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BIRDLIFE OVERBERG: 2017 ANNUAL REPORT BY THE CHAIRMAN

Posted on the 9th January 2018

BIRDLIFE OVERBERG’S CHAIRPERSON’S REPORT 2017

CHAIRPERSON’S ANNUAL REPORT FOR THE PERIOD 1 JANUARY 2017 TO 31 DECEMBER 2017

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

2. INFRASTRUCTURE
2.1 MONTHLY TALKS AND LECTURES

SPEAKERS: The committee was 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.
23 January: “Birding in Borneo” by Duncan Butchart / 20 February: BirdLife Overberg ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2017/ 13 March – Focus on the Southern Black Korhaan by Sally Hofmeyer / 23 April – Dr Susan Cunningham spoke on the Hot Birds project / 8 May: Johan Rothman, who works on RAMSAR applications, focused on the state of South Africa's estuaries / 12 June: Dieter Oschadleus on the weaver family / 29 July: Our Xmas in July fundraising event/ 14 August: Mark Anderson on developments at BirdLife South Africa / 11 September: Every picture tells a story by Anton Odendal / 10 October: Antonio da Silva-Swart gave a talk entitled “Coastal cleanups along the Overstrand Coast, including those involving schools”/ 18 November: Duncan Butchart launched his “Garden Birds in Southern Africa” at our year-end function.
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 2018.

CATERING: The catering at the monthly meetings continues to be very well received. We would like to thank everyone who had contributed to this great effort as this is still injecting a lot of new energy and enthusiasm into our meetings.
Kindly ensure that RSVP's be done timeously. 

APPRECIATION TO MOLLERGREN PARK: We have indeed been privileged to have been able to present our monthly meetings and the coastal workshop at Mollergren Park. This is a marvelous venue and most of our speakers have commented on this. Our appreciation goes to the Mollergren Park management.

SPEAKERS CONFIRMED PROVISIONALLY FOR 2018
Carin Malan on BIRDING IN THE KGALAGADI TRANS-FRONTIER PARK AND SOUTHERN NAMIBIA (January)/ BirdLife Overberg AGM (February)/ Otto Schmidt on “Searching for rare and endemic/near-endemic birds in Namibia” (March)/ Dr Taryn Morris on BIRDLIFE SOUTH AFRICA’S COASTAL BIRDS PROGRAM (April)/ Krista Oswald on her research on Cape Rock-jumpers (May)/ Willene van der Merwe on South Georgia Island (June)/ A CHRISTMAS IN JULY CELEBRATION (July)/ Dr Ernst Baard on ‘The 6th Mass Extinction Cycle’. We are losing species at an alarming rate, what is the reason and what can be done? (August)/ Workshop on our ESTUARIES AND COASTLINE (September)/ Prof Ray Jansen will focus on Pangolins as our non birding talk of the year (September)/ Amanda Bourne works on Pied Babblers at the Kuruman River Reserve and she will tell us about these very endearing birds (October)/ NB! 17 November – Year-end function

2.2 DAY AND WEEKEND OUTINGS
Sunday 9 January – A “pop-up” outing to the Rooisand Nature Reserve/ Thursday 12 January - Brilliant birding at De Mond Nature Reserve/ Saturday 21 January - The “RED FLOWER MORNING BIRDING OUTING” to Rooiels and Harold Porter/ MIDWEEK TOUR: Kostaplenti at Nature's Valley between 29 January and 3 February/ Saturday 4 February: The CWAC count on the Botriver estuary/ Saturday 4 February – Celebrating International Wetlands Day at the Agulhas National Park/ 5 to 10 March: Midweek outing to Duinepos in the West Coast National Park/ Saturday 11 March - Morning outing to the dam at Elgin Vintners and the hides on Jessie Walton's farm/ Thursday 16 March - Morning outing to Vermont salt pan, Harderbaai and the Swartrivier road/ Thursday 23 March – Celebrating National Water Day at the Agulhas National Park/ 24 to 28 March: Several members participated in Flock at Sea 2017 aboard the MSC Sinfonia/ Thursday 27 April – Birding in the Napier district/ Saturday 13 May – The first quarterly Global Birding Big Day count in various districts of the Overberg/ Thursday 18 May - Agulhas Plains outing: Agulhas National Park & environs/ Friday 4 to Sunday 6 August – Weekend outing to Grootvadersbos Nature Reserve/ Saturday 19 August – The second quarterly Global Birding Big Day count in various districts of the Overberg/ Saturday 9 September - Morning outing to Fernkloof Nature Reserve/ Saturday 30 September – Birding hike along the Onrus and Vermont shoreline/ Saturday 21 October – Coastal cleanup at the Hoek van de Berg Nature Reserve/ Saturday 18 November – Combined Overstrand outing with the Somerset West Bird Club/ Saturday 25 November – Team Rock-jumper participated in Birding Big Day, the third quarterly Global Birding Big Day count in various districts of the Overberg and the second monthly coastal cleanup at the Hoek van de Berg Nature Reserve/ Saturday 2 December – Outing to the Napier district/ Saturday 9 December – The third monthly coastal cleanup along the Onrus and Vermont coastline.

2.3 OTHER TRIP REPORTS RECEIVED FROM MEMBERS

BIRDING IN THE OVERBERG ON NEW YEARS DAY 2017 – Anton & Elaine/ MIKE AND MARGARET GRAHAM VISIT THREE LOCATIONS IN ZIMBABWE – Mike Graham/ BIRDING AT WILLEM APPEL SE DAM, STANFORD – Carin Malan/ BIRDING ALONG THE WHEATFIELDS OUTSIDE NAPIER – Steve Peck/ RIAAN JACOBS CELEBRATES PELAGIC BIRDS OFF KLEINBAAI, CAPE WHALE COAST – Riaan Jacobs/ BIRDING IN SRI LANKA - A PHOTO ARTICLE - Paula Combrink/ REPORT ON THE HOTTENTOT BUTTONQUAIL BASH IN THE CAPE AGULHAS REGION – Steve Peck/ SLOW BIRDING MOSTLY AT DUINEPOS IN THE WEST COAST NATIONAL PARK - Anton & Elaine/ REPORT ON BIRDING OUTING IN THE NAPIER DISTRICT – Steve Peck/ COUNTING BIG BIRDS OUTSIDE NAPIER FROM A MOUNTAIN BIKE – Steve Peck/ SOME MORE GREAT PELAGIC BIRDS SEEN WITH DYER ISLAND CRUISES – Brian Taylor/ FIELD TRIP TO BONTEBOK NATIONAL PARK – Steve Peck/ BIRDING AT NAPIER SEWAGE WORKS – Steve Peck/ OVERBERG WHEATBELT CANOLA DAY WITH HIGH WINDS – Anton & Elaine/ JENNY PARSONS AND FRIENDS BIRD THE BREEDE RIVER REGION- Jenny Parsons/ THE PECKS IN THE KRUGER NP – Steve Peck/ YET ANOTHER GREAT OVERBERG BIRDING TRIP REPORT – Jenny Parsons/ JENNY PARSONS VISITS A FARM IN THE EASTERN CAPE – Jenny Parsons/ SIX WEEKS IN AFRICA - A TRIP REPORT – MC Botha/ BIRDING FOR THREE HOURS IN OUR HOME PENTAD – Anton & Chris Cheetham/ STEVE PECK BIRDS IN THE UK IN OCTOBER 2017 – Steve Peck / BIRDLIFE OVERBERG YEAR END CELEBRATIONS 2017 – Anton.

2.4 ACTIVITIES NOT DIRECTLY CLUB RELATED
# Anton started with a birding column entitled DIE VALKOOG in the LANDBOUWEEKBLAD in March 2017 and articles are published monthly. The first quarterly column also appeared in the January 2018 edition of COUNTRY LIFE.
# Fourteen Flight for Birders identification and conservation courses were presented at Sedgefield (2), Hermanus (2), Somerset West, Wellington, Langebaan, Bosheuwel EE Centre in the Agulhas National Park, Intaka Island, Century City (3), Stellenbosch, Hartenbos and Montagu. A workshop on the birds of the Overstrand and a talk entitled “The Art of deception – The Brood Parasites of South Africa” also presented at the Hermanus FynArts festival. Five further talks to bird clubs and informal groupings.
# Two birdfinder web pages were launched: “Slow birding at coastal paths along rocky shores – the Onrus and Vermont experience” and “Celebrating birding at the De Mond Nature Reserve”. It is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain sponsorship to complete similar projects in other target areas in the Western Cape Province and members are requested to assist in this regard by suggesting potential sponsors or donors. Several project proposals and budgets in this regard have been completed.
# We continued posting the completed birdfinder web pages before holiday periods on both the website and the various Facebook pages. This continues to make a significant contribution towards the marketing of the Western Cape as a top birding destination. 

EDUCATION:
# The four bird identification brochures are still being handed out at schools and bird courses.
# The BirdLife South Africa posters and educational resources on the Bird of the Year (Lappet-faced Vulture) were disseminated to several schools in the region.
# An environmental education workshop by the Western Cape Birding Forum was presented by Carin and Anton, and also attended by Carl. This holds great promise as a variety of collaborative protects between bird clubs are being considered.
# See the action plan for 2018 under Conservation below.

4. CONSERVATION
4.1 OPPOSING THE APPLICATION FOR A PERMIT FOR 4X4 TOURS BY STAFF OF THE ARNISTON SPA ALONG BEACHES IN THE REGION. Our appeal against this ridiculous application together with other agencies and were successful in that the application was turned down. Our appreciation goes to the majority of our members who had sent us letters of support for our objection.

4.2 SUPPORT FOR THE HANDS OFF FERNKLOOF CAMPAIGN. We have attended most of these public meetings and have submitted written opposition to the proposed developments in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve. We will continue with our support for the “Hands of Fernkloof Nature Reserve” campaign if needed.

4.3 SUPPORT FOR THE SA BIRD ATLAS PROJECT (SABAP2). Members are encouraged to participate in the BirdLasser project and it proposed that a workshop in this regard be presented early in 2018. 

4.4 BIRDLIFE OVERBERG’S PROJECTS ON THE CONSERVATION OF OUR COASTLINE AND ESTUARIES. Six projects were identified during our workshop in September. These are: PROJECT 1: The identification of key breeding sites of African Oystercatchers and White-fronted Plovers on beaches along the Cape Whale Coast. PROJECT 2: More regular Co-ordinated Waterbird (CWAC) Counts along the Klein-, Uilenkraal and Botriver estuaries. PROJECT 3: The distribution of fishing line bins along the Cape Whale Coast coastline. PROJECT 4: The distribution of cigarette butt bins along Cape Whale Coast coastline. PROJECT 5: Coastal cleanup along the Overstrand coastline. PROJECT 6: Educational campaigns largely focusing on the African Black Oystercatcher, the 2018 Bird of the Year. PROJECT 6: Educational campaigns.
A PowerPoint presentation on feedback regarding progress with these projects will be done at the AGM.
Members are urged to assist us with these projects and support us by identifying potential sponsors and donors for the various projects.

5. THE WESTERN CAPE BIRDING FORUM: Anton & Carin were unanimously re-elected as Chairman and Secretary of the Forum at the meeting at the Helderberg Nature Reserve in February. They did declare their intention not to stand for re-election in 2018. The highlight of the year was undoubtedly a meeting on environmental education initiatives undertaken by various clubs in November. This will result in collaborative campaigns between the clubs and the launching of focused educational actions. In our case the focus for 2018 will fall on the African Black Oystercatcher.

6. COMMUNICATION:
# Communication through the BLOBirdNet continues and is doing well, even though there are several new members who have not yet registered on the BirdNet. This is creating unnecessary administration and time-wasting and all members are requested to register with the service. Formal invitations will again be forwarded to members.
# 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 op 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. We have introduced a section on trip reports and this has proven to be extremely popular. Kindly submit reports of all your trips, even if it is only a morning outing. The committee decided to investigate the possibility of reviving the club photographic competition and we are looking for a member to co-ordinate this. 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, Western Cape Birding and Flight for Birders continue. This is hugely successful and has more than tripled 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. I would like to thank Vivie Lombard, Elaine Odendal and Mr. Koegelenberg for their hard work in this regard. It is proposed that J. de W.Koegelenberg & Co remain our auditors. Vivie will not continue as Treasurer and we are currently negotiating with a member to take over this function. We express our sincere appreciation to Vivie for her help in this regard over the last five years.

8. MEMBERSHIP FEES - 2018: A recommendation in this regard will form part of the financial report – for discussion and ratification at the AGM. Helé will send out invoices soon. Members who had not yet paid their membership fees for 2018 are requested to do so at their earliest possible convenience.

9. DONATIONS: We express our sincere appreciation to all members have made donations during 2017.

10. ELECTION OF COMMITTEE FOR 2018: Major changes in this regard are envisaged as several committee members have indicated that they will downscale their involvement. A circular will be sent out soon to request members to become involved in the management of the club. Kindly consider supporting us in this regard. This will be discussed and ratificatied at the AGM.
We thank all members of the 2017 committee for their dedication and hard work during the year.
9 January 2018.

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