Posted on the 20th October 2018

Ten BirdLife Overberg volunteers participated in the second coastal clean-up along the western shoreline of the Hoek van de Berg Nature Reserve. Today we celebrated the first year of these monthly clean-ups. This is certainly one of the most stunning stretches of coastline along the Cape Whale Coast shoreline and needs to be experienced. We started from the Raimondo residence and worked westwards towards Hawston and covered roughly 800 metres.







Let us just give context: These monthly clean-ups form part of BirdLife Overberg’s broader CleanMarine campaign on the conservation of the Overstrand coastline and estuaries. The other projects are the identification of key breeding sites for African Black Oystercatchers and White-fronted Plovers and regular bird counts along the three main estuaries in the region. Fishing line bins will also be installed at key spots along our coast over the next few weeks. Several environmental education initiatives have also been undertaken in collaboration with Whale Coast Conservation and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, with the African Black Oystercatcher as the central theme of the year. This is done in support of BirdLife South Africa’s Bird of the Year campaign. We also thank John Kieser of Plastics SA for providing the bags for collecting the litter.

Ready for action


What we think is a Cross-marked Grass Snake








It was a beautiful clear and somewhat windy morning and the birds were very active. Species heard calling continually from the coastal thickets included Bar-throated Apalis, Bokmakierie, Southern Boubou, Cape Bulbul, Sombre Greenbul, Karoo Prinia and Southern Tchagra. There were coastal birds flying all over the place and with several oystercatchers being prominent. We were able to identify species such as Cape Cormorants, Common Greenshank and Whimbrel, as well as the three tern species that are common along our shoreline during summer months. In the end I managed to log 35 species on BirdLasser, even though this was not the purpose of the day. Justine and I also saw a beautiful snake that we think was a Cross-marked Grass Snake, but we will request experts to confirm its identification.

The cleanup was interesting and very rewarding. We worked in twos with one marking off the litter items collected. This is done on the standard form developed by the Oceans Conservancy, an international agency based in America. The information will be forwarded to them, as well as Plastics SA. This is done to gain a better world-wide understanding of the negative impact of plastics on our oceans.

The team hard at work
Coastal clean-up managers Hele and Elaine on the rocks









An Excel spreadsheet of the littler collected is available from us, even though we were not able to score the contents of four of the bags. We hereby merely highlight a few findings. We collected 49 pieces of fishing line with an estimated length of 150 metres. It is important to note that these pieces of fishing line remain of the litter collected most often at all of the sites that we clean. The rolling out of bins to collect fishing line which is being done in collaboration with the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Plastics SA remains one of the priorities of our campaign. An extensive educational campaign to support the placing of these bins will be launched soon.

Other prominent items collected included plastic bottle caps – 23, plastic straws and stirrers – 34, plastic beverage bottles – 53 and small pieces of plastic –72! We are encouraged by the fact that we collect less litter each time we revisit specific sites and will therefore continue with this process.

Chilling on Justine and Michael's patio
The team and some of the loot









We all agreed that this is a very satisfactory and rewarding exercise and we are looking forward next month’s cleanup, when the children from the Zwelihle SwopShop will again join us. Detail of this will be announced shortly.
The highlight of the morning was certainly the tea and cake provided by Justine and Michael while we overlooked the beautiful shoreline from their patio. We had some discussion about other groups taking responsibility for cleaning specific stretches of shoreline at their home patches and would like to encourage volunteers to contact us in this regard.
My appreciation goes to everyone who had participated and to Justine and Michael for hosting us. We are looking forward to welcoming those members who could not make it today to next month’s clean-up. We appeal to all members to become involved in this campaign and see how many friends and other interested parties you can involve. Contact Elaine at or 082 455 8402 or Hele at or 073 456 0393 to volunteer your support.


Common Greenshank















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