FLIGHT FOR BIRDERS COURSE AT HERMANUS - BRIEF REPORT
Posted on the 22nd February 2016
Every second year we present the Flight for Birders identification and conservation course as a membership drive for BirdLife Overberg. This time we were at the Community Hall at Mollergren Park in Hermanus on 20 and 21 February. Registrations for the course had to be closed as we reached our capacity for seating. The group was very diverse as participants ranged from young students through to elderdy people in search of a hobby. Geoff Anderson brought a contingent from Arabella Estate and four employees from Grootbos private nature reserve attended. Interesting that several Brits attended and surprising that Philip and Theresa Williamson who are on holiday in South Africa participated. Other visiting birders came from as far afield as Cape Town, Somerset West, Villiersdorp and even Stilbaai.
We offered a year's free membership of BirdLife Overberg as part of the course fees and the hope is expressed that several of the people who took up such membership (31 in total) will become active in club activities, join again in a year's time and even join BirdLife South Africa. The diversity of the group did make it fairly difficult to cope with the various demands and wide ranging questions. I did feel afterwards as if a train had hit me. We were however encouraged by the enthusiasm of the group and are convinced that the new members will contribute significantly to our club's activities.
We have changed the course significantly towards the end of last year in view of placing far more emphasis on the local and regional distribution of species and conservation issues. This implies that the courses to be presented in different provinces will be very different as far as content and illustrations are concerned. We are satisfied that this approach works well and will continue focussing on local and regional content.
The course also had its fair share of funny incidents. As usual I chucked all my toys out of the cot about participants arriving with out of date bird books. Within thirty minutes Cynthia Strunck's husband arrived at the venue with a brand new book that he went and purchased in town! Febe van Tonder is from Somerset West and I offered that she attend the course at Intaka Island on the previous weekend as it would be more practical. She decided to rather drive out to Hermanus as she did not feel like taking a boat to an island to attend a course!
On the cliff path
Geoff and friends during tea time
We went for a walk along a section of the Hermanus cliff-path trail for the practical outing on Sunday morning. Elaine and myself were delighted that almost the entire group participated in the walk. Unfortunately the tide was high at this stage and we missed out on the tern day roost that normally causes such great excitement with birders. Cape Cormorants started coming out to the rocks and later in the day participants were able to see thousands of these birds flying in a westerly direction. The highlight of the morning was undoubtedly Chris Cheetham's Elegant-type Tern that staged two fly-pasts for the group. What excitement! We managed to get some good species along the trail and these included Bar-throated Apalis, Cape Batis, Karoo Prinia, Cape Robin-Chat, Olive Thrush and Cape White-eye. A fairly good spread of garden birds were also seen within the premises. It was great being out on a crisp windless morning.
Our next course will be at Swellendam on 3 and 4 March and details are available at this link:
At this stage we are investigating the possiblity of presenting courses in the southern suburbs of Cape Town, Paarl, Villiersdorp and the Stilbaai region. Details are available in the events section of westerncapebirding.co.za and inquiries may be addressed to email@example.com
I would like to thank Elaine and Anita for all the back-up and support during the course and would like to welcome all our new members to the activities of BirdLife Overberg.
Brian Taylor chatting to the Williamsons
Bernardine, Rev, Kerry, Almari & Desiree
Cynthia, Diana & Barbara
Philip Gous, Erich & Michelle Papke & Gail Gous
Elegant-type Tern taken earlier by Chris Cheetham at Gearing's Point, Hermanus