HBC 25th Annual General Meeting

A very well attended 25th Annual General Meeting of the Hermanus Bird Club took place at the Fernkloof Hall on 15th March 2023. There were 58 members attending and 17 took the trouble to tender their apologies. Before the meeting started, members enjoyed a cheese and wine buffet and some convivial fellowship. The Chairman, Ed Meyer, conducted the meeting with his usual aplomb and no time was wasted as the important reports had all been sent to the members well in advance, so he was able to introduce our guest speaker after a short discussion of the submissions.

Our guest speaker was the well-known birder and veteran HBC member, Mike Ford, affectionately known as “Lord of the Ringers”. He is one of only about 200 qualified bird ringers in South Africa and has travelled far and wide, ringing birds, recording photographing  the results of his endeavours. Bird ringing is one of the few ways to tell how long birds live in the wild, and provides information about travel and migration (provided you catch them again!). Mike had returned the day before from trip to the North West of Zambia, on the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s border where he took part in bird ringing, bat capture and insect collection. A major part of the job was collecting bird faeces which he described as a crappy job, but necessary as analysis of the samples provide valuable information regarding feeding habits and the effect of pesticides on the birds. His talk was beautifully illustrated with photographs of some of the beautiful and rare birds which has been trapped in the mist nets and ringed. Here are pictures of a “mystery bird”, eventually identified as a Black-collared Bulbul, and the magnificent Gorgeous Bushshrike.

A word of thanks to Mike was offered by our Treasurer, Johan Groenewald, who presented him with a bottle of top-rated Cape wine.

Ronnie Hazell was thanked for his contribution to the HBC by running the blog for many years. Ronnie has sadly decided to resign from the HBC Committee, but has kindly offered to assist whenever called upon to do so. The results of the January – February HBC challenge were announced (now published in the blog) and members were informed about a new challenge. This covers birding in the whole of the Western Cape and runs from 20 March to 31 December 2023. We look forward to Ronnie running the challenges as only he can.

The Chairman thanks his committee for their services over the year and appealled to members to volunteer their services – we really need at least one more member to help run the club activities.

Posted by Michael Kokot

HBC January – February 2023 Birding Challenge.

Ronnie Hazel was, as usual, very proactive in organising an exciting summer challenge for members to identify and list as many birds as they could in our Overstrand area. The response was somewhat underwhelming with only 8 members submitting their lists, but those who took part did so with much enthusiasm and a sense of fun.

Our Chairman, Ed Meyer, wrote:

We had only 8 participants( some with their partners), although I believe a lot more started , but did not bother to submit their results. Those who did submit results identified 220 species in the 2 months of this first Challenge for 2023, which was pretty good.

We should try to emphasise the fun & motivation of having a goal to one’s birding. As we know, it is not necessarily about winning, but rather to have your own goal in the number of species you have been able to identify.

The result of the January – February challenge was:

The winner: Ronnie Hazell with 194 birds listed. (The picture, above, is not of Ronnie accepting his prize.)

Ronnie was followed by:

Mike Ford – 192 species

Mike Kokot – 176 species

John & Shelagh Bowman – 160 species

Barbara Swart and Margie – 139 species

Ed Meyer – 136 species

Philip Wassung – 101 species

Johan & Imogen Groenewald – 100 – species

We want to encourage members to join in the challenges, even if you only manage a few birds, the idea is to go birding and enjoy the experience. Sometimes we forget we are a BIRDING club! To this end, our stalwart Ronnie Hazell has drawn up a list of Western Cape Birds and we are going to start a new challenge. You will see the details on the blog which Ronnie kindly posted.

So, lets approach this new challenge with enthusiasm on Monday 20 March, start listing!

Mike Kokot

A New and Bigger Challenge for Everyone

No sooner do I announce my last blog posting, than I am back doing another. Mike asked me to kick off the new Challenge which was mentioned at the AGM.

We decided to have a Challenge that will keep you occupied and alert for the rest of the year. It starts on Monday 20 March and will run for the rest of the year. The area covered will be the Western Cape, providing a host of different habitats and great opportunities to see a wide variety of birds. There is a Spreadsheet below that you can download for entering you results. Just save it with your name in the title, prior to commencement. We think that you should submit you results to me, Ronnie Hazell, at corylus@hermanus.co.za at the end of each quarter, so that we can see who is doing what.

Birds can be ticked if seen or heard, provided that in the latter case the member has previously seen the species in question. The Western Cape area is clearly marked on most maps. Sightings can include birds seen from the shore, but we will exclude those noted on pelagic trips as these are beyond the reach of many members.

Good Luck, and we hope that you will find this exercise stimulating and that you will even see a few lifers! Please enter the event even if you are not a seasoned birder. It is a wonderful opportunity to expand your birding experience and should keep you on the lookout whenever you go anywhere in the Western Cape.

My Last Posting on the Blog

I write this note with some degree of sadness as I am handing the blog over to Mike Kokot, who will, I’m sure do a brilliant job of keeping it up to date and informative!

I have been doing it for seven years and feel that it probably needs some new blood. Obviously I will miss this task, having done it for so long. Thanks to all the members who helped me by submitting short articles to publish. Please continue to support Mike by keeping him informed.

I will continue to submit what I think may be interesting and I look forward to reading lots of birding posts as the club grows from strength to strength.

Happy Birding!

Ronnie Hazell

Immature Cape Cormorants landing on beaches or in gardens.

We have over the years received several reports of immature Cape Cormorants landing up on beaches or in gardens along the Overstrand coastline and being unable to fly. In recent weeks there had been an increase in such reports, particularly during spells of bad weather. We receive several calls about this from concerned members of the public and club members and therefore decided to investigate this matter further.

It transpires that this phenomenon occurs all along our coastline and at the moment there are more than 100 of these birds being treated at SANCCOB – all having been collected along the Cape Town peninsula. These juvenile birds are emaciated due to being underfed, become disorientated and try to reach land in order to survive as they are too tired to fly or swim. It is reported that they lose fat and muscle content and eventually die of organ failure. This is an endangered species and it is therefore attempted to treat them in view of releasing them back into the wild. They are initially given fluid therapy and are later gradually fed fish. Unfortunately only a 20 percent success rate is being reported, but still treatment is continued due to the bird’s conservation status.

So, what should be done if such birds are found? It should be placed in a cardboard box and kept as quiet as possible. Use gloves to do so even though there had not been and reports of avian flu along our coastline over the last year. Report such birds to SANCCOB at (021) 557 6155 or 078 638 638 3731, giving your name and contact number, photograph (if possible) and the location. They will then contact the rangers at Stony Point in order to try and arrange to get the bird(s) transported to SANCCOB in Milnerton.

Alternative arrangements for those in Hermanus, Gansbaai, Pearly Beach, etc: The staff at the African Penguin & Seabirds Sanctuary (APSS) in Kleinbaai will take in such birds, but are unfortunately not in a position to collect the birds. See the instructions for handling the birds in the paragraph above and arrange to deliver the birds at APSS. Contact 072 598 7117.

Received from Dr Anton Odendaal: Western Cape Birding Forum.

No Bulbul!

This is a chirp to remind you of the Hermanus Bird Club 25th Annual General Meeting to be held on Wednesday 15th March 2023 at 18:30 in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve Hall. We will be treating you to cheese and wine (or juice / sparkling water) before the meeting – so please be there by six p.m. All members are encouraged to attend. Please ensure that you received the agenda and other documents which were sent out by our Treasurer a few weeks ago. (If you don’t have the documents, contact Johan Groenewald at birdclubhermanus@gmail.com).

We will be entertained by Mike Ford who will regale us with his experiences exploring the Zambia/Congo Border – with emphasis on birding in the region.

Challenge Results

I have, to date, received results from 8 participants in the Jan/Feb Local Area Birding Challenge. If there are any more of you out there who participated, please let me have your lists now, so that I can complete the results sheet.

Those of you who have submitted your entries have done very well. Between us, we have recorded 220 different species so far.



Klein River Evening Cruise

Whilst I wasn’t on the evening cruise, I did hear from Ed as follows:

We had 25 members on the afternoon cruise.

Our conditions were good, perhaps a bit windy, but everyone enjoyed the birding and the sundowner fellowship. It is the first time I have been on the evening cruise and one gets a different perspective on the birding with so many of the birds returning to their roosting spots.

We rose to the challenge of the early morning group and ended up with 59 species, with a pair of Fish Eagles and a pair of Spotted Eagle Owls being the highlights. Our expert birding skipper, Peter Hochfeld was thanked for providing our two HBC groups with very special outings on the Lady Stanford.

The photos were supplied by participants. A special thanks to Eddy Niezen and Ed Meyer for photos.

Klein River Morning Cruise

Our morning cruise on the Lady Stanford offered a great opportunity to see a good selection of water birds. The weather was perfect, although we did experience a slight headwind on our return.

How strange it was to see no Flamingoes on the river – normally we see hundreds of them! There were very many African Darters, however, and we were able to view a pair of African Fish Eagles and an Osprey!

Our list comprised 57 species, which no doubt added to some of the Challenge scores on the last day of this particular Challenge.

Pied Avocet; S Red Bishop; Cape Bulbul; Common Buzzard; Jackal Buzzard; Red-knobbed Coot; Reed Cormorant; White-breasted Cormorant; Burchell’s Coucal; Black Crake; African Darter; Red-eyed Dove; Fork-tailed Drongo; White-faced Whistling Duck; Yellow-billed Duck; African Fish Eagle; Western Cattle Egret; Common Fiscal; Spur-winged Goose; Egyptian Goose; Great Crested Grebe; Little Grebe; Sombre Greenbul; Helmeted Guineafowl; Hartlaub’s Gull; Kelp Gull; Black-headed Heron; Grey Heron; African Sacred Ibis; Hadeda Ibis; Giant Kingfisher; Pied Kingfisher; Yellow-billed Kite; Blacksmith Lapwing; Common Moorhen; Western Osprey; Speckled Pigeon; Common Ringed Plover; White-necked Raven; Cape Shoveler; African Spoonbill; Cape Spurfowl; Common Starling; Black-winged Stilt; Malachite Sunbird; Barn Swallow; White-throated Swallow; White-rumped Swift; Cape Teal; Caspian Tern; Common Tern; Swift Tern; Olive Thrush; Cape Wagtail; Lesser Swamp Warbler.

Mike Kokot has sent some more pictures from this outing. See below