TERRESTRIAL BIRD CONSERVATION PROGRAMME Preventing extinctions Hanneline Smit-Robinson attended the Mabula Ground Hornbill Board meeting as well as a meeting in preparation for the Ingula Partnership meeting with Warren Funston, Kishaylin Chetty and Megan van den Haar.  Hanneline and Melissa Whitecross spent most of the week at the Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) workshop for the Southern Ground-Hornbill, hosted at the SANBI National Zoological Garden. Hanneline and Linda van den Heever attended a Skype meeting with BirdLife International regarding a proposal for vulture conservation. Melissa completed the collation of the May National Rarities submissions and sent them for adjudication. Melissa started updating the AEWA White-winged Flufftail Working Group website content and drafted an article about the White-winged Flufftail for Caxton Press. Robin Colyn completed the scientific article synthesizing the forest connectivity study conducted by BirdLife South Africa in collaboration with the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Robin commenced synthesizing results from the Highland Grassland Threatened Species Project. The project aims to promote the conservation and connectivity of core habitat sites for threatened high altitude species. Carina Coetzer planned and completed a new bird count on the Wilge wetlands at Ingula with assistant, Sakhile Mthalane. She also met with one landowner in the Wilge Stewardship Initiative, and attended a Raptor Information day with Ernst Retief at Witkoppe in the Memel district.  BirdLife South Africa took delivery of a brand new Ford Ranger on Friday, courtesy of the Ford Wildlife Foundation. This vehicle will greatly aid BirdLife South Africa’s burgeoning vulture conservation project. We greatly appreciate the Foundation’s incredible generosity and continued support towards the conservation of our wild bird species. Renewable energy Nndwa Mahale has begun updating BirdLife South Africa's position statements on energy-related issues and Sam, Nndwa and Jonathan Booth had a Skype meeting to discuss the position statements. Nndwa attended the African Utility Week exhibition and workshops on Tuesday, and on Thursday Sam and Nndwa attended the FitzPatrick Institute AGM talks. Sam met with Tebogo Movundlela, CEO of Aurora/West Coast One Wind Farm to discuss their plans to monitor and mitigate impacts on birds during their second year of operation. Sam spent much of the rest of the week working on a strategy document, outlining the past successes and challenges of the project and reflecting on the needs and opportunities in the future. SEABIRD CONSERVATION PROGRAMME Coastal Seabirds Andrew de Blocq, Christina Hagen and Taryn Morris attended a meeting at UCT about the penguin colony pressure model development. Andrew and Taryn entered the final straits on the review of West African seabirds. Taryn and Christina also attended a meeting with other penguin stakeholders to work on a draft of the revised African Penguin Biodiversity Management Plan, and met with the artist making the penguin decoys for the new colony work and approved the final design. Taryn attended the DAFF small pelagic scientific working group meeting where several concerning topics were discussed. Common Oceans Bronwyn Maree has been working on a proposal for additional training and capacity building Fisheries Compliance Officers (FCOs) through the Common Oceans Project. She has received the first batch of completed forms from the newly trained FCOs, which have been entered into a database. These FCOs are assisting the Common Oceans team in collecting additional seabird bycatch and mitigation measure use. She has also been working with James Nagan, the Port-based Outreach Officer in Fiji on updating his work plan for the remainder of the year and finalising budgets relating to sea-time and associated data entry for 2017. Nini van der Merwe was on sick leave this week. The time she did spend in the office was dedicated to finalising reports to submit to the various tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organisations and the Food and Agricultural Organisation. Albatross Task Force Andrea Angel participated in a conference call with BirdLife International colleagues to contribute to their review of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification standards. The SA Hake trawl fishery has MSC certification, hence her involvement. Andrea also completed and submitted a document on BirdLife South Africa’s MSC-related work with the South African hake trawl, to a UK-based MSC Review Panel. She and Reason Nyengera also dealt with Viking Fishing (or Selecta Fish), after Ross Wanless was alerted to one of their trawlers operating for several days without a bird-scaring line. As a direct result, Reason will be developing Bycatch Mitigation Plans for Viking vessel classes that don’t yet have these documents. Reason departed on Thursday for a trip on an inshore trawler – the ATF’s first ever! Makhudu Masotla made several port visits to both Hout Bay and Cape Town harbours to distribute and collect the questionnaire on the new tori line design, and also to seek out a sea trip. He had a meeting with the Observer Agency CapMarine, about his upcoming sea trip. He and Reason delivered materials for bird-scaring lines to Ovenstones, which sought ATF’s assistance after they recorded exceptional bycatch of Great Shearwaters while demersal longlining around Tristan da Cunha. Marion Island Andrea and Ross Wanless attended a briefing meeting where Keith Springer, whom we’ve contracted in to develop plans for eradicating mice. Keith presented his draft Project Plan and participants gave comments on this. Andrea was also, somewhat unexpectedly, burdened with procuring additional equipment and supplies for the team on Marion, as the SA Agulhas II is returning there this weekend, including a replacement Environmental Officer, after one of the two-person team suffered an injury that couldn’t be treated at Marion. IBA PROGRAMME Landscape Analysis & Project Development Dale Wright finalised and circulated a draft of the Grassland Biome Threatened Species Conservation Project proposal. Wilge Stewardship Project Ernst Retief and Carina Coetzer met with a land owner in the Wilge Stewardship area to discuss the project with him. The meeting end well and the land owner indicated that he will support this initiative  Ernst and Carina also met to discuss the future management of the project. Estuary IBA Conservation Project Giselle Murison attended the Berg River Estuary Advisory Forum on Thursday. The meeting included presentations and discussion on the functions of the Forum and the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders. Giselle also met with landowners at the Berg River estuary this week to discuss details of the proclamation process for a Protected Environment for their properties.  She spent much of the rest of the week finalising and submitting comments on a Basic Assessment for a development proposal at a property at the Berg River estuary and on an Environmental Impact Assessment for a nearby proposed photovoltaic Solar Energy Facility. Mistbelt Grassland and Forest Conservation Project Conservation Outcomes met with the land owner of Sunnyvale to finalise the area’s management plan. Sunnyvale is one of a few areas currently in the declaration process and the management plan needs to be finalised for approval. The management plan and declaration processes are being done in parallel to ensure that both are complete concurrently. The landowner has previously reported up to eight pairs of Blue Swallows nesting on Sunnyvale. Unfortunately, this year only two pairs have been recorded but the upcoming seasons will be carefully monitored. A meeting to finalise the management plan for another blue swallow site, Trewirgie, will take place this coming week. Sneeuwberg Protected Environment Project Ernst obtained the final comments for the Memel Birding Routes document. The document will now be submitted for final design and layout and will then be published on the BirdLife South Africa website. The aim of this document is to support the Sneeuwberg Protected Environment. Supporting Biodiversity Stewardship Dale Wright, Candice Stevens and Daniel Marnewick held a Skype meeting to discuss the development of a report reviewing the various mechanisms available for area-based conservation in South Africa. Karoo Research and Conservation Project Alan Lee returned from his initial scouting trip into the northern Karoo, where he was familiarising himself with the key target bird species, identifying appropriate survey locations and making contact with landowners. Alan then joined Dale Wright in Cape Town to attend the FitzPatrick Institute of Ornithology AGM and catch up on progress and planning for the Karoo Research Project.  Regional and Global Key Biodiversity Areas Daniel Marnewick spent the week preparing for his talk on Key Biodiversity Areas for next week’s BIOPAMA (Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management) regional workshop in Kenya. He also had a number of meetings and arranged further key meetings for while he is in Kenya; firstly with the BirdLife Africa Secretariat and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Africa coordinator to plan how BirdLife South Africa and the BirdLife African Partnership can support the 2019 African Protected Areas Congress. Secondly, Daniel and Bezeng Bezeng will spend a day introducing the Biodiversity Assessment for Spatial Planning in Africa (BASPA) to Kenyan stakeholders, in collaboration with Nature Kenya. Daniel also submitted an abstract to talk on KBAs in Africa at the upcoming Biodiversity Planning Forum. Simeon Bezeng attended the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) meeting this week in the United Kingdom. Data Management Project Ernst obtained comments about the viability of an annotated checklist series which will be published by BirdLife South Africa. Initial comments are extremely positive. The idea is to publish annotated checklists for areas such as Nature Reserves or Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA). These documents will also contain population data for birds which will be used to monitor IBAs. Awareness for IBA & KBA Conservation Dale Wright presented a talk on the new IBA Programme strategy and flagship IBA conservation projects to the Tygerberg Bird Club on Thursday evening and attended the FitzPatrick AGM seminar to hear about the latest research projects being conducted at the institute and catch up with colleagues. An article regarding progress and changes in the IBA Programme was drafted for the Tygerberg bird club’s Kite newsletter. Ernst presented a talk in Bethlehem to BirdLife Eastern Free State. The talk was about the conservation of grasslands within the Free State Province. Ideas how the club can become involved in the Rooiberge-Riempiesland IBA were also shared. On Saturday Ernst presented a talk to land owners at Witkoppen near Memel about raptors and their conservation. Ernst also made arrangements to receive the final comments on the fence mitigation pamphlet and it is hoped that this document will be published soon.

POLICY & ADVOCACY PROGRAMME National Candice Stevens worked on international and regional policy work relating to Privately Protected Areas and other related topics in preparation for the proposed African Protected Areas Congress. Candice had meetings with the BirdLife Africa Secretariat regarding this and further strategic coordination on protected areas and conservation finance work across the partnership in Africa. Advocacy Jonathan Booth worked on a Policy & Advocacy risk synopsis document that will assist the Programme with identifying and managing risks that it is exposed to. He continued to work on a coal mining advocacy case, in which we are challenging aspects of the Environmental Impact Assessment. He researched the upper Vaal catchment, which contains two IBAs, for a project proposal, and spent time developing the proposal. AVITOURISM & SPECIAL PROJECTS PROGRAMME Martin Taylor travelled through to Botswana to undertake a partner status review of BirdLife Botswana. A strategic framework agreement between the Peace Parks Foundation and BirdLife International covering cooperation in trans frontier conservation areas in southern Africa was drafted. Comments were received and incorporated. A meeting was held with Charles Thornton-Kolbe of PIB to discuss an upcoming bird tour to South Africa. A presentation was prepared for the Sacramento Audubon branch, United States of America covering the state of South Africa’s birds WAKKERSTROOM CENTRE Kristi Garland spent much time this week focussing on Working on Fire, renewing memberships as well as scheduling fire break burning on various properties.  Daphne Pyott has been going full steam ahead, dealing with ongoing bookings for the remainder of the year whilst Kristi and Lucky Ngwenya have seen to: (1) completing the installation of skirting in the dormitory block, (2) putting together our new dish drying rack in the dormitory kitchen and (3) smaller repairs to all the buildings. Kristi and David Nkosi were also out in the field this week on the National Lotteries Biodiversity Stewardship Project. We visited four schools, conducting both teachers workshops and learners programmes.  Wednesday saw Kristi attending the Country College Junior Bird Club where we focussed on a picture building game on wetlands and the human impact on these areas.  Thursday was a great highlight on the school calendar – International Outdoor Classroom Day.  Three of our schools conducted lessons outside of the classroom, with activities focussing on leaf animals, basic birding and maths lessons around the theme of water.  Kristi, David and Lucky attended the Clay Edu-Centre Junior Bird Club in the afternoon and focussed on a nature treasure hunt.  We also looked at how much litter was found around the school and discussed ways, together with Carol Preston, on how to reduce this and really create awareness of litter with the learners of Wakkerstroom Primary.  On Saturday, Kristi attended a strategy meeting with the Wakkerstroom Natural Heritage Association, where discussions focussed around increasing membership to the association as well as keeping our existing members excited about the work we do.  BUSINESS DIVISION Mark Anderson participated in a number of meetings, including with Flume (a digital advertising agency). The quarterly Fundraising Committee meeting was held on Wednesday. Mark participated in two BirdLife International meetings (a) Fundraising Task Force (for the 2018 Global Partnership meeting) and (b) BirdLife Africa Regional Committee meeting. He also attended the FitzPatrick Institute AGM, Advisory Board meeting and cocktail party. Mark, Roger Wanless, Hanneline Smit-Robinson and Linda vd Heever attended the handover of a Ford vehicle to the Terrestrial Bird Conservation Programme.

blog