Milnerton Racecourse News Snippets

Milnerton Racecourse News Snippets

We have some interesting news items concerning the Milnerton Racecourse Section of the Table Bay Nature Reserve. Click on the links to read more and/or see pictures in a separate window.

Milnerton Racecourse Spring Walk 13 October 2012
Our Spring Walk through the northern and southern parts of the Milnerton Racecourse Section of the Table Bay Nature Reserve took place on a lovely spring morning. About 30 people attended the walk, and the spring flowers were out in force to please the walkers.
After walking the northern section the walkers could enjoy a bottle of cold water kindly provided by Hirsch’s Home Store. During the break Simone Greveling, our guide for the morning, displayed Cape Dwarf Chameleons and a Mole Snake to the group – both chameleons and mole snake were released into the northern part of the nature reserve.
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Cape Bird Club Walk 12 June 2012
On a sunny winter morning members of the Cape Bird Club enjoyed a walk through the northern section of the nature reserve. This was three months after the controlled burn in this area, the normal range of birds would not have been present, although it was interesting to note the species utilising the area after the fire.
Milnerton Racecourse Spring Walk 8 October 2010
About 15 people went on a Spring Walk in the Milnerton Racecourse Nature Reserve on Saturday 8 October. It was a lovely sunny morning and everybody enjoyed the walk.

On a lovely Saturday morning, 8 October 2011, a group of about 15 people joined Simone Greveling for a Spring Walk through the Milnerton Racecourse Nature Reserve. Simone is responsible for the management of the reserve.
The walk commenced through the northern section, which is normally open to the public. In spite of a very dry winter, there were still quite a variety of flowers on display, as well as signs of the animal residents of the area – grysbok spoor in the paths, and we managed to see one Cape Dwarf Chameleon. These are actually quite common, but were a bit shy to show themselves to the group on Saturday.
After walking through the northern section, the group strolled down Grand National Boulevard to the southern section. This section is closed to the general public because of the sensitivity of the area – there are a number of red-data plant species growing there which are being carefully protected and nutured.
In the southern section the group could see the two areas that had been burned – the first area was burned in 2008 and the second small section in 2010. In both areas large numbers of plants had re-appeared. There was a walk down to the wetland area next to Sandown Crescent, where an Egyptian Goose nest in the grass next to the pond could be viewed.
EE with Home of Hope kids 10/11 June 2010
Fourteen children from the Home of Hope in Table View were given a short Environmental Education (EE) course on the MRNR.

The Milnerton Racecourse Conservation Area is now also being used for environmental education purposes. Simone Greveling, who assists with the management of the MRCA, involved 14 children aged between 6 and 16 from the Home of Hope (a home for abandoned and abused children) in Table View.
On the first day she visited the Home of Hope Centre and did presentations on MRCA, wetlands and what people can do to help save the environment. The activities involved using recyclable material to make a collage, doing a wetland experiment and creating their own recycling box for paper and plastic.
The second day the children came out to the MRCA and took a walk through the conservation area identifying plants and animals and their adaptations. Did a scavenger hunt where children had to identify and feel different plants etc.
Grysbok capture 3 June 2010
After the 2009 grysbok capture, there were still 7 grysbok left in the nature reserve, and a count early in 2010 indicated that one or two lambs had been born meaning that the numbers were increasing again. A further capture was thus carried out in June 2010.

At the beginning of 2009 there were over 30 grysbokkies in the Milnerton Racecourse Conservation Area, confined to an area that could not support more than 5 or 6 grysbok at most. During May 2010 a large number were captured and removed, but there were still 7 animals left at the end of the capture.
A few months ago a count indicated that there had been at least one, possibly two, lambs born since the 2009 capture. The numbers were growing again and a further capture was deemed necessary.
It was decided to remove at least two more, and possibly introduce another male to supplement the genetic stock of this small population. This capture took place on 3 June 2010; one male and one female were captured and transferred to Intaka Island at Century City. Latest reports are that they have adapted well there – this is to be expected as the veld is very similar to that in the Milnerton Racecourse Conservation Area.
Simone Greveling, who assisted with the capture, took the pictures that you can view on the following pages
Burning the MRNR again 9 March 2010
A fire was again lit in the MRNR, the southernmost portion was burnt 2 years after the area just north of it was burnt. It was a successful burn, professionally handled by the City’s Biodiversity Branch staff.

In April 2008 the northern half of the southern portion of the Milnerton Racercourse Conservation Area was successfully burnt. The burning programme required that the southern half of this portion be burnt in 2010.
The planned burn was for Tuesday 9 March 2010. After some light rain early in the morning, nothing more than a few drops, the weather cleared and the sun came out. By midday the veld had dried sufficiently and it was decided to go ahead with the burn at 12h30.
The burn took only 40 minutes, the conditions for the fire was perfect. This was probably as close to a natural fire one could get in this area. Natural veld fires are lit mostly by lightning, and in the Western Cape lightning storms occur mostly during late summer, i.e. February and March. Normally there is very little wind, but often some light rain during or after a lightning storm, under natural circumstances this ensures that mostly old senescent veld burns well.
This was the second of the three blocks to be burned, the third will be burned 2 years from now. It was an important fire as this fynbos type needs fire every 8 to 12 years to seed and regenerate, but the area had not been burned for at least 30 years. Read more about why this fire was so important on our page “MCA Burn” in the “Milnerton Conservation Area” section.
Walk in the MRNR 23 November 2008
On Sunday 23 November about 30 people joined in a walk in the Milnerton Racecourse Conservation Area organised by the Friends of Rietvlei. The southern part of the MRNR is closed to the public, so it was an exceptional privilege for this group to be taken into this area.

The Friends of Rietvlei organised a walk in the Milnerton Conservation Area (MCA) on Sunday afternoon, 23 November. About 30 people joined in on a day when the weather was extremely kind to the walkers.
While the northern part of the MCA, north of Sandown Crescent, is open to the public, the southern part is closed because of the sensitivity of the vegetation. A part of the southern reserve was burned in April 2008, very interesting plants are now appearing in this area. You can read more about the MCA and the controlled fire under the item “Conservation Area” on the menu.
The walk was a bit late to catch many of the spring flowers, an earlier walk was scheduled but had to be postponed because of the high water levels in the MCA. However, there were still many small flowering plants to be seen in amongst the grasses that were now covering the area that had been burned.
Grysbok capture April/May 2008
A game count towards the end of 2006 indicated that there were at least 24 grysbokkies in the Milnerton Racecourse Nature Reserve. This was far too many for such a small site and the Environmental Management Committee decided to have the numbers reduced. The optimal number for an area of this size is 6 animals.

Managers of the Milnerton Conservation Area has for some time been concerned about the high numbers of grysbok in the area. The total area of about 18ha can only support about 6 animals, yet a count in November 2007 revealed that there were at least 24 grysbok in the reserve. It was thus resolved to catch and remove the excess numbers as there is not enough food in the reserve to support such a large population.
Until very recently this population would have been able to move freely between Rietvlei Wetland Reserve and the racecourse, but the Royal Ascot development effectively cut them off from surrounding natural areas. Although the grysbokkies appeared to be in very good condition, the concern was that this will not last as the food source would become scarcer due to overbrowsing.
At the end of April and early May several capture operations were launched – during these captures the total number of grysbok in the conservation area turned out to be 31 animals, more than 5 times the optimal number.
The animals were captured in nets, given a tranquiliser by a vet and removed in darkened crates to other conservation areas in the Cape Peninsula and also to farms where the farmers were conserving grysbokkies. Twenty-four grysbokkies were removed, two more will be removed in early September and later a breeding male will be introduced to bring in some new genetic material.
The pictures on the following pages show the one game capture operation on 7 May 2008.
MRNR Burn 24 April 2008
A portion of the southern area of the MRNR was successfully burnt on 24 April 2008. You can read more about the reasons for the burn in our Controlled Burn page.

On 24 April 2008 the a portion of the important Milnerton Conservation Area was successfully burned. At 11h00 officials of the City Council Nature Conservation Branch lighted the fire and a slight northwesterly wind quickly fanned the flames; an hour later it was nearly all over, except for a few large clumps of vegetation that were still burning.
This was the first of the three blocks to be burned, the other two will be burned 2 and 4 years from now. It was an important fire as this fynbos type needs fire every 8 to 12 years to seed and regenerate, but the area had not been burned for at least 30 years. Read more about why this fire was so important on our page “MCA Burn” in the “Milnerton Conservation Area” section.