Secretarybird Appeal

 

From: sabirdclubforum@yahoogroups.com [mailto:sabirdclubforum@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of ‘Melissa Whitecross’ melissa.whitecross@birdlife.org.za [sabirdclubforum]
Sent: Wednesday, 01 August 2018 1:02 PM
To: sabirdnet@yahoogroups.com; sabirdclubforum@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [sabirdclubforum] Secretarybird Breeding Database [1 Attachment]

Hi SA Birders,

BirdLife South Africa’s Secretarybird Project would like to request your assistance in locating breeding Secretarybirds across Southern Africa. If you have any historical records of nest localities that you would be willing to share with us, or if you come across a nest while out birding please can I ask that you submit this information to Dr Melissa Whitecross (Raptors & Large Terrestrial Bird Project Manager) via email melissa.whitecross@birdlife.org.za.

The key information required is the date of the sighting and the GPS location of the nest to within 20m. Any additional information that can be obtained without causing unnecessary disturbance to the birds such as the number of eggs/chicks present will also be appreciated.

To stay up to date with the Secretarybird Project please like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/secretarybirdconservation/).

Kind regards,

Dr Melissa Whitecross        
Threatened Species Project Manager: Raptors & Large Terrestrial Birds
Terrestrial Bird Conservation Programme

Isdell House, 17 Hume Road, Dunkeld West
Private Bag X16, Pinegowrie, 2123, Gauteng, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0)11 789 1122 / 0860 BIRDER
Fax: +27 (0)11 789 5188
Cell: +27 (0) 82 452 6021
E-mail: melissa.whitecross@birdlife.org.za
Website: http://www.birdlife.org.za

Important News Concerning all of us

 

We have recently been notified that an application has been made to the Overstrand Municipality to build a whisky/gin distillery on the dirt road between the villages of Rooiels and Pringle Bay.  This is currently a pristine, highly sensitive ecological area, accessible only on foot (and by car on a dirt road to only a handful of small-holding owners).  It is a prime birding area, attracting many local and international birders, who come to see the Cape Rock Jumper and Ground Woodpecker, amongst others.

The application touts the merits of attracting vast numbers of tourists to the area to visit the distillery, and of course, service vehicles will be necessary for the operation of the distillery, as well as other impacts caused by an industrial activity.  Distilleries also represent very significant fire hazards.

This area is also a buffer zone for the 51st (Kogelberg) Biosphere.​

The Overstrand Municipality has invited interested parties to lodge comments concerning the application.  Comments and objections are due by 3 August 2018.

Please respond!!

TO LODGE AN OBJECTION, please e-mail Overstrand Municipality Manager via  loretta@overstrand.gov.za

 

 

 

Plastic – The Scourge of Modern Living

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An Albatross killed by ingesting plastic

Most of you are aware of the environmental damage caused by plastic, especially insofar as it affects our birds.  The HBC is concerned and asks members to keep this in mind and to contribute to the overall effort to reduce plastic in our daily lives.  April has been set aside as the month to cut plastic use, but we should actually make it our mission to do this all the time.  Birdlife Overberg has some projects underway and you may wish to peruse their web sites listed below with a view to participating in the good work they are doing.

http://www.westerncapebirding.co.za/news/2434/fishing line bins for the overstrand coastline

http://www.westerncapebirding.co.za/overberg/events/708/birdlife overberg coastal clean-up on 14 july

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

QUOTES

 
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.”

 
ENDS

 
For more information:
Dale Wright
IBA Conservation Implementation Manager, BirdLife South Africa
0725623946 or dale.wright@birdlife.org.za
Daniel Marnewick
Manager: Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas Programme, BirdLife South Africa
011 789 1122 or daniel.marnewick@birdlife.org.za
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 http://www.birdlife.org.za

Travellers of the wind and the curse of nurdles

This is the story about near-magical seabirds that criss-cross the globe, and small, lentil-sized blobs of plastic called nurdles. It is both astounding and worrying, writes DON PINNOCK.

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Photo of a Wandering Albatross by Don Pinnock

We live on the lesser part of the planet. Two-thirds of Earth is vast, featureless and, for most people, pretty frightening plains of undulating water. Poking through this liquid skin are islands where millions of seabirds nest – as far away from humans and other predators as they can getSafest are rocky outcrops in the icy high latitudes of the polar regions. Birds like shearwaters, albatrosses, fulmars, kittiwakes, gannets, gillemots and puffins, spend much of their life far from land. But eggs need a safe, stable nest, so the lonely islands are essentially temporary breeding colonies. For this purpose seabirds construct nests or dig burrows where they lay, warm and – when they hatch – feed their scrawny, hungry young. To protect the chicks from raiding gulls and skuas, a breeding pair (many seabird species mate for life) will take turns to go fishing or sit in the nest.

Anybody who’s seen a colony with sometimes hundreds of thousands of nests just beyond pecking distance of each other and heard its mind-numbing cacophony will unfailingly wonder how each bird finds its way back to its nest.

This question became the lifelong pursuit of Gabrielle Nevitt, a professor at the University of California who first visited the Antarctic islands in 1991.

Seabirds like shearwaters belong to a family known at tube-noses because of a pair of exterior nostrils moulded to the upper side of their bills. It was originally thought this oversized snoot helped to disperse salt swallowed while grabbing fish, but Nevitt wondered if it might be meant for what noses are for: smelling.

She soaked absorbent tampons in a variety of fishy-smelling oils and attached them to kites which she flew from the back of a research ship – scientists are inventive people. The kites attracted crowds of petrels and albatrosses. She was ecstatic.

Sniffing around seabird rookeries, she came up with a plausible theory for their homing abilities: each pair and its nest had a particular smell, an aural barcode, and the birds had a phenomenal ability to detect it. The parts of tube-nose brains dealing with smell, it turns out, have six times as many smelling cells as mice with comparable brain size.

But smelly nests didn’t solve a much bigger puzzle. How do seabirds – which range forhundreds of thousands of kilometres and can spend years at sea without coming near land – unerringly find their way back to their nest when they need to breed?

The answer came following a chance meeting with Tim Bates, a chemist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He was investigating a gas called dimethyl sulphide (DMS) emitted by phytoplankton, the microscopic plants that live on the surface of the ocean.

When damaged, they emit the gas which, it seems, could provide aerosols around which clouds gather. Spraying DMS over large tracts of ocean could create cloud cover to counter global warming, but that’s another story.

Nevitt took off in another direction. Krill, the major food source for many seabirds, eat phytoplankton, producing clouds of DMS. Could shearwaters smell DMS?

Bates had sea maps of DMS concentrations. These coincided with krill concentrations and that’s where seabirds concentrate. Birds like albatrosses and fulmars, which hunt fish exclusively, were also zooming in because fish eat krill and follow krill concentrations. Nevitt had a proverbial ah-ha moment.

Seabirds, we now know, navigate the vast oceans by smell. Nevitt found they could smell one molecule of DMS at a concentration of less than one part per 10-billion.

DMS is undoubtedly not the only thing seabirds can smell. Turbulent coastal waters, upwellings around underwater seamounts, ocean currents all have their characteristic smell if you have the nose for it.

As chicks roam further and further, they build up smell maps that eventually allow them to range across two thirds of the planet and know precisely where they are. When wandering albatrosses leave their natal nest, they may not return to land for four or five years. The open oceans are their home. But at breeding time they never misplace their personal nest. In his book The Seabird’s cry, Adam Nicolson tracks their path in a long but delightful sentence:

“What may be featureless to us, a waste of undifferentiated ocean, is for them rich with distinction and variety, a fissured and wrinkled landscape, dense in patches, thin in others, a rolling olfactory prairie of the desired and the desirable, mottled and unreliable, speckled with life, streaky with pleasures and dangers, marbled and flecked, its riches often hidden and always mobile, but filled with places that are pregnant with life and possibility.”

There is, of course, a problem. There always seems to be one where humans are concerned.

By now most people know about the vast gyres of plastic sea trash in most oceans. But the bottles, crates, nets and bags are just part of the problem. An almost bigger issue are small, lentil-sized colourful plastic pellets called nurdles.

Billions are made each year and those that don’t become products generally end up in the sea. Fish eat the nurdles and sea creatures and birds eat the plastic litter. This has been going on for half a century and is now a planet-wide disaster.

Sorry, it gets worse. Small pieces of plastic, as they decompose, emit clouds of DMS which attracts seabirds. In the plastic soup there are plenty of things that look like krill, cocpoods and fish. Seabird numbers are plummeting and now we know why.

When our descendants look back on the planet-wide plunder we call civilisation, they’ll wonder why we didn’t notice the danger of extruding trillions of tons of plastic junk on to the land and into the sea. Will there still some albatrosses and shearwaters around? We can but hope.       From the Daily Maverick

Seabirds at Risk

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Cape Gannet collared by nylon

Here is a personal observation of problems facing our seabirds. This photo taken as we swallows returned by sea on MV Astor from Cape Town last April.  Cruising off the coast of Namibia, we were able to photograph this example of fishing line bird snare.

Kind regards

Richard and Tilana Hart

South Africa’s Penguins

 

If we don’t act now, South Africa’s penguins may become extinct. There are only two major penguin colonies in the country, on the West and East coasts of South Africa, with 600 kilometres separating them. Without anywhere else to go, a threat to either area could do serious damage to the population. In an attempt to bridge the gap between the locations and spread their breeding areas, Christina Hagen is working to establish artificial colonies on the South Coast…………..

To see the full story go to  https://www.beautifulnews.co.za/stories/christina-hagen