Become a better birder: Join an Overberg bird club
There’s a great way to become a better birder:
You could join one of the fun, active bird clubs that operate in the Overberg and beyond.
These clubs introduce you to expert birders from whom you can learn, they host outings (when lockdown allows for it), or online events when it doesn’t, and some even point out rare bird sightings and localities otherwise not available to the public. Many also send regular communications to you, such as magazines and newsletters containing tips and info for birders.
Here are some of the bird clubs operating in the Overberg (and beyond) that are affiliated to BirdLife South Africa.
Cape Bird Club
The club provides a home for birders at any level – from beginners to travelling birders and fanatics. The club hosts various outings that are only available to members. While most outings are in and around Cape Town, they do sometimes include the Overberg. Their events also include monthly bird counts at various wetlands.
When you sign up, you receive the informative magazine, Promerops – which is published three times a year, and contains excellent content regarding interesting sightings in the Cape, and the Cape Bird Club team also send a monthly e-newsletter.
Fees: R310/year for individual members (R230/year for senior citizens and students)
The BirdLife Overberg bird club’s in-person events and outings are currently on hold as a result of the Covid pandemic, but they do still host online Zoom seminars, featuring topics of interest to birders. They also host courses, such as an introduction to birds of prey and other identification courses.
The BirdLife Overberg Facebook page is very active, and features photos taken by members, while you can read more news and interesting articles via the Western Cape Birding website. They highlight Overberg bird sightings monthly via the website, and have an active WhatsApp group to share interesting sightings.
Fees: R235/year for individual members (R170/year for senior citizens)
Hermanus Bird Club
The Hermanus Bird Club is home to around 200 birders. This club offers regular walks and outings, as well as monthly evening meetings (when lockdown allows for it). They attract well-known birders to talk to their members and provide birding tips during these events. They also offer bird identification courses as well as an annual quiz evening.
Their members also actively participate in citizen science projects, including Coordinated Waterbird Counts (CWAC) and Coordinated Avifaunal Roadcounts (CAR) organised by the Animal Demography Unit of the University of Cape Town.
Fees: R150/person per year (R250/family)
Somerset West Bird Club
This bird club operates in and around the Helderberg basin, and as such, some of their activities and events take place in the Overberg. Club members and visitors meet once a month to listen to interesting talks (these take place via Zoom during lockdown). They also host monthly outings to birding locations, led by a guide to assist newer birders.
Club members also have access to The Batis, an informative magazine published every quarter, which includes a list of upcoming activities and other stories of interest. Aside from birding activities, club members support beach cleanup and recycling initiatives.
Fees: R140/person per year for an electronic copy of The Batis
Or R165/person per year for a posted copy.
For more info, visit: www.somersetwestbirdclub.co.za
Tygerberg Bird Club
We know the Tygerberg Bird Club generally operates beyond the Overberg’s borders. But this club has been instrumental in supporting Overberg projects affiliated to the OCG in the past, so we couldn’t leave them off this list. What’s more, some of their activities take place in the Overberg, such as the Coordinated Waterbird Counts (CWAC) at the Bot River Lagoon.
This club, which has been going since 1986, is extremely active, and already has a full line-up planned for the coming months. They host twice weekly excursions to find and identify special birds, camps at birding hotspots, bird identification courses, and presentations about birds and their environment (some of these presentations now take place via Zoom as a result of the pandemic). They also compile a quarterly newsletter called The Kite.
Fees: R200/person per year for an individual (R175 for senior members and students)
For more info, visit: www.tygerbergbirdclub.org
Images by Heather Dalton, LoveGreen Communications