It’s hard to believe that there was a major oil spill at Goukamma Nature Reserve last month. There is plenty of natural beauty about, especially for such a small reserve, and whatever oil is left on the beach is minimal and hard to notice.
I’ve spent the past few days walking the various trails in the reserve, on both the beaches and the vegetated dunes alongside the coast. These are covered in coastal fynbos, and the spring flowers are starting to emerge.
I also borrowed the reserve’s little boat to explore Groenvlei. This is an inland, natural body of fresh water that has no rivers flowing into it or out of it. It’s essentially ground water that is trapped between the high vegetated dunes, and it makes for superb birding. A thick forest of milkwood trees lines the southern banks of the vlei, and a pair of resident fish eagles is commonly seen perched on one of the many gnarly old branches.
But best of all, for me at least, was spotting a Cape clawless otter! In fact, I spotted two! They were foraging in among the phragmitees reeds on the edge of the vlei, causing an almighty commotion among the cormorants. Perhaps they were looking for bird eggs? Anyway, the otters were skittish, and they peeked at me from just above the surface of the water, before swimming away into the reeds.
Once again, I’m amazed and humbled by the diversity of life. Despite it’s small size, Goukamma packs a serious punch, and like many other reserves I’ve visited, the more you look, the more you discover. If you take the time to notice things, you soon realise that nature is a neverending source of inspiration and study – and photography!
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Conservation partners BirdLife South Africa, Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks, CapeNature, Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Gorongosa National Park, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Namibia Wildlife Resorts, Parque Nacional do Limpopo, South African National Parks and Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.