Friends of Rietvlei
Newsletter July 2004
Bird numbers are rather low, considering the little rain which has fallen up until mid winter. However, the July bird count reached a total of 2091 birds, including 8 Spoonbills, 6 Pied Kingfishers, 6 Purple Herons, 49 Pelicans, 15 Greater Flamingos and 186 Cape Shovellers! 36 species were counted in all. Perhaps the rain expected towards the end of July will finally fill up the vlei as well as our local dams.
We have had some reports from members who are being told, on arrival at the main gate, that their names are not on the membership list kept at the gate. If this should happen to you, please ask for the name of the person at the gate, and email us with this info, plus the date and time of your attempt to gain access. Or you can phone Margaret on 557-4990.
Our next evening talk will be on 12 August. Adam Harrower, a botanist at Kirstenbosch, who seeks out rare plants, will present a talk on "Strandveld & Dune Vegetation". We look forward to a good turnout! Please diarise the date and time -
Date: Thursday 12th August
Time: 7.30p.m. for 8p.m.
Venue: Rietvlei Education Centre
Enquiries: Margaret on 557-4990
Thereafter, our next evening talk on "Healthy Rivers", will be presented by Jo Barnes and will be held on TUESDAY, 14 September.
Don't forget our regular Open Days at the Education Centre from 9 am to 12 noon on the third Saturday of every month. Dates to diarise:
Saturday, 21 August
Saturday, 18 September
With the building of the new Education Centre at Rietvlei last year, we were in a good position to be a satellite venue for the YES 2004 Program. YES stands for Youth Environmental School and has been a successful initiative in Cape Town for six years. The theme for YES 2004 was "WANTED! Seas and Oceans, Dead or Alive". The Rietvlei Nature Conservation students, Andrie and Juan-Pierre took the lead in preparing the program for the schools who visited Rietvlei. At Rietvlei the focus was on birds with a program prepared for good (outdoor) or bad (indoor) weather.
On Monday 31 May, a beautiful sunny day, the first group of 43 grade 6 pupils from Greenlands Primary School, Bishop Lavis arrived. Andrie, Juan-Pierre, Koos and Pat welcomed them. The first 20 minutes were spent in the Education Centre where info on wetlands and birds was given to the pupils. Different beaks and feet were shown and it was explained how the birds live in a variety of habitats. Then it was outdoors for a walk to the bird-hide. On the way the pupils learnt about alien vegetation. At the hide pupils used binoculars and the bird sheets to identify the birds at Rietvlei. The central pan was rather dry but there were plenty of pelicans and Egyptian geese on the south vlei, and lots of coot and some herons and cormorants on the north vlei. After the hide it was back to the amphitheatre where the children had a picnic. A second group from Danie Ackerman Primary in Somerset West arrived for their two-hour slot at 11am, and the program was repeated.
During the week a total of 9 groups (325 pupils) came to Rietvlei and during this time Margaret Maciver and Ruby Briggs were welcome assistants with some of the groups. The weather was sunny and warm for the whole week so the bad weather program was never tested. The enthusiasm of the pupils and teachers was encouraging to see and we hope that Rietvlei will be revisited by these schools again.
We are all rather concerned about the dry winter we have been having and water restrictions are going to hit us hard if we do not get some heavy rainfall in the next few weeks. The following table shows recent rainfall figures for Rietvlei:
Total Rainfall for Rietvlei (mm) for 2000-2004 (updated 01/07/2004)
  2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
January - 16 57.9 3.5 8
February - 2 10 6 0.9
March - 0 10.1 32.2 7
April 5+ 18.9 29.9 10.9 79.5
May 26.1 48.7 38.6 22.2 2.25
June 51.6 36.4 62.8 13.1 66.8
July 46.1 175.7 69.5 27.3 -
August 24.3 108.7 66.9 81.1 -
September 49.3+ 61.5+ 19.5 53.8 -
October 5.3 31.2 33.7 25.3 -
November 8.8 22.5 13.2 2.8 -
December 2.5 10.5 20.1 15.5 -
Total: 219+ 532.1+ 432.2 303.7  
Note: The open spaces indicate no data available.
The + sign indicates that there was insufficient data for that month; therefore the rainfall reading could be higher for the month.
Please remember the dust problem periods were in February and March 2001, 2003 and 2004.
This newsletter comes to you with the kind assistance of Caltex.
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