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BIRDLIFE OVERBERG REPORT TO WESTERN CAPE BIRDING FORUM MEETING IN MARCH 2020

Posted on the 19th February 2020

BIRDLIFE OVERBERG REPORT TO WESTERN CAPE BIRDING FORUM MEETING – MARCH 2020

GENERAL CLUB NEWS
CLUB MEETINGS, OUTINGS & COURSES:
Normal club activities are going ahead as usual. Here are a few highlights of the period under review: 

(1). Monthly talks: Anton had to do an emergency talk when a speaker got the date wrong and presented a new talk on the endemic birds of the Western Cape forming part of the Flight Higher course/ Dr Alistair McInnes highlighted the latest conservation work on the African Penguin in January/ In February Anton did “Can the Thunderbird strike back: Reflections on the Southern Ground Hornbill”.

(2). Morning outings included trips to Jessie Walton’s farm, Rooiels & Harold Porter Botanical Gardens and the Karwyderskraal & Swartrivier roads. Several sites were also visited by the different teams on Birding Big Day.

(3). Three groups of 8 to 10 members each participated in two-night birding blitzes at Barry House on Riverton in the Robertson district in November, January and February. A Flight Higher course for more experienced birders was also presented at Barry House on Riverton and this is being followed by one in Montagu. It is hoped that this will result in a bird finder web page for the Langeberg region. This area is hugely underrated and one of the reports on these visits can be viewed at this link:
http://www.westerncapebirding.co.za/overberg/news/2527/birding_delights_from_the_barry_house_garden_on_riverton_stud%2C_robertson_district

(4). Anton’s monthly column in Landbouweekblad is ongoing and the Editor, Struik Nature and Anton are currently negotiating about the publication of a book featuring the first 30 articles published in the series. The length of the articles has now been increased from 800 to 1,200 words.

(5). The summer holiday period was a very busy one for the CleanMarine campaign and we report on this briefly:
REPORT ON BIRDLIFE OVERBERG’S CLEANMARINE CAMPAIGN
A PowerPoint presentation on the six projects forming part of BirdLife Overberg’s CleanMarine campaign was developed and a summary of the bullet points is as follows:

BIRDLIFE OVERBERG’S CLEANMARINE CAMPAIGN
THE FOLLOWING PROJECTS WERE IDENTIFIED AS PRIORITIES DURING A BRAINSTORMING SESSION FACILITATED BY DR MARK BROWN OF THE NATURE’S VALLEY TRUST DURING OCTOBER 2017

PROJECT 1: PROTECTING BREEDING SITES OF AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS AND WHITE-FRONTED PLOVERS ALONG OUR COASTLINE: The identification of key breeding sites of African Oystercatchers & White-fronted Plovers along Overstrand coastline went well during the previous two summers and we have a fair idea of key breeding sites along our coastline. It was decided to appoint “Oystercatcher Champions” – 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 was done in December and January.

1.1 OYSTERCATCHERS RAISING CHICKS Several members have taken photographs of breeding birds and adults rearing chicks. Progress was made with the collation of images to illustrate how the chicks develop until they fledge. Jenny Parson’s images of the breeding pair raising their chicks were well documented and disseminated through talks to bird clubs, the website and social media. The main feature of this was that it illustrated the extended period (90 days plus) during which these nesting sites, as well the area where the chicks are being reared need to be protected.

1.2 NEST WARNING SIGNS These signs were adapted for local conditions, but still based on those originally developed by the Nature’s Valley Trust. The printing of the signs were sponsored by the Overstrand Municipality through the contract awarded to the Nature’s Valley Trust. At least three placards are being put up around each nesting site and ropes will in future be used to further demarcate the area within which people or dogs should not be allowed. Feedback on progress in this regard will be received from all Oystercatchers Champions at the end of the breeding season. This effort is being supported by a variety of educational campaigns on our website, the local newspapers and the social media platforms. Mark Brown started presenting workshops on this issue and the zoning of beaches for dogs along our coastline during November and a final report on this development process is expected in July.

1.3 LARGE BEACH BEHAVIOUR POSTERS It was agreed in principle that these posters initially developed by the Nature’s Valley Trust will be adapted and erected 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 and sponsors are being sought. These posters will be put in place for the summer of 2020/ 2021 due to a current lack of available funds.

1.4 THE ZONING OF BEACHES FOR DOGS Mark Brown is facilitating workshops to set up experimental sites for such zoning at Pearly Beach, Grotto and Kleinmond beaches.

PROJECT 2: MONTHLY COASTAL CLEAN-UPS
2.1 THE METHODOLOGY Monthly coastal clean-ups have been undertaken during most months since October 2017 and previously between 2006 and 2008. Reports on these are being published on a regular basis. The results of the quantities of items gathered are submitted to PlasticsÇ€ SA and the Oceans Conservancy in the USA. We express our sincere appreciation to our managers Elaine Odendal and Helé Oosthuizen, to PlasticsÇ€ SA for the provision of equipment and to the People n Planet campaign of Pick n Pay for their sponsorship for refreshments. We are currently negotiating with the Voortrekkers and local church youth groups about participation in these clean-ups.

2.2 FIGHTING SINGLE USE PLASTICS We are continuing with a sustained campaign to minimise the use of single use plastics and have now reached the total weight of 160kg of plastics in 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 and being used in a community development project in the Cape Flats. We thank all members and other participants for their continued support in this regard. We will continue with our fight against FISHING LINE along our beaches and the use of PLASTIC STRAWS and BALLOONS. We express our grave concern about the termination of recycling services in the Overstrand municipal region.

PROJECT 3: EDUCATIONAL CAMPAIGNS
3.1 The BirdLife South Africa BIRD OF THE YEAR EDUCATIONAL POSTERS AND RESOURCES of the last two years (the African Black Oystercatcher and the Secretarybird) have been disseminated to many schools in the region. This project will be ongoing. A talk on the Southern Ground Hornbill and an article in LBWB has been completed.

3.2 TRAINING COURSES A review of the CleanMarine campaign, as well as the hornbill talk has also been incorporated into both the Flight for Birders and Flight Higher courses. 

3.3 SCHOOLS COMPETITIONS MARINE MONTH COMPETITION BY THE DYER ISLAND CONSERVATION TRUST. DICT in partnership with Overstrand Municipality, CapeNature and BirdLife Overberg run an annual competition with the schools along the coast from Kleinmond to Gansbaai. The aim of the competition is to create awareness about our MARINE ENVIRONMENT, PLASTIC POLLUTION, AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHER and CATCHMENT TO COAST. The competition celebrates MARINE MONTH. We thank Tobie and Runette Louw who represented BLO as judges – the awards event was a huge success: 30 winners were taken on a whale watching cruise by Marine Dynamics.

PROJECT 4: FISHING LINE BINS
The last ten fishing line bins will be set up at identified spots along the Hermanus cliff path and at Sandbaai before the Easter holidays. (Vandalism unfortunately held back this project over the summer holidays). This will imply that the entire Overstrand coastline will be covered after employees of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust had covered most areas east of Hermanus. Regular media releases and radio interviews will continue. Our thanks go to DICT & Plasticsǀ SA for the provision of the bins and other materials and for their ongoing support. We also express our sincere appreciation to Frank Spratt and Tom Casey for assisting us with the installation of the bins.

PROJECT 5: QUARTERLY CWAC COUNTS
The third Coordinated Water Bird Counts along all the Cape Whale Coast estuaries were undertaken during February and these counts will in future be done on a regular quarterly basis. These replace the quarterly Big Bird Counts undertaken by BLO members over the last three years. The results go to the Estuaries Managers of BLSA & CapeNature for discussion at the meetings of the various Estuary Management Forums. These counts should enable the forums to make more meaningful decisions regarding the conservation of birds & other issues along these estuaries.
THE FOLLOWING ESTUARIES APPLY: Palmiet River Estuary/ Kleinmond Lagoon/ Botriver Estuary (5 different sites)/ Vermont Salt Pan & Onrus Lagoon/ Klein River Estuary (2 sites)/ Uilenkraals River Estuary. The Tygerberg, Kleinmond, Hermanus and Stanford Bird Clubs, BirdLife Overberg, CapeNature, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and other volunteers participate in this. We express our sincere appreciation to Carin Malan for coordinating this huge effort.

PROJECT 6: QUALITATIVE STUDY ON CIGARETTE BUTT POLLUTION
The setting up of cigarette butt bins along our coastline is under investigation and consultations in this regard were undertaken with various local organisations. It was decided that an alternative plan to address the problem of cigarette butt pollution will have to be developed. 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. One of the big tobacco companies expressed interest in possibly sponsoring this project and negotiations in this regard are ongoing.

ANIMALS & BIRDS STRANDING NETWORK: Note should also be taken of talks that were undertaken on the possible development of a more integrated system of reporting the stranding and injury of sea creatures and birds along the Overstrand coastline. Several agencies were involved in these discussions and all reporting will in future be coordinated by the African Penguin and Seabirds Sanctuary (APSS) at DICT and a single number is being used throughout the Overstrand region. We thank Theanette Staal of APSS for coordinating this project.

FUNDRAISING
# It is evident that significant amounts of money will have to be raised in order to sustain and support these projects. The BirdLife Overberg committee is in the process of registering as a NPO & PBO.
# The usual fundraising efforts will however continue.
# We thank BirdLife SA, Plastics SA, the People n Planet campaign at Pick n Pay, the Overstrand Municipality & several members for their material and financial support until now.

The comprehensive conservation report that include the mentioning of the EIA comments and objections submitted throughout 2019 can be viewed at this link:
http://www.westerncapebirding.co.za/overberg/conservation/685/birdlife_overberg_conservation_report_for_2019

19 February 2020.

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