Posted on the 1st November 2012

(There is an interesting debate unfolding at the base of the Mitchell's Pass near Ceres.  We include correspondence about this as user comments. - Ed.)

Dear Anton,
I trust this finds you well.
I was notified yesterday that the department of agriculture will be chopping down alien vegetation along the Breede river starting today.
My concern is that the birds are all nesting at the moment and more than likely have fledglings in their nests.  I do not know which species would utilize black wattle gum etc as nesting sites.  Is this a threat to them or will the birds have developed sufficiently to survive this?
If not, is there anything we can do to try and get the department to do this opperation slightly later and what would be a good time.
I look forward to hearing from you with reards to my concerns above.
Kind regards,
White Bridge Farm
P O Box 55
TEL:  ++27 (0)23 2310 705
FAX   ++27 (0)86 611 5107
CELL:++27 (0)82 578 7881
Skype:  stanwhite1



DALE WRIGHT (posted: 2012-10-31)
Hi Paul,
Thanks for the info. I will give Rudolph a call tomorrow to discuss, especially as regards planning around nesting periods.
Perhaps if you meet the foreman you could also ask the team to look out for nesting raptors before felling trees, and be aware of the other smaller spp nesting in the riparian veg. Hopefully a little awareness may help reduce impacts, we can also try rescue fledgling raptors if they get displaced.
PAUL STANFORD (posted: 2012-10-31)
Hi Dale,
Thanks for your response. The section of river being cleared is at the foot of Michells Pass heading towards Wolseley. They started yesterday and seem to be moving at a very fast pace. I will have a chat with the supervisor and check on what has happened so far. The Dept. of Agric. guy is Rudolf Roscher from Worcester I think.
I am not sure what Raptors might use the river to nest but my son and I have seen African Harrier Hawk, Forest Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, Jackal Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Booted Eagle, Little Sparrow Hawk. We also see a number of Paradise Flycatchers along the river.
Unfotunately I do understand the need to clean up the rivers and there are times when there is too much water in them to do this but perhaps they could have done it in January. I think they need to be made aware of the birds so that they can at least give their nesting times cosideration.
Thanks for your help.
Paul Stanford
DALE WRIGHT (posted: 2012-10-31)
Hi Anton,
We would need more information regarding exactly where and how much clearing is happening, which person in the department of agriculture has co-ordinated with, whether CapeNature is involved. Is the Department using the proper alien veg eradication methods etc.
Perhaps a concerned club member/volunteer could visit the site and do a quick investigation of nesting birds, particularly raptors that might be nesting in the specific area? They could even talk to the site foreman and find out exectly where the project is coming from so we know who to contact if there are threats to birds. With this and the other information, we could make a decision and act if need be.
I do know members from Landcare and CapeNature in the Breede valley (Worcester area), whom I could follow up with too.
Unfortunately Iím in Graaf Reinet at the moment and will be leaving tomorrow early to travel back to CT, via a meeting in Anysberg, so difficult to act from here. But with further information I can definitely try the above contacts. Depending on where along the Breede river this is happening.
Perhaps Paul could try obtain more info for us to act on?
Much appreciated!
Kind regards,
Dale Wright
Regional Conservation Manager: Western Cape
BirdLife South Africa