Hillside Dams Newsletter July 2008

Hillside Dams continues to a popular venue on most weekends and we are delighted that the Bulawayo community at large has taken to the project. It is not only individuals and families but school and community groups who have become regular visitors. Recently the braai area was redeveloped and a small childrens’ playing centre has been created near the tearoom. The last has proved to be extremely popular with youngsters and we wish to develop it further. If you can assist with old playground equipment please let us know. We will arrange to collect and recondition where necessary.

On other areas things are progressing, albeit a little slower than we may have hoped. Visitors will see that work has started on revamping the old tea room at the Lower Dam. We hope that it will be in use by the end of July. Initially it will operate over weekends (Friday-Sunday) and at other times by prior arrangement.

A security boom is being erected at the Banff Road entrance. For this we are grateful to Nimr & Chapman. Eventually a small charge will be levied at the entrance to cover the costs of the guards who look after the cars. Annual membership cards will also be made available. We will keep you informed as we go along. At this time entry is free but is at your own risk.

Please note that the boom will be closed from sunset to sun rise. We apologise to those late evening visitors but this is necessitated by security issues and requests from other stakeholders.

The birdlife is still amazing, especially along the banks of the Dams where a combination of weedy thickets and emerging muds have attracted several smaller species. Look for the waders and various herons.

The fish eagle paid us a visit last week but the white-faced duck have moved off to warmer climes. In their place a flock of Sacred Ibis have taken up residence at the Upper Dam. We aim to encourage the birdlife and promote interest in birding amongst the many visitors.

With the onset of winter fishing has become less attractive but several of our regulars doggedly try their luck. A small fishing fee is charged and this goes towards the salaries of the staff and other expenses such as water and rates. However we are well short of the actual costs and must express our most sincere thanks to several companies and individuals who regularly assist in covering wages and make donations in cash and kind.

The small crocodile in the Upper Dam (yes there is one and it is not just one of the many legavaan) seems to be becoming a little more brazen and we have had good sightings on several occasions over the last month. Please beware. In particular we are concerned where dogs have been encouraged to swim.

The gardens are steadily being improved under the watchful eye of Mr. & Mrs te Velde. Several invasive species, most especially lantana have been removed. Latana had more or less taken over large areas along the stream between the two dams. We think we are winning but it will be a long struggle. A number of picnic spots in this section will be restored as soon as we have the manpower and materials.

The lawns in front of the tearoom, subject to high visitor use over the weekends, are beginning to look a little worn. We are hoping to get reclaimed water from Bulawayo City Council and to borrow a small pump to draw water from the Lower Dam to water the grass. Can anyone assist?

The Lower dam it is likely to dry up again by October but this will allow us to investigate and hopefully repair.

The Aloe Garden has been revamped with most of the invasive plants removed and the old paths cleared. It is well worth a visit at this time as many of the aloes are flowering. The remaining plants will be regrouped and split later in the year once we get the first rains and they have finished flowering. Our thanks to Mr Roy Stephens who has volunteered to oversee the reorganisation and naming of the different species present.

The website has been updated and now enables you to view The Hillside Dams from satellite. You can view either in Google Maps or if you have Google Earth installed download the .kmz file online! http://www.hillsidedams.com

We the Hillside Dams Conservancy must extend our most sincere thanks to the Bulawayo Community at large. We appreciate your confidence in the project, your assistance and simply your coming along to the Dams. It is the support from you all that encourages us to keep going despite all odds.

Remember to check out the website

http://www.hillsidedams.com

Send us comments, corrections and pictures!

Rob Burrett

The Nesbitt Castle's New Contact Email Addresses and Website

reception@nesbittcastle.co.zw | reservations@nesbittcastle.co.zw

mailinglist@nesbittcastle.co.zw | www.nesbittcastle.co.zw