The Cape Bird Club
National Bird Week celebrated at the West Coast Field Study Centre on the 3rd May 2005
text by Penny Dichmont (English teacher)
LEAP Maths and Science School visit the Centre.
As a school we decided to take part in various activities during National Birding Week. Our main event was to take the whole school to the West Coast Field Study Centre in Brooklyn. We arranged to go in the afternoon of Tuesday 3rd May and spend a few hours there, so that the students could observe the birds in a wetland area and draw or write about what they had seen.
Phumlani Xhali, Sonwabo Tebe,
Siminikiwe Shasha, Lulonke Kelepu
Frank Wygold asked Gavin Lawson (Cape Bird Club) to help show the students around the wetland area. We had a 100% turn-out of the 112 students and travelled in two buses to the centre. Seven LEAP teachers came as well. We were extremely lucky with the weather, as it had been cloudy and cold in the morning, but turned out to be a lovely sunny cool afternoon.
We split the students into a junior and senior group. The juniors did a short walk, followed by an introductory lecture by Frank, and then settled down in the long, soft grass by the edge of the vlei to draw and write their observations. They seemed to enjoy relaxing and soaking up the sunshine and the sights and sounds of nature.
Sehle Kehlewu, Wendy Jokazi, Jenet Vice and others getting the feel of the place in the soft grass.
A Grade 10 student wrote:
My nice day
I arrived in the bird area
I sat down near the dam
I saw my favourite birds, coots,
The sound they make
Its forehead looks like a security of the National Bank,
Zolile Mthintso (18).
Red Knobbed Coot.
After a short introductory talk from Frank, the
Seniors walked to the second wetland area (the southern water body) with Gavin.
I noticed that some students were using the little black hardcover notebooks, which Kirsten Louw (Cape Bird Club and FitzPatrick Institute) had given to the Bird Club when he had visited us the week before. He had shown them his own jottings and sketches and had inspired them to keep their own notebooks. None of us knew that it was almost the last time we would see him. However the ideas he shared are an important part of his legacy to us.
On their return to the vlei near the centre, the five team leaders handed out snacks and juices to their groups, who were beginning to look hot and thirsty.
A highlight of the day was when Ndumisa in Grade 11, a Bird Club committee member, who has taken to birding like a Dabchick to water, spotted a bird on a dead tree in the distance.
He asked me what it was. "That bird over here?" I asked.
I called as many of the committee as I could, to come and look, and they were all thrilled - the first time for all of them to see a kite. Later, it obligingly ate its prey, as a handful of the students watched.
The LEAP Bird Club Committee members
Dalikhaya Mgoqi and Ndumiso Nkozwana
Ndumisa and two Grade 12 Bird Club committee members were keen to get as close as possible and managed to get good views, each with a pair of binoculars. Thembalethu had looked up "Kite" in the index of Newman's, but was querying my diagnosis.
Bulelwa Thanga, Lungiswa Gwaai and
Sive Mkiva were enjoying the sun,
Fortunately, after a few minutes he realized that he was looking at a Black Kite in his book, and that the Blackshouldered Kite appeared about twenty pages on.
(There were also excellent sketchs by Phumulo Noyi, Bandile Mhlola, Thobile Yilo and Phumlani Xhal).
The next day, another keen Grade 11 boy passed me in the corridor.
"Thandisile told me about the kite, Miss Dichmont," he said.