By Viv Thomé
The NWP&TB Honorary Officers and friends took part, once again, in the bi-annual water bird count at Borakalalo National Park, around the perimeter of Klipvoor Dam and along the Moretele River. The event was co-ordinated as always by Ian Wagstaff, one of our dedicated Honorary Officers.
Some of us had camped overnight at the HOs’ Fish Eagle camp and we all met at 07h30 on Sunday morning to be told which section of the dam perimeter we’d be doing and with who.
The previous morning, it had been 2° at that time, so we were all well-prepared for a chilly start in jackets and beanies. Things warmed up considerably by the time the count ended at around 11h30.
There were ten of us, in five teams. We covered the entire perimeter of the 800-hectare dam, walking where necessary along the shoreline and driving where possible, with binoculars, scopes and bird books at the ready, to count as accurately as possible.
It was a most enjoyable morning, taking part in this important initiative. Everyone then gathered for some socialising before we all made our way home, feeling we’d really done something meaningful for the conservation of our feathered friends.
What is CWAC all about?
Co-ordinated Waterbird Counts have been conducted at Borakalalo’s Klipvoor Dam since 1993 when the dam was registered as an important wetland area, supporting more than 500 birds. The counts have been conducted under the auspices of the HO’s since 2004.
As part of South Africa’s commitment to the Ramsar Convention, the project is managed by the Avian Demography Unit at UCT, and is supported by Birdlife SA. This is part of an international effort and is not only a South African project.
The objective is to use the monitoring of bird populations as an indicator of the health of the wetland body, and highlight threats to the bird populations. This is very important as we all know that inland water bodies in particular, are heavily polluted and becoming more so. Counts are thus conducted twice annually, in winter and summer, over fixed time periods over all important water bodies in South Africa. It is only through regular counts that we can hopefully identify problems early enough for actions to be taken to rectify them.
Some of the birds counted this year