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

IMG_2151

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

2017  Mini Birding Big Day (MBBD) – 2nd April

 

This year’s MBBD was a bit later in the year, so the start time was a bit later; 12hrs from 06:30 to 18:30, with a 40km radius in which to do the searching.

5 teams of 4 birders entered, plus an extra pair too busy to spend the full day!

We had good weather to start and not too hot through the day, but the wind came up a bit in the afternoon, which kept the birds under cover.  Most teams reported many more sightings in the morning than the afternoon.

These are the teams with results.

The Twitching Darters:  Bowmans & Daggs; 121 birds – winners

The Rocky Jumpers: Hazells & Palmers: 117

The Lazy Birds: Saunders, Ann Philip and Lee Burman; 93

 The Bird Brains: Francks & Southworths; 93

The Stoopers: Sterns & Hoopers;  75

The Pair:  Margie Ogston and Barbara Swart. 91

 

The wining total is the lowest since 2006 ( 121 three times since then) and 15 less than 2016 which was the highest since 2006.  The 10 year average is 131 birds.

Total species seen was 158 (2016 – 179, 10yr avg  – 168)

Species seen by all were 48 and single sightings 32. The drought conditions, windy afternoon and later time of year were probably the reason for the low numbers – it could not have been poor birders!

We met at the Fernkloof hall for a braai after sunset and many stories of the day were exchanged.  The incident of the day was seen by the Stoopers who watched two Secretary birds fighting a long shiny snake. At the end of fight one bird swallowed the snake whole “going down like a cold beer on a hot afternoon”.

All in all a good birding day and looking forward to next year!  Hope to see many more club members involved.

Graham Palmer

Mini Big Birding Day

 

MBBDay is always one of the fun days in our Club’s calendar, an event looked forward to with eager anticipation by a number of members. This year it was held on Sunday 2 April.

Half an hour later than usual, from 6.30am to 6.30pm.

Only five teams of four entered (more on this later). Out team, The Twitching Darters, comprised of John and Sheelagh Bowman, and Peter and Marie Dagg.

Last year the winning total of birds identified, by sight or sound, was 135. We knew this would be very difficult to achieve this year, as the event was held much later in the year than previously, so several migrants had departed. And on the day, wintry conditions were starting to set in, making birding quite challenging.

We had done some recce-ing beforehand and decided on a strategy of concentrating in a limited area between the Hemel and Aarde Valley and Rooiels. So, we never travelled East of H. and A. i.e. we didn’t get to Hermanus, as such, at all. But within this limited area, we had identified 14 different birding spots. This proved to be quite a successful strategy. It meant that as soon as the count started slowing down at any of these spots, we moved on to the next one. And believe me, often we were disappointed that birds we expected to see just weren’t there. But there was always the next spot!

A few birds/incidents:

Our top bird of the day was a Grey-winged Francolin, a pretty uncommon bird in our region.

We were travelling on one of the gravel back roads between the N2 and Shaw’s Pass – feeling a bit down as the birding had got really slow – when suddenly we saw this little Francolin scuttling down the road ahead of us. Obligingly, it stayed in sight long enough for all of us to get a good look and an ID.

Next best was a Little Bittern. We were birding early at Jessie Walton’s farm dam. Suddenly, from the reeds virtually at Peter’s feet, this bird erupted, and flew across the dam, giving us all a chance to have a good look. A Little Bittern is always a great sighting!

We had debated whether, with the recent fire damage, it was worth going to Rooiels. Eventually we decided to go. But when we got there, there was a freezing cold wind, which together with the damage, severely restricted birding. So we only got a handful of birds there, and none of the ‘specials’ which were so evident on our Club walk early in March.

We stopped at Harold Porter for lunch in the parking area. While eating, Peter caught sight of a Brimstone Canary. It went behind a bush, so we all went forward to get a look. Afterwards I turned, and there at the open boot of our car was a small troop of baboons, led by an enormous male. I ran at it shouting. The other members of the troop shot off, but this male just stood there challenging me. Eventually, with Peter joining the fray, it got the message, and made tracks. And our lunch was still intact!

What could have been a major embarrassment was that at 5.45pm our team still had not seen a single Cape Sparrow, or Cape Bulbul. Unbelievable! Fortunately, honour was restored, when we saw both before 6pm at Vermont Pan.

All these little incidents contributed to a most enjoyable and memorable day, notwithstanding disappointments from time to time. But it was successful, as The Twitching Darters ended up being the winning team, with 121 birds! We were closely followed by The Rocky Jumpers (Ronnie and Renee Hazell, and Graham and Barbara Palmer), with 117 birds.

In conclusion, I’d just like to repeat what a great day MBBDay always is. It is a competition, and some teams do go all out to win. But it is also a fun day, and several teams just go along for the fun of it, to see what they can achieve, and enjoy the birding -some starting quite late in the morning. The day is always followed by a convivial braai at Fernkloof, where participants exchange tales of the day’s highs and lows. The day certainly hones up your ID-ing skills, and leads you to find new birding spots. On one of our recces we found a new spot which we first explored during the Club’s Challenge last year, and it was really productive on Sunday.

It really is a pity that of over 200 members in the Club, only 5 teams of 4 each entered. It really would be great if we could get a lot more entries in future.

Thanks to Craig for organising such a great day.

John Bowman

Mini Big Birding Day

 

MBBD Map 2017

Map showing area covered by the MBBD

We are nearing the Mini Big Birding Day and we would welcome some more entries.  The day is NOT the Olympic games where everybody hopes to win a medal, but a fantastic way to improve your knowledge about the local birds and birding spots and to hone your observation skills.

Please think again and let me have your entries as soon as you can – the date is 2nd April and its 06h00 to 18h00 followed by a braai at the hall when the days sightings will be shared amongst the participants.

IT’S A FUN WAY TO LEARN – PLEASE ENTER NOW!

Craig

HBC Library

 

The following titles are available through our inhouse Library which is kept by Craig.

 

BOOK NAME                                      AUTHOR  

 

Birds of the Lowveld  by  Peter Ginn

Birds of the KNP   by  Kenneth Newman

Bird behaviour  by   Robert Burton

Birds of Southern Africa  by  O P M Prozesky

Chamberlain LBJ’s  by   Faansie Peacock

Camera Studies of SA Birds  by   C J Uys

Colour Encyclopaedia of Birds  by   Euan Dunn

Distribution & Status of Birds of Kruger  by  A C Kemp

Garden Birds of SA   by   Ginn/McIllron

Garden Birds of SA  by   Geoff Lockwood

Gardening with Birds   by   Tom Spence

More Garden Birds of SA  by   Ginn/McIllron

Mondi Southern Birds   by  Petersen/Tripp

Migrating Raptors of the World  by   Keith Bildstein

Roadside Birds of SA  by   Kenneth Newman

Seabird Identification Guide  by   Peter Harrison

Sibley Birding Basics   by  David Sibley

South African Birds  by   Leonard Gill

SA Birds – Photographic guide   by   Ian Sinclair

The Birds around us   by   Richard Liversidge

The Bird- Master of Flight  by   Harrison/Loxton

Vanishing Eagles   by    Philip Burton

Wildfowl-Ducks,Geese & Swans   by    Madge/Burn

Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas of SA

 

VIDEOS 

 

V1 To Fly or not to Fly

V2 The Mastery of Flight

V3 The Insatiable Appetite

V4 Meat Eaters

V5 Fishing for a Living

V6 Signals and Songs

V7 Finding Partners

V8 The Demands of the Egg

V9 The Problems of Parenthood

V10 The Limits of Endurance

V12 Okavango Magic

V13/14 Sasol Birds of Kruger

V16 Attenborough in Paradise

V18 S A Bird Sounds

V19 S A Bird Sounds

V20 City Slickers

V21 Raptor Force

V22 Bird Song of Southern Africa

V23 Winged Safari

V24 An introduction to SA Birds

 

CDs  

 

C1 Bird Calls for Beginners

C2 S A Bird Sounds

C3 The Hermanus Cliff Path Experience

An Appeal to Club Members

Those of you who attended the Flower Festival last spring will recall the very successful stand mounted by the Hermanus Bird Club.  Pat Redford put it together and she has once again volunteered her services to design and build our 2017 stand.  This year’s theme will be nests and members are asked to assist in this regard

Pat asks that you should look out for abandoned or fallen nests (please do not touch active ones!)  Her advice is:

  • Shake them off a bit,
  • Spray with a little bit of insect spray to rid nest of mites etc,
  • Store in a ventilated cardboard box in their garage until September.
  • If you know for sure which bird species the nest belonged to, can you label the box accordingly.
  • If you are not sure, perhaps you can do research themselves to establish the most likely species, a good learning experience?
  • Alternatively we will get the nests all lined up and ask our experts to ID them, so we can label and display.

She would love to have about 100 nests, even if there are several the same, it would make an awesome display! We have at least 100 active members, so she am sure 1 per member or per couple could be achieved? Specially in the windy stormy winter ahead. She would also like to have photographs of nests or birds nesting.  These should be emailed to her at patred@iafrica.com so that she can start compiling the information and plan the display.

Glenda Furst recently took the photograph below.  Mike Ford has identified it as a Little Swift, and it is the sort of image that is needed, so lets get cracking!

Swallows

Little Swift and nest