Stanford Strettons Bird Fair 2010

September 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

The Stanford Strettons Bird Fair 2010 is an event that birding enthusiasts in South Africa should not miss out on. It is a weekend filled with magnificent activities and workshops, that not only highlight the breathtaking bird life of the region, but the wildlife and natural wonders of the Western Province. Self guided tours will be available for bird lovers to enjoy, as well as a fascinating talk by Naas Terblance called The Sound of Birds, gin tastings, photography competitions, boat trips and much more.

The Stanford Birding website has all relevant information available in regard to the bird fair and can be explore at http://www.stanfordbirding.co.za/.

Date: 1 – 3 October 2010
Venue: Various
City: Stanford, Cape Town
Country: South Africa

Birdlife Cheese and Wine 2010

July 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

The Birdlife SA association will be hosting the Birdlife Cheese and Wine 2010, to raise funds for bird conservation and birdlife awareness projects. Guest speakers such as David Chamberlain, Mark Anderson and Alan Knott-Craig will captivating audiences with their fascinating information on birds, photography and bird watching adventures that wait to be discovered. It is an opportunity to support the conservation efforts in South Africa and to be educated on the beautiful birds of the country.

For more information, visit the Birdlife SA website at http://www.birdlife.org.za/page/6090/fundraisers.

Date: 17 August 2010
Venue: Irene Country Lodge
City: Irene
Country: South Africa

Stanford Glendower Bird Fair 2009

September 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Events

The sixth annual Stanford Glendower Bird Fair will kick off with whiskey tasting from the sponsors, at Oak Grove Farm on the 1st of October 2009. Extraordinary prizes have been allocated for the photographic competition, with guided walks, boat trips, picnics and workshops being organized for the fair. Some of the guest speakers to look forward to include Odette Cutis, Dr. Anton Odendaal, Dave de Beer, Doug Newman and Naas Terblanche. Bonfires and cabaret entertainment have also been added to the line-up, ensuring that the Stanford Glendower Bird Fair is unforgettable.

For more information in regard to the fair and the scheduled activities, kindly log onto the follow site: www.stanfordbirding.co.za.

Date: 1 – 4 October 2009
Venue: Various
City: Overberg
Country: South Africa

The Albatross Task Force Project

February 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Features

South Africans are fast gaining recognition for taking initiative and trying new things. Most recently they have enjoyed a lot of success in efforts aimed at minimizing the number of endangered albatrosses killed in fishing nets annually. Conservationists are now looking at how the project can be expanded.

Albatrosses do not generally receive a lot of public attention, but they are certainly no less important than other birds. This large sea bird is currently facing a huge dilemma – as many as three quarters of albatross species are at the brink of extinction. The main cause for their demise is the fact that they are easily entangled in long fishing lines which are dropped into the water to catch fish such as tuna. The bird then swoops down on the baited lines to which it is attracted, quickly becomes entangled in the lines and it is then eventually pulled underwater where it drowns. It would seem to be such a simple problem to solve, but up until now conservationists have not have much success in helping to stem the number of fishing industry-related deaths.

Fortunately a South African initiative called the Albatross Task Force (ATF) project has now found a way to make the lines safer and so reduce the probability of the birds being drawn to them and becoming entangled. The project’s main preservation technique involves attaching brightly colored streamers to the back of the vessels. These streamers, known as tori lines, flap in the wind and scare the birds away, so helping them to avoid becoming entangled. The initiative also looks at educating fishermen so as to help them avoid catching albatrosses. They share specialist knowledge with the fishermen and also encourage them to fish at night when activity is low. Finding more effective ways to keep the lines down under the water is also encouraged. While changing entrenched attitudes takes time, new laws stipulating that no more than 25 birds may be caught during fishing trips is a very powerful motivator.

So far the Albatross Task Force project has been incredibly successful in helping these endangered birds to avoid premature deaths. The project was launched in 2006 and in 2008 the number of birds killed by fisheries in South Africa dropped by an incredible 85%. Expanding the project to encompass other countries is simply the next logical step, and the UK Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is very supportive of the move. Hopefully this creative and forward-thinking initiative will save yet another bird species from extinction.

Purple Gallinule (Porphyrula martinica)

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Purple Gallinule (Porphyrula martinica) is a truly beautiful wader bird. Their brightly colored feathers makes it hard to take your eyes off them. They are 10.5 inches in length with a wingspan of 21 inches, and do not fly very well. This water bird is quite big with a very short tail and a short bill. The Purple Gallinule has purple-blue plumage over its neck, breast, head and its belly. They have red eyes, yellow legs and their bills are red with a yellow tip. The frontal shield, that is located just above the bill, is pale blue and the back and upper wings are covered in green and blue plumage. Both the males and females are similar in appearance.

They are generally located in the areas of the southeastern and northern United States, Argentina, Northern Mexico and the Gulf Coast. However, they have been sighted across Europe and in South Africa. During the breeding season they will migrate to the southeastern parts of the United States.

The Purple Gallinule is a marsh bird that feeds on spiders, water plants, frogs, grasshoppers, dragonflies, fruits, seeds and other insects. It therefore prefers to live in freshwater marshes that have lily pads and pickerelweed as vegetation. Being a wader, the Gallinule is able to distribute its weight evenly to enable them walk on lily pads.

Nests are constructed from leaves and tree stems, and are built in a thicket, sawgrass or on a tussock that floats on the water. The purple Gallinules female will lay approximately 6 to 9 eggs that are cream in color with brownish spots. Both parents will assist in the 18 days incubation period, and have a strange ritual regarding this. When it is time to change over the incubating duties, the one Gallinule will bring the bird presently incubating the eggs a leaf. The leaf will then be placed within the nest, before the shift is changed over. Both the male and female will assist in feeding the chicks once they have hatched. The young are able to walk on the lily pads almost immediately and can enjoy a lifespan of approximately 22 years.

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