Spring in the Southern hemisphere officially falls between the beginning of September until the end of November, mirroring the Northern hemisphere Autumn, and is always welcomed at Ocean House with a real sense of perpetual astonishment Now is a time when De Hoop Nature Reserve reveals its secrets of true abundance. Sitting Bull, one of the most powerful and perhaps famous of all Native American chiefs said “Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love.” And this pretty much sums up our feelings here at Ocean House too.
De Hoop falls within a unique micro-climate and the dominant vegetation is Fynbos which flourishes in nutrient-poor soils in the winter rainfall areas of the Western Cape. Fynbos is part of the world’s smallest and most threatened plant kingdom, known as the Cape Floral Kingdom and has adapted to cope with fire and drought. The reserve is home to one of the largest areas of the rare Lowland Fynbos and when you set out on a walk, hike or cycle through the natural areas surrounding Ocean House you might be lucky enough to spot two aspects which make up Fynbos – namely Geophytes and Erica’s. The genus Erica is in full flower at the moment creating a gorgeous melange of pinks and white amongst a kaleidoscope of other flowers which are blossoming in orange, yellow and blue. If Geophytes are on your Fynbos check list, you only have a brief window of opportunity, as they spend most of the year underground in storage organs and just come up to display in Spring and early Summer.
The birds of De Hoop love the Spring flowers enjoying the feast of nectar which coincides with the beginning of the breeding season. Now is the time to enjoy the male Sunbirds which are particularly brilliant with their exuberant colours of red, green and orange and you and hear these guys calling throughout the day looking for a mate. The reserve surrounding Ocean house is a birder’s paradise and you should look out for Robins, Cape Spur Fowls, Black Harriers and the rare Cape Vulture as well.
A Spring break at Ocean House gives you a great opportunity to spot an array of newborn antelope. The reserve receives most of its rain during the Winter so now the vegetation is at its most lush and there is sufficient water to support the offspring of Eland, Grey Rhebuck and the uncommon Bontebok. Elsewhere in Africa the rainy season only arrives in December so it is unique to witness young during this time in the calendar.
De Hoop Nature Reserve boasts a sheltered bay which attracts whales, whales and more whales. Many of these majestic creatures travel thousands of kilometres to breed or deliver calves. Looking out across the bay, we are spotting particularly large numbers this year breaching and playing in our guarded and protected bay.
According to the late Robin Williams “Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!” Here at Ocean House we feel inspired and excited by the plentiful new life springing up around us, as the sun is out and the birds are singing. We might not be throwing a party just yet, but we are definitely enjoying this special season and looking forward to getting out into our exceptional environment, taking a moment and acknowledging our blessings.