Friends of Rietvlei
Newsletter May 2004
FROM THE HIDE
Rains arrived early this season and during April and May we have had more water in the back pan than we have had for many years.. Bird life is still fairly scare as the migrants have migrated and the water is too shallow for most of our local birds. A flock of around 100 Greater and 30 Lesser Flamingos arrived a few weeks ago and appear to have decided to stay. They can usually be seen in the North Lake (the boating area) on weekdays, moving over to the South Lake on weekends.
The quarterly bird count, which was due in mid April, had to be postponed because of rain, and was held at the end of the month. On a lovely calm and sunny day, some good counts were obtained including 26 African Black Oystercatchers, 120 Greater Flamingos and 30 Lesser Flamingos. Egyptian Geese numbered 1028, and Kelp Gulls reached an amazing 763! Also seen and included were 15 Great Crested Grebe and 40 Pelicans. The only migrant wader found was one Ruff, who could be overwintering.
 
MARSH OWL
Residents of Flamingo View recently confirmed the presence of a Marsh Owl seen from their townhouse complex every evening from 5p.m. onwards. This led to many visits from local and not so local bird club members, and most visitors have managed to see the Owl. Marsh Owls are scarce and not easy to see - as typical Owls they hunt at night. However, Marsh Owls are often active at dawn and dusk and on particularly cloudy days. We have known they are present in the large reed beds at Rietvlei where they roost by day, but finding them is not easy! We now have one very obliging Owl, so if you would like to see it, visit the Flamingo View complex at the end of Jamieson Street any evening after 5p.m, and look out across the vlei.
 
NEW MEMBERS
We welcome the following new members:
Petra Broddle, the Wagner family, and Michael Hopkins all of Table View who joined in November last year.
Michael and Santie Kohler of Table view, Michael and Beulah Goldman of Woodbridge Island, George and Clarice Milligan of Flamingo Vlei, Boet and Marge Maartens of Table View and Marlon Weibel and family of Table View all new members during early 2004.
 
ACCESS ISSUES
Some of our members are experiencing difficulty getting into Rietvlei. Please remember to inform the Water Ranger on your arrival at the gate that you are a member of Friends of Rietvlei and ask him to check the Friends of Rietvlei membership list where he will find your name. Your membership entitles you to free entry for yourself if you are an individual member and for your direct family if you have family membership. This does not include your extended family, but refers usually to a couple plus their small children. Unfortunately this free entry does not include your vehicle. You can however, cycle around the vlei with your free entrance, but you cannot fish or boat unless you pay the extra charge at the gate. Our free entrance is a privilege granted by the Council and we must be careful not to abuse it.
  
YOUTH ENVIRONMENTAL SCHOOL
The YES 2004 programme runs from 31 May to 4 June 2004. The programme takes place mainly at Chrysalis Academy in Tokai but in recent years, satellite programmes have been up and running and proved very successful. For the first time, Rietvlei has been offered as a satellite venue and we are pleased to have been asked to run two programmes daily each lasting two hours. This will be a real test for our education centre and our conservation students! We are planning on classroom activities plus a walk to our bird hide, weather permitting. What we really need are volunteers to assist. Programmes run from 9.30 to 11.30a.m., and from 11.30 to 1.30 and the learners involved in each programme will be of differing ages from various schools across the peninsula and locally. We have some exciting ideas on this years theme which is 'Seas and Oceans', so if you would like to help us either with our classroom activities or nature and bird walks, please contact either myself (Margaret) on 557-4990 or our students, J.P. and Andrie on 550-7564. The theme 'Seas and Oceans' may not seem applicable to our Rietvlei Wetland, so we are focusing on birds that frequent both seas and wetlands as well as pollution issues which would also affect wetlands as well as oceans. Skilled or unskilled, knowledgeable about environmental issues or not, we would certainly appreciate any assistance from any of our members with some time to spare.

Please remember our appeal for furnishings and equipment for our Education Centre. We are in urgent need of a cupboard for the office area to store all our posters and teaching aids, so if you are planning on throwing out that old cupboard, please consider us first! Old binoculars, bird books, tree and plant guides would be most welcome. A small urn would be especially well received! Phone 557-3748 (Pat) after hours.
This newsletter comes to you with the kind assistance of Caltex.
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