After the great success that was Flock at Sea AGAIN! 2017, the BirdLife South Africa staff have returned to shore and planning is well under way for next year's Flock on the West Coast. Featuring the bi-annual Learn About Birds (LAB) symposium, the event will take place from 7 to 11 March 2018 and will be hosted at Club Mykonos, Langebaan, in the Western Cape.

The focus for this event will be on highlighting the incredible diversity of birds on the West Coast, from migratory shorebirds to the nesting seabirds of Dassen and Malgas islands and the 2018 Bird of the Year, the African Black Oystercatcher, as well as the numerous Cape endemics of the Strandveld and Fynbos biomes. Excursions that will target all these species will be run for the duration of Flock, but space is limited so be sure to book early. This is a birding opportunity not to be missed!

But it's not just the birding that will be of top quality; local and international avian researchers are being invited to submit abstracts for presentations or posters on their most recent work. These will feature at LAB, which will be co-hosted by the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology and will take place on 8 and 9 March. Watch the BirdLife South Africa social media platforms for the first call, which will be going out soon. Plenary talks will be delivered by the director of the Fitztitute, Professor Peter Ryan, and by Dr Alan Lee.

Don't worry if hard-core science is not your forte, as a parallel Layman's LAB will be run at the same time and there will be interesting talks about the history of conservation along the West Coast and the endemic fauna and flora of the Cape. BirdLife South Africa's conservation staff will also give presentations on the work they have been involved in for the past two years, including the establishment of a new penguin colony and the securing of new Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) around the country. Renowned author and artist Faansie Peacock will be offering a workshop on southern Africa's waders that will give extraordinary insight into the biology and behaviour of this fascinating group of birds, many of which will be seen at Langebaan Lagoon on the birding excursions.

There will be something for everyone at Flock on the West Coast 2018 and it is another great opportunity to connect with birding enthusiasts from all walks of life and to play a part in giving conservation wings with BirdLife South Africa.

For more information, please visit the BirdLife South Africa website or e-mail Melissa.Whitecross@birdlife.org.za


Image: African Black Oystercatcher is Bird of the Year 2018 and occurs all along the West Coast.

Credit: Melissa Whitecross