Get close to nature and join UP’s Bird Count

Posted on May 24, 2018

Get close to nature in the Winter sun, on Saturday, 26 May at the University of Pretoria’s (UP) Bi-Annual Bird Count at the Hillcrest Sports Campus.

In 2015, the University participated in a three-year programme to rehabilitate the Hartebeestspruit, which runs through its Hillcrest Campus. The Hartebeestspruit was damaged as a result of two major rainfall events in 2011 and 2012.

According to Ilze Ueckermann, Manager: Waste and Environmental Management at UP’s Department of Facilities Management, in the first two years, the University focused on ‘the reshaping, stabilisation and planting of riparian and aquatic locally indigenous flora. Planting was conducted to recreate the natural habitats that would have occurred along the spruit prior to the damage caused during the two rainfall events, but has been modified to cater for the storm water impacts of the modern environment.’

UP’s Facilities Management hoped that this would attract bird species to the area. Subsequently, indigenous bird species have started to nest and roost there. ‘This was evident in the increased number of Heron species typically found around water environments,’ said Ms Ueckermann.

‘Initially we held a census to establish what species was available prior to the rehabilitation. It then changed to a seasonal event where summer and winter species were compared. As we are now in the third year, we can compare annual findings to see how the rehabilitation process positively impacted on the surrounding environment,’ she explained.

The bird census is conducted by volunteers and bird enthusiasts, who are divided into three groups. Each group walks a separate section of the Hartebeestspruit and identifies birds in that location. ‘We provide them with a list of species known to be found around the Hartebeestspruit. Once we receive the forms back we compile a combined list and then compare it with other seasons and other years,’ said Ms Ueckermann.

In 2017, new species that were previously not on the list for the campus were identified and included Little Egret, Hamerkop, Black Crake, Woodland Kingfisher and African Jacana.

Another observation was that some bird numbers increased possibly due to a change in the surroundings. During the winter count, 449 birds were counted and during the spring bird count, 695 birds were counted.

Details of the event:

Date: Saturday, 26 May 2018

Time: 07:00 – 11:00

Venue: Hillcrest Sports Campus

Click here to see more detail

- Author Ilze Ueckermann

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