April 2015 Newsletter
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CAPE BIRD CLUB NEWSLETTER                                 April 2015



As this is the Easter Weekend, there will be no outing this Saturday.

Thurs 9 EVENING MEETING: Madagascar: An Evolutionary Time Warp
Speaker: Ian Sinclair
Meet at 20h00. Ian is arguably Africa's most experienced birder, having led many birding expeditions and seen well in excess of 2000 species on the continent and adjacent islands. He has authored or co-authored many books on birds, including the SASOL Field Guide to the birds of Southern Africa and the Photographic Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa.
This not-to-be-missed talk will be Ian’s ‘swan song’ as he has decided to retire from giving talks.

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 R15.00 for visitors and non-members.

Wed 15 WEEKDAY OUTING: Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Leader: Linda Hibbin (021 788 1528 or on email at
Meet at 09h00 at Gate 1, near the Information Centre, where the Vida Cafe is situated. The gardens and adjacent fynbos and indigenous forest support an attractive diversity of bird species. Here it is possible to approach a number of Cape endemics at close quarters, including such desirable species as Cape Sugarbird , Orange-breasted Sunbird, and Cape Spurfowl.

Sun 19 OUTING: Driftsands Nature Reserve
Leader: Felicity Ellmore (021 762 0176 / 072 261 0170 or email at
Meet at 08h00 We will be doing a morning walk through the reserve. Driftsands Nature Reserve contains Cape Flats dune strandveld as well as wetlands, so there is potential for seeing a variety of birds.
Directions: Take the N2 in the direction of Somerset West, turn left at the Swartklip Interchange onto the R300 in the direction of Bellville. Keep left and continue on the R300 to the Brentwood Park/Hindle Road off-ramp. Turn left onto the Hindle Road off-ramp, proceed to the stop street and turn right onto Hindle Road. Continue to the traffic lights and turn right. Keep right (there is a petrol station on the left) and proceed to the security gates. Turn right at the security gates and then left before the MRC entrance. Keep going straight until you reach a small car park and some buildings, where we meet.


There has been a change for the program for the May meeting.
“The Sri Lanka Report” presented by Mel Tripp and Vernon Head been postponed until 11 June as Vernon will be away for the May meeting.
Otto Schmidt will now be the guest speaker on 14 May. 
The title of his talk is “Tinkering about in Southern Mozambique”.


Sunday 5 April: Kirstenbosch BIRP Count. 
Meet at 08h00
Leader: John Magner (082 881 3845)

Thursday 9 April: Wildevoelvlei Count
Meet at 08h30
Leader: Eric Barnes (021 782 5429)

Saturday 11 April: Zandvlei Hack

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

Sunday 12 April Strandfontein Count 

Meet at 08h00
Leader: Dick Barnes (021 689 1106)

Thursday 16 April: Athlone WWTW Count
Meet at 13h00
Leader: Dick Bos (021 423 2546)
These counts will take place weather permitting

Friday 17 April: Rietvlei Quarterly Count
Meet at 09h00
Leader: Koos Retief (021 444 0315 (w))

Saturday 18 April: Zandvlei Quarterly Count
Meet at 08h00
Leader: Gavin Lawson (021 705 5224)

Saturday 18 April: Paarl Bird Sanctuary CWAC
Meet at 09h00
Leader: Yvonne Weiss (021 872 4972)


The AGM of the Cape Bird Club was held on Thursday 12 March.
The minutes of the meeting will be printed in the next edition of Promerops and will also be available on the website at
After the AGM, Heather Howell entertained us with her interesting talk about a trip to the Richtersveld which she called "The Richtersveld for Sissies".

The portfolio holders for 2015/ 2016 are:
Chair  – Priscilla Beeton
Vice-Chair – Johan Schlebusch
Treasurer – Julian Hare
Secretary – Joy Schlebusch
E-newsletter + E-Mail Communications – Cheryl Leslie
Membership Secretary – Joan Ackroyd
Conservation – Dave Whitelaw
Courses – Johan Schlebusch
Local Camps and Outings – Helen Fenwick and Priscilla Beeton
Evening meetings – Helen Fenwick
Notice Board – Cheryl Leslie
Western Cape Birding Forum – Vernon Head and Dave Whitelaw
International Camps – Johan Schlebusch
Promerops – Fiona Jones


Representatives of the ADU, the Fitzpatrick Institute and the CBC attended a meeting at the SANParks HQ on 27th of March 2015 to discuss how  to investigate the effect of fire on a variety of animal groups and plants. Birds were obviously included.
The research would involve doing transects of between approx 1 - 5km, doing regular counts, every 2--4 weeks (similar to CAR counts but on foot). 
Due to a variety of concerns large areas of the Table Mountain National Park will be closed for anything up to 2 years. Only individuals involved with the research will be allowed into these areas.
If any club members would like to participate, I need to submit names as soon as possible. If you're interested please contact me preferably by email and I shall supply more details and submit your name for accreditation. A maximum of 3 individuals can do an individual transect at anyone time to limit damage to the regenerating fynbos. So if you and 2 friends would care to work together, fine; but no more than 3.
Dave Whitelaw



Wednesday 8 April 

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 Wednesday 8 April
Meet at 08h30 at the Information Desk at Gate One.

Leader: Mariana Delport
Please contact Linda Hibbin on 021 788 1528, or e-mail if you have any questions


Another fantastic birding day at West Coast National Park!
Led by Vernon Head, the principal interest of the day was in seeing seasonal waders, many of which were preparing to set off for their annual journeys north.

On the road to Seeberg hide, the first major stop of the day, a covey of Grey-winged Francolins was seen crossing the road, though their appearances proved only brief. The road to Seeberg, however, furnished additional birds of unusual beauty or rarity. Two Lanner Falcons were seen soaring overhead, though some birders were busy following a Karoo Lark. A Red Hartebeest antelope was also seen.

Seeberg hide offered spectacular views of Common Tern clusters that would from time to time lift off, forming en masse a veritable cloud of beating wings. Red Knots, flushed with their eponymous breeding plumage, provided a highlight, as did the several Grey Plovers that had donned their black breeding masks. The birders were also privy to seeing Bar-tailed Godwit, though the pleasure of that experience was perhaps offset somewhat by all the usual jokes about Sandwich Terns.

The group then headed toward Geelbek but not before making a stop at a hilly outcropping, featuring tremendous views of the area and a small museum, and a top place for spotting Southern Black Koorhan. It was not spotted, but several birders did happen upon a cluster of Grey-Winged Francolins. A Pale Chanting Goshawk was also seen, a local rarity that has only been recorded a few times in the park.

A pause for a brief lunch and—a Lesser Honeyguide! The Blue Gum grove where the bird was spotted also proved a terrific setting for Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler, Cardinal Woodpecker, and another local rarity, Spotted Flycatcher, a bird whose name suggests it has markings other than the streaking that appears on its head and breast. (This author wonders then whether the Spotted Flycatcher was not named for its aesthetic appearance but rather for the fact that, having been seen by birders, it tautologically was spotted.)

Geelbek offered another fantastic array of waders. Curlew Sandpipers in roseate breeding plumage complimented the usual invasion of Little Stints, Ruddy Turnstones, Whimbrels, Pied Avocets, and more, plus a Eurasian Curlew that foraged unusually close to the hide. South African Shelducks were also present at this unofficial wader bash.

Both African Marsh and Black Harriers were seen at various points by different birders during the day.

Thanks to all who participated in the outing.



The Cape Bird Club had a camp on the Berg River estuary at Jan Kotze's farm Kuifkopvisvanger during the weekend of 6-8 March
39 participants (yes a big camp) were guided by Simon Fogarty and Mel Tripp.
Birding was spectacular early morning on the Saturday at the Jan's salt works... Hundreds and hundreds of so many species... Greater and Lesser Flamingos, Cape Cormorant, Cape Teal, Stilt, Avocet... Many waders, Black-necked Grebes... The light and no wind made it a veritable canvass for photographers.
A national rarity, Red-necked Phalarope was seen on the pans, near the pump house pan and later in the day, late afternoon the whole group experienced the excitement and fun of two regional rarities... Goliath Heron and two Red-backed Shrike males at the flood plain of Kerserfontein!
Kliphoek salt pans were productive for many Chestnut-banded Plover, Stint and Curlew Sandpipers... But no Caspian Plovers this time.

All in all everyone agreed a fantastic birding weekend.

Mel Tripp

Look out for the next issue of Promerops for a full camp report.
Common Ringed Plover

Photo taken by Graham Pringle
Thanks to Gigi Laidler for these photos taken at the Kuifkopvisvanger Camp.
Bottom Left: Red-backed Shrike
Bottom Right: Red-necked Phalarope


The 2015 Birdathon Festival took place in the False Bay Nature Reserve on 28th March.
This is an annual event organised by the Cape Town City Council, BLSA and the Cape Bird Club.
The event was very well attended (according to unofficial figures there were about 700 participants!), and all the participants had a great time.
The participants included a group from the newly formed Leap Bird Club.
In addition to the bird walks there were bird and reptile displays that attracted a lot of attention.  Eagle Encounters entertained the crowd with flying displays by a Harris Hawk and a Peregrine Falcon.

The photos below of the Leap participants were taken by Julian Hare.

Sam Hamer (left) and Seth Musker (right) with a Fitz conservation masters student lady from Chilé (a qualified Vet!) . They are some of the “senior members” of the Leap Bird Club that took Leap members on the Birdathon and Birding outing at Strandfontein on Saturday.
If you are a member of the CBC Facebook page, click on the link below for more pictures taken at the Birdathon.

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Please send any contributions for the newsletter (interesting sightings, photographs or any interesting news items)  to Cheryl Leslie at
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