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BIRDLIFE OVERBERG REPORT TO WESTERN CAPE BIRDING FORUM NOVEMBER 2021

Posted on the 23rd November 2021

BIRDLIFE OVERBERG REPORT TO WESTERN CAPE BIRDING FORUM – NOVEMBER 2021

GENERAL CLUB NEWS – CLUB MEETINGS, OUTINGS & COURSES:
We adopted an “adapt or die” type of approach to club activities after March 2020 and are satisfied that the ship is still afloat. Here are a few highlights of the period under review:

(1). Monthly talks: We started with the presentation of monthly talks via Zoom in March 2020 and presented two talks at our usual venue in April and May 2021. We reverted back to Zoom in June due to the restrictions. Many top speakers presented talks over the last 18 months.

(2). A series of bird identification games and quizzes were developed for members for the first four months of the pandemic. This proved to be very popular. We initially started a reporting network of birds seen in gardens throughout the Overberg region and this developed into monthly lists of birds observed throughout the region. Many members and representatives of other organisations participate in this. The general consensus is that this project will be ongoing as it is producing very interesting information and we are managing to get many ‘newcomers’ involved. Steve Peck drafted a report on the first year of monthly lists and his report can be viewed at this link:
http://www.westerncapebirding.co.za/overberg/news/2601/one_year_of_covid19_restricted_birding_in_the_overberg
The monthly photo gallery of bird images taken by members is also hugely popular and attracts great interest on both the website and Facebook pages.

(2). Morning outings were undertaken when weather permitted us to do so. Note however that significantly fewer members participated in the outings when compared to the past. Outings included trips to Jessie Walton’s farm, Rooiels & Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, Greyton, Stanford, Rooisand (with SWBC) and the Karwyderskraal and Swartrivier roads. Several sites were also visited by the different teams on Birding Big Day and during CWAC counts.

(3). Only two away trip was undertaken: May 2021 when 12 members visited the Galloway Guest House in the Klaasvoogds area outside Robertson and November 2021 when 10 members visited Barry House at Riverton Stud. This forms part of the development of a birdfinder web page for the Langeberg local municipal region. A report on this can be viewed at this link:
http://www.westerncapebirding.co.za/overberg/news/2603/birding_in_the_klaasvoogds_region_near_robertson

(4). Anton’s monthly column in Landbouweekblad is ongoing and 50 articles have now been published in the series. Several readers have joined BLSA through this and interest shown by farmers in the Karoo is particularly encouraging.
Also refer to 3.2 below

BIRDLIFE OVERBERG’S CLEANMARINE CAMPAIGN
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 three summers and we have a fair idea of key breeding sites along our coastline. It was decided to appoint “Oystercatcher Champions” – these are individuals at specific spots along our coast who take responsibility for applying the educational campaigns at their home patches. Many volunteers are now participating.

1.1 OYSTERCATCHERS RAISING CHICKS We continued with the dissemination of information through various channels.

1.2 NEST WARNING SIGNS A new set of signs were printed and is being distributed to our volunteers. We thank members for donations to print the signs and the Municipality for providing the poles. (We attach a copy of the new sign).

1.3 LARGE BEACH BEHAVIOUR POSTERS This project has been placed on ice and will possibly be continued if the Covid19 situation improves and if sponsorship can be found.

1.4 THE ZONING OF BEACHES FOR DOGS This is ongoing and we are waiting for the final changing of by-laws by the municipality.

PROJECT 2: MONTHLY COASTAL CLEAN-UPS
2.1 BIRDLIFE OVERBERG CLEAN-UPS Seven coastal clean-ups along the Onrus and Vermonts shorelines were undertaken during the last year. Two huge Overstrand-wide coastal clean-ups were further undertaken along most areas along our coastline with many organisations, agencies and volunteers participating: International Coastal Clean-up Day in September and World Environment Day in June. It is important to note that our earlier campaigns against the use of plastic straws, balloons and plastic bags are showing positive results as very few, if any of these items are collected along our shoreline these days. We express our sincere appreciation to our managers Elaine Odendal and Helé Oosthuizen and to Plasticsǀ SA for the provision of equipment and to the People n Planet campaign of Pick n Pay for their sponsorship.

PROJECT 3: EDUCATIONAL CAMPAIGNS 3.1 The BirdLife South Africa BIRD OF THE YEAR EDUCATIONAL POSTERS AND RESOURCES of the last four years (the African Black Oystercatcher, Secretarybird, Southern Ground Hornbill and Cape Rockjumper) have been disseminated to many schools in the region. Talks on all four species were presented to bird clubs and articles published in the column in Landbouweekblad.

3.2 TRAINING COURSES A talk on the Cape Rockjumper and climate change was presented at the AGM of the Hermanus Botanical Society and a talk on the Fynbos endemics and climate change was presented to the Whale Coast Conservation Zoom chat in July. All of these talks have been incorporated into the various courses in the ‘Flying Higher’ lecture series. More than fifty talks have until now been incorporated into this series and are being done via Zoom or forwarded to participants with WeTransfer. This project will be ongoing.

PROJECT 4: FISHING LINE BINS The bins in our area had been serviced and cleaned on an irregular basis. We have received a further ten bins that will be erected at previously identified spots when the situation allows for this to happen. 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.

PROJECT 5: QUARTERLY CWAC COUNTS The Coordinated Water Bird Counts along all the Cape Whale Coast estuaries continued and are being done on a regular quarterly basis. The results are forwarded to Dr Giselle Murison, the Estuaries Manager of BLSA & CapeNature for discussion at the meetings of the various Estuary Management Forums. 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 and Stanford Bird Clubs, BirdLife Overberg, CapeNature, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and other volunteers participated in this. CapeNature further requested us to take over the CWAC counts at the De Hoop Nature Reserve – one site inspection and one count was undertaken by BirdLife Overberg members, but communication in this regard had unfortunately fallen by the wayside. We express our sincere appreciation to Carin Malan and Giselle Murison for coordinating this huge effort.

PROJECT 6: QUALITATIVE STUDY ON CIGARETTE BUTT POLLUTION Nothing to report at this stage.

GENERAL
ANIMALS & BIRDS STRANDING NETWORK: This reporting network is now in place and is being coordinated by the African Penguin and Seabirds Sanctuary (APSS) at DICT and the environmental services division of the municipality. A single number is being used throughout the Overstrand region and being disseminated through the usual channels. This worked fairly well during the recent outbreak of avian flu among coastal birds along our coastline.

COLLABORATION ON THE ASSESSMENT OF DEVELOPMENT APPLICATIONS: We collaborate with several conservation agencies and partners in our region and regular Zoom meeting are held in this regard. The most important issues that were addressed include the elephants at Kleinmond, the Hermanus bypass road, the proposed PAMP for the Fernkloof Nature Reserve, motorised birding on the Klein River estuary, the removal of reeds from the Onrus River estuary and the distillery at Rooiels.

FUNDRAISING It is evident that significant amounts of money will have to be raised in order to sustain and support the various projects. Our main fundraising events such as the charity golf day and the Xmas in July dinner and auction had to be cancelled. Alternative fundraising efforts are now being investigated with an online auction being the most likely route to follow. We thank BirdLife SA, Plastics SA, the PeoplenPlanet campaign at PicknPay, the Overstrand Municipality, the Cape Winelands District Municipality & several members and other volunteers for their material and financial support until now.

Anton Odendal
15 November 2021.

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