Friends of Rietvlei
Newsletter January/February 2002
From the Hide
The high water levels are providing some great birding for those visiting the hide, and will hopefully keep the dust at bay this season. All the small migrant waders are still some distance from the hide, but should be easily seen by mid February. At our latest bird count on the 18th January, most waders were found some distance away and included a Knot, rather unusual for Rietvlei. During a bird club visit on the 7th January, a male plus a female Painted Snipe were seen a mere 20 ft from the hide, while European Bee-eaters and four Purple Herons were sighted on the walk to the hide. We seem to be short on Pelicans and Flamingos this year, but the Fish Eagles are still daily regulars. I thought the following excerpt from the Cape Bird Club's magazine of January 1953 might interest some members:
"During the last few days several interesting records have come to hand…..For instance, there was a message from Mr. Higgo, who spent the morning of 2 January 1953 at Rietvlei with Mr. Stafford Smith. There they saw no less than 22 White Storks and 3 Black Storks and I understand that Mr. Stafford was able to film them……Another note from Mrs. Higgo recently arrived…… A week after their first Stork record, she and her husband again saw 7 Black Storks and 11 White Storks at Rietvlei."
 
Evening Meeting
We are very pleased to announce that one of our members, Stephan Wolfart, has just written a book entitled 'The Natural Diversity of the Cape Peninsula'. Stephan also took all the photographs. He has only lived in Cape Town since 1993 and we congratulate him on this achievement. He has agreed to give us a slide show presentation based on his book, and copies of the book, a glossy coffee table production, will be available for sale, at a reduced price, at the meeting.
Date: Thursday 21st February 2002
Time: 7.30p.m. for 8p.m.
Venue: Milnerton Aquatic Clubhouse, off Pentz Drive, Table View
Topic: The Natural Diversity of the Cape Peninsula
Speaker: Stephan Wolfart
Enquiries: Margaret on 557-4990
 
More Nostalgia
We were delighted to receive the following email from Gordon Moir in Texas, recently. Gordon tells us he has now lived in the United States for a long time, but still visits Cape Town:
"I am a very old "Friend of Rietvlei", probably long before anybody else, so I would like to officially become "one". I grew up in Pinelands and spent most of my boyhood happily adventuring in the wonderful vleis either side of Jan Smuts drive, unfortunately now long disappeared beneath the Tech College and SAP sports grounds. Here I grew to know (in a rudimentary fashion) and love SA wetland birds. On some weekends some equally odd friends and I used to ride our bikes (primitive 'push-bikes' as they were known then) out to Rietvlei (we didn't have a name for it at that stage) threading our way down dirt roads through the Port Jackson bush and the few sparse homes in the very-distant-from-Cape Town (at that time, 1955-60) Table View Township. What awaited us was a paradise of wetlands, much vaster than exists today, where we spent many happy hours wading through the shallow waters birding and looking for
nests (not 'politically-correct' these days, but certainly stimulated in many of us a life-long love affair with birds!). All that existed out there then were a few derelict block-houses (WW II vintage?), presumably erected to defend the Cape, though we could never imagine why they were out in the middle of the vleis (do they still exist?). I have many happy memories of those days, though the ride home, usually into the teeth of the south-easter, was usually very tedious."
 
New members
We welcome the following new members:
Vince Resente and family
Dr. Marius Coetsee and family
Yvonne Kenney and family
Dolphin Beach Body Corporate
Selwyn Musikanth
 
Snippets
We have great plans for the coming year but are in need of more Committee members to help us realise these. Our website should be up and running soon and we hope to have either a new bird hide or small Wendy house to use as an educational/storage centre by the end of the year.
Congratulations to Committee Member Frank Wygold who was presented with an Environmental Award recently.
The Committee is still very involved in the Potsdam wastewater Treatment Works expansion debate as well as the Rietvlei Farm proposal.
The removal of alien vegetation at Rietvlei is proceeding well under the guidance of member Louis Raubenheimer. Louis has undertaken to set up a Friends of Blaauwberg Conservation Area group and is appealing for members. This area includes part of Blaauwberg Hill and a coastal zone and has been in the local news recently. Please contact Louis on 554-2221.
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