FoBCA Newsletter 2021 No 1
Welcome to a new year – a year that we all entered hesitantly and with trepidation. We trust the coming year will bring solutions to many challenges and that we can have some kind of normalcy again in visiting our beautiful beaches, socializing with friends and family, and going to events. Robert Frost, the Pulitzer prize-winning poet wrote: ‘In three words I can sum up everything I have learnt about life: it goes on.’ And indeed it does. Conservation’s challenges remain, and in some cases, have grown. At the FoBCA we are continuing with projects as far as we can, and you can read all about them below. Please enjoy our first newsletter of 2021, and we hope to see you all at some stage during the coming year.
Beach Clean-ups - Update
After the beach clean-ups in the last quarter of 2020, in which many of you participated so keenly, the FoBCA has continued formalizing the Beach Clean-up project. We tested some litter-picking apparatus, established relationships with key entities in the area that can support the cause, planned this year’s clean-up calendar etc. One of the important factors was also to renew the Green Coast status of the coastal Reserve area with a focus on beach-cleanups (previously it was the oyster-catcher monitoring).
We would really like to thank all the FoBCA members who came to help in the clean-ups. Some members came to help nearly every day - in rain, wind or sunshine. We posted progress on the FoBCA Facebook page on a daily basis, and the pictures of what was found at the various clean-up spots, tell a story. Please go to our Facebook page for some photographs. Click here for the report by the Reserve staff on the last clean-up of the year (23-28 Nov 2020) along the Reserve coastal area. It makes for interesting (and shocking!) reading.
The next beach clean-up was planned for the end of January 2021, but can unfortunately not happen due to the beaches being closed. It does not mean that we can’t do our own bit as members of the public though. One of our members, Natalie Bossi, was so affected by the beach clean-ups that she sent us the following about her experience:
Is the content worth the wrapping? - Reflections on a beach clean-up
‘I have always had much admiration and envy for the inventors of the world and similarly I have held in high regard whomever it was that invented the straw, which happens to be a Mr Martin Stone, who patented it in 1888. It was, however, conceptually in use during the time of the ancient Sumerians. After several beach cleaning excursions like this one, I now believe that Mr Stone’s invention is ubiquitous and prolific in the worst possible way. It is with sadness and despair that one participates in these kind of exercises on the one hand, and on the other hand it is with some hope and relief that we see the results of awareness raising campaigns like the one launched by the Two Oceans Aquarium, which aims to discourage people from using ANY plastic, including specifically, straws. The horror that the pollution of these straws has caused, has been graphically illustrated and brought home by the story of a turtle that had one of these things stuck up its nostril and reaching right into its throat. So, yes, we found many, many straws, but also …. lollipop sticks - they outnumbered even the straws! Short thin blue plastic sticks and longer thicker white plastic abominations, hundreds and thousands of them. How to deal with that? It brought to mind my trip to Singapore many years ago, where chewing gum is banned. Transgressing this ban carries a hefty fine and possible jail term. If Singaporeans can live without chewing gum, surely we can survive without lollipops! Or at least make the sticks edible. And while we are on the subject of a sugar addiction, perhaps it is time we take on a new buying and consuming motto: “Is the content worth the packaging?”, because the size of sweets today is not worth the amount of packaging they come in. Do they really all have to be individually wrapped in something which apparently constitutes bits of plastic, aluminum and paper mixed together, making it difficult, tedious and expensive to recover each constituent for recycling? After extricating tens of these tiny little pieces of sweet wrappings, it seems the appropriate time for humanity as a whole to swear off sweets completely. “Is the content really worth the packaging?” is the question you need to be asking yourself, before you unwrap one more pollupop (lollipop) or open up one more unrecyclably wrapped sweet? Think before you buy, think before you eat, think before you carelessly chuck away!’
In addition to not littering, there are many things you can do to help keep our area clean, one of them being to start ‘plogging’! That is, picking up litter while you walk or jog. Seriously, once you started noticing litter, your mind starts focusing on it, and you can’t help seeing how much litter is around – not just on the beaches, but on the sidewalks of suburban streets and the green belts in the suburbs. Take a bag when next you go for a stroll, and pick up some litter. Let’s work towards a cleaner environment for all.
It has again come to our attention that there are certain aircraft (aeroplanes, helicopters, motorised gliders etc) that are flying very low above the Reserve, or along the beach (or sea close to the beach). These aircraft, especially the helicopters, operate much more frequently during holiday times and have done so again in this past December. We as the FoBCA want to lodge a formal complaint to the appropriate authorities about the detrimental effects of low-flying aircraft in our area, for the following reasons:
- It endangers one of the few habitats of the African Black Oystercatchers along the coastal Reserve strip, traumatising the birds
- It threatens the safety of our many water sport enthusiasts: Kite and wind surfers, microlights, motorised gliders, even the public flying fun kites
- It skirts the edge of BBNR boundaries and causes stress to the wildlife in the Reserve and adjoining property, both antelope and birdlife
- The extraordinary noise level of especially the Huey helicopter is unlike other quieter craft that regularly fly over.
- It causes extreme noise disturbance to residents of Atlantic Beach Estate and the rest of Melkbosstrand - the noise reverberates (echoes) off the hill and intensifies when the Huey turns sharply in the vicinity of what is otherwise a peaceful residential neighbourhood.
SANCCOB – rescuing cormorant chicks
You might have read or heard about this rescue project, but one of the well-known conservation bodies in the Table View Area, SANCCOB, has a big challenge at hand. They have to try and save nearly 2000 Cormorant chicks that were left by their breeding parents on Robben Island. Cormorants are known to be a challenging species to care for in a rehabilitation facility. Many were in very poor condition when they were rescued; the rescue entailed capture and transportation by boat and then road to our SANCCOB facility in Table View, all of which would have induced stress responses on the young chicks. Sadly, they lost approximately 9% of the rescued chicks within the first 24 hours of admission – a critical time in an emergency rescue response. Good news though is that 92 chicks of the 800g-900g Cape cormorant chicks were moved to one of the aviaries erected to house them on Sunday 24 Jan. It was their first day out in the open with ample space to spread their wings.
SANCCOB is constantly calling for support in one form or another and the public has been wonderful in donating items, financially, and volunteering. The rescue will still continue for a while, so please continue to support them, especially with financial donations at https://sanccob.co.za/donate.php. Their latest report states: "The hand-rearing & successful rehabilitation of each chick is largely dependent on how each bird responds to treatment; immunocompromised and sick birds will generally take longer to reach the required release criteria. We are pleased to share that the amount of deaths and sick chicks in intensive care lessens every day as their bodies strengthen as a result of specialised vet care, rehabilitation and feeding well. Financial contributions make it possible to care for and feed these chicks, and enables us to erect additional structures to accommodate them as they grow."
SANCCOB’s facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SANCCOBSavesSeabirds has some very interesting videos on the chicks being fed, how they are inoculated, and how they are ‘testing their wings’. It is lovely to see them grow day by day, all thanks to the public, community and SANCCOB.
In memoriam - Major Anthony Gordon (1927 - 2020)
It was with sadness that we heard of the passing of Major Anthony Gordon in July 2020. Major Gordon was well known to many of the FoBCA members, specifically with regards to the Battle of Blaauwberg of 1806. Major Gordon was always interested in military history matters and during his retirement developed a special passion for it. His areas of particular interest were military history of the Cape (the battles of Blaauwberg and Muizenberg, the sinking of The Birkenhead, and the Cape coastal defences) and particularly the Boer War. This interest came from his father having fought in the Boer War and having his diaries of almost the entire war. He did extensive research on this and also visited many of the places his father had mentioned. From 1989 –1997 he was on the British War Graves Committee of the then National Monuments Council, which was responsible for recording and maintaining graves from the Boer War and earlier. Having joined the Cape Town branch of the South African Military History Society in 1983, he later served on its committee for many years and granted honorary life membership. Overall he gave many talks and presentations about what he had discovered to many different organisations and also organised excursions. He gave considerable help with information when he could to the different organisations, including the FoBCA, was involved with different sites and this was always greatly appreciated. As a tribute we loaded one of the talks given by Major Gordon on the Battle of Blaauwberg at an FoBCA 2011 event onto our website - you can watch it here. Major Gordon’s memorial service was held in December, and you can watch it here.
The latest Blaauwberg Nature Reserve Quarterly report is now available for your perusal on our website here. It contains interesting information on the repair and maintenance of the military road up the Hill. People often ask when Montispectus will be available again for bookings, but this is dependent on the road being repaired. Also interesting is to read how the Reserve staff keep themselves fit for duty – quite a challenge!
Please do not forget to take a stroll on the Coastal Dune trail starting opposite Eerste Steen. It is still open to the public (free to FoBCA members). At the moment,Limonium peregrinum (Afr: Papierblom, Eng: Sea Lavender) is blooming there in abundance. The indigenous Limonium peregrinum occurs naturally along the coastal dunes and on maritime sandy flats in low vegetation from the Cape Peninsula northwards to Clanwilliam in a relatively harsh environment. They are tough plants; able to survive prolonged droughts, brackish soils as well as coastal winds. In their natural habitat they often grow very close to the sea in pure sand. Limonium belongs to the Plumbaginaceae family. The genus gets its name from the Greek word leimon, meaning a meadow. The specific name peregrinum is Latin and means foreign, strange, alien or exotic.
Coming FOBCA Events
|Sat 27 Feb 2021||Two Hills walk – same contact details as above|
Please always keep in mind that the Alien Hacking team who operate in the Reserve on Tuesday mornings, always need help and support. Please contact Eddie Heimann at 082 924 4778 to join this outdoor gym!