November 2016 Newsletter
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CAPE BIRD CLUB NEWSLETTER                                November 2016


Promerops - important announcement
Invitation to Quiz Evening
Dragonflies and Damselflies Course
West Coast National Park Wader Bash 2017
Club Activities 
Bird Counts and Hacks
Kirstenbosch Bird Walk
Outing Report - October Kirstenbosch Bird Walk
Camp Report - Family Camp
Outing Report - October Sunday Outing to Kirstenbosch
Member Photos

Thank you to everyone who contributed items for the newsletter. 

The November issue of Promerops was due to be posted to members during the course of the last week in October.  
If you have not received your copy by the end of the first week in November please telephone Joan Ackroyd on 021 530 4435 and advise her accordingly. 
Joan has an answering service so you may leave your name and telephone number and she will return your call.
Enquiries and Registration: Judith Crosswell 021 671 1787 (after 7pm) or email

Please pay by EFT to Cape Bird Club, Nedbank Account number 1046380400, Branch Code 104609,
Please provide as reference your Surname & Initial & Dragonflies.  Members must provide their member number
Please email a copy of your proof of payment to Judith.


Saturday 5 November  OUTING
Rondevlei Nature Reserve

Leader: Merle Chalton ☎ 079 343 1047 
Meet at 08h00. These regular monthly outings are for all Rondevlei enthusiasts and beginners are especially welcome. Duration 2½ hrs.
There is a small entrance fee.
Remember to bring a warm jacket or anorak - it can be freezing in the hides, even on the hottest days!
Directions: Travel down the M5 (Prince George Drive) towards Grassy Park and look out for Nando’s at the 5th Avenue traffic light. Turn left here into 5th Avenue and at the first set of traffic lights turn right into Perth Road and continue to Rondevlei at the end of the road.

Thursday 10 November EVENING MEETING — Costa Rican Birding Adventure
Speaker: Vernon Head and Johan Schlebusch
Meet at 20h00. Come and listen to Johan Schlebusch and Vernon Head share their Costa Rican birding adventure. These intrepid explorers and their team from the Cape Bird Club will take you up the sides of bubbling volcanoes, along misty jungle paths, and through dark green forests where giant butterflies sparkle like glass! They will show you birds that sound like bells and others that are scarlet like fire. Don’t miss their story!

We meet at the Nassau Centre, Groote Schuur High School, Palmyra Road, Newlands.
Tea and biscuits are served after the meeting at a cost of R5.00.
Visitors are welcome - there is a charge of R10.00 for visitors and non-members.

Tuesday 15 November WEEKDAY OUTING — Clovelly Wetlands
Leader: Gillian Barnes ☎ 021 782 5429 or email
Meet at 08h30. We will walk from the parking area and take a circular route around the wetland − an easy walk all on the level (no hills!).
Directions: Come over Boyes Drive to Kalk Bay then follow the Main Road towards Fish Hoek. Turn right into Clovelly Road at the robot just before the bridge. We meet at the parking area opposite the Community Hall at the beginning of Clovelly Road.

Sun 20 November SUNDAY OUTING — Eerste River Ramble
Leader: John Magner ☎ 082 881 3845  or email
Meet at 08h00. We meet at the Vergenoegd wine farm next to the dam at 08h00 sharp. We will leave some cars behind as we will be returning here at the end. From here we will drive to the Eerste River estuary at Macassar, after which we will go to Spier and walk the river bank, returning to the Vergenoegd dam for a short walk and tea.
Directions: The directions to Vergenoegd are simple. Take the N2 as far as Baden Powell Drive, (R310) turn left towards Stellenbosch, and the first gate on the right is Vergenoegd. It is right opposite the entrance to Cape Town Film Studios. We will meet at the dam as you approach the farm buildings.


Sunday 6 November: Kirstenbosch BIRP Count. 
Meet at 08h00
Leader: John Magner (082 881 3845)

Thursday 10 November: Wildevoelvlei Count
Meet at 08h30
Leader: Eric Barnes (021 782 5429)

Saturday 12 November: Zandvlei Hack
Meet at 14h00
Leader: Gavin Lawson (021 705 5224)

Sunday 13 November:   Strandfontein Count 
Meet at 08h00 
Leader: Dick Barnes (021 689 1106)

Thursday 17 November:  Athlone WWTW Count
Meet at 13h00
Leader: Dick Bos (021 423 2546)
These counts will take place weather permitting

Saturday 19 November: Paarl Bird Sanctuary CWAC
Meet at 09h00
Leader: Yvonne Weiss (021 872 4972)


Tuesday 15 November 2016

These bird walks led by members of the Cape and Tygerberg Bird Clubs have been so popular over the past 2 years that it has been decided to continue them into 2016.
Anyone who is interested in learning more about our Kirstenbosch birds is welcome to join the walks.
The walks are free of charge but the entrance fee for Kirstenbosch is payable if you do not have a BotSoc Card.
This month the walk will take place on Tuesday 15 November.
The walk usually lasts around 2 hours, please wear suitable clothing for the weather.

Meet at 8.00 am at the Information Desk at Gate One.

Leader: Graham Pringle
Please contact Linda Hibbin on 021 788 1528, or e-mail if you have any questions
Kirstenbosch/ CBC Walk – 11 October 2016, led by Peter Steyn

Despite hard rain at 6 am, the weather cleared dramatically and a group of twenty, including a few keen photographers and a visitor from the UK, assembled at 8 am. Peter Steyn welcomed the group with two splintered sticks in his hand, which puzzled at least one participant, until their purpose was revealed: at the start of the walk, he showed us three owl pellets which he had found, and used the sticks to dissect them.
The group were intrigued by the process and his explanation. We enjoyed a good sighting of an adult Spotted Eagle-Owl near the turnstile, followed by that of an extremely bedraggled chick in the Camphor Avenue.  The chick had started life in the hanging flower pot below the turnstile before moving away. There were further delights of owls to come.
We were lucky to get a very clear view of a Sombre Greenbul, as we wound our way to the Enchanted Forest. Peter took us on a lesser-known path towards the Canopy Walkway (“Boomslang”), explaining that this was a good area to see Lemon Doves. Two minutes later, one of the group announced that he had seen a dove. There were in fact three Lemon Doves, close to us, foraging among the leaves – a “lifer” for quite a few in the group.
We crossed the “Boomslang”, now enjoying full sunshine. A lone Swee Waxbill was in a branch at eye-level, close to the walkway.  There were few raptors present in the garden, with the exception of a Yellow-billed Kite which flew just over us later on. We were compensated for the lack of raptors by many excellent sightings of sunbirds, with Orange-breasted Sunbirds being more plentiful than the Southern Double-collared Sunbirds. We were also treated to several sightings of Cape Sugarbird in the same area, to the delight of the photographers.
In its favoured nesting spot on the rock, we saw another Spotted Eagle-Owl, keeping a fluffy white blob warm, while the male kept a beady eye on us from high up in a tree opposite. In addition to the two sets of owls, we were aware throughout the walk of considerable nest-building and breeding activity (e.g. Karoo Prinia carrying some kapok in its beak, and a prinia nest observed later, as well as  a Hadeda Ibis in its scruffy nest in the Camphor Avenue). Cape Spurfowl with very new chicks were seen sheltering under a bush, while some Egyptian Geese were feeding alongside ten goslings, whose numbers had depleted from the original eighteen.
The sighting of a single Black Saw-wing in a tree above the Dell was followed soon after by the unexpected sight of a Common Chaffinch on the bench next to the large pond, a pleasing end to a most enjoyable walk. 
Twenty-five species were seen, plus one which was heard only.
Penny Dichmont
Part of the group which attended the October Kirstenbosch/ CBC walk, led by Peter Steyn
Photo by Penny Dichmont
Enjoying a good view of an adult Spotted Eagle-Owl, near the entrance to the garden.
Photo by Penny Dichmont
The bigger group enjoying a good view of an adult Spotted Eagle-Owl, near the entrance to the garden
Photo by Penny Dichmont
Enjoying sunshine on the "Boomslang" after cloudy, cool conditions at the start of the walk
Photo by Penny Dichmont
Peter Steyn (right) shares a few anecdotes and some memories about Gerry Broekhuysen (who was chairman of the CBC for twenty- two years) and his wife, at the bench built in their honour
Photo by Penny Dichmont
Cape Bird Family Camp 23 – 25 September 2016

This year we ‘camped’ at Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve. We stayed in 3 of the very pleasant  8-bedded cottages and that could hardly be called camping!  Two of the cottages even had Jacuzzis – although the downside of that was the noisy pump! The children, though, did not see that as a problem.

23 people attended the camp, of whom 12 were children.  The rest were moms and dads, and even a granny, plus some other adults involved somehow in camp activities.  Everyone arrived by 18:30 and the camp started off with a bang with a birthday celebration.  Adam Buckham was celebrating his 10th birthday and his mom Jean had baked the most magnificent cake decorated especially for this bird-crazy son with a scene inspired by the water and birds of Strandfontein . After supper and celebrations, Mike Buckham gave an excellent presentation of endemic birds in the area.  “I loved my Dad’s talk about the birds we would see on the weekend. We were all given 2 pieces of paper with a bird name on each of them and we had to shout out when our birds were shown and we got a fizzer or a chocolate. My birds were a Bokmakerie and a Cape Sugar Bird.”  Jack Buckham

At Vrolijkheid the cottages are on one side of the road and the reserve proper on the other. We left in little groups the next morning very early.  Mike left with most of the older children before the others were ready but we all kept on bumping into one another.  The pretty reserve abounded with spring flowers, and the birds were out in full force. One group was joined for a short time by a member of the Robertson bird club who was waiting for the rest of her bird club to arrive for their outing – and she was able to share information about some of the plants and also early history.  The trails were fairly well marked with signs with interesting facts about the plants and their uses by the early indigenous people of the area. The first hide my group visited was rather unproductive but the second and third ones kept us well ‘entertained’ for a long time. It was interesting also to note that the third hide we visited was wheel-chair accessible and could be reached by a motor car. The hides provided many teaching opportunities for less experienced birders.  Jean Buckham reported that Jack, her youngest son, got very excited about the water birds under Andrew Codd’s tutelage. Andrew also taught the younger boys about snakes and scorpions and such-like. On the way back to the cottages I particularly enjoyed walking with Bev Patterson and Thomas Janisch, her grandson, observing the Fairy Flycatchers flitting in and out of the bushes.

Adam Buckham had this to say about his morning: “On Saturday morning, we woke up early and went for a really nice walk in the Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve. Our first bird of the day was a Swee Waxbill and my best bird of the day was a Greater Honeyguide which we saw in the camp itself. We also saw a Lesser Honeyguide in the camp which was very exciting. We walked to the bird hides and added a number of water birds. We saw a few Pale Chanting Goshawks which are real Karoo birds. I loved birding in Karoo type habitats. We saw Agulhas Long Billed Lark and saw a Cape Clapper Lark displaying and calling. “

We were all back at the cottages by midday where some of the group continued some excellent birding around the cottages – giant kingfisher, Lesser and Greater Honeyguides being highlights. Some of the not quite so keen young birders spent time in the jacuzzis.  Most had an afternoon siesta which was then followed by a treasure hunt which most of the children seem to have enjoyed. Some children were climbing in a large tree and all of a sudden out flew a Spotted Eagle Owl that no-one had noticed sitting quietly watching us!  Some of the keener birders went out for a late afternoon drive to do some roadside birding on farm roads outside the reserve. What views! Here my bird highlight was a Dwarf Bittern on some reeds along a river next to the road. Then we returned to the cottages, picked up everyone and went to the car-accessible hide for sundowners and some more relaxing late afternoon birding both in the hide and along the raised walkway.

On Saturday evening we all braaied together and dinner was followed by an excellent talk by Heather Howell on owls. Even the best birders amongst the children learnt so much because she went way beyond just identification – looking at physiology and habits as well.

On Sunday morning activities were rather splintered with Mike taking some of the children off birding earlier than the rest got going. Thomas Buckham shared what his group did: “On Sunday we had a lovely drive along a farm road near Vrolijkheid and saw Blue Cranes, Namaqua Warbler, Diederik Cuckoo, Klaas’ Cuckoo and many other amazing birds. When we started the morning drive, we were on 79 birds for the pentad so our goal for the morning was to get to 100. It was very close but our 100th bird was a Burchells Coucal – we ended the morning on 103 birds which was amazing for a 2-day weekend. We then had a tennis match and had fun outside before it was time to go home. I had a really nice weekend. “

Others went to explore very briefly the little municipal reserve in Robertson, Dassieshoek. I was with this group and was blown away by the scenery – the reserve nestled at the foot of tall mountains. As Andrew Codd commented ït is a “little gem that needs revisiting”. For me the highlight was an excellent sighting of a cardinal woodpecker. While we were out Loraine Codd went for a run in Vrolijkheid Reserve and she came back reporting that on Saturday we in fact had not seen half the reserve; that we had not done it justice!.  After packing up (we had to be out by 11:00) some families left for home while others went to visit the donkey sanctuary near McGregor.  

All in all it was an excellent camp and some of the participants actually said they would like to go to the same venue next year – and – if possible to make the camp one night longer!

This is what some of the children had to say:

Marc Codd:  My favourite part of the trip was waking up early in the morning to go to Vrolijkheid. I was able to see lots of special birds and it was fun using Birdlasser for the first time. My highlight of the trip was seeing the Black Harrier which is very rare in that area.  For Marc another highlight was listening to the talks on both of the nights, 

On Sunday morning occupants of a couple of cars observed a caracal jumping onto the wall of the Reserve gate.  For both Jonty Wright and Marc Codd this was a huge highlight. 

Jack Bucham said:  At Vrolijkheid when I was sleeping, I could hear all the night birds making noises. I heard an owl, a nightjar and in the morning, I was woken up by a Hadeda.  

Samantha Codd summed up the weekend from her perspective: I enjoyed the Jacuzzi and the game that Priscilla made with the eggs. I loved the walk in Vrolijkheid even though there were some ticks. I know I’m not a birder but I liked going birding with everyone and also I loved the talks. I now know a lot more about the birds. Michaela Wright also loved the Jacuzzi and hated the ticks.

It was my birthday on Friday so I invited 2 friends for the weekend – one had never birded before but he really loved the weekend so much and learnt about so many birds. It was fun birding with my friends and introducing them to birding. ADAM BUCKHAM

And this is what it is all about ……fun and spreading the joy of birding ..…

Priscilla Beeton
Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve
Photos by Priscilla Beeton
Keen birders at the Family Camp
Photos by Priscilla Beeton
Klaas's Cuckoo
Photo by Priscilla Beeton
Levaillant's Cisticola
Photo by Priscilla Beeton
Photo by Priscilla Beeton

20 birders joined me at Kirstenbosch on Sunday 23rd October in beautiful weather to see what birds we could find.  Amongst the group were two new members of the bird club.
We headed towards the Camphor Avenue looking for the two juvenile Spotted Eagle Owls that are in this area along with their parents but we could only find one of the adults. So we decided to head slowly towards the Owl Rock where we knew there were two more Owl chicks much smaller than the Camphor Ave ones so we would have a much better chance of seeing them – and we were lucky enough to get there fairly early and everyone had good views of either one fluffy white chick or two.  We strolled around the gardens mostly in shady areas and found lots of small birds including Swee Waxbills, Southern Double Collared as well as Orangebreasted Sunbirds, Cape Batis and even a few Chaffinchs.  It was good to see some Black Saw-wing Swallows as well and get a glimpse of an African Paradise Flycatcher as well as an African Goshawk in the Braille Trail.
An unusual find was a lone very vocal Forktailed Drongo – a bird becoming more common on the peninsula in the past few years but a first for the Kirstenbosch bird list.
It was a good day for raptors as we saw a low flying Booted Eagle, two separate African Harrier Hawks, Ravens, and a very deft Rock Kestrel transferring his meal from his feet to his bill in flight – he then perched for photos.
As the weather was so perfect we finally found ourselves back at the gate just over 3 hours later by which time the gardens were becoming very busy and the weather was becoming very hot so our timing had been just right.
Margaret Maciver

Birders In Kirstenbosch on Sunday 23 October
Photos by Margaret Maciver
Fork-tailed Drongo
Photo by Margaret Maciver
Booted Eage
Photo by Margaret Maciver
Rock Kestrel
Photo by Margaret Maciver
Member Photos

Dr Bob Baigrie photographed this leucistic Olive Thrush in his garden in Rondebosch recently.
He remarked that he hadn't seen the bird before this sighting and has not seen it since.
Perhaps some other lucky CBC member will spot it?

According to Wikepedia, leucism is a condition in which there is partial loss of pigmentation in an animal resulting in white, pale, or patchy coloration of the skin, hair, feathers, scales or cuticle, but not the eyes. Unlike albinism, it is caused by a reduction in multiple types of pigment, not just melanin.
Membership of the Cape Bird Club
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If you would like to become a member of the Cape Bird Club, please go to our website to download the
application form or contact Joan Ackroyd on or call 021 530 4435 for for more information

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