February Newsletter
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CAPE BIRD CLUB NEWSLETTER                                 FEBRUARY 2015



Sat 7                RONDEVLEI OUTING
Meet at 08h00. These regular monthly outings are for all Rondevlei enthusiasts and beginners are especially welcome. Duration about 2½ hours but you can stay as long as you like.  
Directions: Travel down the M5 towards Grassy Park and look out for Nando's at the 5th Avenue traffic light. Turn left here and continue along 5th Avenue to the first set of traffic lights. Turn left into Perth Road and continue to the end of the road.  
There is a small entrance fee for those without season tickets.
Convenor: Merle Chalton (phone 021 686 8951)

Speaker: John Magner
Meet at 20h00. This will be a photographic tour from Cape Town to the Kgalagadi via the Karoo National Park and Makola National Park. The Kgalagadi was very wet in February last year, and it was unusual to see it so green. The bird life was abundant and the animals well fed. John says they got very wet at times but it was a delightful trip, and he will share his experiences with us this evening.

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 R4.00.
Visitors are welcome - there is a charge of R10.00 for visitors and non-members.

Meet at 08h00. This 204 ha reserve is approximately 9 kilometres from Stellenbosch in the Jonkershoek Valley.  The reserve lies next to the Eerste River, which forms the northern boundary and extends up the north-eastern slope of Stellenbosch Mountain, forming the southern boundary.
The vegetation consists mainly of mountain fynbos and there is abundant birdlife, with over 130 bird species having been recorded there.
Directions:  From Cape Town take the N2 and turn off at exit 33 towards Stellenbosch.  Pass Spier and continue until you come to a T-junction, where you must turn right. Follow this road into Stellenbosch.  
Pass the Stellenbosch railway station on your left and at the second traffic light turn right into Merriman Avenue.  Follow the signs along this road, which becomes Martinson Road and then Jonkershoek Road, to the Lanzerac Hotel and Jonkershoek.
After passing the hotel on your right, drive for about 5.5 kms until you reach the Assegaaibos  signpost pointing towards the reserve entrance on your right.  
We will meet at the entrance.  
If you have a Wild Card bring it.  Otherwise an entrance fee of R40 is payable.
Leaders: Peter Nupen  (083 407 4362) & John Magner (082 881 3845)

Please note the correct date
Meet at 08h00
. Some consider the wetland systems of the FBEP amongst the top five birdwatching areas in Southern Africa. Waders should be good at this time of the year. Dave would also like to share interesting information about the research that Section Ranger Erica Essig is doing at Strandfontein. 
Directions: For those coming from the north: Take the M5 (Kromboom Parkway) down to the Ottery Road turn off and turn left. Carry on past the Ottery Hypermarket onto the  New Ottery Road to Strandfontein Road. Turn Right. Proceed down, through Lotus River to the road to the False Bay Eco-Park. Turn to the right. Follow this road, through a check point to the works where we'll meet just before the entrance to the "Birding Area". Alternatively, follow Rosmead Avenue south to the end and then turn left into Ottery Road.
For those coming from the south: Take Main Road to  Muizenberg.  Turn into Atlantic Road (under the subway) and follow it to Baden Powell Drive. Follow this to Strandfontein Road. Turn left and follow it to the turn off to the False Bay Ecopark.
Leader: Dave Whitelaw  (021 671 3714)

Anne Gray Memorial Kuifkop Camp 

There are still 3 or 4 places in cottages if anyone else would like to join the Anne Gray Memorial Kuifkop Camp on 6 – 8 March at Kuifkopvisvanger near Veldrif.  
Total cost (self catering and providing own linen) is R495.

There are also a couple of campsites available (R225 for the weekend).



The summer CWAC counts take place from mid-January to mid-February.
Please assist with these counts if you possibly can.

Sunday 1 February: Kirstenbosch BIRP Count.
Meet at 08h00
Leader: John Magner (082 881 3845)

Saturday 10 January: Zandvlei Hack
Meet at 14h00
Leader: Gavin Lawson (021 705 5224)

Sunday 8 February: Strandfontein Count

Meet at 08h00
Leader: Dick Barnes (021 689 1106)
Please meet at the Julie te Groen Bird Information Centre.
Directions: At the Works main gate turn right, go under the boom & it is a short drive along that road.
The original meeting place (outside the gates of the Works) now looks like a building site - not very conducive to drinking tea/coffee after the count!

Thursday 12 February: Wildevoelvlei Count
Meet at 08h30
Leader: Eric Barnes (021 782 5429)

Saturday 14 February: Zandvlei Hack

Meet at 14h00
Leader: Gavin Lawson (021 705 5224)

Thursday 19 February: Athlone WWTW Count
Meet at 13h00
Leader: Dick Bos (021 423 2546)
These counts will take place weather permitting

Saturday 28 February: Paarl Bird Sanctuary CWAC
Meet at 09h00
Leader: Yvonne Weiss (021 872 4972)


Tuesday 17 February at 16h00

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 2015.
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 17 February.
Meet at 16h00 at the Information Desk at Gate One.

Leader: Otto Schmidt (073 043 2761)

2014 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition

Don’t miss the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition, which will feature 100 breath-taking images of nature. It runs from December 2014 to March 2015 at the Iziko Gallery in Cape Town. 

In addition to the normal entrance fee, a nominal surcharge of R15 for adults; and R7.50 for children, students and pensioners, will be included for access to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition area.

For further information contact Christopher Mason at NHU Africa on Tel: 021 422 0023, or visit

Alternatively, contact Lee-Shay Collison at Iziko Museums of South Africa on Tel: 021 981 3891 or, or visit


The Advisory Committee of the sanctuary requests that all visitors make sure that they sign in at the gate.
Note that the new visiting hours (08h00 to 17h00 daily) include access to the toilets, viewing platform and picnic area.  
The back section of the sanctuary, with increased security, is only open on Saturdays and Sundays.  
For emergencies, contact Superintendent Grant Rhode cell 071 5756800    
You are all welcome! 


We met in the City Council car park just before 08h00 where our vehicles would be safely locked up whilst we were on the walk.
There was an excellent turnout with 31 birders arriving, most of whom were longstanding members of the Club, but there were also a number of new members and at least one non-member. For quite a few it was a first time visit to Zandvlei.
Because of the numbers and the fact that a lot of the route necessitates walking in single file, Simon Fogarty and John Magner assisted by pointing out the birds and sharing their knowledge particularly with the new members. My grateful thanks to them.

We set off past the old car park and encountered many Cape Bulbuls, seemingly one on every bush!
The first stop was next to the canal adjacent to Marina Da Gama and there we saw Common Moorhens, Yellow-Billed Ducks and a Great-crested Grebe which generated a lot of interest. Back on the path we saw a White-backed Mousebird which also attracted some interest. The reeds alongside the path are very high and in many cases we flushed the birds before being able to study them.

Next stop was the tall, well positioned look-out deck which overlooks the Northern end of Zandvlei and here there was a lot of interest and excitement. On the beach and sand spit in front of us there were Caspian Terns, Common Terns and a Sandwich Tern and at one stage Simon managed to get all three in view through his scope at the same time. Also seen were Cape Teal, Egyptian Geese and Blacksmith Lapwings. From a distance we had heard and seen three Whiskered Terns and eventually one arrived and flew up and down in front of us so everyone got a good look at it. 

Next was the Skurpus Hide which was disappointing and only produced a view of the brown reed bed. Just before the hide however there was a family of Pied Kingfishers and one was able to differentiate between male and female. In the waterway next to the hide was a Purple Heron, which we had previously flushed and watched it land so most got a view of it before it flew off.
We then moved to the waterside deck in the North Western end of the Vlei and on the far bank of the Vlei  we saw a Little Bittern fly across a gap in the reeds and then a second one but of course both disappeared into the reeds. Then one flew across the Vlei in our direction and most of the group got a good look at it – always a very good bird to see !
Next was the Salt Pan where we surprised a Common Greenshank which then flew up and down the pan a few times calling repeatedly – a second Greenshank was then seen.
The Central Pan produced nothing new and we made our way back to the vehicles to collect our refreshments which we enjoyed in the picnic site near the entrance.
The weather was generally overcast but warm and with little or no wind so all in all it was a most enjoyable outing and the final tally was 48 species seen and a further 3 identified by their call.   

Graham Pringle 
Clockwise from Top Right: Cape Bulbul, Common Greenshank, Looking for the Little Bittern, Caspian Tern.
Thanks to Peter Hills for these photographs.
From the top: Part of the group (photo by Peter Hills;
Refreshment Time (photo by Graham Pringle)


The Walker Bay Bird Fair takes place at Stanford from 25 February-1 March, 2015.

On this the 10th Anniversary of the Bird Fair at Stanford, the aim is to make it the best yet.   It has been modelled on the highly successful Sasol Bird Fair that is held annually in Johannesburg and the world famous British Bird Fair at Rutland.   

 A really exciting  programme of events and activities has been put together.   The Bird Fair will host eminent speakers on a wide variety of subjects.   No fewer than 12 lectures will be presented by experts in their field, including VIP guest speaker Tim Appleton MBE,  who will talk about (1) How the British Bird Fair has become the biggest wildlife event in the world and what it  means to avian conservation and (2) Wetland birding and conservation in the UK.  
Details of all the lectures can be found at

Activities/events on offer include:
•    Guided outings
•    Boat cruises on the Klein River and to Dyer Island
•    Mini Raptor ID course by  Dr. Anton Odendal 
•    Raptor rehabilitation with a live raptor demonstration by Eagle Encounters 
•    Bird ringing
•    Photographic workshop on bird photography  with Albert Froneman 
•    Stretton’s/Zeiss sponsored photographic competition
•    Zeiss “Bird Brain of the Year” quiz hosted by John Maytham of 567 Cape Talk 
•    Bino’s and’ scope exhibition by Orms
•    Crafts, wine and food on the Village Green


Bookings:    Booking is essential for all reference related items.  
Contact Liz Hochfelden,, 082 766 8319, 028 341 0164

Photographic Competition:   For entry guidelines, click on Walker Bay Bird Fair in the website.


Counts - Athlone Waste Water Treatment Works - 22 January 2015.

A working partnership of the City of Cape Town and the Cape Bird Club.

Thanks to a gentle breeze the heat of today was quite bearable. The skies were almost clear and conditions ideal for the count. The variation in numbers of species and numbers of birds of any species makes Athlone a very interesting site to count. We did not get close to last months 2500+ birds, but a grand total of almost 1800 is still very respectable. And with 37 species we were one shy of last month, but we recorded 6 species that our group had not seen here before: Pied Kingfisher, Little Swift, Common Sandpiper (see picture by Delene), Little Egret and a Great White Pelican.
The Pelican flew over Athlone in a majestic way, circled for a while, but in the end did not land.
Last but not least a Black Sparrowhawk. From the northern end Fay had seen 'a' raptor at the trees in the central section, and a bit later a worker at the site told us about what he thought was an 'Eagle' with white chest and black spots. Luckily when Fay left (early), she saw it again and identified it positively as the Black Sparrowhawk.

Being birds, they tend to fly around a lot, presenting us with numerous counting challenges both in and between the different sections. So quite a few recounts were in order, but we managed to get them all. The number of Hartlaub's Gulls was down to a 'normal' 598 birds, not even half of December's all-time high. But this gull was the winner again by a large margin.
Worth mentioning too were the 232 Cape Shovellers and high numbers of Blacksmith Lapwing (135), Black-winged Stilts (179) and Yellow-billed Duck (107). Of this last species Mr Enver Manuel pointed the group to a nest with about 5 or 6 small chicks. Interestingly some of them were sticking there heads into the side of the nest (Ostrich??). Although we could not tell the species by just the chicks, Mr Manuel explained that he had seen a Yellow-billed Duck 'limping' away from the nest, convincing us into a positive ID.
We were happy to note that both Black Duck and White-faced Duck were present again.

On the negative side of bird counting there was still no sign of Water Thick-knee nor Weavers.
Also again no sighting of the Black-shouldered Kite and the Fork-tailed Drongo. And along the northern fence there was heavy ground work in progress in between the river and the northern ponds. Working people, operating machines and the likes most likely are the explanation for not seeing nor hearing regulars in that area like Karoo Prinia, Levaillant's Cisticola, Yellow Bishop and Lesser Swamp Warbler.

All in all it was an interesting and pleasant count again. Many thanks to Sybil Majo, Delene van Dyke, Fay Linder and Ian Cranna for taking part in this.
Many thanks to Mr Kevin van Rooyen, Manager of Athlone Sewage Works, for permission to conduct bird surveys and Mr Enver Manuel for his assistance during the count.

Counts at Athlone take place every third Thursday of every month and start at 13h00, weather permitting of course.
Anyone wanting to join please contact me via email: or (when bounced)
You could also phone me at 021 423 2546. I have no SA cell phone.

Dick Bos



We require a meeting coordinator to organise the program and speakers for the evening meetings.
Heather Howell has organised the meetings until March 2015, so the new person will be required to organise the program from March onwards in time for the next edition of Promerops.

Heather will share tips and ideas to make the task less daunting.

If you are willing to take over this important portfolio please contact a committee member.



The Club urgently need someone to take on the task of contacting potential advertisers.
This is not a particularly onerous task, as we do not want to have too many adverts,  but it is important because the adverts in Promerops are important to help keep the costs down.

If you are willing to take over this important task please contact a committee member. 



West Coast National Park

When: 20 to 22 February 2015
Pam Rutledge :
071 160 2822 / 022 772 2787
Noeline van den Berg: 072 250 0045



At the Club's first meeting of 2015 on Thursday 8 January we were treated to some close encounters with birds of the raptor kind.
The huge turn-out of enthusiastic birders was wonderful!

Hank and Tracy Chalmers founded Eagle Encounters in 2001. This is one of the most remarkable raptor rehabilitation centres in the country. Birds found to be too damaged on rescue are euthanised but those that can be rehabilitated undergo amazing treatment, some being given flight feather implants or being taught to hunt through the use of a paper kite.
Most are returned to the wild but some remain in their care for the rest of their lives and are used as ambassadors for conservation and education.
The centre at Spier relies on entrance fees and public generosity for their funding - they are well worth a visit!

Unfortunately Hank could not be at the meeting but he sent his colleague Peter du Plessis who presented an interesting talk on the work done at Eagle Encounters.
We were also very fortunate that Hank allowed Peter to bring some of his own birds to introduce to us.
We met Jack-Jack the wood owl who was rescued by Hank from someone who had clipped his wings. As a result he has no primaries and cannot fly. 
We also met Michaela (Mickey) the Verreaux's Eagle, a peregrine falcon and Buddy the Harris' Hawk.
Buddy flew around the auditorium just waiting for a signal to land on someone's arm to get a tasty morsel.
This was an experience enjoyed by many in the audience.

According to Wikipedia, Harris' hawks (Parabuteo unicinctus) breed from the south western United States south to Chile and central Argentina. The Harris' Hawk hunts cooperatively in packs consisting of tolerant groups.
Eage Encounters have about 16 Harris' Hawks which have been used, amongst other things, to scare away the pigeons and starlings that were nesting in the parking garages at Cavendish Square.

Vida, the spotted eagle owlet that was removed from Kirstenbosch by some one who mistakenly thought the owlet was in distress is now at Eagle Encounters where he/she will be taught to hunt before being released back into the wild. (Unfortunately she could not be returned to Kirstenbosch because the parent birds would have given up calling for the youngster after a couple of days).

On that note - if you should see a young owlet on the ground please do not remove it.  The parent birds will be close by keeping an eye on the youngster and will feed it on the ground until it learns to fly.

Please visit the website for more information on


The 2015 Birdathon/Festival will take place in the False Bay Nature Reserve on the 28th of March.
This is an annual event organised by the City Council, BLSA and the CBC.

It is aimed at making school children and their families more aware of the importance of the area and its bird llife.
Briefly the participants will walk a route through the birding area ranging from 2.5 to 5.5km (depending on age).
Along the route they will be asked a number of questions and the those answering all questions correctly could win a prize. Significant prizes are also offered to schools in a variety of categories.
On completion of the walk there will be a variety of activities and exhibits to entertain the participants including raptor, reptile and amphibian exhibits as well as food stalls.

Members of the club are asked to seriously consider assisting us in registration of members, marshalling along the route or manning the question tables.
It is a major event on the club's calender in terms of educating the youth .
This year we are hoping to have a CBC tent where the objectives of the club are explained and membership will be offered to interested individuals.
Please consider this seriously, it is a fun event with an important educational input.
If you feel moved to assist us please contact Dave Whitelaw at for more details or to indicate that you will be available.

Contributions for the Newsletter

Please send any contributions for the newsletter (interesting sightings, photographs or any interesting news items)  to Cheryl Leslie at
Photographs should not exceed 1MB in size.

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Address changes:  Please notify BirdLife promptly by post at P O Box 515 Randburg 2125 or fax to 011 789 5188 of any change in address to ensure that you continue receiving Promerops.Email changes:

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