Posted on the 13th May 2017

On Thursday and Friday we presented the Flight for Birders course at the Bosheuwel environmental education facility in the beautiful and highly underrated Agulhas National Park. We decided to sponsor 15 staff members of the park to participate, as we believe that the birding potential of the park should be realised through such training. It was really encouraging to see the enthusiasm of most of these participants and the hope is expressed that their participation will stand them in good stead for their career development.









Next week we will do our 100th presentation of the Flight for Birders course at Hartenbos and it was decided to celebrate this by adding some special new sections. Some of these sections were used at Bosheuwel and included an overview of my favourite birding destinations and experiences. We are satisfied that this will improve the course contents considerably. As usual there were several very interesting discussions throughout the two days. Most participants believe that the bird-watching potential of the Cape Agulhas region needs to be developed more meaningfully and that particularly the De Hoop and De Mond Nature Reserves and the Agulhas National Park need more exposure to a growing international birding fraternity. A proposal for the development of birdfinder web pages for this region will be forwarded to some of the participants. The completion of such web pages will enable us to market the entire Overberg region holistically as a top birding destination.

Chalet at Renosterkop
The Springfield homestead














The weather conditions were unfortunately not favourable for great birding as howling winds dominated both days. We did manage to find both GREATER and LESSER FLAMINGOS, as well as GREAT WHITE PELICANS along the access road between Bredasdorp and Elim. The highlight however were large numbers of DENHAM'S BUSTARD along the road – easily twenty of these magnificent birds. Endemic species seen around the centre included the BOKMAKIERIE, CAPE BULBUL, FISCAL FLYCATCHER, CAPE LONGCLAW, PIED STARLING and CAPE WEAVER. The AFRICAN FISH-EAGLE, PIED KINGFISHER and AFRICAN MARSH-HARRIER were located in the area around the river and other birds of prey seen included the JACKAL BUZZARD, ROCK KESTREL and BLACK-SHOULDERED KITE. The BLUE CRANE, COMMON OSTRICH and LARGE-BILLED and RED-CAPPED LARKS were very active throughout the two days. A drive to Brandfontein produced the CAPE GRASSBIRD, CAPE SUGARBIRD and SOUTHERN TCHAGRA, as well as an awesome juvenile BLACK HARRIER quartering over the Renosterveld. At night we heard the calls of CROWNED LAPWING, SPOTTED and WATER THICK-KNEES, SPOTTED EAGLE-OWL and BARN OWL. On our way back home we were delighted to find a SECRETARYBIRD and a magnificent adult MARTIAL EAGLE, the latter flying with a large prey item.

Cape Bulbul
Pied Starling








Once at home I received this wonderful feedback from Theanette Staal, the Manager and Veterinary Nurse at the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary – APSS, a project of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust: “What a wonderful, informative and really user friendly Flight for Birders course by Anton Odendal at Bosheuwel in the Agulhas National Park. Thank you for sending me home not feeling overwhelmed, but enthusiastic instead. Can't wait to start getting to know all the amazing birds out there that I haven't met yet! And with the help of Anton's easy to use and practical website there is no reason for any birding route to remain untravelled. It was also good to learn about conservation efforts and how birding tourism works.
Definitely to be recommended!
Thank you!” - Thank you Theanette, appreciated. 

Fiscal Flycatcher
Cape Grassbird










JUDY CHENEY (posted: 2017-05-22 13:13:50)
Dear Dr Odendal,
Thank you for the course this past week. Very interesting for me and I find myself asking questions when I see birds now....... to try to identify them so it must have worked!
It would be greatly appreciated if I could receive a copy of the report you wrote against beach driving. It would be most helpful to us in trying to defend our beach and keeping nature where it should be.
With kind regards
DIANA PARKER (posted: 2017-05-22 13:11:37)
Hi Anton
Just wanted to say thank you for your enthralling and so informative course this last Thursday and Friday.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and was amazed at so many of the facets of birding information that you told us- the migratory marvels being just one!
Your passion and enthusiasm was inspiring..
Best wishes and thanks too, Elaine, for your contribution to the course
EMMERENTIA DE KOCK (posted: 2017-05-22 13:05:45)
Dear Anton
On behalf of our staff members who took part in the Flight for Birders course on May 11 and 12 at Bosheuwel, we want to thank you for your willingness to have them attend for free.
We are sure they all learnt a lot and that they will be able to use the information and experience in their daily job.
Kind regards
Alliston Appel
Emmerentia De Kock
People and Conservation
Agulhas National Park
SUSANNE FUCHS (posted: 2017-05-22 08:09:47)
Hi Elaine and Anton
As always I thoroughly enjoyed the Flight for Birders course in Agulhas last week. Thanks for sharing your experiences and providing the helpful birding recommendations. I wish you much success for your “centenary” course up ahead! I have contacted BirdLife about the educational tools for Blue cranes, African penguins and Cape robin chats (previous birds of the year) for possibly using in our Conservancy activities with the young kids in Eluxolweni, Pearly Beach. The information was not available on the website, but Shireen Gould at BirdLife promised to find out from where it can now be obtained.
All the best
Susanne Fuchs
ARLAND READ (posted: 2017-05-21 16:26:27)
Subirdly run course at Hartenbos. For all levels of birders. So many interesting facts and tips just not found in books.The course was fun and left me wanting more,just what the Doctor ordered. Thanks so much Dr. Odendal .