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BIRDLIFE OVERBERG: REVIEW OF ACTIVITIES DURING 2019

Posted on the 2nd March 2020

BIRDLIFE OVERBERG: REVIEW OF ACTIVITIES DURING 2019
REPORT FOR THE PERIOD 1 JANUARY 2019 TO 31 DECEMBER 2019
This report should be read in combination with the BirdLife Overberg CleanMarine conservation report for 2019 published earlier.

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 report could be evaluated against the backdrop of our club’s basic aims.

2. INFRASTRUCTURE
2.1 MONTHLY TALKS AND LECTURES
SPEAKERS: We were 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. These talks included talks on birding at wonderful birding destinations such as Zululand, Swaziland (Eswatini) and New Zealand and the highlighting of conservation threats facing our Secretarybirds, bustards and korhane and sunbirds. We further celebrated the many endemic bird species found in the Western Cape Province and John Kieser introduced us to the work of PlasticsĒ€ SA. The highlight of the year was undoubtedly the talk on the role of seabirds in the ecology of our shores and seas by George and Margo Branch at our hugely successful Xmas in July fundraising event.
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 2020.

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 injecting a lot of 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 2020. 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 Flight Higher course for more experienced birders at the community hall of Mollergren Park. This is an outstanding venue and most of our speakers have commented on this. Our appreciation goes to the Mollergren Park management in general and Fredeline in particular.

2.2 DAY AND WEEKEND OUTINGS AND COURSES
A wide selection of visits and activities were once again presented and these included:
• Regular monthly BLO coastal clean-ups, except when the weather did not allow for this. We thank Elaine and Helé for coordinating these important events.
• Regular quarterly CWAC counts started in July and these replaced BirdLife Overberg’s quarterly Mini Birding Big Days that were done over the previous three years. Many other clubs and agencies participate in these counts and we express our sincere appreciation to Carin Malan for the massive effort in putting this together. (We report on these two projects in the conservation report for 2019 that was published separately).
• Day outings were undertaken to several great destinations such as the De Mond Nature Reserve, the Rooiels site and Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, Arabella Estate, the Rooisand Nature Reserve, Vermont salt pan and the Karwyderskraal and Swartivier Roads, the Onrus and Vermont coastal path, Keurbos Farm in the Elgin Valley, the Fernkloof Nature Reserve and the Stanford and Greyton districts.
• The midweek tour to Kostaplenti at Nature’s Valley in November was again hugely popular and well attended and we thank Charles and Colleen Naude for coordinating the tour.
• BLSA's Birding Big Day was again well supported and several groups participating in various areas throughout the Overberg.
• A total of 24 trip and outing reports were posted by members throughout the year highlighting visits to exciting birding destinations. 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. These reports can be viewed under “NEWS” and “TRIP REPORTS” on the club website.

2.3 BROADER ISSUES
2.3.1 “DIE VALKOOG” in LANDBOUWEEKBLAD
Anton continued with articles for his birding column entitled DIE VALKOOG in the LANDBOUWEEKBLAD on a monthly basis. Discussions are underway to publish the first 30 articles in book form and the Editor has increased the length of the articles from 800 to 1,200 words.
2.3.2 COMMENTS AND REPORTS ON DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS AND SIMILAR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT PROJECTS.
The following reports were submitted during 2019:
• Ongoing analysis of development proposals at the Vermont Salt Pan.
• Ongoing analysis of development proposals at the Rooiels site.
• Comments and objections to the draft scoping report for public comment with regards to mining rights application by Bongani Minerals (Pty) Ltd over portion 1 of the farm Piketberg Rd and portion 21 on the farm Namaquasfontein, Swartland District, Western Cape Province: 25 January 2019.
• Objection to the proposed development of a game farm with tourist facilities and associated infrastructure on the remainder of the farm Lamloch No. 892, Caledon district (Pre-Application DEA&DP Reference: 16/3/3/6/7/1/E2/18/1343/15): 12 April 2019.
• Comments on the Fernkloof Nature Reserve Protected Areas Management Plan (PAMP) 2020 – 2024 (Version: Draft1. 2019): 27 June 2019.
• Comments on the draft Western Cape Biodiversity Bill, 2019 in support of the comments by Rob Fryer of Whale Coast Conservation: 6 August 2019.
• Comments on the proposed removal of alien reeds from the Onrus River estuary: 2 December 2019.
• Memorandum in support of an application for financial support for projects to National Geographic by Dr Odette Curtis-Scott of the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust: 6 December 2019.
• Comments on an application for bird-watching water safaris on the Klein River lagoon, Hermanus: 12 December 2019.
• Development of bird checklists based on pentad statistics and IBA trigger species for Rooiels and Pringle Bay, the Lamloch Swamps, Vermont Salt Pan and Riverton Stud, Robertson district.
• Comprehensive update of all destinations of the Cape Whale Coast bird finder web pages: 15 December 2019.
2.3.3 TRAINING COURSES AND TALKS DURING 2019
Fourteen courses were presented during the year. These included four courses for CapeNature employees, six Flight for Birders courses and four Flight Higher courses. Seven general talks were presented by club members to bird clubs and other agencies.

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

4. CONSERVATION
Refer to the comprehensive conservation report on progress with the CleanMarine campaign which was posted separately.

5. THE WESTERN CAPE BIRDING FORUM:
BirdLife Overberg reports to the Western Cape Birding Forum meetings were submitted during February, June and November 2019.

6. COMMUNICATION:
# Elaine revived the monthly “What’s Happening” newsletter and this has proven to be very popular and successful. Other urgent announcements are still being made through the address lists.
# 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. The section on trip reports has proven to be extremely popular. Kindly submit reports of all your trips, even if it is only a morning outing.
# We need help with the administration of the website and members are requested to volunteer their services – contact Anton in this regard.
# 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. We 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 2020 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.
Vivie will be appropriately thanked for her many years of dedication in this regard at the AGM.

8. APPLICATION FOR NON PROFIT ORGANISATION STATUS
Recommendations in this regard have been put forward several times in the past and this finally gained momentum in 2019. We thank Tobie Louw for his hard work and effort in formulating the application and submitting this. We were then asked to change a few minor things in our constitution and this was approved by more than 70% of members at a Special General Meeting. The constitution was adapted accordingly and submitted electronically to the authorities. They again requested us to change a minor issue in our constitution – it appears that different people evaluate the applications at the registrar’s office and read their own preferences into it. We request members through the AGM to approve the changing of wording of issues in our constitution as requested by the Registrar’s office on the condition that baseline principles are not changed. Members will be informed of such possible changes in writing. The administrative time wasted to call Special General Meeting every time that the Registrar requests minor changes seem totally impractical. The names and contact details of the incoming committee also have to be included in the application.

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 2020 to do so.

9. DONATIONS: We express our sincere appreciation to all members have made donations during 2019 as well as those who had already donated for 2020. This helps tremendously to sustain our conservation efforts.

10. ELECTION OF COMMITTEE FOR 2020: The list of members who had accepted responsibility to serve on the committee for the next year and completed the appropriate nomination form will be submitted to members at the AGM.

28 February 2020.

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