13-17 September 2021

SEABIRD CONSERVATION PROGRAMME (SCP)

Albatross Task Force (ATF)

Andrea Angel met with Janine Nelson, who is responsible for managing the fisheries observers on crayfish vessels fishing off Gough Island, on ensuring on-board information regarding best practice to mitigate seabird interactions and improve data collection and seabird identification by observers. Andrea worked with Reason Nyengera on the production of a script for a graphics designer assisting with training materials aimed at outlining at-sea seabird bycatch observation protocols for fisheries observers and port compliance officers. Reason worked in Mossel Bay with inshore fishers, operation managers and engineers on the installation of bird-scaring lines and bird barrier attachment structures to improve the use and effectiveness of seabird bycatch mitigation measures, as part of the Marine Stewardship Council – Ocean Stewardship Fund Inshore Trawl Project.

Mouse-Free Marion (MFM)

Anton Wolfaardt, Mark Anderson and Keith Springer engaged in ongoing discussions with Accelerant to progress the MFM fundraising strategy, and finalised the development of a prospectus for the project. Anton, Mark, Keith and Robyn Adams participated in a fundraising orientation workshop organised by Accelerant for the MFM Project team. Keith and Anton continued discussions with scientists involved with the Gough Island Restoration Programme regarding their experience with consumption of bait by non-target species, and the possible implications for the MFM Project. Anton prepared a framework document for a Long-term (longitudinal) Ecological Monitoring Programme to assess the ecological outcomes of the MFM Project, and  continued to work on the Communications Plan for the MFM Project with Robyn.

Coastal Seabirds

Alistair McInnes attended the third stakeholder meeting convened by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) to assess proposals for fisheries closures around important African Penguin colonies. Alistair and Mark met with Julia Levin and Roseanne Stanway from Conservation South Africa to discuss potential collaborations and funding avenues for marine conservation projects. Christina Hagen went to the African Penguin colony site at the De Hoop Nature Reserve for a monitoring trip and to take measurements for installing a replacement speaker system to play African Penguin calls to alert penguins, passing by at sea, of the safe breeding area. Tegan Carpenter-Kling attended a Biodiversity Working Group task team meeting convened by DFFE to discuss existing Marine Protected Areas and proposed island closure issues and subsequently produced at-sea distribution maps of African Penguins, Cape Cormorants and Cape Gannets. Tegan attended the quarterly Dassen Island Protected Area Advisory Committee meeting in Ysterfontein.

LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION PROGRAMME (LCP)

Melissa Whitecross and Samantha Ralston-Paton met with Kishaylin Chetty of Eskom Holdings SOC to discuss Eskom’s current and future plans for Renewable Energy and where there may be opportunities for BirdLife South Africa (BLSA) to support this work. Melissa met with the Acting Communications Manager, Daniel Danckwerts, and Kyrone Josiah to talk about the media and marketing for the LCP and Conservation Conversations webinars. Melissa and Kyrone travelled to Parkhaven Pan with Dr Gavin Snow and Dr Darragh Woodford of the University of Witwatersrand, to meet with Karen Strever of Toyota South Africa and plan the upcoming BSc Honours project on wetland ecology, which Toyota is generously funding for 2022. Melissa attended the internal training workshop for in-depth Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measure (OECM) assessments presented by Candice Stevens and discussed upcoming Secretarybird data analyses with Christiaan Brink and Finnish collaborator Dr Patrik Byholm. Melissa worked on communications documents for the OECM Project, submitted a concept note for the World Wildlife Fund South Africa (WWF-SA) alien clearing project in the Northern Drakensberg Strategic Water Source Area which overlaps with the Upper Wilge Protected Environment (UWPE), and began corrections on the LCP five-year strategy.

Protecting Species

Linda van den Heever met with John Wesson and Leanne Venter (WESSA – Northern Areas) to discuss the feasibility of establishing a Vulture Safe Zone in the Magaliesberg Biosphere.

Christiaan finalised and printed awareness material on Secretarybird conservation for farmers and also met with GroundTruth to discuss BLSA’s involvement in the ORASECOM Joint Basin Survey. Christiaan attended a webinar on fundraising hosted by BirdLife International. Christiaan reviewed and edited an African Birdlife article. Christiaan and Melissa met with Patrik Byholm to discuss the analysis of Secretarybird data.

Kyle Lloyd arranged landowner meetings for WeAct and accompanied colleagues on these site visits within the Greater Lakenvlei Protected Environment (GLPE). Kyle provided advice and helped arrange logistics for burning the surrounding veld of Middelpunt Wetland. Kyle met with Antoinette Pietersen (Public Participation Consultant for Golder Associations) and Frans Krige (Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency, MTPA) to discuss the next phase of wetland rehabilitation within the GLPE as part of the Glencore mining offset. Kyle drafted the Memorandum of Understanding with MTPA and sent the document to BLSA colleagues for input. Kyle provided updates for the BLSA White-winged Flufftail webpage and BirdLife International Data Zone webpage for the species. Kyle followed up on several landowner queries about controlling and managing an aquatic weed in trout dams. Kyle provided advice to DFFE about the local communities of Wakkerstroom in preparation for World Migratory Bird Day.

Protecting Ecosystems

Giselle Murison joined colleagues in project steering group meetings around BLSA OECM Project in the Western Cape (WC). Giselle participated in an internal training workshop around the site-level methodology for identifying OECMs. Giselle met with landowners at the Berg River estuary around biodiversity stewardship and undertook a site assessment of a property at the Klein River estuary. She spent time finalising comments on the protected area expansion strategy for state-owned estuarine land in the WC and the updated methodology outlining BLSA’s estuarine habitat rehabilitation interventions at the Berg River estuary for submission to the WC Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP), as well as responded to requests for information from landowners involved in the Klein River Estuary South Bank Protected Area Project.

Carina Pienaar handed over 1000 letters of support to the Department of Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DESTEA) to proceed with the proposed declaration of UWPE. Carina assisted Working for Wetlands, Central Wetlands Rehabilitation (CWR) and GroundTruth with wetland inspections at Ingula Nature Reserve (INR) and in the proposed UWPE to determine potential rehabilitation needs. Carina assisted the INR environmental team with planning for the installation of speed bumps on the reserve roads to prevent wildlife collisions. Steven Segang and Carina joined the GroundTruth team and CWR to do wetland checks at INR in planning for wetland rehabilitation. Steven continued monitoring species with observations of over 100 Blue Cranes and one Wattled Crane. Other interesting species counted were Southern Bald Ibis, Martial Eagle, White-backed Vulture, Cape Vulture, African Marsh Harrier, Secretarybird, White-bellied Korhaan, Denham’s Bustard, Little Bee-eater, Black-winged Lapwing. Steven observed Common Buzzard, Black Kite, White-throated Swallow, Greater Striped Swallow among some migrants. Steven guided Marilyn Aitken, a visitor at INR from Howick area, and later met with Carina to discuss Marilyn’s potential assistance in Southern Bald Ibis monitoring.

Steve McKean held a management plan workshop with the landowner and manager of Nirodha, which Steve is in the  process of declaring as a Nature Reserve for its Mistbelt grassland habitat and breeding Blue Swallows. Steve met with the WeAct team to discuss collaboration regarding carbon projects in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) midlands and also other areas of KZN where we are involved. This collaboration could be very productive in terms of incentivising landowners to manage their areas well, encouraging further landowners to consider stewardship for their properties provided they have biodiversity value and contributing management support funding to our work. Steve will accompany the WeAct team on a field visit to some of the sites during the week of 27 September – 1 October.

Renewable Energy

Samantha and Melissa met with Kishaylin Chetty from Eskom Holdings SOC to discuss the projects strategy for the future. Samantha attended a Convention on Migratory Species Energy Task Force Technical Working Group meeting and met with representatives from the major Renewable Energy organizations and their environmental assessment practitioners, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Conservation Outcomes, to discuss the biodiversity offset for the proposed Waaihoek Wind Farm. Samantha attended a project meeting and commented on a preliminary draft of the Mitigation Hierarchy Guidelines, a project managed by BLSA’s Policy and Advocacy Programme and Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT). Samantha attended a BirdLife International “Partner-2-Partner” Fundraising webinar.

EMPOWERING PEOPLE PROGRAMME (EPP)

Andrew de Blocq spent time revising contracts for guide training in the WC and coordinating the upcoming video shoots in Zululand for the community bird guides. Andrew met with Roland Vorwerk from Boundless Southern Africa to discuss work on various fronts including the Orange River mouth and the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA). Andrew spent time preparing for the Africa Travel and Tourism Summit that will take place during the week of 20-24 September.

REGIONAL CONSERVATION PROGRAMME (RCP)

Biodiversity Assessment for Spatial Prioritisation in Africa (BASPA)

Simeon Bezeng prepared for and delivered a Red List Training and Assessments Workshop in Cameroon, where 35 botanists were trained to apply the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List Standard.

East Atlantic Flyway Initiative (EAFI)

Bronwyn Maree, together with a representative from Birdlife International and BirdLife Zimbabwe, drafted and submitted a significant funding proposal covering the five countries in the KAZA TFCA to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) TFCA Finance Facility funding call. Together with the core project team, Bronwyn attended a Global OECM Methodology training workshop ahead of piloting this in the WC OECM Project. Bronwyn and Giselle met with Sarah Hulley from Conservation Outcomes, to plan the policy review per sector for the WC OECM Project. Bronwyn met with a private game reserve representative to discuss potential opportunities to collaborate on the European Roller Monitoring Project. Bronwyn attended two webinars, one focusing on fundraising initiatives through the BirdLife Partnership. The second, focusing on the new ‘Hatch’ platform which is soon to be launched as the capacity development and collaboration platform for BirdLife Partners. Bronwyn met with Isabel Human for their annual catch-up meeting. Bronwyn presented the work of the EAFI to the Tygerberg Bird Club.

SCIENCE & INNOVATION PROGRAMME (S&IP)

Alan Lee spent time in the Overberg area assisting Sanjo Rose with her MSc research on Agulhas Long-billed Lark.

POLICY & ADVOCACY PROGRAMME (P&AP)

Melissa Lewis spent time reviewing and commenting on a draft Mitigation Hierarchy Guideline, which environmental consultant Susie Brownlie has produced based on preparatory work undertaken by BLSA, EWT and Enviro-Insight. Melissa familiarised herself with, and provided input on documents relating to, BLSA’s collaboration with WeAct (a carbon project developer). Melissa continued to engage with both the SCP and the Transnet National Port Authority regarding an upcoming Environmental Risk Assessment for ship-to-ship bunkering in Algoa Bay. She also drafted and submitted comments on the proposed Kleinmond Wastewater Treatment Works upgrade, and reviewed several other development applications to assess the need for comments from BLSA.

CONSERVATION CONVERSATIONS

Melissa Whitecross hosted Dr Jonathan Rossouw on the Conservation Conversations webinar. Jonathan presented on his amazing birding journey with a list of 9 000 species and counting. The webinar can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/bBCDO4cUGT4.

WAKKERSTROOM TOURISM & EDUCATION CENTRE

Kristi Garland attended the monthly Wakkerstroom Bird Club outing to a local farm.  The group of 15 birders collectively logged over 50 species with highlights including White-bellied Sunbird, Wattled Lapwing and two Secretarybirds.  Kristi presented a debriefing and information session on the Coordinated Avifaunal Road count (CAR) winter survey.  A few new club members are hoping to join our next count scheduled for the latter part of October.  Kristi began work on the October Junior Bird Club newsletter which will include the next two Spring Alive focus species, Common Swift and European Bee-eater.  She also had further discussions with Bronwyn Maree and Daniel Danckwerts regarding the social media campaign for World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD).  Kristi was interviewed by Radio Cape Pulpit regarding the upcoming WMBD and how the public can become involved.  A further interview will take place in the next week where the focus will be on the Spring Alive Project.  Lucky Ngwenya reports the following sightings this week: African Black Duck, White-throated Swallow and African Rock Pipit on the Derdehoek Road.  The Working on Fire team was on standby this week.  The crew leaders were able to complete another round of administrative tasks, as well as their weekly fitness test.  Kristi submitted a message of support and congratulations to the Working on Fire communications division on their 18 years of sustainability.

BUSINESS DIVISION

Mark Anderson spent much time working on Mouse-Free Marion (MFM) matters, including chairing the MFM Man Comm meeting, engaging with Heidi Whitman the MFM’s Chief Philanthropy Officer, and meeting with Dr Frederik Paulsen and others. Mark travelled to East London where he presented a talk to BirdLife Border’s members. He also attended a meeting with BirdLife International consultants, Ian Barber (RSPB), and Conservation South Africa. Mark and Fanie du Plessis attended the African Birdlife Magazine Man Comm meeting. Mark presented a talk to the Waterfall Bird Club.