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REPORT ON RECENT AND FUTURE WITZENBERG BIRD CLUB ACTIVITIES

Posted on the 22nd September 2016

WITZENBERG BIRD CLUB
Brief History:
The WBC was officially established in early 2016 as part of a drive to formalize bird watching activity in the Witzenberg region. For many years there have been avid bird watches in the greater community and through those early “pioneers” and subsequent birding activity, the club was launched with great expectation drawing close to 50 members on the opening night. Since then, we have continued to grow in numbers and across the region we are being recognized and promoted through tourism websites and the local tourist offices.

Highlights since the last Forum meeting: WBC hosted two guest speakers in June/July with one speaking on a trip to the Gallipolis Islands and the other on Bird Life Western Cape activities. Both were well received and our members have expressed interest in seeing them return for follow up talks. Additionally, we conducted two outings into the surrounding area: Ceres Karoo near Inverdoorn and the Droekloof Valley 30kms from Ceres on the Koue Bokkeveld road. 

New outing venues that can be recommended: Several members have suggested continued good birding in the Koue Bokkeveld region (Gys se Huis Guest House on Rocklands Farm being of specialist mention by a number of local and visiting birding groups) and in the Agter Witzenberg Valley where there are a number of camp sites (Panorama farm is especially good) that offer great facilities and birding opportunities. Likewise, the dam on Kaleo Guest Farm has continued to surprise birders with its species diversity and weekend activities. 

Learning points that would be good to share: We are in the process of securing support from Bergsig Wine Estate in the form of a location to hold weekend luncheons followed by bird walks through their mountainous regions. We have struggled with a few local businesses in securing value pricing and support, so the learning is use your bird club network to drive interest and gain support. 

Conservation initiatives: The WBC is beginning to find its feet and is still very much in its early days phase. However, we are pushing hard through local tourism offices to have the municipality improve rubbish collection and cleanup of the mountain and river systems. This is ongoing work with the Ceres Business Initiative and other local lobby groups. Our goal is to visit a number of schools in 2017 as part of the Breyton Pulse Foundation and Education Trust to increase awareness on just birds but the general fragility of our mountainous habitat and the destruction on local breeding sites and sensitive fynbos growth. Similarly, we are continuing to engage WWF and Birdlife SA on incorporating more farm land into their networks. Hopefully we’ll have more movement on this front in due course.

Initiatives/projects that would benefit from inter club cooperation: Nothing at this stage.

Important upcoming events: Anton Odendal will speak on the Birding delights of the Tankwa Karoo at our club meeting on 13 October and our club welcomes any interested birders for a Saturday long lunch and bird walks at Bersig Wine Estate in the first week of December. Our Facebook page will have further details I due course.

I have also copied a few of the WBC Committee on this reply, hoping they can add information that I may have missed or incorrectly phrased.
Many thanks Anton for your continued support and interest. It’s a slow burn but we’ll get there.
Mark Watt


To find out more about Witzenberg Bird Club activities contact Carrie-Anne du Plessis at carrieannedp@dutoit.com or 023 312 3136
Find the contact details of the bird club closest to you visit this link:
http://www.westerncapebirding.co.za/news/2241/joining_a_bird_club_in_your_area_-_contact_directory_for_the_western_cape

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