2020 Bird Calendars

 

We will once again be ordering calendars for 2020.  These will be available at R110 each.  Please place your orders by our next meeting at the latest with John Saunders at 028 316 2032 / antares@hermanus.co.za

PS.  We are still awaiting a volunteer to take on the Walks and Talks Portfolio.  Given that we have over 200 members, it seems strange that there is no response at all!  Members should be prepared to give something back to their club, in order for it to function properly.  Without a committee, the club will fold!

RIP David Watson

 

Members will be saddened by the tragic news that David has passed away.  He went hiking on Maanskijnkop alone yesterday.  When he had not returned by 11:30 am the alarm went out, but he could not be found.  This morning a helicopter was deployed and his body was found on a path.  He had apparently had a heart attack and he still had his walking stick in his hand.

Our collective condolences go out to Elizabeth and her family at this awful time in their lives.  They will cherish the memory of this wonderful man who gave so much to the community around him.  He was a committed member of the HBC and served on the committee for a number of years.  Many of you will remember being entertained by him at Club functions, when, with his keen sense of humour, he regaled us with birding and other stories.  He died doing what he enjoyed most – walking in the mountains and communing with nature.

You will be sorely missed, David.  How we wish we could alleviate the pain that your family must be suffering.  We are reminded of the recent passing of Robin Richards, another keen mountaineer, whose funeral some of us attended.  The words of Gen. Smuts, spoken on Table Mountain in 1923, and read at Robin’s service, come to mind;

What is that religion? When we reach the mountain summits we leave behind us all the things that weigh heavily down below on our body and our spirit. We leave behind a feeling of weakness and depression; we feel a new freedom, a great exhilaration, an exaltation of the body no less than of the spirit. We feel a great joy.

The Religion of the Mountain is in reality the religion of joy, of the release of the soul from the things that weigh it down and fill it with a sense of weariness, sorrow and defeat. The religion of joy realises the freedom of the soul, the soul’s kinship to the great creative spirit, and its dominance over all the things of sense. As the body has escaped from the over- weight and depression of the sea, so the soul must be released from all sense of weariness, weakness and depression arising from the fret, worry and friction of our daily lives. We must feel that we are above it all, that the soul is essentially free, and in freedom realises the joy of living. And when the feeling of lassitude and depression and the sense of defeat advances upon us, we must repel it, and maintain an equal and cheerful temper.

We must fill our daily lives with the spirit of joy and delight. We must carry this spirit into our daily lives and tasks. We must perform our work not grudgingly and as a burden imposed upon, but in a spirit of cheerfulness, goodwill and delight in it. Not only on the mountain summits of life, not only on the heights of success and achievement, but down in the deep valleys of drudgery, of anxiety and defeat, we must cultivate the great spirit of joyous freedom and upliftment of the soul.

Bird Books for Sale

 

Good day,

I’m sending this to the chairs of all clubs associated with BLSA. Would any of your members would be interested in any of the books in the attached list, from Peter Barnwell? He is a photographer and film-maker living in Bethulie in the southern Free State and who plans to sell his house and buy a caravan to tour around the Kalahari and Namibia. He has a large library (mostly bird and other natural history books) which he has decided he must reduce drastically and is offering them for sale. Most are immaculate condition – some have never been opened! Anybody interested in looking at further lists, please contact me.

Kind regards,

Brian Colahan    colahanbrian@gmail.com

Anyone wishing to purchase books should contact Peter Barnwell directly at the email address supplied with the list of books available below;

Bird Books for Sale(1)_Peter Barnwell

 

Restocking the Heronry at Vermont Pan

 

This morning six volunteers carried out reconstruction work at Vermont Pan.  The heronry – which is now occupied by White-breasted Cormorants and Egyptian Geese – was looking a bit bare in patches, so we added a few loads of branches to give the birds new roosting and nesting sites.

Present in our group was Gavin Turner, the designer of the structure and he reminded us of how, when the original structure was built, they got it wrong, by making a mirror image of what had been prefabricated in Mike MacNaught’s garden.  Today the whole thing smells pretty awful, being covered in guano, but there were plenty of nests and even one Egyptian Goose nest with nine pretty eggs waiting to be hatched.

Carrying the branches out into the pan was a messy business, squelching through deep sucking mud, but we got the job done.  Everybody certainly needed a good bath afterwards!  Let’s hope the birds appreciate our work.

Volunteers required to re-build the Heronry at Vermont Pan

 

We are looking for volunteers to help restock the Heronry on the Vermont Salt Pan.

If you are free for about two hours this coming Thursday the 13th June at 09.00 at the Car Park in RockHopper (second right down from the Onrus Trading Post traffic lights).

The sticks and branches are there ready and waiting.

We plan to take them out to the Heronry to build it up before the nesting season commences.

If you have the time and are willing to help, please contact me ASAP either by phone or by email for more information.

Your help will be sincerely appreciated.

John Saunders

Email:antares@hermanus.co.za

Call for Help

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The club needs to transport a load of branches from Kwaaiwater to the Heronry at Vermont next week and also to collect around 20 stacking chairs from Somerset West.  If anyone has a bakkie and is willing to assist, please call John Saunders at 028 316 2302,  or mail him at  antares@hermanus.co.za  Thank you!

Name Badges

skeleton-joke-funny-1278526

In order to improve our getting to know each other in the club, we will in future be wearing name badges at all club meetings.  Some of you already have badges, but there are many who don’t.  In order to know which new names need badges, will all members who already have name tags, please let Sue know asap.  Her email address is francks@intekom.co.za

 

Fynbos Fires and their Consequences for Birds

 

Positive benefits of fynbos fires are short-term food opportunities for some species

Raptors are often attracted to fire and its charred results, moving in from adjacent habitats. This is particularly evident where predatory birds may flush out injured birds and animals or find other carrion. Jackal Buzzards, Steppe Buzzards and Spotted Eagle Owls are known to visit burnt areas immediately after smoke dissipates. After a relatively short time they move on.

Other species which may take advantage of the aftermath of fynbos fires

The Fork Tailed Drongo, Fiscal Flycatcher, Fiscal Shrike and Cape Grassbird are known to take up the debris of insects, arthropods and the seeds of various plants such as P. falcifolia and L. eucalyptifolium which are exposed about 2 weeks post fire.

Genetic Diversity 

Nectivores such as the Cape Sugarbird, Orange Breasted Sunbird and Cape Bulbul will immediately move away to neighbouring areas, however, this may be advantageous to genetic diversity as they colonise with other groups, returning only once the area has recovered. They are significant pollinators, playing a vital role in continuing fynbos survival.

Negatives are longer-term!!!!!

Fynbos Recovery Periods or seasons required for the fynbos habitat to recover vary. Usually, fire patterns are such that most fynbos bird species are able to simply re-locate temporarily to unaffected areas of similar habitat, at least until the affected areas recover. Some fynbos species take longer to recover, hence food sources can be limited. Neighbouring suburban gardens often become a refuge for the nectivores immediately post fire.

Frequency of fire impacts on the recovery of certain fynbos plant species, which in turn impacts on suitable nesting sites, for example the upper branches of  Protea Neriifolia, preferred by the Orange Breasted Sunbird. This  plant species is slow maturing, taking about 6 years to reach maturity, and produce fruit. If the fruit is burnt before ripening, no seeds will be dispersed! Densely concentrated growth of Leucodendron salignum indicates where an area has been burnt too frequently, compromising non-sprouting fynbos species, thus minimising preferred nesting habitats for some fynbos bird species.

The intensity of fires can significantly alter the fynbos profile of an area. Whilst some plant species may benefit from low intensity fire heat to allow for seed dispersal, other plant species can be eliminated by hi intensity fire. Total destruction of the underground parts of the plant and buried seeds can occur. Again, this impacts on breeding, nesting and the food source of endemic birds and may also lead to fragmentation of breeding sites.

Breeding season versus Fire season.

At the moment, most fires occur during hot Summer and Autumn months, when breeding is finished. Most fynbos birds breed during late Winter and early Spring, so impact on breeding is generally confined to loss of suitable nesting sites. However, if fires occur earlier in the breeding season, fynbos bird species most affected would be those nesting in fynbos scrub, such as Cape Grassbird, Karoo Prinia, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Neddicky, Grey-backed Cisticola and Cape Sugarbird. Some such as the Victorin’s Warblers concentrate  into damp, south-facing stream-side kloofs, shielded from all but the fiercest fires.

Article submitted by Pat Redford

References:

  • Mike Ford (Hermanus Bird Club)
  • “Fynbos Ecology and Management” Karen Essler/Shirley Pierce/ Charl de Villiers
  • “Roberts Bird Guide” Hugh Chittenden
  • “Sasol Birds of Southern Africa” Ian Sinclair
  • “Birds Attracted to a fire in Mountain Fynbos” W.R.J. Dean, UCT
  • Fernkloof Nature Reserve website
  • “Vanishing Flora” Anneke Kearney
  • “Walking with Paul Grobler” website