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Ettienne Kotze, Gert Kotze, Brigid Crewe

TBC’s role in the celebration of World Wetlands Day in Majik Forest, held on 2 February 2024
The TBC were invited to set up a station near the upper gate of Majik Forest. The members accepting this honorary task to influence the young minds of 80 Grade 6 and 7 learners from Attie van Wyk primary School were Brigid Crewe, Ettienne Kotze and Gert Kotze. As birdwatchers usually do on excursions, we set out early with food, something to drink, camping chairs, table, gazebo, binoculars, and learning materials for the kids.
Brigid and Kevin did a great job in preparing laminated posters of 6 interesting and well-known birds associated with wetland environments. The posters had colour photographs on the one side and on the flipside the birds were sketched in black and white with their names in Afrikaans. The birds were the Kaapse Tiptol (Cape Bulbul), Janfrederik (Cape Robin-Chat), Grootringduif (Red-eyed Dove), Bleshoender (Moorhen), Muisvoël (White-backed Mousebird) en Rietduiker (Reed Cormorant).
We scouted for a nice shady tree in the demarcated area, seeing that it was a scorchingly hot day. It was sweaty work to carry in all our equipment to the chosen site for our station.


We were ready to go! The idea was to start the interaction with the learners and teachers by tapping into their existing knowledge about birds they hear and see every day at home and their rural school. Many of the children travel along wheat fields to school by bus. The first group of 15 arrived at 10h20 and there was a friendly meet and greet. Our impression was that the children were well behaved and keen to learn. The introduction to the interaction was showing them a picture of Blue
Cranes in a wheatfield and asking them what the relevance of these big birds were. A few bright learners knew that this beautiful bird was our national bird. We then played sound clips from our bird apps on our cell phones. This made such a big impact with the identification by vision and sound combined!

We then moved onto the laminated posters of 6 birds for the children to identify. We spent time identifying and giving general information on each of them. We also played the accompanying sound clips from our bird apps to the great delight of the learners. Many made the ‘aha’ remark “Is dit dan hoe hy klink?” It was also astonishing to see the learners’ faces light up when they made the connection between the bird and name when they flipped the laminated posters.

At this stage the learners and teachers were really invested and freely asked questions and spontaneously made their own contributions. They were open to a bit of general environmental education and were very interested in the posters, books and magazines on birds lying on the table. The learners were also given a chance to look through the available binoculars. Their “wow” responses were heartfelt and very special. We suggested that anybody can become a birder and a member of the
world-wide birding community and even the TBC!
The 10 minutes allocated to each group flew by, and when the last group passed through at 12h30 we had a feeling that we might just have made a little difference in the minds of the next generation! The event was of worth and should become part of TBC’s calendar-events.
Gert Kotze

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