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Last weekend, a team of 15 people gathered at Graatjiesgat to atlas the Knersvlakte. The farm is one of several in the biodiversity hotspot which is a CapeNature reserve. We are enormously grateful to the reserve manager, Adrian Fortuin, and to CapeNature, both for permission to use the farmhouse as our base and for all the assistance in facilitating the weekend.
The Knersvlakte might be a biodiversity hotspot, but it is for plants and definitely not for birds. It is really pleasing when an atlas list reaches double figures, fantastic when it gets to 20 species, and a cause for celebration when it reaches 30 species.
We had superb atlasing weather on Thursday and Friday last week. Saturday dawned gloomy and threatening, and we were privileged to watch 20plus mm of rain fall. In an area where average annual rainfall is around 60 mm, this is a lot of rain, and the farmers we met on Sunday were delighted. The day turned into another day of excellent atlasing weather, both calm and sunny.
With quite a lot of checklists still to be submitted, the map shows 40 of the pentads which were atlased during the weekend. The total will grow to beyond 50 once the remaining lists are submitted. We will do a more species-oriented report then.
This is our third expedition to the Knersvlakte, with the previous expeditions being in June and October last year. Although checklists are short, this is a really important area to obtain good coverage, because this region constitutes the edge of the range for many species.