Christmas Picnic at Fernkloof Gardens?

We plan to have a Christmas Picnic on the evening of the 9th December at Fernkloof at 7pm.

Unfortunately, it cannot be confirmed just yet, as now that the Municipality is managing Fernkloof, we need their permission to be there after the normal closing time.

However, Guy is meeting with the Municipality General manager in the next day or two in order to seek their permission and he is optimistic they will grant an extension for us.

At this stage we would like to get some idea of numbers hence those interested should contact me at antares@hermanus.co.za if interested and we will get back to hopefully confirm in the next day or two.

John Saunders

A Long Day Birding

roncorylus

Yesterday was Birding Big Day hosted by BirdLife South Africa. 338 teams of up to 4 persons participated and each team birded within an area of 50 km from their starting point. The winning team achieved no less than 334 species within the allotted 24 hours, which was an amazing total. In all, 668 different species were recorded with 47 834 records.

Renee and I participated around Hermanus and we were out for exactly 14 hours, during which time we managed to identify only 123 species, but we were not disappointed with the result as we saw some good birds. Our best sightings were Swee Waxbills, a Brown-hooded Kingfisher, and, best of all, a Black Cuckoo. Other local participants were Lester and Cheryl van Groeningen who got 144 species, and Coerie Badenhorst with 141 species.

One is too busy to do much bird photography, but I could not resist capturing…

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BBD on Saturday!!

Hopefully you are aware that Saturday 28 November is Birdlife South Africa’s Birding Big Day (BBD) and will be entering this fun event. Since we have been denied most of our events this year, BBD should be a welcome opportunity to get out and do some birding. Just go to bbd@birdlife.org.za. to register and, with Birdlasser on your phone, you will be ready to start early on Saturday morning. Renee and I have registered (as team ‘Nuthatch’) and we look forward to meeting you out birding!!

Racism in Birding?

Here’s a link to an article sent to me by an American (Republican) friend:

https://spectator.us/birdwatching-society-racist-audubon-diversity/ .

My response to him follows:

This can’t be serious. Can it? Of course, we do watch black birds, but surreptitiously. We also have several all white birds in South Africa, some prey on black ticks (Western Cattle Egret, known as “Tick Birds”). The biggest problem are the pied birds, of which there are many. They simply don’t fit into any classification. We have a Blacksmith Lapwing, which is black and white with grey patches. Bit of a problem there, neither black nor white. However, Lapwing lives matter. We have Pied Crows, black with white chests and also the White-necked Raven. One may only watch them at certain specified times. Then we have the Southern Black Tit, this causes a major problem for bird watchers. In KwaZulu-Natal, it’s culturally acceptable to watch these birds but in Eswatini, only during the Reed Dance. In other regions, watching Southern Black Tits is restricted to over 18-year olds. There’s also a type of black and white cormorant called a “Shag”. This is restricted to bird watchers over twenty one. Then we have two species of black birds which are almost indistinguishable from each other, the Southern Black Flycatcher and the Fork-tailed Drongo (you have to be careful pronouncing the latter). The only discernible difference is the colour of the eyes. To avoid accusations of racism, it has been decided to combine these birds into one species, in future to be known as “LMEBs” (Little Melamine Enriched Birds).  

In South Africa we have many confusing brown birds. One quite sought after bird is the Hottentot Buttonquail whose name is now politically incorrect and will be change to “KoiSan Buttonquail”. There is also a Black-rumped Buttonquail which is so tiny no-one can watch it, so that’s okay. Then we have a Harlequin Quail which throws serious birders into a total tizzy because one day it’s black, the next day, white, then so-called coloured – very confusing. Babblers also present problems for racist bird watchers because there are Bare-cheeked Babblers (but not Bare Rumped), Black-faced Babblers (whose call is “Mammy, mammy” in an Al Jolson voice) and a Southern Pied Babbler with identity issues. If you’re lucky, you might get to see a Green Barbet. This is the safest bird to watch, no-one minds being green, even beginners. Then there’s Whyte’s barbet, which is spelt like that to avoid accusations of all –isms. There are also several birds with names that start with “Little”. Serious birders have to be careful to avoid being accused of size-ism.

As a result of the uproar caused by racist bird watchers in South Africa, the bird books and field guides are being revised to exclude all references to bird colours. This will result in a much shorter life-list and make it much easier for birders to achieve a respectable total of sightings.

Mike Kokot

Sally Meyer

You have seen the note from John about our dear friend, Sally. She and Ed were with us at Tierhoek, where Ed had organised our wonderful outing with a group of club members. Sally was driving home alone on Friday and was tragically killed in a motor accident at the Stanford/Bredasdorp intersection.

I am sure that I speak on behalf of all our members in extending our heartfelt condolences to Ed and his family at this terrible time for them. The Meyers were keen club members and participated in all our functions and outings. They had been married for 56 years and Ed is going to miss Sally so much. We all send our love and want him to know that he and the family are very much in our thoughts.

Rest in peace, Dear Friend. We are going to miss you more than you know.

Tierhoek Outing

21 lucky members of the club spent three nights at the Tierhoek farm, north west of Robertson, staying in the very well appointed cottages. Ed Meyer arranged the trip and he certainly did a good job. Everybody was well pleased with the outing and we enjoyed great food and camaraderie around the braai fires.

We arrived on Monday afternoon and spent a while getting to know our surroundings before we met up for dinner. On Tuesday morning we drove down to the Breede river and boarded the Kolgans Restaurant river barge for our cruise down the river. Sadly we did not see as many birds as we wanted, but we had a wonderful time and were given a great rustic brunch on board. Nobody fell overboard!

The afternoon was spent at leisure – most people visited wine producers to stock up on the bargains available, and some walked, before we once again met for dinner.

On Wednesday we intended to walk in the Dassieshoek Nature Reserve, but heavy rain put paid to that idea, so we once again enjoyed the wine experiences on offer and there was more anguish over how to fund the purchases and where to store the many cases acquired! The search for birds continued meanwhile, but the weather was pretty poor for the whole time we were away.

By Thursday the air had cleared somewhat and, whilst some members went their own way, nine of us walked the Heron Trail at Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve outside MacGregor, in an attempt to better the bird count achieved on the previous visit to the area. We added a few good species and then departed for home, counting any new species seen north of Stormsvlei.

Our final count was 112 species for the trip, passing the previous count by 5. Well done to all who participated and a big thank you to all who contributed in one way or another

Thursday Weather Forecast for Caledon – Outing Cancelled

TimeForecastTemp.PrecipitationWind
00:00–06:00Rain.17°1.9 mmGentle breeze, 5 m/s from eastGentle breeze, 5 m/s from east
06:00–12:00Rain.16°1.1 mmGentle breeze, 4 m/s from eastGentle breeze, 4 m/s from east
12:00–18:00Light rain showers.21°0.8 mmGentle breeze, 4 m/s from south-southwestGentle breeze, 4 m/s from south-southwest
18:00–00:00Cloudy.19°0.1 mmGentle breeze, 4 m/s from southwestGentle breeze, 4 m/s from southwest

The weather does not look good for Caledon tomorrow, and it would be a pity to drive all the way there only to have it rain, so I am afraid the outing to the Caledon Gardens is cancelled.