Next monthly walk at a favourite spot


The next monthly walk will be at De Mond Nature Reserve, one of the Club’s favourite spots.

It will be led by Chris Cheetham, who is quite passionate about birding there. He went on a bird atlassing trip there last week, identifying 112 species in poor conditions

Departure will be from the Fernkloof Reserve parking area near the Hall, at 07:00 on Thursday 3 November. It would be a good idea to consolidate cars, as the total distance will be about 250 km.

The group will travel via Napier and Bredasdorp, stopping at the respective water purification dams.

Bring your own snacks, drinks and lunch for a picnic under the beautiful trees. Bring a Wild Card if you have one. There is an entrance fee for those who do not have the card.

All should be back by 15:00.

Superwoman Odette’s mission to save Overberg’s Renosterveld

Dr Odette Curtis, speaker at the Club monthly meeting on Wednesday 19 October, has dedicated her life to preserving one of the most diverse and threatened ecosystems in the world.

The title of her presentation will be “Saving The Overberg’s Renosterveld: Can we stop the extinction spiral?”


Dr Odette Curtis

Renosterveld – literally translated from Afrikaans as “rhinoceros field” – is a term used to describe one of the major and most diverse plant communities and vegetation types of the Cape Floral Kingdom.

Human activities such as farming have decimated these fertile fynbos havens, and Odette is hard at work trying to preserve the critically endangered survivors.

“It’s estimated that there’s less than between 4 and 6% of the Renosterveld left,” says Curtis. Even this is an optimistic estimate; the true figure could be significantly lower, she says.

The remaining Renosterveld is highly fragmented, with fewer than 50 fragments larger than 100 ha. Almost all Renosterveld remnants occur on privately owned land, creating an additional challenge for conservation.

All these factors, coupled with the large range of endemic and threatened plants and animals inhabiting this bio-hotspot, make the unique Renosterveld one of the most threatened habitats on earth. This puts it in urgent need of conservation attention.

Odette holds an MSc in  Zoology (2005) and a PhD in Botany (2013) from the University of Cape Town (UCT). She has authored or co-authored eight scientific papers and fourteen popular articles. She was invited as a Leadership Intern to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Pennsylvania, USA, for two months in 2005.

Odette managed the Black Harrier (Witkruis-vleivalk) and Black Sparrowhawk (Swartsperwer) Projects from 2000-2006 at UCT; undertook a pilot study on gamebirds in Renosterveld (2007), and was contracted by Cape Nature’s Stewardship Programme from 2007-2011. She also initiated research on Renosterveld management since 2007 (funded by the World Wildlife Fund from 2007-2011).

Since being appointed Director of the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust, she has made her home in Napier in the Overberg.

The meeting, in the Fernkloof Reserve Hall, begins at 19:00. We are back in summer time.

Sharing some sightings at Strandfontein


Story Anne Philip      Images Jill Eckstein

I thought I would share with members of the Hermanus Bird Club some photographs Jill Eckstein took when she, her husband, Paul, and I – all Club members- went birding at Strandfontein last weekend.


Swift Terns (Geelbek-sterretjies)

We passed the picnic sites in Strandfontein where those of us who had been on the HBC outing last month had found the rare Rufous-tailed Scrub-robin (Rooistert-wipstert).

As there was not a car or another person in sight, we drove on to the conservation area.

It wasn’t long before we had notched up a fair list of birds, including the Swift Tern (Geelbek-sterretjie) in flocks on the sandy shores in a relatively sheltered area.


Grey Heron (Bloureier)

That is where Jill took the picture of them taking off in a mass flight into the blue. What a tremendous sight it was.  The pic almost looks like a water-colour painting.

We watched the Grey Heron (Bloureier) stalking along the shoreline in the same area, ignoring the swifts and taking aim with his beak at any moving prey in the water.

There are, as one knows, many Glossy Ibis (Glans-ibisse) to be found at Strandfontein.


Glossy Ibis (Glansibis)

It was a question of catching that bird just as the sun caught its feathers on take-off  to get a glimpse of the green in the dark wine colours of the majority of its body.

And just as we were about to leave, we saw three cars parked on the side of a mass of water.

One of the drivers said she had just spotted a Common Whimbrel (Kleinwulp), walking on the road, of all places, that was at 90 degrees to the one we were on.


Common Whimbrel (Kleinwulp)

A man in another car said the whimbrel was now in the grass higher up on our road.

At a snail’s pace we edged along the road and suddenly I saw this long neck and unusually curved long beak just under the line of the waiving grasses.

As soon as we pulled up to try to take photos it sped away on foot, keeping to the edge of the road where grass was a cover.

We spent about 25 minutes following it. It was obviously making for a beachy area well ahead of us.


Kittlitz’s Plover (Geelbors-strandkiewiet

Jill managed two great shots of it at the water’s edge just as it was about to lift off for a more distant spot away from determined birdwatchers.

The whimbrel was a lifer for her and Paul.

The Kittlitz’s Plover (Geelbors-strandkiewiet) was one of three running in and out of stunted reeds also on the shoreline. We were quite excited to be shown them by another birder as we haven’t seen this species for a very long time.


Cape Longclaw (Oranjekeel-kalkoentjie

The Cape Longclaw (Oranjebors-kalkoentjie) happened to be flushed out of the green vegetation in the same area, but on the opposite side of the road.

With its back to us most of the time, Jill waited patiently until it half turned to reveal that lovely coral bib.

In two hours of great viewing we recorded 44 species.

Well-liked Newman died after hike

By Mike Bryan

Newman Stevens, well-liked and active Hermanus Bird Club member, died suddenly after a hike with the Hermanus Hurriers walking group at Oak Valley Farm in Grabouw on Wednesday 28 September.

Newman (77) spent the early years of his life in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) before attending Canford School in England, thereafter obtaining a law degree at Trinity College in Dublin in 1962. He and Margie married in Johannesburg in 1968 but lived mostly in Cape Town, where Newman was Company Secretary for Safmarine.

Having had a holiday home in Hermanus for many years they moved here permanently in 2006.

Newman’s many interests included the collection of old books and antique silver. He was passionate about the history of Britain and the Empire, of which he had great knowledge, and his prodigious memory enabled him to talk with authority and passion on many aspects of past and present political scenarios. His particular interest was military history.

In addition to the Bird Club and Hurriers, he was also a member of Overstrand Arts/Kunste (Oak), where he could indulge in his lifelong love of classical music.

He is survived by Margie, their children, Catherine, Charles and Sally, and grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at Christ Church, Constantia, on Monday 10 October at 15:00.

A Black Harrier along Swart River Road?


The Club’s monthly morning outing will be a drive along Karwyderskraal and Swart River Road on Thursday 6 October, led by Mike Ford.

This area usually produces a good variety of birds, including raptors, bustards, cranes, waterbirds, cisticolas, pipits and larks.

Raptors regularly seen there, include Jackal Buzzard (Rooibors-jakkalsvoël), Steppe Buzzard (Bruin-jakkalsvoël), Yellow-billed Kite (Geelbekwou), and Black-shouldered Kite (Blouvalk). Less often seen are Black Harrier (Witkruis-vleivalk), Visarend (African Fish-eagle), and Secretarybird (Sekretarisvoël).

This outing is restricted to Club members. Those wanting to go, must book with Mike at 028 316 4790 or 082 784 9098. This is for the purpose of better planning, to avoid a long convoy of cars where those at the back see very few birds.

We meet at the Onrust Trading Post to depart at 07:00.