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BIRDLIFE OVERBERG ANNUAL REPORT BY THE CHAIRMAN 2017

Posted on the 5th February 2017

BIRDLIFE OVERBERG’S CHAIRPERSON’S REPORT 2017

CHAIRPERSON’S ANNUAL REPORT FOR THE PERIOD 1 JANUARY 2016 TO 31 DECEMBER 2016

1.INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS At the beginning of this report it is appropriate to revisit BirdLife Overberg’s basic aims as formulated when we originally formed the club. Our aims read:
1.1To allow people in the Overberg with an interest in birds to become involved in bird-watching by participating in the typical activities associated with BirdLife South Africa and its international partners;
1.2To place strong emphasis on educational programs in order to get participants involved in the meaningful conservation of birds and their habitats;
1.3To market the Overberg as a top birding destination, thus contributing to the region’s already impressive tourism infrastructure.

It would be appreciated if this annual report could be evaluated against the backdrop of our club’s basic aims.

2.INFRASTRUCTURE
Kindly note that an illustrated PowerPoint presentation on the year's activities will be presented at the AGM on 20 February.

2.1 MONTHLY TALKS AND LECTURES

SPEAKERS: The committee was again able to put together a varied and entertaining series of lectures focusing on visits to fascinating birding sites, critical conservation issues and usually very entertaining guest speakers.
# 18 January: Richard Masson told us about his BIRDING BIG MONTH – his travels through several Western Cape Reserves, the Karoo, Marekele and Kruger National Parks, the Bloemhof Dam and many more.
# 8 February: BirdLife Overberg ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2016.
# 14 March: Dale Wright, the Western Cape conservation manager of BirdLife South Africa, gave feedback on progress with his work, as well as the HOTTENTOT BUTTONQUAIL research project.
# 11 April: Andre Botha, the manager of the Birds of Prey Program at the Endangered Wildlife Trust, focused largely on the conservation status of AFRICAN VULTURES.
# 9 May: Our annual talk on a topic not related to birds highlighted the work of the CAPE LEOPARD TRUST. We would like to thank the committee, as well as members who had all contributed to sponsoring a camera trap for the Cape Leopard Trust. We were delighted to receive the first images taken by our camera trap, which confirmed that Scott, the dominant male leopard in the Kogelberg region is still fit and well.
# 13 June: Prof Peter Ryan, the Director of the Fitz at UCT, spoke on PLASTICS IN OUR OCEANS. This talk attracted a record crowd for our club meetings.
# 11 July: Annual FUN BIRD QUIZ evening.
# 15 August: Jessie Walton and Rob Martin on the BROWN-BACKED HONEYBIRD AND KAROO PRINIA brood parasite interplay – fascinating research findings from the Overberg region.
# Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 September: Andre Botha, the Manager of the Birds of Prey Program at the EWT presented a workshop on the identification of raptors. This workshop attracted 50 participants. Venue: Fernkloof Nature Reserve, Hermanus.
# 12 September: The birding delights of the TANKWA KAROO by Anton Odendal.
# 10 October: Brenda du Toit and colleague of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust spoke on recent developments at the Trust and progress with the AFRICAN PENGUIN AND SEABIRDS SANCTUARY (APSS).
# 14 November: Rick Nuttall on the WAXBILL FAMILY.
# 19 November: Year-end dinner.
We express our sincere appreciation to all speakers who shared their considerable experience and knowledge with us. We will once again do our utmost to get top quality speakers at our meetings during 2017.

CATERING: The catering at the monthly meetings is still very well received. We would like to thank everyone who had contributed to this great effort as this is still injecting a lot of new energy and enthusiasm into our meetings. The committee recommends that the R 80.00 fee per meal be maintained for 2017.

APPRECIATION TO MOLLERGREN PARK: We have indeed been privileged to have been able to present our monthly meetings and Flight for Birders courses at Mollergren Park. This is a marvelous venue and most of our speakers have commented on this. Our appreciation goes to the Mollergren Park management.


2.2 DAY OUTINGS
# 16 January 2016: HAROLD PORTER NATIONAL BOTANICAL GARDEN
# 18 February: DE MOND NATURE RESERVE
# 12 March: WITKRANS, UILENKRAALS ESTUARY, DANGER POINT & STANFORD.
# 9 April: PELAGIC BIRDING CRUISE from Kleinbaai with the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.
# 12 April: Hike in VOGELGAT NATURE RESERVE.
# 27 April: FERNKLOOF NATURE RESERVE
# 15 May: HAWSTON SEWAGE WORKS & MEER-EN-SEE
# 11 June: Strandfontein Sewage Works cancelled due to weather.
# 10 July: PELAGIC BIRDING CRUISE from Kleinbaai with the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.
# 30 July: Birding hike at ARABELLA ESTATE.
# 13 August: VERMONT SALT PAN & SWARTRIVIER ROAD
# 18 September: Overberg Lowlands Conservation Trust near De Hoop Nature Reserve cancelled due to poor weather.
# 20 September: Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.
# Saturday 8 October: Danger Point Peninsula, to include a visit to the African Penguin & Seabirds Sanctuary (APSS) cancelled due to bad weather.
# 5 November: BERGSIG WINE ESTATE and Bainskloof Pass along the Breede River.
# 19 November: Fynbos and birds at FERNKLOOF NATURE RESERVE.
# 26 November: BirdLife South Africa's annual Birding Big Day. Team Rockjumper achieved second prize nationally for seeing the second most endemic species on the day.
# 11 December: Birding hike at ARABELLA COUNTRY ESTATE.

2.3 MIDWEEK AND AWAY OUTINGS
# 11 to 14 January: Gys se Plek in the KOUE BOKKEVELD – Anton and Elaine.
# 14 January: Formation of the WITZENBERG BIRD CLUB in CERES – Anton and Elaine.
# Sunday 24 January to Friday 29 January: Midweek outing to Duinepos in the West Coast National Park. GROUP LEADER: Chris Cheetham
# Carin, Ilse and friends on a road trip to the KGALAGADI TRANSFRONTIER PARK.
# Sunday 16 to Friday 21 October: Midweek outing to the Algeria section of the Cederberg Wilderness. GROUP LEADER: Chris Cheetham.

2.4 ACTIVITIES NOT DIRECTLY CLUB RELATED
# Saturday 6 February: Western Cape Birding Forum meeting in Somerset West where Anton was appointed as Chairman and Carin as Secretary.
# 4 June: Western Cape Birding Forum meeting at Intaka Island, Century City.
# Saturday 1 October: Western Cape Birding Forum meeting at Tygerberg Nature Reserve.
# Eleven Flight for Birders identification and conservation courses at Hermanus, Swellendam, Pinelands, Franschhoek, Villiersdorp, Tulbagh, Intaka Island, Century City (2), Mossel Bay, Betty's Bay and George. (248 participants).
# The launching of the upgraded birdfinder web page for the Cape Whale Coast region was done at the beginning of December. We would like to express our sincere appreciation to the Table Mountain Fund, WWF-SA and the Agulhas Biosphere Initiative for the grant that enabled us to complete the work. The same applies to the staff members of the Flower Valley Conservation Trust who were responsible for the administration of the project on behalf of the sponsors. On a personal note I would also like to thank all club members and other specialists who evaluated the provisional text of many of the top bird-watching destinations in our region. Herewith brief feedback on the marketing campaign during December 2016: We posted the links to the four completed web pages, together with a list of the 10 top birding sites in each area. These posts achieved 72,000+ views on the WesternCapeBirding & BirdLife Overberg Facebook pages alone. An average of 250+ pageloads and 120+ first time visits per day on westerncapebirding.co.za. An average of 26% of these pageloads were done from overseas. Significantly, an increase in inquiries and requests for guiding, etc five times more than December 2015.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain sponsorship to complete similar projects in other target areas in the Western Cape Province and members are requested to assist in this regard by suggesting potential sponsors or donors. Several project proposals and budgets in this regard have been completed.

3. EDUCATION: The four bird identification brochures are still being handed out at schools and bird courses. 

4. CONSERVATION – THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN BIRDLIFE OVERBERG AND CAPENATURE: This agreement was terminated due to Keir Lynch resigning from CapeNature. The completion of the Birds in Reserves Project (BIRP) cards was also discontinued and several members registered with BirdLasser and started submitting atlas records on a regular basis. Members are encouraged to participate in the BirdLasser project and it proposed that a workshop in this regard be presented during 2017.

5. THE WESTERN CAPE BIRDING FORUM: We still participate in the meetings of this Forum particularly as far as the development of the provincial birding routes is concerned. Note should be taken of the fact that this is a BLSA sponsored Forum and that we will continue punting the BLSA cause at these meetings. Anton and Carin's new roles as Chairperson and Secretary of the Forum are taking up a lot of their time and they will reconsider their possible involvement in this in future. They have at least managed to sort out several problems that they had inherited from the past such as formulating Operational Rules and Procedures for the Forum and getting this accepted by the Board of BirdLife South Africa.

6. COMMUNICATION: Communication through the BLOBirdNet continues and is doing well, even though there are still several members who have not yet registered on the BirdNet. This is creating unnecessary administration and time-wasting and all members are requested to register with the service. Formal invitations will again be forwarded to members.
We would like to express our sincere appreciation to Paula Combrink for having created a WhatsApp rare bird reporting service for members. This has created “popup outings” where members set op outings on short notice – this is proving to be extremely popular. All members are invited to contact Paula in view of joining the group.
The club website as part of the Overberg Birding Route site on www.westerncapebirding.co.za is doing well and events and reports are being updated on a continual basis. Members are encouraged to visit the website regularly to stay abreast of events. We have introduced a section on trip reports and this has proven to be extremely popular. Kindly submit reports of all your trips, even if it is only a morning outing. The committee decided to investigate the possibility of reviving the club photographic competition and Carin Malan will co-ordinate this. We need help with the administration of the website and members are requested to volunteer their services – contact Anton in this regard.
Our Facebook and Twitter accounts, for BirdLife Overberg, Western Cape Birding and Flight for Birders continue. This is hugely successful and has more than tripled visits to the website. Members not yet part of this are encouraged to send a Friend Request to Anton Odendal as this is by far the most effective and rapid way of communicating on events, sightings and the like.

7. FINANCIAL REPORT
The financial report is currently being prepared and will be submitted for approval to J. de W.Koegelenberg & Co. Copies of the report will be available at the Annual General Meeting. I would like to thank Vivie Lombard, Elaine Odendal and Mr. Koegelenberg for their hard work in this regard. It is proposed that J. de W.Koegelenberg & Co remain our auditors.

8. MEMBERSHIP FEES - 2017: A recommendation in this regard will form part of the financial report – for discussion and ratification at the AGM. Members who had not yet paid their membership fees for 2017 are requested to do so at their earliest possible convenience.

9. DONATIONS: We express our sincere appreciation to all members have made donations during 2016.

10. ELECTION OF COMMITTEE FOR 2017: For discussion and ratification at the AGM.
We thank all members of the 2016 committee for their dedication and hard work during the year. It is recommended that the current format of committee meetings be maintained.
Anton Odendal
5 February 2017.

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