HBC Stand at the Fernkloof Flower Festival

 

This is our stand which is wonderful. We have nests of all sizes and Mike Ford has been there helping to identify which nest belongs to which species.

A huge thanks to Pat and Guy Redford who have designed the stand, made and decorated the stand and erected it. A thanks too to Vuyo who helps Guy.

Please be sure to visit the Festival and visit our stand – you will be proud to be a member of the HBC. Again BIG thanks to the Redfords and to all who contributed nests and pictures!

Craig

Last Appeal for Nests

 

Please remember that we want lots of nests (but only abandoned ones) for our stand at the Fernkloof Flower Festival.  Pat Redford will be constructing our stand and asks that you please bring them to the meeting on Wednesday evening (13 Sept at 5:30 pm).  There is a good chance that the recent high winds will have caused some to be blown down, so it is an ideal time to see what you can find.

Fernkloof Flower Festival

 

  • We will be having a stand again this year and need volunteers to man the stand for a morning or afternoon session. Very much a PR function but we do hope to get new members signed up and I am sure that this year’s stand will attract lots of attention and hopefully questions about birding in our area and across the country. Anyone able to spend a few hours flying the HBC stand should please let me know pcsholmes@telkomsa.net. The show is on from the 22nd to the 25th September.   Craig

Nests

 

You will recall our appeal for disused birds nests for the forthcoming stand at the Flower Festival in September.  Please remember to be on the lookout for nests as we need as many as possible.  If you have already got some nests in storage, please let Guy Redford know at 082 905 2365, so that he can pass this info on to Pat.

Paradise Flycatcher (2)

Paradise Flycatcher

The Flock Report – by Trevor Hardaker

 

I am sure that Trevor Hardaker won’t mind my copying his excellent report on the Flock at Sea, as it provides an interesting insight into an incredible event.

‘We are back from the Flock at Sea AGAIN! 2017 cruise and there is only one thing that can really be said about it… if you were NOT on this cruise, you have almost certainly missed out on one of THE most amazing birding events ever to have taken place in Southern African birding history!!

I’m sure a full trip report will be published in due course which will include the long list of mouth-watering rarities that we were lucky enough to see on this trip but, without a doubt, the bird of the trip was Southern Africa’s 15th ever LIGHT-MANTLED ALBATROSS that was seen well by a large majority of the observers on board on Tuesday morning, a true mega indeed! This was so far removed from everyone’s radar that it wasn’t even included as a possibility on the list of outlandish rarities that we might stand a miniscule chance of seeing on this trip, so caused quite a bit of celebration on board! I can quite honestly say that the birding that we experienced on Tuesday morning was some of the best and most exciting birding that I have ever experienced anywhere in Southern Africa! Given where my list currently is, I would normally be very happy to be able to get 2 new birds for my list over the course of a year, so to be able to add 2 new birds to my list before 9am on the first morning of the cruise was completely insane indeed!

Yes, there may have been things that didn’t go completely as planned or things that could have been done differently but, overall, to pull off a trip of this scale so successfully is a massive feather in BirdLife South Africa’s cap! It’s always difficult to single out any particular person or people when congratulating a team but I think we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to, amongst others, Mark Anderson, Emma Askes, Gisela Ortner, Ross Wanless, Nini van der Merwe and all the others involved behind the scenes who pulled this trip off. I would also like to thank all my co-guides on board for doing your bit to find all the good birds and make sure that as many people as possible could get on to them. If I have left anyone else out, please accept my apologies, so also just a general big thank you to any and all who were involved in some big or small way to put this trip together.

There were some amazing birds seen, some great lectures presented and, of course, some wonderful socialising as well. It was fantastic to see many old friends as well as get to meet so many new ones and eventually put faces to names. It was also wonderful to see Mr SABAP himself, Prof Les Underhill, be honoured yesterday at the BLSA AGM by receiving the Gill Memorial Award, a testament to all the fantastic work that he has done over a lifetime of bird-related research.

There were also many listing milestones reached on this cruise and I’m sure that I will be busy for a long time still highlighting some of those on my Facebook group but, for now, two birders deserve special mention for cracking what is probably considered to be the ultimate birding milestone in Southern Africa, 900 species! Congratulations to Robin Gray and Jonathan Rossouw who both managed to reach this magical milestone on the cruise and, in doing so, took the total number of birders ever to have reached this milestone up to 9 birders. Who is going to be the 10th person to ever reach 900 species in Southern Africa? We’ll just have to wait and see…

The only thing that could have possibly made this trip even better was to disembark this morning and have all 1945 birders on board rush off to twitch a mega somewhere… and it almost happened too! A KING PENGUIN turned up on Hout Bay beach yesterday afternoon and, had it been left in place, it would quite easily have generated the largest twitch in SA birding history almost instantly. I’m still not sure of all the details as yet but have heard that the bird has been removed from the beach and moved to a rehabilitation centre. More details as and when I find them out.

I am sure that many of you will still be doing a lot of local birding on the upcoming long weekend but we are due for a major update of the various listing clubs hosted on www.zestforbirds.co.za so, when you get a chance, please do send your latest totals through for the various listing clubs to me by the end of next Friday at the latest, so that I can then include them in the next update.

Lastly, just thank you again to everyone involved in the Flock at Sea cruise and for allowing me to be a small part of it – it was an incredible trip! I will leave you with one of the most memorable views of the last few days… see you all again on the next one – I know that I will certainly be signing up as soon as it is announced!

Flock

Kind regards

Trevor’

BLSA Affiliation

 

At the Special General Meeting held on the 19th April 2017, with over 50 members in attendance, it was unanimously agreed that Hermanus Bird Club should become an affiliate member of BLSA. The details of the Affiliation agreement and the revised BLSA Constitution were circulated to all members on March 11th 2017, as was the wording for the change to the Hermanus Bird Club’s required addition to the constitution. This wording –“The HBC supports the aims and objectives of BLSA and agrees to abide by the revised BLSA Constitution adopted on 21 March 2015” will be included in the updated HBC Constitution, which will be sent to all members.

Craig

Its Nesting Time! – Please Help

As you are probably aware, our club is mounting a stand at the annual Fernkloof Flower Festival, which is held in September.  Our theme this year will be nesting, so if you have any disused birds’ nests lying around please let either Craig Holmes or Pat Redford have (or borrow) them.  Keep you eyes open for failed or disused nests in the wild too, but please do not disturb or damage any active nests.  We need around 100 nests to build the envisaged stand, but have only received 6 to date.

Cape Vultures killed at wind farms

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Cape Vulture near De Hoop Reserve – R Hazell

 Johannesburg, 6 April 2017: African’s vultures are in trouble. Most old-world vultures (vultures found in Africa, Europe, and Asia) have faced severe population declines and are on the edge of extinction. The Cape Vulture is found only in southern Africa, which means that South Africa has a special responsibility to protect this species. This vulture was recently up-listed from “Vulnerable” to “Endangered”, and the species faces numerous threats including poisoning and collisions with and electrocution on powerlines. Scientists predict that increased temperatures associated with global climate change may also negatively impact Cape Vultures. Ironically, a major part of our strategy to minimize climate change – wind energy – may pose a new threat to these endangered birds.

“It is with great sadness that we share news of the first Cape Vultures fatalities as a result of collisions with wind turbines” said Samantha Ralston-Paton, Birds and Renewable Energy Project Manager at BirdLife South Africa. “As far as we know, these are the first incidents of this kind for the species” she said. To date four Cape Vulture fatalities as a result of turbine collisions have been reported to BirdLife South Africa.

The collisions were expected and have confirmed conservationists’ concerns that Cape Vultures and wind farms are not compatible. Other vulture species (e.g. the Eurasian Griffon Vulture) have experienced high fatality rates at wind farms in Spain, and the Cape Vulture is ranked as the top priority in BirdLife South Africa’s list of bird species likely to be vulnerable to the impacts of wind energy.

“It is a challenge to find a balance between wind energy and bird conservation,” notes Samantha. “Climate change is a significant threat to our environment and to our well-being, and healthy ecosystems are our main line of defense. We need renewable energy, but it must be developed with respect for nature,” she said.

The most widely accepted strategy to minimize wind energy’s negative effects is to place wind turbines outside of areas regularly used by collision-prone birds. Vultures travel many kilometers from their colonies and roosts, and according to BirdLife South Africa, this implies that large areas may be unsuitable for the development of wind farms. One of the wind farms that reported Cape Vulture fatalities is located approximated 20 km from the nearest known vulture roost, and the other is approximately 12 km from a temporary roost.

“We have come a long way since the first wind farms received environmental approval. The impact assessments for the two wind farms where the mortalities were recorded were completed before BirdLife South Africa and the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Best Practice Guidelines for monitoring and impact assessment were adopted, and we also now recommend, and are seeing, much more rigorous impact assessments where wind farms are proposed within the range of Cape Vulture” notes Samantha.

“We are grateful that post-construction monitoring data are being gathered and shared with us. This is not the norm in many countries elsewhere in the world. So far only a small number of vultures have been affected, but it is important that we learn from and respond to these experiences as quickly as possible to make sure the number of mortalities stays low. Sharing this information also gives us an opportunity to engage with decision-makers, wind farms, bird specialists and researchers to try find solutions”.

Both wind farms have committed to implement further mitigation measures, including actively searching for and removing any animal carcasses in the area. This will reduce the likelihood of vultures visiting the wind farms in search of food. The risk of collisions can also be minimized by stopping turbines turning when vultures are observed in the vicinity of the wind farm. This strategy has been implemented at one of the wind farms, and is being considered at the other.

BirdLife South Africa, the Endangered Wildlife Trust and VulPro have recently issued a statement highlighting their concern around ambitions to develop wind farms in the Eastern Cape. Two Renewable Energy Development Zones proposed by the Department of Environmental Affairs’ draft Strategic Environmental Assessment for Wind and Solar Energy overlap with areas regularly used by Cape Vultures. “A recent study by the CSIR has confirmed that the wind resource in South Africa is excellent in most areas, and we believe there is no need to develop in high risk areas” notes Samantha.

Now that there is evidence the Cape Vultures are at risk at wind farms, the challenge for conservationists and environmentalists is to make sure that the number of vultures affected remains low. “One of BirdLife South Africa’s roles is to make sure that birds do not get overlooked as we scramble to find solutions to the climate change crisis” Samantha concluded.

Birdlife South Africa