Update from the TBC ringing unit
2020 ringing was impacted by Covid 19 constraints, conservation practices and changes in land-use
Ringing operations were brought to an abrupt halt when the total lock-down was announced. The
constraints were prolonged as the nature reserves remained closed to the public for a few months.
However, being dedicated ringers, we negotiated access (subject to safety measures) to the three
farms that we had been frequenting. But these sites too, had been subjected to changes in land use.
The fields at Rocklands had been ploughed to provide grazing and the river had been bulldozed to
clear reeds and alien plants. The indigenous vegetation and the large dam at Groot Phesantekraal
had been fenced off to hold some handsome antelope. The eucalyptus trees and riverside bush at
Goedeontmoeting had been cleared to eradicate aliens, save water and also to improve grazing.
To add to the impact of recent changes, there had been a controlled burn at the Welgemoed dam in
the Tygerberg Nature Reserve. The southern section of the Durbanville Nature Reserve was also
burned to remove very dense old fynbos. This action was followed by the cutting down of numerous
large dense bushes at the Botterblom Nature Reserve as a precursor to a future controlled burn.
It was not all doom and gloom and it was pleasing to know that suitable alternative sites were close
at hand and would provide interim solutions until the vegetation had resprouted at the recently
burned reserves. The Uitkamp Wetland has a walking trail that is located at the curve in Sunbird
Crescent, D ‘Urbanvale, and access is available to trees, bush and reedbeds. Mist nets erected at this
site have caught an attractive array of species, including a handsome Burchell’s Coucal.
The other alternative venue is the Bracken Nature Reserve that is located on a natural rise and is
also further elevated because a portion is on top of a rehabilitated landfill site. The first visit was on
an extremely cold and misty winter’s day which saw very few birds venturing about in the gloom. A
Peregrine Falcon in a tall alien tree kept an eye on proceedings and undoubtably caused the resident
birds to maintain a low profile. The second visit was on a crisp but clear morning in spring and the
increased bird activity resulted in a fine selection of species, including two retraps from our previous
visit.
Our annual pilgrimage is a ringing session on Heritage Day at Avondale in Durbanville where the
Ronel’s amazing garden is a drawcard to host of species, including the handsome male Malachite
and Amethyst Sunbirds while the females’ somewhat drab plumage provides an identity challenge
for novice birders.
Regular monitoring of fixed sites is important since longevity and site fidelity can be measured in
long time series, as illustrated by the following records:
1. Cape Robin Chat ringed at Durbanville Nature Reserve on 17/09/2014 and retrapped at the
Reserve on 26/05/2021 (6 years and 8 months)
2. Cape Robin Chat ringed at Tygerberg Nature Reserve on 05/06/2013 and retrapped at the Reserve
on 28/07/2021 (8 years and 1 month)
3. Karoo Prinia ringed at Durbanville Nature Reserve on 10/02/2016 and retrapped at the Reserve on
04/08/2021 (5 years and 5 months)
Yes, we are living in times of change. However, the TBC ringing unit has been up to the challenge,
and is also very grateful to the members of the TBC for their continued encouragement and
generous support.
Gerald Wingate

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