish

The Road Taken: Ecosystem Engineers

Travelling through Sweden last summer, a back road through a forest took us through an unexpected landscape.  It looked as though a storm had cast it’s devastation striking down trees which lay hapzardly across a water course.  On closer inspection it turned out to be a piece of skillful engineering accomplished by a rather innocuous looking creature.  It was my first encounter with the extraordinary feats of a beaver family’s industrious accomplishments.

Their ability to physically alter habitats by cutting down trees, building dams, digging canals and building lodges has resulted in their recognition as ecosystem engineers.  The resulting change to the environment is far reaching, benefitting and altering the distribution and abundance of many organisms.

WPC: “The Road Taken”.

Spider lily: Ferraria crispa

It was a stroke of luck to discover this plant in flower when by chance I’d wandered off a coastal hiking track (Hoek van Bobbejaan at the Cape of Good Hope Reserve), to shelter from the wind. The tough spider lily (Ferraria crispa), a cormous perennial belongs to that fabulous plant family, the iridaceae.     The  flowers only last for one day and there it was, a single bloom growing discreetly under a granite outcrop.  One of it’s common names – “Inkpotjie” or Little inkpot fits it’s speckled description rather aptly.

The striking flowers of the spider lily plant have an unusual carrion scent.  They grow mostly in deep sands of granite outcrops in the southwestern Cape.

WPC:  Against the odds.