Country Club Johannesburg (Woodmead)

24 August 2024

2024/08/24 07:00:00

Save the date of 24 August 2024 for an epic day of birding excitement at the Country Club Johannesburg (Woodmead) or online via Zoom.

Expect another sell-out event of early morning birding walks, talks by inspiring guest speakers and workshops aimed at kids, beginner birders and garden birders, as well as those who want to get to grips with LBJs.

There will also be a full house of exhibitors, the annual fundraiser auction and, of course, the ever-popular wine-down birding quiz. Keep your eye on this page, your inbox and our social media platforms for more information soon.

Dates: Saturday 24 August 2024

The South African Bird Fair will take place at:

The Country Club Johannesburg, Woodmead

Lincoln St, Woodmead, Sandton, 2128

Phone: 011 202 1600

Selected talks will be streamed virtually on the day, as well as a series of pre-Fair evening talks from Tuesday to Thursday in the lead up to the event on Saturday.

Tickets are required for attendance of both the physical and virtual aspects of the South African Bird Fair.


A summary of events and talks taking place during the African Bird Fair 2024 is presented below.


Each evening at 19:00 (SAST): Conservation needs to start with conversation.


Tuesday 20 August 2024 Seeing Birds with New Ears

Faansie Peacock

Wednesday 21 August 2024 In search of the Orange-tufted Spiderhunter

Peter Kaestner

Thursday 22 August 2024 Birding ‘Greater’ Southern Africa – breaking the boundaries

Keith Barnes





Aviary Conference Suite: Starling Room: Main Programme

Hedgehog Room: Supplementary talks

Pool Area: Walks and talks

06:30 – 08:30 Early Morning Bird Walks (Limited Numbers in small groups)
08:00 – 10:00 WORKSHOP: Beginner birding

Talk and Walk

Speaker: Wian van Zyl

09:00 – 09:45 Saving Marion Island’s Seabirds – the world’s most important bird conservation project

Mark D Anderson, CEO BirdLife South Africa

10:00 – 10:45 Botha’s Lark: conservation of South Africa’s most threatened terrestrial bird species

Dr Hanneline Smit-Robinson

09:00 – 11:30 Children’s Programme

SESSION 1: Interactive programme including a walk

Talk and walk

Speaker: Viki Sotiriou

10:00 – 11:30 BirdLasser—All you need to know about logging your valuable bird sightings!

Speaker: Ernst Retief

11:00 – 11:45 Local is Lekker: The endemic birds of South Africa

Speaker: Mike Buckham, Cape Bird Club

12:00 – 12:45 2024 BirdLife South Africa Photography Competition winners

Roger Machin, Canon South Africa

13:00 – 13:45 Newman’s Birds by colour

Nick Newman interview by Jenny Crwys-Williams

14:00 – 16:30 Children’s Programme

SESSION 2: Interactive programme including a walk

Repeat of Session 1

Speaker: Viki Sotiriou

14:00 – 14:45 An Ecologist’s Guide to Birding the Grasslands

Speaker: Dr Melissa Whitecross

14:00 – 14:45 Garden bird feeding: A win, win situation!

Speaker: Elaine Reed

15:00 – 15:45 European Rollers:  Unravelling the mysteries of long-distance migration

Jessica Wilmot

15:00 – 16:15 Conservation League Donor Exclusive Event

By Invitation Only

Speaker: Peter Fernhead

16:30 – 17:30 South African Bird Fair Quiz

Masters of Ceremonies: David Wilson and Themba Robin

17:30 – 18:30 Call of the Wild Documentary

Speaker: Brett de Groot

Speaker programme may be subject to change.

Updates will be made available here if and when they become available.


Attendance to the South African Bird Fair talks both in person or virtually must be pre-booked and paid for via the registration link.

Conservation Conversation talks are free of charge.  Registration details for these three talks will be sent out by email in the usual Conservation Conversation format.

If you would like your email address added to our database please send a request to

Please note that we have limited in-person capacity.

Ticket types:


  • Early Morning Guided Walks: R130 per person

24 August 2024 @ 06:30 – 08:30 (GMT+2): Includes: A voucher for one hot drink (tea or coffee) and a filled croissant. In partnership with the Gauteng bird clubs

  • VIRTUAL Admission (By Zoom): Free of charge !

24 August 2024 @ 09:00 – 17:30 (GMT+2): Includes: Live streaming of the Programme Talks. A link will be forwarded two days before the event.

  • IN PERSON General Admission: R250 per adult.
  • Venue: The Country Club Johannesburg – Woodmead

24 August 2024 @ 09:00 – 17:30 (GMT+2): Includes: Programme Talks (being held in the Starling Room), the Optic sponsored area, the mini exhibition, and the South African Bird Fair Quiz.



24 August 2024 @ 08:00 – 10:00 (GMT+2): Begin Birding.  Includes: A talk and walk (Pool Pavilion)

24 August 2024 @ 10:00 – 11:30 (GMT+2): BirdLasser—All you need to know about logging your valuable bird sightings! (Hedgehog Room)

24 August 2024 @ 14:00 – 15:00 (GMT+2): Garden Bird Feeding: A win, win situation! (Hedgehog Room)

  • Entry to Optic sponsored area ONLY R50 per adult

24 August 2024 @ 09:00 – 16:30 (GMT+2): Excludes any programme talks, but includes the mini exhibition and Quiz . Kids up to 12 free of charge.

  • Kids’ Programme: R250 per child (includes a Snack Pack)
  • Calling on all Eco-keen, up-and-coming fledglings – spend time with Viki Sotiriou learning about birds!
  • Includes: An hour’s walk and an hour’s talk (for children from 6 – 12 years)

24 August 2024 @ 09:00 – 11:30 (GMT+2): Kids’ Programme Session 1 (Pool Pavilion)

24 August 2024 @ 14:00 – 16:30 (GMT+2): Kids’ Programme Repeat of Session 1 (Pool Pavilion)

  • Venue: The Country Club Johannesburg – Woodmead

24 August 2024 @ 17:30 – 18:30 (GMT+2): Back for another screening due to popular demand!



If you are not a Country Club Johannesburg member, please select from these options. No other catering options are available to non-members. Country Club members may also pre-book catering.

  • Burger Bar: Burger and Chips R150 per adult, R120 per child (up to 12 years)
  • A vegetarian burger option will be available
  • Soup Bar: Hot Vegetable soup and a roll. R90 per person
  • Kids Snack Pack: Juice, energy bar, a fruit. R65 per child

A cash bar will be available on-site.

The registration portal for the South African Bird Fair 2024 is now live.

Please click HERE to complete your registration.

As a delegate, accompanying partner/spouse, or an invitee to the South African Bird Fair 2024, each person’s participation in this event is based on and subject to acceptance of the event Terms and Conditions.

The Country Club Johannesburg – Woodmead,  BirdLife South Africa, its Board and Directors, employees, South African Bird Fair organizing committee, agents, bird clubs, bird guides, suppliers and/or sub-contractors cannot be held liable for any loss, damage, accidents or inconvenience caused for any matters arising on the 24th  August 2024 whilst on site at the Country Club Johannesburg – Woodmead

Click HERE to download the Terms & Conditions.

If you have any additional queries please email:, or Clare Neall on

Our office number is: +27 (0) 11 789 1122 weekdays between 09:00 and 15:00.


The South African Bird Fair 2024

Speaker information Conservation Conversations

Faansie Peacock

Faansie lives and breathes birds, as his name suggests. As what he calls a “professional birder” Faansie spends his days studying, counting, seeking, sound recording, drawing, pointing at, discussing, writing about and just admiring birds. He has a passion for sharing his passion and has published a number of books, countless articles, a long-running column in Weg/Go! magazine, and a bunch of scientific papers. His latest baby is the acclaimed FIREFINCH app. Faansie was previously employed as Curator of Birds at the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History, serves on the South African National Rarities Committee and was part of the first team to see 300 species in 24 hours in SA. As a fully-fledged bird nerd, he knows almost nothing about sports.

Peter Kaestner

Peter Kaestner is a retired U.S. diplomat and an active independent birder who has spent a lifetime sharing his passion. On 9 February 2024, he achieved his supreme goal when he saw his 10,000th species, an Orange-tufted Spiderhunter in the Philippines.

Keith Barnes

Keith Barnes started off as a scientist, working on BirdLife South Africa’s IBA and Red Data Book projects in the late 1990s, as well as being masochistic enough to delve into research in lark systematics. But he later segwayed into bird and nature-based tourism, and is an owner and director of international operator, Tropical Birding.

Speaker information Main Programme


Wian Van Zyl

Wian grew up on the famed Mabula Private Game Reserve, in the Limpopo Waterberg region, where he developed a deep-seated interest for all things wild. With an ecologist as a Father Wian learnt a lot about various habitats and the importance they play on conservation. However, it’s not until Wian found his passion for all things feathered, at the age of 12, that he truly started to understand what conservation is.

Wian became a professionally qualified field guide straight out of high school and initially stepped into the lodge guiding industry in 2013, working in the Kruger, KZN and more. Soon after kicking off his guiding career, Wian became a specialist bird guide and lead birding tours all over the World. Exploring places such as Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and the USA. With over 15-years of birding experience and 10-years as a professional guide, Wian has dedicated his life to birds, the people that love them and the spaces they inhabit.

Mark D. Anderson

Mark Anderson, the Chief Executive Officer of BirdLife South Africa, is a passionate conservationist. Growing up in Pretoria, South Africa, with frequent visits to the bush with his grandfather, Graham Anderson, Mark became interested in the natural environment. It was while spending time in nature that he became fascinated by birds and mammals. He studied at the University of Pretoria where he obtained a MSc (cum laude) for a study on the ecophysiological adaptations of Aardwolves to a diet of termites and especially how they survive four months of the year when these insects are unavailable. Mark met Tania, his wife, at university, and she has pursued a career as a botanist. Mark took up his position at BirdLife South Africa in 2008 and, with his team of hardworking and dedicated colleagues, has transformed the organization into one of the leading conservation NGOs in Africa. Mark’s philosophy has been to create an enabling environment for good staff to flourish, and BirdLife South Africa’s staff have indeed flourished. Their hard work, dedication, passion, and innovation are resulting in numerous conservation successes. Mark has innumerable responsibilities as BirdLife South Africa’s CEO, most important of which is to ensure that the organization has the resources to undertake its work.

Dr Hanneline Smit-Robinson

Dr Hanneline Smit Robinson heads up BirdLife South Africa’s Conservation Division. Her key responsibilities include oversight of all BirdLife South Africa’s Conservation Programmes, including seabird, landbird and habitat conservation, policy and advocacy engagement, regional support to BirdLife partners, community conservation and avitourism projects. Hanneline holds a PhD from the University of Stellenbosch, followed by post-doctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley, USA. Hanneline describes birding as a favourite pastime.

Ernst Retief 

Ernst’s main responsibility is to support the staff within the Landscape Conservation Programme. The focus of the programme is the implementation of biodiversity stewardship projects in South Africa. Ernst is a keen birder and supporter of citizen science projects, such as the Southern African Bird Atlas Project. He has been working at BirdLife South Africa for more than 13 years. During this time, he co-authored the revised Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas Directory and supported the declaration of the new Key Biodiversity Areas network. He is passionate about Geographic Information Systems and using spatial tools to inform conservation planning. Ernst has a MSc in the social sciences.

Mike Buckham

Mike Buckham is an avid birder and photographer and Chair of the Cape Bird Club, the country’s largest bird club, in Cape Town. Mike is a finance professional with a flair for writing and speaking. Mike is also a keen golfer and will share some of his best golfing and birding moments at the Fair.

Roger Machin

Roger Machin is Canon South Africa’s Product Marketing Manager. Roger has been in the Photo video department at Canon SA since 1996 and has a wealth of knowledge on the Canon camera products. He not only does the marketing for the cameras, but he also actually uses them daily so is very well versed in the operation and use of the cameras. He is also a keen birder – having re-kindled the hobby in the last 4 years after a 30-year lapse.

Dr Melissa Whitecross 

Dr Melissa Whitecross merged her passion for birding with her training in ecology to forge her career as a conservationist contributing to the preservation of Africa’s birds and natural landscapes during her six and a half years with environmental NGO, BirdLife South Africa. Recognising that conservation requires sustained financing, Melissa changed course and joined a bespoke consultancy specialising in the development of nature finance mechanisms. With a deep-seated love of the Grassland Biome and its flagship species, the Endangered Secretarybird, Melissa continues to build bridges between conservation implementers and impact investors to unlock capital and preserve our natural heritage in ways that co-benefit nature and people. To give back to the birding world which has enriched her life so much, Melissa continues to teach and speak about birds and their conservation through her passion project – Reconnect.

Nicholas Newman

Nicholas Newman is a passionate and accomplished birder whose interest in birds and their behaviour was inspired by his father’s work in the field. At the helm of the Newman family business , Nick is committed to growing the community of birders via Kenneth Newman’s iconic stable of well-loved birding reference tools.With the mission to get more people into birding, Nicholas has recently launched Newman’s latest title Birds By Colour for the easy identification of birds. It is aimed at new & beginner birders, as well as anyone with a little more experience who struggle with bird identification. The hope of this book is to educate people on bird identification principles using colour, size shape and habitat. The book also hopes to educate people on how birds use their colour and the environmental challenges facing

Elaine Reed

Elaine Reed loves animals, and used that love in her early life as a wildlife artist. As a young mother she became more confined to a home environment, and started taking increasing pleasure from her garden birds. So it was that Elaine’s Birding was born through a passion for garden birding. It is still owned and managed by Elaine Reed.

Jessica Wilmot

As the Flyway and Migrants Project Manager, Jessica works within BirdLife South Africa’s Regional Conservation Programme to support regional and global conservation initiatives that align with the strategies of BirdLife International and the Royal Society for the Protection of Bird’s East Atlantic Flyway Initiative. Her responsibilities encompass various tasks, such as identifying threats to key bird species and sites along the East Atlantic Flyway and providing assistance to BirdLife partners to ensure the identification of Key Biodiversity Areas, Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures and supporting the East Atlantic Flyway Coordination Group. Jessica holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management from Central European University.

Peter Fearnhead

Peter Fearnhead is the CEO and co-founder of African Parks, a non-profit conservation organisation that takes on direct responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of protected areas in Africa, in partnership with governments and local communities.

Peter graduated with a BSc in Agric Economics from the University of Natal and an MSc in Agric and Resource Economics from the University of Oxford. He started his career at Deloitte Consulting and later joined South African National Parks (SANParks) where he was responsible for the conceptualisation and execution of its commercial strategy.

Under his leadership, African Parks has pioneered the public-private partnership model for protected area management in Africa, establishing itself as a global leader in conservation. Since initiating partnerships with the Governments of Malawi and Zambia to manage Majete and Liuwa Plains national parks in 2003, African Parks has experienced substantial growth. Today, the organisation employs over 5,000 staff members to manage 22 protected areas across 12 African countries, spanning 20 million hectares.

Viki Sotiriou

Viki is an Occupational Therapist, sharing a compassionate, interactive and vibrant therapeutic relationship with children. She is an avid bird enthusiast, blending the art of therapy, activated play and the joy of birding, one child and one bird at a time.

Themba Robin

An enthusiastic, young, talented and avid conservationist South African who is determined to bring his unique brand of comedy and wit to the entertainment industry.  Otiginally from the coastal city of Port Elizabeth, he now resides in the City of gild rubbing shoulders and competiung with the best in the industry.



Brett de Groot

Brett is a professional producer, director, designer and playwright with 12 years experience in theatre, film and documentary.

After graduating Dux Scholar cum laude from Rhodes University with a triple major in Journalism (Film and Documentary), Music and Law, he debuted his original musical Simply Broadway at the Joburg Theatre to sold-out success and critical acclaim, subsequently making him the youngest professional theatre producer in South African history at the age of 21.

Since then he has written, produced, directed and designed several original works including My Favourite Things: The Rodger’s and Hammerstein Story; Elton: The Experience; Sing Happy; Hard Candy and The Man and The Mouse detailing the life and work of Walt Disney. All of these productions have enjoyed both national and international tours- from massive 2000 seater arena tours to the intimate Amsterdam Festival. During this time he also pioneered outdoor theatre experiences, and has directed and designed several corporate experiences and award shows.

He is a 24-time Broadway World Award Nominee, and a 12-time winner including best production design, best script, best costume, best production and best director. He also possesses a Standard Bank Ovation Award for his crtically acclaimed production of Simply Broadway.

Earlier this year, he debuted his groundbreaking documentary, “Call of the Wild” at the prestigious Silwerskermfees, where it was received with a standing ovation and critical acclaim. The documentary was consequently nominated in every category including Best Director, Best Editing and won Best Sound Design for the documentary’s innovative use of sound making the documentary accessible for visually impaired audience members. The documentary will premiere in New York and Amsterdam early next year.



South African Bird Fair: Colouring-in Competition

With thanks to the following sponsors:

Headline Sponsor:

MSC Cruises

Platinum Sponsors:

Dream Hotels & Resorts
Ford Wildlife Foundation

Gold Sponsors:

Jonathan Ball Publishers
Rockjumper Birding Tours