Strandfontein the new venue for Thursday

The Club’s monthly morning outing, on Thursday 2 October, will be to Strandfontein instead of Paarl Sewage Works as originally planned.

Strandfontein Sewage Works is described as the best water-bird locality close to Cape Town. A record 118 species have been counted there during one morning.

We meet at Onrust Trading Post at 08:00 to consolidate transport. The trip to Strandfontein will be led by Margie Ogston and Lee Burman.  Bring your own mid-morning refreshments and picnic lunch.

The change was made because of security concerns after a birder had been robbed at the Paarl site.

You heard the warning, now watch the video

Why are vultures important?

Why are they threatened?

How can we save them?

BirdLife International, announcing that vultures have rapidly become one of the most threatened families of birds on the planet, launched a global campaign earlier this month asking for public support to Stop Vulture Poisoning Now.

BirdLife has now released a video explaining the threat and what can be done to save the vultures. Watch the video at

‘Difficult’ birding made easy

Club members set out on two separate trips on Saturday, inspired by Mike Ford’s excellent course on identifying “difficult” bird species, presented last week.

More than 50 species were identified on each trip, both along Karwyderskraal Road and Swart River Road. Highlights were African Marsh Harrier, Black Harrier, Yellow-billed Kite, Denham’s Bustard, Red-capped Lark and Large-billed Lark.

Some species might be easily confused and difficult to identify, but good birding in the Hermanus area can be easy, commented one of the members.

Help turn village fair into big regional event

The process to turn the Stanford Bird Fair into a much bigger regional event – the Walker Bay Bird Fair – has reached the stage where volunteers are called on to help with the preparations.

Hermanus Bird Club and Stanford Bird Club are working together to have the first Walker Bay Bird Fair on the Stanford Village Green in February 2015.

Other partners are Dyer Island Conservation Trust, Overberg Lowland Conservation Trust and Grootbos Foundation.

Stretton’s and De Hoop Collection, who supported the village fair, will continue supporting the regional event. The organisers are in final discussions with other prominent organisations.

A great coup is that Tim Appleton MBE, co-founder of the British Bird Fair, and Steve Rook, another prominent UK birder and international tour operator, have accepted invitations to the Walker Bay Bird Fair.

The aim of the event is to create greater awareness of the Walker Bay area as a birding destination, to improve environmental awareness and conservation, and to boost tourism to the region.

Volunteers can contact any committee member of Hermanus Bird Club. For contact details click on the “Contact us” link above.

Spring birding at Beaumont

A number of raptors greeted a group of Hermanus Bird Club members on a lovely spring morning walk in Bot River.

The 13 birders took part in the monthly walk on the magnificent Beaumont Wine Estate on Thursday 4th September. Led by Margie Ogston, they enjoyed the sunny weather, meandering through the fields on the river’s edge for about 2,5 hours.

Among the raptors was a Yellow-billed Kite that must have just returned to the Overberg area for the warmer months. The others were Booted Eagle, Fish Eagle and Jackal Buzzard.

The group of birders were also entertained by Bishops, parading in their beautiful breeding plumage, and Spur-winged Geese flying overhead – 45 species altogether.

Vultures could follow Dodo in our lifetime

BirdLife International has announced that vultures are declining and rapidly becoming one of the world’s most threatened groups of birds. In a bid to stop this important family of birds slipping towards extinction in Europe and Africa, they have launched a global campaign asking for public support to “Stop Vulture Poisoning Now”.

The crash of vulture populations in Asia was shockingly fast – quicker than any other wild bird, including the Dodo. Within a decade, species such as the White-rumped Vulture declined by 99.9% in India alone as a result of veterinary drug diclofenac that is lethally toxic to vultures. 

Eleven species of vultures occur on the African continent, and threats to these vultures include deliberate and accidental poisoning, habitat loss, energy infrastructure and persecution for body parts to be used in traditional medicine.

Recent news reports contain multiple examples of deliberate and accidental poisoning such as the up to 600 vultures found deliberately poisoned in the Kwando region in northern Namibia and 60 dead vultures which were found on a farm in the Swartberg area of KwaZulu-Natal,” said Dr Hanneline Smit-Robinson, Manager of BirdLife South Africa’s Terrestrial Bird Conservation Programme. 

Seven of the 11 vulture species that occur in Africa are listed on the IUCN Red List and these species are facing a complexity of multiple threats. Worryingly, five of these species joined the Red List of threatened species only in the last seven years. According to Kariuki Ndanganga, BirdLife Africa’s Species Programme Manager, “unless the threats are identified and tackled quickly and effectively, vultures in Africa and Europe could face extinction within our lifetime”.

Read the media release at: BLSA on vulture extinction risk – September 2014

It’s Oystercatcher time

Two of our memberss, Barbara Swart and Margie Ogston, saw 106 bird species, including 22 lifers, on an eight day visit to Namibia. And it was not even a birding trip. It was between meetings.

Another member, Cherry Mills, was astounded by not only the birds, but also the majesty of Namibia’s scenery. Her conclusion after a separate birding visit that took her up to the Angolan border? “Namibia is  a must for birders and well worth every one of the 6 300 kilometres we travelled.”

Read all about their wonderful experiences and much more in the latest Oystercatcher. Find it by clicking on the Oystercatcher link above.