BIRDLIFE OVERBERG CONSERVATION REPORT FOR THE FIRST QUARTER OF 2020Posted on the 23rd March 2020
BIRDLIFE OVERBERG CONSERVATION REPORT FOR THE FIRST QUARTER OF 2020
This report reviews progress with the various projects forming part of BirdLife Overberg’s CleanMarine campaign and a few other conservation related issues. The background of the initial CleanMarine campaign description can be viewed at this link:
This report only highlights developments over the last three months and should be read against the background of the 2019 annual report available on the website. Previous developments and other background information of the projects are discussed in the annual report.
1. THE PROTECTION OF AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHER AND WHITE-FRONTED PLOVER NESTS ALONG OUR COASTLINE
# THE IDENTIFICATION OF BREEDING SITES The main feature of previously published information illustrated the extended period during which these nesting sites, as well the area where the chicks are reared need to be protected. This totals a period in access of 90 days and certainly emphasises the importance of protecting these nests and chick rearing sites. The ongoing information being received from volunteers now gives us a very good idea of the most important breeding areas that need to be protected along the Overstrand coastline in future breeding seasons.
# NEST WARNING SIGNS Nest warning signs at African Black Oystercatcher (Swarttobie) and White-fronted Plover (Vaalstrandkiewiet) breeding areas have been set up and monitored by volunteers at many sites along the Overstrand coastline over the last three months. A variety of information and educational materials has also been published on the website and disseminated through the local press and our social media pages. Feedback on lessons learnt by the volunteers is currently being collated and will be published in a report before the onset of the main breeding season of the 2020/ 2021 summer. This should enable us to streamline our approaches to the protection of the nests, as well as improved media campaigns. All breeding attempts and the raising of chicks by theses two species should still be reported to Anton Odendal at firstname.lastname@example.org or 082 550 3347.
We would like to express our sincere thanks and appreciation to the many volunteers along the Overstrand coastline who have set up these nest warning boards and who are monitoring the progress of the birds: Benjamin, Brenda, Carin, Carl, Colin and Myrna, Elsabé, Helen and Alison, Jenny, Judy and Chris, Krissie, Liezl, Lizanne, Richard, Renee, Rynhard, Tamzyn, Tarron, Timothy and Wendy and Mark. More volunteers are being added to the team as we go along and we request all club and community members to support these efforts in future. The Nature’s Valley Trust and the Overstrand municipality made the production of the nest warning signs and the purchase of other equipment possible through their generous sponsorship and they are thanked for their support.
|The BirdLife Overberg nest warning sign|
# THE ZONING OF BEACHES FOR DOGS Dr Mark Brown of the Nature’s Valley Trust (NVT) has been appointed by the Mayor of the Overstrand municipality to undertake a development process for the establishment of a zoning system for dogs on beaches in the Overstrand region similar to those already implemented with great success in other areas. Initial public meetings were undertaken with municipal and public role-players during November 2019 and January 2020. This project is currently being rolled out and will result in recommendations about the implementation of such a zoning system for the region. The development of posters, educational and information campaigns and the like and the financing thereof will be undertaken once the municipality has made a final decision about the implementation of such a zoning system and the by-laws have been changed.
# LARGE BEACH BEHAVIOUR POSTERS Discussions with municipal officials resulted in an agreement in principle that these posters initially developed by the NVT will be adapted and erected at the Kleinbaai harbour, and entrances to the beaches at Grotto, Onrus, Hawston, Kleinmond, Betty’s Bay and Pringle Bay. Quotations for the development of these resources have been received and sponsors are being sought. These posters will hopefully be put in place before the summer of 2020/ 2021. It is interesting to note that representatives from other areas in the province are also now considering the erection of these posters along their shorelines.
|The Nature's Valley Trust beach behaviour poster to be adapted for Overstrand purposes|
# THE OVERSTRAND ANIMAL AND SEABIRDS STRANDING NETWORK A dedicated number where injured, oiled or stranded mammals and birds can be reported has now been established at 072 598 7117. Alternatively Theanette Staal, the manager of the African Penguin and Seabirds Sanctuary (APSS) can be contacted at 082 612 2093. These numbers will be shared regularly in view of getting community members to report such incidents as early as possible. We thank the staff of APSS and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) for their dedication and sterling rehabilitation work in this regard.
2. REPORT ON THE QUARTERLY CO-ORDINATED WATERBIRD COUNTS (CWACs) ALONG THE OVERSTRAND ESTUARIES (2019)
Comprehensive quarterly CWAC counts along the Cape Whale Coast estuaries are now being undertaken. The various estuaries in the Overstrand Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) being counted are:
• The Palmiet River mouth
• Various sections of the Botrivervlei (Teams of volunteers do counts at the following sites: Botriver bridge to Benguela Cove, Fisherhaven to Benguela Cove, Fisherhaven to Meer-en-See, Arabella Estate to Rooisand, the Rooisand area and the Kleinmond mouth area)
• The Vermont salt pan and the Onrus River estuary
• The Kleinriver estuary (This includes two counts at the area around the mouth and the upper reaches at Stanford) and
• The Uilenkraals Estuary.
Some of the organisations involved in these counts include the Tygerberg, Kleinmond, Hermanus and Stanford Bird Clubs, BirdLife Overberg, CapeNature and DICT. We express our sincere appreciation to all the dedicated volunteers from these organizations. As a result of these successful counts officials from CapeNature have now requested BirdLife Overberg to assist with regular CWAC counts at the De Hoop Nature Reserve. Negotiations in this regard are ongoing.
It has become evident that more volunteers will be needed in future to ensure the sustainability of this very important project and all conservation-minded birders in the region are requested to contact the organisers. Volunteer your services with Carin at Carin.Malan@fruitways.co.za or 073 172 2660. The dates for future quarterly BirdLife Overberg CWAC counts during 2020 are 9 May, 4 July and 7 November. We express our sincere appreciation to Carin Malan for coordinating this major effort.
|The Onrus River estuary|
|Greater Flamingos on a CWAC count|
3. THE WAR AGAINST PLASTICS AND OTHER LITTER IN OUR OCEANS
# MONTHLY COASTAL CLEAN-UPS BirdLife Overberg’s monthly coastal clean-ups are organised and coordinated by Elaine Odendal and Helé Oosthuizen and remain a project that we are very proud of. We acknowledge the ongoing logistical support given by John Kieser of Plasticsǀ SA by providing plastic bags, re-usable gloves, tongs and water containers. The partnership with the People n Planet campaign of Pick n Pay is ongoing and they are sponsoring the provision of snacks and refreshments for our volunteers.
We had scored the contents of the litter collected from the beginning of this project. The statistics of the amounts of litter gathered are in most cases forwarded to the Oceans Conservancy in Washington. Some exciting findings include that there had been a dramatic reduction in the amount of fishing line and related equipment and plastic straws collected at the pilot areas that are cleaned regularly. The litter created by abalone poachers unfortunately remain a huge problem along our coastline. The other constraint is the lack of support for these clean-ups by the majority of club members – we are looking into the possible involvement of youth groups and discussions in this regard are being undertaken with several agencies.
The pilot sites will remain the Vermont coastline and the three sections of the Hoek van de Berg Nature Reserve and we thank Michael Raimondo for his support with this. The coastline at Onrus is cleaned regularly by the Onrus Litter Ladies. We would like to encourage people in other area along the Overstrand coastline to consider doing regular coastal clean-ups in those areas. Elaine and Helé have released the provisional dates for the monthly coastal clean-ups during 2020: 28 March, 25 April, 23 May, 27 June, 18 July, 22 August, 12 September (ICC), 26 September, 24 October and 21 November. Clean-ups will continue once restricting measures regarding the Cocid-19 pandemic have been lifted. Details of sites to be cleaned and other information are available on the 2020 schedule of events on the BirdLife Overberg website.
# The possibility of presenting sandcastle competitions to highlight the problem of ocean litter during future holiday periods is being discussed with groupings in Onrus and Hermanus Tourism.
|BLO monthly coastal clean-up in February 2020|
# INTERNATIONAL COASTAL CLEAN-UP AND RECYCLE DAY We will again facilitate participation along the entire Overstrand coastline in this event in September in collaboration with the Environmental Management Services (EMS) of the Overstrand municipality. More than 20 organisations participated last year and the hope is expressed that more will do so in 2020. This will clearly be dependent on developments regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.
# PROGRESS WITH THE PRODUCTION OF ECOBRICKS We are continuing with a sustained campaign to minimise the amount of single use plastics and polystyrene ending up in the waste stream through the production of EcoBricks. These plastics now do not go to landfill sites or pollute the environment and the bottles are being delivered to the People n Planet campaign of Pick n Pay. This project obviously serves a very important educational purpose. We have reached a total of 340 of these 2 litre EcoBricks – this means that we have taken at least 150kg of plastics out of the waste stream! We will continue with this process and hope to stick to our target of taking 50kg of single use plastics and polystyrene out of the waste stream for each six months period. We encourage members and collaborators to support this campaign even if this is only by collecting such waste in their households and bringing it to us. All details are available from us. We also need many more 2 litre plastics bottles and any suggestions on where such bottles can be sourced will be appreciated. This campaign is particularly pertinent given the problems being experienced with recycling in the Overstrand region.
# STORM WATER DRAIN NET PROJECT Members of the DICT have launched a project to establish a net system over storm water drain outlets in the Gansbaai area. This is being done in collaboration with the Overstrand Municipality and is based on very successful projects elsewhere in the world. The nets collect solid waste carried by storm water from the local road network and prevent it from landing in the ocean. Discussions have been undertaken about the possible implementation of this project in other areas along the Overstrand coastline and the municipality has agreed in principle to sponsor some pilot projects in the Hermanus area. Discussions will be ongoing.
|Storm water drain net at Gansabaai - Image by the Dyer Island Conservation Trust|
4. FISHING LINE BINS
The reasons for the installation of fishing line bins were described in earlier reports. These bins have now been put up at various sites along most of the Cape Whale Coast shoreline. The last 10 bins will be set up at sites along the Hermanus cliff path and Sandbaai in due course. We were scheduled to set these up before the holiday period, but a spate of vandalism had unfortunately prevented us from doing so. Damaged bins will also be replaced. Thank you to all volunteers who had assisted us with this process and particularly the DICT for initiating this process. We would specifically like to thank the Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) division of BirdLife South Africa, MacNeil Plastics for the provision of the raw material and brackets, John Kieser of PLASTICS|SA for facilitating this process and the volunteers at DICT for assembling the bins.
We appeal to fishermen and anglers, as well as beach goers, community members and holiday makers to assist with this by depositing fishing line into these bins. Also report spots where significant amounts of fishing line wash up along our shoreline with GPS co-ordinates to email@example.com It has been shown with the reduction of fishing line being collected during monthly coastal clean-ups that a difference can be made to address this problem meaningfully – every little bit of fishing line collected contributes to the improvement of our beautiful coastline.
5. REPORT ON ADDRESSING THE LITTERING OF CIGARETTE BUTTS
# The sterling work by the ONRUS LITTER LADIES shows a significant decline in the number of butts being collected in the areas where they operate. They do regular clean-ups and sometimes only concentrate on cigarette butts. They also set up small bins with catchy notices and increased numbers of butts are being cleaned from these bins. A significant reduction is also found at the parking areas that we regularly clean up along the Onrus and Vermont shorelines.
# A detailed project proposal for an IN-DEPTH QUALITATIVE STUDY to investigate cigarette butt littering behaviour was developed and is currently being circulated in view of possible funding. We appeal to all role players to assist in this regard.
We will continue with our efforts to search for answers in addressing this global problem in collaboration with individuals and organisations that are also concerned about it.
|Bin produced by the Onrus Litter Ladies|
|EcoBricks ready for delivery|
6. ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATIONAL PROJECTS
A variety of environmental education campaigns are ongoing.
# BIRD OF THE YEAR RESOURCES The BirdLife South Africa bird of the year 2020 educational resources on the Southern Ground Hornbill will once again be disseminated to local schools.
# BIRD IDENTIFICATION BROCHURES The use of these brochures and subsequent reprints will form the cornerstone of several of our future educational efforts in support of the CleanMarine campaign.
# THE ANNUAL NATIONAL MARINE WEEK SCHOOLS COMPETITION We will again partner with the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, CapeNature, government departments and the Environmental Management Services of the Overstrand municipality in planning and presenting the annual schools competition in support of national marine month during October. Our bird identification brochures will again form part of the prizes presented to the winners
# COURSES A review of the CleanMarine campaign has been incorporated into both the Flight for Birders and Flight Higher courses and has been presented as part of 3 courses during the last two months. This process will hopefully be continued once the Covid-19 situation stabilises.
COMMENTING ON DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS AND DRAFT SCOPING REPORTS
The preparation of these reports have taken up an extraordinary amount of time and energy over the last two years and the report writer will in future only do such research on issues related to the Vermont salt pan, the Onrus River and estuary and the Fernkloof Nature Reserve. Members and collaborators are requested to start participating in commenting on development proposals in their areas, or to get others to do so. Previous reports can be made available in such cases if needed.
Events are published on the website and in the “Event Sections” of both the Hermanus Times and The Village News on a continual basis and various media releases, together with photographs or illustrations are forwarded to all the newspapers in the Overstrand region regularly. The BirdLife Overberg and CleanMarine@BirdLife Overberg Facebook pages are however very successful in reaching wider audiences. It is interesting to note that conservation-minded people from other areas are now approaching us about the possibility of implementing similar conservation programmes along their coastlines. Involvement in such potential actions will obviously depend on available capacity, resources and time.
We acknowledge the wonderful support received from so many BirdLife Overberg members and other organisations, individuals and volunteers, many having been mentioned in reports above. There are simply too many to mention, but their contributions are appreciated enormously.
Dr Mark Brown of the Nature’s Valley Trust played a pivotal role in the development of most of the concepts and resources used for this project and his groundbreaking research in this regard is acknowledged. We wish him all the best with his future work now that he has resigned from the NVT. Major financial support was previously received from the Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) division of BirdLife South Africa, the Overstrand Municipality and the People n Planet campaign of Pick n Pay in support of our ongoing work and we thank all concerned in this regard. John Kieser of Plasticsǀ SA has supported our coastal clean-up campaigns for many years and his continued provision of equipment and advice serve as a shining example of what the plastics industry is doing to address the problem of plastics in our oceans. Our partners at the Dyer Island Conservation Trust are inspirational and we acknowledge the massive contributions made by Theanette Staal, Pinkey Ngewu, Brenda du Toit and Wilfred Chivell.
The support received from these organisations and individuals (and others) need to be recognised as the driving force behind the successes already achieved with the CleanMarine campaign. The hope is expressed that these creative partnerships and many more will continue long into the future.
23 March 2020.