The Intermittent Blogger


Sadly, your editor will be a away for most of May, so the blog will be silent for that period.  I shall be birding in Botswana and Zimbabwe, so hope to bring back some interesting stories about the birds encountered.  Craig assures me that he will keep members up to date via their email, so you should not miss out.

May Walk at Arabella Estate


Meet at the Onrus Trading Post at 07h40 on Thursday 3 May to consolidate transport to Arabella Estate where Carin Malan will be your guide.  This promises to be a good and interesting outing with a knowledgeable guide.  It should last around 2-3 hours. Don’t miss it!

The Moutonshoek community protect their land to conserve our natural heritage and the water catchment for the Verlorenvlei estuary

Moutonshoek Valley_Credit Michael Price

Moutonshoek Valley _ Credit Michael Price


Birdlife South Africa,  Media Release;  Cape Town, 23 April 2018

The Moutonshoek Protected Environment (MPE) is South Africa’s newest privately protected area, nestled in the mountains of the Moutonshoek valley, near Piketberg on South Africa’s west coast. The MPE was established through the work of BirdLife South Africa’s Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) Programme, with support from CapeNature. This declaration of 9 000 hectares has helped achieve a major milestone for BirdLife South Africa, bringing the total hectares that the IBA Programme has helped declare as protected areas to 100 000 hectares.
The project not only facilitated the declaration of the Moutonshoek Protected Environment, but also assisted with the establishment of the 12 000 hectare Verlorenvlei Conservancy, which brings together landowners around the Verlorenvlei estuary committed to improving the environmental management of this critical site. The Verlorenvlei Protected Areas Project also facilitated the training of more than 40 local community members working on environmental management projects in the area, thereby helping to enhance their socio-economic situation, whilst simultaneously contributing to the conservation of South Africa’s natural resources.
These positive conservation outcomes were made possible by the willing and supportive private landowners in the Moutonshoek Valley. They are the real conservation heroes, ensuring their land is protected and managed sustainably into the future.
The Moutonshoek Protected Environment comprises an area of integrated land-use, where agricultural production and biodiversity conservation coexist side by side. The site protects the Krom Antonies River and its catchment, which acts as the main tributary of the Verlorenvlei wetland system. The Verlorenvlei Estuary is listed as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) and a Ramsar site. The future of the Verlorenvlei Estuary and its biodiversity is dependent on the health of this upper water catchment.
The Moutonshoek valley also provides a safe haven for a variety of species, including the Endangered and endemic Diascia caitliniae flower and the Endangered Verlorenvlei Redfin fish (Pseudobarbus verloreni), both of which occur nowhere else in the world. The site is also important for the Vulnerable Cape Leopard (Panthera pardus) and threatened birds species such as the Endangered Blue Crane (Anthropoides paradiseus), African Marsh Harrier (Circus ranivorus) and Black Harrier (Circus maurus). The MPE forms part of the Sandveld Corridor within the Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor, a landscape initiative designed to connect protected areas and ensure sound environmental management.
All protected areas require a management plan, and the MPE’s management plan includes habitat management activities such as alien vegetation removal, fire control and appropriate burning, as well as river and wetland rehabilitation. However whilst still allowing residents to continue with their economic activities of growing food and promoting ecotourism in the region.
A “protected environment” is a category of protected area declared under the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act (NEMPAA, 2003), which, after a nature reserve, offers the next most secure form of protection. The declaration of protected areas on privately owned land is facilitated through the innovative national biodiversity stewardship programme. Biodiversity stewardship allows for the expansion of our protected area estate through ground-breaking legislation and multi-stakeholder partnerships.
These declarations require the support of CapeNature, which is facilitated through their long standing partnership with BirdLife South Africa. The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa was another integral partner on this project.
The Verlorenvlei Protected Areas Project was funded by the WWF Nedbank Green Trust.


Verlorenvlei Estuary

Verlorenvlei Estuary


Mark Anderson, CEO for BirdLife South Africa:
“South Africa’s rich diversity of 847 bird species relies on the successful conservation of our 112 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs). This is, in part dependent on achieving legal protection for priority IBAs, and can be accomplished using innovative mechanisms such as biodiversity stewardship, and through strategic partnerships between NGOs, government and landowners.”

Garth Mortimer, Senior Manager: Protected Areas Programme, CapeNature:
“CapeNature is responsible for delivering on targets as set out in an approved Western Cape Protected Area Expansion Strategy, which are both ambitious and numerous, that speaks to increasing the size of the protected area network and improving the legal status of the network. In order to unlock the potential for private land conservation in the Western Cape, CapeNature has adopted a partnership approach to augment its capacity and resources in the province towards implementing the strategy. To this effect CapeNature and BirdLife South Africa have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding.
BirdLife South Africa is currently working in partnership with CapeNature and other organisations to improve the formal protection and conservation of Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas including certain Western Cape estuaries. CapeNature would like to congratulate BirdLife South Africa on the successful establishment and declaration of the Moutonshoek Protected Environment and express gratitude for its ongoing commitment to supporting the conservation of important habitats and ecosystems in the Western Cape.”

Jan Coetzee, Manager: Land Programme, WWF-SA:
“WWF-SA’s Land Programme supports current efforts in the establishment, expansion, consolidation and management of protected areas in South Africa. The programme focuses mainly on acquiring land through land purchase, facilitation of donations of land and funds, and innovative mechanisms for securing biodiversity, such as biodiversity stewardship. Also, the programme continues to support the strengthening of capacity within provincial conservation agencies and processes to develop and implement key conservation policies.
Through the support of the WWF Nedbank Green Trust, BirdLife South Africa has been able to secure the protection and sustainable management of the Moutonshoek catchment and Verlorenvlei Estuary. This project has successfully engaged landowners and other stakeholders in the area, and thus has ensured the continued support of the initiative. The Land Programme would also like to congratulate BirdLife South Africa on this important achievement in this critical biodiversity area.
The Land Programme values this partnership with BirdLife South Africa, and will continue to support this project and other landscape initiatives in biodiversity priority areas.”


For more information:
Dale Wright
IBA Conservation Implementation Manager, BirdLife South Africa
0725623946 or
Daniel Marnewick
Manager: Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas Programme, BirdLife South Africa
011 789 1122 or
About BirdLife South Africa
 BirdLife South Africa is the local country partner of BirdLife International. BirdLife International is the world’s largest nature conservation Partnership with more than 120 BirdLife Partners worldwide and almost 11 million supporters.
 BirdLife South Africa is the largest non-profit bird conservation organization in the country. It relies on donor funding and financial support from the public to carry out its critical conservation work.
 Vision. BirdLife South Africa wishes to see a country and region where nature and people live in greater harmony, more equitably and sustainably.
 Mission. BirdLife South Africa strives to conserve birds, their habitats and biodiversity through scientifically-based programmes, through supporting the sustainable and equitable use of natural resources and through encouraging people to enjoy and value nature.
 Birds are important environmental indicators, the proverbial “canaries in the coal mine”. By focusing on birds, and the sites and the habitats on which they depend, BirdLife South Africa’s IBA Programme aims to improve the quality of life for birds, for other wildlife, and ultimately for people.
 For more information, visit

Bye For Now

Dear fellow bird watchers,

Our time here in Hermanus has come to an end and we must fly back to Austria . We take along beautiful impressions of birds, nature and lovely people.  It was a privilege getting to know you all. We will treasure the memories in our hearts.

Thank you so much

We hope to see you all in November

Gertrud and Wolfgang Furthmayr

What Happened Last Night?


Yesterday, the usual third Wednesday of the month we had Dr Ross Wanless as our guest speaker.  Ross is an absolute boffin who shared his amazing knowledge – from Albatross’s with 3.5m wingspans, Penguin food concerns, deep line fishing and how the BLSA actions have reduced bird kill dramatically to eradicating mice on the Islands affecting bird populations and on to some areas of our oceans 500km by 500kms which have 32 000 000 hooks catching fish!

Sadly we had 20 people there – half of whom were committee and spouses despite the meeting being in the Hermanus Times, Village News and in the events on the blog.

John Saunders does an enormous amount of work on the walks and talks and I was so sad last night to see so few of our members at this stunningly brilliant presentation.


Challenge Enters its Final Month


With only April left to compete in the Annual Challenge, Lester and Cheryl van Groeningen have emerged as the clear leaders for the top position.  By the end of March they had no less than 902 points (690 species) followed by Ronnie Hazell with 810 points (646 species) and then John Bowman with 565 points (499 species).

Well done to Lester and Cheryl.  They are proving to be very dedicated birders and will be a hard act to follow!



The Hermanus Botanical Society presents the second talk of 2018 on FRIDAY 20th April  at 5.30pm in the Fernkloof Hall.  Members of the Bird Club are welcome.

We are delighted to introduce to you, Dr Johann du Preez who has recently moved to Onrus.

His talk is on:   Bird pollination strategies

We will be looking at both birds and plants in a new light after listening to Johann explaining the strategies applied by both birds and plants in order to ensure survival.

Johann du Preez is an emeritus professor who is now a full-time environmental consultant. He is a plant ecologist by training who worked for years in the Grassland biome of Southern Africa.

He contributed to the compilation of the latest vegetation map of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland by Mucina & Rutherford (2006).

He is a member of BirdLifeSA as well as the Hermanus Botanical Society.