Friends of Rietvlei
Newsletter March 2002
From the Hide
The water level is dropping rapidly but birdwatching is still rewarding on the back pan. Large flocks of flamingos and pelicans finally arrived, and we have had the highest number of Avocets (450) for many a year, while Spoonbill numbers of at least 40 per day must be a Rietvlei record.
One area of Rietvlei that has improved dramatically is the Diep River section, from the Blaauwberg Road bridge down past the sewage works as far as Hopley Rd. Koos Retief, our Environmental Site Officer, and a small staff were determined the keep that river section free of Water Hyacinth this summer and they have succeeded beyond all expectations. Once again, birds are back and I have seen the Pied Kingfishers hovering over the water, as well as many Cormorants, Herons and even a few Black Crake. Now that the water hyacinth is gone, the Azolla is proving a bit of a problem, but at least the water is once again flowing. Please visit this area soon and tell us what you think - and congratulations to Koos and his staff. Our January bird count totalled 2,943 birds, with 937 Egyptian Geese taking the prize. 646 Curlew Sandpipers were counted, as well as 79 Spurwing Geese.
 
Hawk takes 'Hof' as Eagle gets a birdie off the 'Fairway'
My husband Dave and I were driving slowly up Hof Street towards Athens Road early on Saturday, December 22 last year.
We spotted a small dove on the left-hand side of the road, fairly close to the gutter near the corner of Fairway Road. We were not too sure if it was very young or very tired or both, but it remained still as the car trundled noisily past it. By the time all this registered we had travelled a short distance, so we reversed the car to draw parallel to the bird in case it needed help.
Alas it was not to be.
As we drew parallel with the dove, we caught a flash of feathers plunging to the ground. We watched in stunned awe as one of Rietvlei's resident Fish Eagles hit the dove with incredible speed and powered rapidly upwards.
Within a few seconds, a fairly brave (or perhaps suicidal) Hawk started harassing the Fish Eagle for it's prey, reminiscent of a World War 11 aerial dogfight. As far as could be ascertained, the Fish Eagle dropped the dove and the two rivals continued their squabble in the air. We can only hope the stunned dove lived to tell the tale.
Like a flash, the duelling birds disappeared from sight, making it impossible to see who won the day. Aren't we all so fortunate to be living in a built up area, but have our own National Geographic going on right in our own back gardens! (Jenny Thorpe)
A great contribution from one of our members - thanks, Jenny.
 
Annual General Meeting
Our AGM will take place on Thursday 25th April and although we cannot give you details yet, there will be a speaker and a presentation. Further details will follow in our April newsletter, but please diarise this date in the meantime.
 
Renewal Time
Your membership renewal forms are included with this newsletter, and we have decided to increase subscription fees by R5 per individual and per family, and Life Membership goes up to R200. Postage rates have increased since last year and we need to cover this. You can return these forms by post or bring them to the AGM, which will be on the 25th April. If you joined after December 2002, you do not need to renew your membership.
 
Potsdam Wastewater Treatment Works Expansion
The Committee has joined a group formed to protest the process regarding the above project. This group includes the Table View Residents Association and Councillors Liz Berry and Buddy Odendaal. We are concerned that no alternatives to the expansion were explored and that the Final Scoping Report was sent to DECAS before consultation with any I & A P's. Some expansion is needed as Table View extends more and more to the north, but we are all concerned with the increased effluent flow into Rietvlei and the resultant increase in reed growth and water hyacinth as well as odour problems. This group intends presenting its case to DECAS and issuing a Press Release and we will keep you informed on this matter.
 
Blaauwberg Conservation Area
The public is invited to an open meeting at Bloubergstrand Library on 18th March at 7.30p.m. to discuss the formation of a Friends group to become involved in the above area. Other concerns are the proposed developments at Big Bay and the protection of the coastal area north of Bloubergstrand. A speaker will be present to talk on the background to the formation of this group and we urge all interested members to attend. Please contact Louis Raubenheimer on 554-2221 or Pat Titmuss on 557-3748 (Home) for further details.
  
Fishing at Rietvlei
Fishing on a trial basis for a period of six months has begun at the North Lake, Rietvlei. This takes place from 8.30a.m. till 5p.m. daily and payment must be made at the gate on entry. No fish other than carp may be removed from the vlei. Please phone the water ranger on 557-5509
for further details.
 
Welcome to the following new members
Magriet & Rowan Karstel of Melkbos
Lawrie Tonner & family of Table View
Koos Retief of Bellville
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