Friends of Rietvlei
Newsletter February 2003
From the Hide
We hope all our members had a safe and peaceful Festive Season and also had a chance to visit Rietvlei during the best time of the year for birding. The water is drying rapidly now the heat of February is upon us, although there is plenty to see on the ever-wet South Lake. The back pan had all the usual migrant waders over the Christmas Season and some can still be seen on the thin film of water. The Fish Eagles don't seem to have bred successfully during winter, as no juveniles were seen with the adults.
A CWAC (Co-ordinated Waterbird Count) was done on the 17th January 2003 and provided some good count figures. The back pan yielded 37 Glossy Ibis, 35 African Spoonbills, 253 Egyptian Geese, 27 Spurwinged Geese, 333 Curlew Sandpipers, 743 Little Stints, 422 Avocets, 68 Blackwinged Stilts and 3 Pied Kingfishers! 321 Egyptian Gees were counted on the North Lake, and 251 Spurwinged Geese were seen on the Dolphin Beach Ponds. Anyone driving along the R27 during December and January must have seen the huge number of Spurwing Geese that invaded these two ponds, and it was nice to be able to include them in the count figures. These Dolphin Beach Ponds often yield our highest count figures and this time was no exception. 87 Redknobbed Coot, 173 Hartlaubs Gulls and an amazing 6 Purple Herons were counted here. The Milnerton Lagoon area had 85 Common Terns and 26 Cape Shovellers. But Egyptian Geese stole the show with another 617 on the South Lake as well as 23 Pelicans. 16 Greater Flamingos and 23 Lesser Flamingos were also counted.
The large numbers of Egyptian Geese at Rietvlei at this time of year is quite normal, as they are beginning their annual moult and need a safe haven. They are unable to fly when moulting which takes about a month. The South Lake at Rietvlei is very protected and the birds are able to laze on the banks or escape into the water if the need arises. Those that are not yet moulting and can fly can be seen in large V-shaped formations flying back and forward over Table View from the farming areas just north of us. They usually fly out during early morning and return in the evenings to Rietvlei to roost.
 
Evening Meeting
Please note that there will be no evening meeting this month. Due to pressures of time and the workload on the four Committee Members as well as unforeseen circumstances, we are unable to arrange an evening meeting every month for 2003, so if there are any potential new Committee Members out there, please contact us!
Please diarise! Our AGM will be held on Thursday 8th May 2003.
 
New Members
We welcome the following new members:
Ansie van Rensburg & Sue Cromhout (Table View), Wendy Fisher (Table View), Henry Kieser & Jennifer Mercer (Parklands), James and Ellen Finnie (Flamingo Vlei), Wendy Goode (Flamingo Vlei), M. Dippenaar & J. Fuller (Table View), H. Conradie (Table View), Kirsten Louw (Constantia), Owen & Sandy Gush (West Beach) and Marita Nel (Goodwood).
 
New Students
We have three new Cape Technikon nature conservation students at Rietvlei working under Koos Retief now that Natasha Deare has moved on : Jeremy Keiser, Kelly Greenwood, and Bronwen Foster. Bronwen has worked at the Rondevlei Nature Reserve before and does not have to submit any more reports to the Technikon. Both Kelly and Jeremy will be undertaking their experiential training here at Rietvlei as part of their National Diploma.
They have so far been involved in several management activities including biological control of smooth prickly pears, follow-up alien eradication, access control, etc. They've assisted Louis Raubenheimer with field work. They have also assisted in such monitoring activities as quarterly CWAC counts, monthly water monitoring, and monthly fixed-point photography.
They will be undertaking as much environmental education work as possible. Since Bronwen does not have to submit any more reports to the Technikon she will be much more involved with environmental education than will Jeremy and Kelly. They will also serve on several advisory and technical committees at which they will be expected to undertake administrative duties. They also have to undertake a research project as part of their training.
 
Snippets
Vegetation removal is still ongoing near the bird hide and we now plan to use the chipped wood pieces to line the pathway to the hide.
A new proposal for Rietvlei Farm on Blaauwberg and Gie Roads has been submitted and we will keep you informed on this development.
Friends of Blaauwberg Conservation Area are having great success in their effort to curb habitat degradation by off road vehicles. We congratulate them on their efforts.
This newsletter comes to you with the kind assistance of Caltex.
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