REPORT ON THE CLEANMARINE PROJECT 1: PROTECTING BREEDING SITES OF AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS AND WHITE-FRONTED PLOVERS ALONG OUR COASTLINEPosted on the 7th January 2019
This report needs to be read against the background of our initial project description:
Members of BirdLife Overberg decided to prioritise the spending of available funds and future fund-raising and conservation efforts. For this reason it was decided to focus our efforts on the Overstrand region’s coastline and estuaries. A workshop on this was presented on 2 and 3 September 2017 in collaboration with the Nature’s Valley Trust and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. Funds to present this workshop were generated through the presentation of a Xmas in July event. Many of the region’s role-players showcased their projects at the workshop and Dr Mark Brown conducted a brainstorming session on the Sunday afternoon. The six projects discussed herewith were identified during the brainstorming session. The projects will be done as case-studies that will be reported to the Western Cape Birding Forum regularly in view of other clubs possibly implementing similar actions in their regions. Other clubs have already started considering involvement.
As always these types of projects are dependent on sponsorship and we acknowledge the generous seeding funding contributed by the Important Bird and Biodiversity (IBA) division of BirdLife South Africa in this regard. We appeal to like-minded members of the public and environmentally conscious agencies and organisations to donate towards this important cause in view of sustaining the CleanMarine projects in the short, medium and long term.
The initial aim of the first project was to adapt the educational campaigns (posters, brochures, media releases, etc) developed by the Nature’s Valley Trust for our purposes and implement these at the key breeding sites along our coastline during the summer of 2018/ 2019. Quotations for the development of these resources were received. Several problems largely related to a lack of capacity and funding were experienced during 2018 and we hereby give brief feedback on progress with some aspects of the project.
NEST WARNING SIGNS ON BEACHES
It was initially decided to adapt the nest warning signs developed by the Nature’s Valley Trust (NVT) for use along the Cape Whale Coast beaches – see an example in the image herewith. Officials from the Environmental Division of the Overstrand Municipality agreed in principle to have their red nest warning sighn boards changed to incorporate themes addressed in the NVT placards. These include walking on wet sand only and putting dogs on leaches. The officials were requested to meet us halfway with the costs of these resources and they agreed that they will investigate the matter and get back to us on this. The outcome of this is still being awaited and it is recommended that this issue is raised with the officials regularly. Alternative sponsorship for the development, printing and erection of these posters will have to be investigated if financial support is not forthcoming from the municipality and if a decision is taken to continue with the project.
|The Nature's Valley Trust placcard|
|The Overstrand municipality placcard|
Many nesting sites were identified by club members and other volunteers and the red nest warning sign placards developed by the municipality were used at several of these sites. Some instances of members of the public not adhering to the requests on the signs were found and possible remedial actions to counter these transgressions are being investigated.
Detailed articles about the plight of the breeding oystercatchers and plovers, as well as a description of possible remedial actions were published extensively. Articles were published on the BirdLife Overberg website, our social media platforms, the Village News and the Hermanus Times. The articles were also forwarded to several smaller local newspapers. These issues were also highlighted in an interview with Whale Coast FM at the beginning of the summer holiday period. It is recommended that such media campaigns should continue in future particularly during important holiday periods and long weekends.
LARGE BEACH BEHAVIOUR POSTERS
Representatives of the NVT have developed very effective large educational posters informing members of the public of the potential negative impact that their behaviour might have on birds and other wildlife along our beaches. It was agreed that we could adapt these posters to suite our purposes and the possible deployment of such posters were discussed with officials from the Environmental Division of the Overstrand Municipality. It was agreed that such posters should be erected at seven selected spots at the Kleinbaai harbour, and the beaches at Grotto, Onrus, Hawston, Kleinmond, Betty’s Bay and Pringle Bay. Quotations for the development of these resources have been received, but this will unfortunately be very expensive. The officials were requested to meet us halfway with the costs of these resources and they agreed that they will investigate the matter and get back to us on this. The outcome of this is still being awaited and it is recommended that this issue is raised with the officials regularly. Alternative sponsorship for the development, printing and erection of these posters will have to be investigated if financial support is not forthcoming from the municipality.
|The educational poster developed by the Nature's Valley Trust|
THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT OF A ZONING SYSTEM FOR DOGS ON BEACHES
The negative impact of dogs running freely at the nest sites of beach breeding birds has been documented internationally. This issue often becomes very emotional with dog owners and conservation-minded being at loggerheads. Local and international researchers have however shown that the zoning of beaches can be used very effectively to resolve these problems. There are several examples of the successful zoning of beaches along the South African coast and such zoning is usually based on intensive research and observations of where birds breed. This approach implies that beaches are zoned for areas where no dogs are allowed at all, areas where dogs are allowed, but only when leached and areas where dogs can run freely.
Discussions in this regard were held with officials from the Environmental Division of the Overstrand Municipality and it was agreed in principle that a zoning system for dogs on beaches will have to be developed for our coastline. It was decided that the technical detail regarding appropriate by-laws will be investigated by the officials in view of the possible zoning of beaches in future – no feedback in this regard has yet been received. Jean Orban, the local councillor for Onrus and Vermont, has agreed to take this matter further and discussions in this regard will be ongoing. It is however evident that this process will take some time and it is recommended that this issue is raised regularly with the relavent officials.
|This is how beaches are zoned for dogs in other areas|
|Image illustrating the vulnerability of a plover nest site by Jenny Parsons of BirdLife Overberg|
THE IDENTIFICATION OF AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHER AND WHITE-FRONTED PLOVER NESTING SITES ALONG OUR COASTLINE
The identification of key breeding spots of African Black Oystercatchers and White-fronted Plovers along Overstrand beaches went well during the summer of 2017/ 2018 and the first half of the summer of 2018/ 2019. We now have a fair idea of key breeding sites along our coastline. It is recommended that “Oystercatcher Champions” be appointed before the next summer – these will be individuals at specific spots along our coast who will take responsibility for applying the educational campaigns at their home patches. Training on this should ideally be done by September. The hope is also expressed that the problems having been experienced with the use of appropriate signage placards will be overcome. This will however depend on the outcomes of discussions on our lack of capacity and sponsorship at the BirdLife Overberg AGM in February 2019.
|Oystercatchers with chick - Jenny Parsons|
|Plover eggs - Photo credit NVT|
AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS RAISING CHICKS
A massive effort was put in regarding educational campaigns in support of the BirdLife South Africa Bird of the Year 2018 that focussed on the African Black Oystercatcher. See the report on this in the educational campaign report elsewhere.
At a meeting with Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) staffers on 9 April it was decided that we will develop a blog-type of system whereby we can post a day-by-day progress report on the website and social media. This was then shared on Facebook with BirdLife South Africa, the Nature’s Valley Trust and DICT, amongst others. The collation of images to illustrate how the chicks develop until they fledge was hugely successful. Jenny Parson’s images of two oystercatcher families at Pringle Bay was used as basis for this overview and many of these fascinating images were released with the March photo gallery of images taken by club members. Photographs by other people were also being integrated into this overview. Theanette Staal, the manager of the African Penguin and Seabirds Sanctuary (APPS), has reared a chick in rehabilitation and we also incorporated some of her images of the bird growing up into the overview. This overview was shared extensively through the club website and social media platforms.
Ultimately a PowerPoint presentation on this process was developed and presented to the BirdLife Overberg monthly talk in September 2018. It is significant to note that some other bird clubs in the region have approached us concerning this talk possibly being presented at their monthly talks.
|Vulnerable plover chick - Jenny Parsons|
|Dr Mark Brown of the NVT|
A decision regarding the continuation of this project will have to be taken at the BLO AGM on 11 February.
We would like to express our sincere appreciation to several BirdLife Overberg members and other members of the public who had reported nest sites over the last two summers. Jenny Parsons deserves particular mention for her outstanding photographs documenting the chick rearing cycle of the pair of African Black Oystercatchers. These images were used extensively in a brilliant PowerPoint presentation, as well as for a set of flash cards used for educational projects reported on elsewhere. Theanette Staal, the manager of the African Penguin and Seabirds Sanctuary (APSS) at the Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) also contributed to this process. We have been very fortunate in receiving a donation from the Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) division of BirdLife South Africa for this project. Dr Mark Brown of the NVT played a pivotal role in the development of resources to be used for this project and his groundbreaking research in this regard is acknowledged.
SOME COMMENTS RECEIVED ON THIS PROJECT
• Hi Anton, Ek het die koerant elektronies afgelaai en dit lyk pragtig ek hou daarvan dat hulle ook ons logo gebruik het. Wow what an effort – dit gaan baie goed afgaan! WELL DONE – Carin Malan on 12 April 2018 on Village News article.
• Hi Anton, Awesome stuff! You put the rest of us to shame! – Mark Brown, the Director of the Nature’s Valley Trust, on 17 April 2018.
• Dear Anton, Thanks for your message, and well done on all of the great progress you are making in the Overberg Coastal Conservation Project. It is fantastic to see and I hope that we can get some other bird clubs to follow suit! Kind regards – Dale Wright, Western Cape conservation manager at BirdLife South Africa, on 5 May 2018.
• Hi Anton, It is great to see the ground work you are doing to make the real differences in our IBAs. Well done. This type of work by clubs such as BLO adds depth to our collective conservation efforts. Thank you. - Daniel Marnewick, manager of the IBA division of BirdLife South Africa, on 16 May 2018 on the project.
• Hello Anton, This is great. Sorry that you left before we were going to ‘thank you’ for your incredible work. Regards. Brigid Crewe, the Chairperson of the Tygerberg Bird Club, on 20 June after the CleanMarine talk to Western Cape Birding Forum.
• Anton: thanks for working so hard environmentally. If all people were like you, global problems would be solved – John Fincham of the Cape Bird Club.
• Dear colleagues, Please see below for yet another example of the excellent support we receive from BirdLife Overberg. Regards – Mark Anderson on 16 April a letter to the board on our proposed collaborative work with Whale Coast Conservation and DICT.