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BIRDLIFE OVERBERG CHAIRMAN REPORT 2018

Posted on the 28th January 2019

CHAIRPERSON’S ANNUAL REPORT FOR THE PERIOD 1 JANUARY 2018 TO 31 DECEMBER 2018

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:
1.1 To 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;
1.2 To place strong emphasis on educational programs in order to get participants involved in the meaningful conservation of birds and their habitats;
1.3 To 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
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.
Monday 22 January: “Birding in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and southern Namibia” by Carin Malan/ Monday 19 February: AGM - Photographic overview of BLO projects on the conservation of the Cape Whale Coast estuaries and coastline/ Monday 12 March – Otto Schmidt: “Searching for rare and endemic/near-endemic birds in Namibia”. / Monday 9 April – BirdLife South Africa’s coastal birds program by Dr Taryn Morris/ 14 May - Krista Oswald: The Cape Rock-jumper/ Monday 11 June – Willene van der Merwe on Birding at South Georgia Island in the Antarctic ocean/ Saturday 28 July – Xmas in July with Vernon Head and Mel Tripp as guest speakers/ Monday 13 August – The life and times of Francois Levaillant by Prof Ian Glenn/ Monday 10 September – Jenny Parsons and Anton celebrated the African Oystercatcher as bird of the year and focused on the extended period during which the nests need to be protected/ Monday 8 October – Birding from Alaska to Argentina by Pieter van Oudtshoorn/ Saturday 17 November – Year-end function highlighting images taken by invited club members.

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 2019.
PROVISIONAL LIST OF SPEAKERS FOR 2019
Anton Odendal to celebrate the Secretarybiid as the bird of the year/ Carin Malan on birding in Zululand/ Anton to give an overview of the CleanMarine project at the AGM/ Wilfred Chivell and Susan Visagie on birding along New Zealand islands/ Ferdie Endemann on the conservation of cycads as our non-birding talk of the year/ Fun bird quiz in June/ Richard Masson on birding in Swaziland/ Cuan McGeorge on Stony Point and African Penguin to coincide with African Penguin Awareness Day and Marine Month in October/ We are trying to secure the services of Toast Coetzer, the travel editor at GO and WEG, to present his popular “Birding Tales” talk/ We are trying to secure the services of Dave Pepler as the guest speaker at our Xmas in July event/ The overview of favorite photographs by club members at our year-end function in 2018 was extremely well received and this will be repeated.

CATERING: The catering at the monthly meetings continues to be very popular. 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. We would particularly like to express our sincere appreciation to Elaine Odendal and Helé Oosthuizen for coordinating the catering. We thank all members who had already volunteered to assist us with the catering during 2019.
Kindly ensure that RSVP's for these events are done well in advance as it is vital for catering purposes. 

APPRECIATION TO MOLLERGREN PARK: We have indeed been privileged to have been able to present our monthly meetings and the LBJ identification course 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 AND WEEKEND OUTINGS AND COURSES
A wide selection of visits and activities were once again presented and these include:
Saturday 13 January: Monthly BLO coastal cleanup at the Hoek van de Berg Nature Reserve (First section)/ 16 January – Visit to De Mond Nature Reserve/ Saturday 20 January: The annual “RED FLOWER MORNING BIRDING OUTING” to Rooiels and Harold Porter/ Thursday 15 February: Vermont salt pan and the Karwyderskraal and Swartivier Roads/ Saturday 24 February: BirdLife Overberg’s quarterly Mini Birding Big Day and monthly coastal cleanup/ Thursday 15 March: Morning outing to Witkrans, the Danger Point peninsula and Stanford/ Saturday 17 March: Monthly BLO coastal cleanup along the Onrus & Vermont coastlines/ 14 April: Monthly BLO coastal cleanup at the Hoek van de Berg Nature Reserve (Second section)/ Thursday 26 April – Napier outing/ Saturday 12 May – BirdLife Overberg’s quarterly Mini Birding Big Day/ Thursday 17 May – Stanford Wandelpad en Willem Appel se dam/ Saturday 19 May: Monthly BLO coastal cleanup at the Hoek van de Berg Nature Reserve (First section)/ 6 June – Cruise down the Klein River on the Lady Stanford/ Saturday 16 June – Vermont salt pan and the Karwyderskraal and Swartrivier roads/ Saturday 23 June: Monthly BLO coastal cleanup along the Onrus & Vermont coastlines/ Saturday 7 July – The winter CWAC count on the Botriver estuary/ 10 August – Visit to the Dyer Island Conservation Trust/ Saturday 18 August – BirdLife Overberg’s quarterly Mini Birding Big Day/ Saturday 25 August: Monthly BLO coastal cleanup at the Hoek van de Berg Nature Reserve (First section)/ 1 and 2 September – Specialist LBJ identification course by David Allan/ Saturday 8 September - Morning outing to Fernkloof Nature Reserve/ Saturday 15 September: Monthly BLO coastal cleanup along the Onrus & Vermont coastlines/ Thursday 27 September – Steve Peck led another exciting outing in the Napier district/ Saturday 20 October: Monthly BLO coastal cleanup at the Hoek van de Berg Nature Reserve (Second section)/ 25 October – Steve Peck led a very successful outing to the Zoetendal Winery near Elim/ Sunday 28 October to Friday 2 November – Midweek tour to Kostaplenti at Nature’s Valley/ 7 November – Informal outing at Onrus and the Karwyderskraal road/ 24 November: BLSA's Birding Big Day, BLO quarterly Mini Birding Big Day and monthly BLO coastal cleanup picnic at Stony Point/ Saturday 1 December – Napier outing postponed, but Steve Peck and Steve Bailey undertook a very productive outing/ Saturday 8 December: Monthly BLO coastal cleanup along the Onrus & Vermont coastlines.
A further 15 trip and outing reports were posted by members throughout the year highlighting visits to exciting birding destinations such as Namibia, Kgalagadi, Kruger, Zululand and Egypt. (See below). We thank members for these reports and would like to encourage all members to forward reports, even if it is just about a stroll along the cliff path. Such reports are immensely popular on the website and social media pages and we regularly get new members to join the club due to this.

2.3 A SELECTION OF TRIP REPORTS RECEIVED FROM MEMBERS

4 January – “Field Report on Guided Bird Tour around Napier” by Steve Peck/ 3 May – “EGYPT BIRDING - CRUISING THE NILE” by MC Botha/ 5 May – “MORE OUTSTANDING OVERBERG BIRDING” by Jenny Parsons/ 29 May – “QUARTERLY BIG BIRD COUNT BETWEEN SWARTRIVIER AND ROOIELS” by Jenny Parsons/ 15 July – “BIRDING NAMIBIA – WINTER 2018. ENDEMICS and NEAR-ENDEMICS’ by Richard Masson/ 25 July – “RICHARD MASSON CELEBRATES COLOURFUL BIRDS OF NAMIBIA”/ 18 August – “STEVE PECK BIRDS IN THE SOUTHERN PARTS OF KRUGER”/ 19 August – “Big Bird Count 18 August 2018: Rooiels to Palmiet Sewage works” by Jenny Parsons/ 30 August – “IN CELEBRATION OF VULTURES” by Carin Malan/ 4 September – “CELEBRATING BIRDING IN ZULULAND” by Dawid and Carin Malan/ 19 September – “BIRDING AT BULTFONTEIN – SPECTACULAR GARDEN BIRDING” by Anton Odendal/ 26 September – “BRIAN TAYLOR CELEBRATES BIRDING IN THE KGALAGADI”/ 4 October – “LEGGINGS, LIONS AND BUGHU BRANDY IN THE KGALAGADI” by Carin Malan/ 28 October – “Zoetendal Field Trip Report – Yet another great Overberg birding spot” by Steve Peck/ 7 November – “GREAT BIRDING ALONG THE CAPE WHALE COAST DESPITE DREADFUL WEATHER” by Anton Odendal/ 20 November – “REPORT ON BIRDLIFE OVERBERG IN NATURE’S VALLEY” by Anton Odendal/ 3 December – “THE TWO STEVES BIRD THE NAPIER DISTRICT” by Steve Peck/ 15 December – “BIRDLIFE OVERBERG PELAGIC ENCOUNTERS CRUISE WITH MARINE DYNAMICS” by Jenny Parsons.

2.4 ACTIVITIES NOT DIRECTLY CLUB RELATED
# Anton continued with his birding column entitled DIE VALKOOG in the LANDBOUWEEKBLAD on a monthly basis. Five illustrated articles also appeared in COUNTRY LIFE, but this was discontinued due to too many bird club commitments.
# Only five Flight for Birders identification and conservation courses were presented during the year under review due to too many club commitments. Six further talks were presented to bird clubs and other informal groupings.
# No birdfinder web pages were launched during the year under review, again due to a lack of time.
# We only twice posted completed birdfinder web pages before holiday periods on both the website and the various Facebook pages. This continues to make a significant contribution towards the marketing of the Western Cape as a top birding destination. The hope is expressed that these postings will be done more regularly during 2019 when more time will be available.

EDUCATION:
Refer to the comprehensive report on progress with the CleanMarine campaign which is posted separately.

4. CONSERVATION
4.1 OPPOSING THE APPLICATION FOR A PERMIT FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF A DISTILARY AT ROOIELS. We coordinated an appeal against this ridiculous application in collaboration with various other individuals and organizations and it appears as if the appeal will be successful. Our appreciation goes to the majority of our members who had sent us letters of support for our objection.

4.2 SUPPORT FOR THE HANDS OFF FERNKLOOF CAMPAIGN. We will continue with our support for the “Hands off Fernkloof Nature Reserve” campaign if needed.

4.3 BIRDLIFE OVERBERG’S CLEANMARINE PROJECT ON THE CONSERVATION OF OUR COASTLINE AND ESTUARIES. A separate report on this matter is being submitted.

5. THE WESTERN CAPE BIRDING FORUM: Anton & Carin stepped down as Chairman and Secretary of the Forum at the meeting at the Helderberg Nature Reserve in February. They were replaced by Brian Vanderwalt and a person to be nominated as Secretary from the Tygerberg Bird Club. One meeting was held in June and nothing has happened since. We express our serious concern about this matter. Dates for meetings during 2019 have however now been received.

6. COMMUNICATION:
# Communication through the BLOBirdNet was discontinued during 2019 due to several members not registering for the service despite continual requests in this regard. The BirdNet was replaced with three ordinary address lists whereby information is disseminated by email.
# We would like to express our sincere appreciation to Paula Combrink for still managing the WhatsApp rare bird reporting service for members. This is creating “pop-up outings” where members set up 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 we are looking for a member to 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.
# The Western Cape Birding Facebook account was discontinued in view of only focusing on club matters – this again due to time constraints. This is a pity as this facebook page was used to market the Western Cape Province as a top birding destination. Our Facebook accounts, for BirdLife Overberg, the Flight for Birders course and CleanMarine at BirdLife Overberg are hugely successful and continue to improve 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. Recommendations regarding the appointment of a Treasurer and Auditors for 2019 are currently being formulated and will be submitted at the AGM. We appeal to all members to consider volunteering to assist us with the position of Treasurer.

8. MEMBERSHIP FEES - 2018: A recommendation in this regard will form part of the financial report – for discussion and ratification at the AGM. Elaine has sent out invoices for membership fee renewals. We thank all members who had already renewed their subs and request others who had not yet paid their membership fees for 2019 to do so.

9. DONATIONS: We express our sincere appreciation to all members have made donations during 2018 as well as those who had already donated for 2019. This helps tremendously to sustain our conservation efforts.

10. ELECTION OF COMMITTEE FOR 2019: We have sent out repeated requests, both to the group and to individuals, for support by serving various portfolios where help is needed. We thank all 30 members who had already committed their support, even if this is just for catering or leading day outings. Nominations forms are being circulated to all concerned and the final list of members to serve in various capacities will be submitted for approval at the AGM. Support is still needed for someone to serve as Treasurer, organizing two weekend outings and assistance with the website. Kindly contact me directly to volunteer your support.

11. CONCLUDING COMMENT: I am now standing down as Chairman of the club as was indicated during the AGM in February 2018. I have served on bird club and photographic society committees since the early 80s and now need to pursue some other birding interests. These include the presentation of courses, writing articles for various columns and newsletters and designing bird-finder web pages to market the Western Cape Province as a top birding destination, and to have the time to just bird as well. As far as the club goes I will still work on the website, lead a few outings and support the incoming committee when requested to do so. I will also be prepared to assist conditionally with some aspects of the CleanMarine campaign if a decision is taken at the AGM to continue with it.
I would like to express my sincere appreciation to you all for your support over the years and am happy that the new committee will ensure that BirdLife Overberg remains the great example that it is.

28 January 2019.

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