The Minutes of the 68th Annual General Meeting of the Cape Bird Club
Held at Nassau Centre, Groote Schuur High School
on Thursday 14 April 2016
Meeting Chair: Priscilla Beeton
Meeting Secretary: Barbara Jones
Members Present: Priscilla Beeton, Julian Hare, Dave Whitelaw, Cheryl Leslie, Joan Ackroyd, Johan Schlebusch, Joy Fish, Barbara Jones, S. Becker, Simon Fogarty, Felicity Ellmore, Sylvia Ledgard, M. Botha, Kaye Foskett, Fazlyn Fester, Mary Shears, Cliff Shears, Jan Brown, Eion Brown, Shelley Brown, Charles Foster, Annabelle Foster, Dick Barnes, Fiona Jones, Otto Schmidt, Sandy Schmidt, Keith Breetge, Ian MacFarlane, Jane MacFarlane, John Lombard, Linda Merrett, Rosemary Nathan, Andrea Benn, Cherrie Klasser, Gill Ford, A. Lomberg, W.G Greig, Paul Jenkins, Catherine Jenkins, Mel Tripp, Brian van der Walt, Nikki Nupen, Peter Nupen, Cedric Dallas, Jo Hobbs, John Fincham, Susan Perkins, Heather Howell, Shirley Dobson, Des Lazar, Sylvia Ledgard, Linda McIntosh, Lindsey MacDonald, John MacDonald, Sally Pegrume, G. Rodgers, Marje Hemp, Jonathon Hemp, Liz Haw, Mike Haw, Anne Greig.
- Apologies: Peter Welch, Jeff Seekings, Stella Fogarty, Hayley MacIntosh, Jean Eva, Sue Smith, George Smith
Quorum: A quorum was declared and the 68th Annual General Meeting opened with a warm welcome by the Chairperson.
- Confirmation of Minutes:
The minutes of the AGM dated 12 March 2015, and of the SGMs of 11 June 2015 and 14 January 2016, were approved. Proposed by Johan Schlebush; seconded by Vernon Head
- Matters Arising from Special General meetings of 11 June 2015 and 14 January 2016
3.1. The CBC Constitution has been updated to conform to the new BLSA Constitution dated 21 March 2015. The revised constitution was approved by the meeting.
Proposed by Peter Steyn; seconded by Sylvia Ledgaard and Dave Whitelaw
3.2 It was agreed that the CBC sign an affiliation agreement with BLSA and this was done on 9 Jan 2016
3.3 The proposal regarding voting rights on the WCBF were tabled at the WCBF AGM on 6 Feb 2016. A decision on the matter is still pending.
- Chairperson’s Report:
The full report for the period March 2015 to March 2016 can be found on the Cape Bird Club website. The report was proposed by Vernon Head and seconded by Heather Howell and Simon Fogarty.
- Conservation Committee Chairperson’s Report
Dave Whitelaw presented the Conservation Committee Report. The full report for the period March 2015 to March 2015 can be found on the Cape Bird club website.
- Treasurer’s Financial Report
A summary of the financial report was presented by the new Treasurer, Joy Fish, who thanked Julian Hare for his work in preparing the financial statements and for his support for her in her new role.
Assets were up compared to the previous financial year, although subscriptions were slightly down because of a drop in membership of about 30 couples in the under 30 age group. In response to a member’s question, the hire of the Nassau School hall for member meetings cost R6 600 per quarter. Another question was whether some of the money in the Sustainability Fund should be used in conservation – this would be discussed at the next CBC Committee meeting.
Adoption of the Financial Report: Proposed by Kay Foskett; seconded by Vernon Head
- Election of Committee Members
There have been no new nominations. The following members were elected to serve on the committee for the next 12 months:
Priscilla Beeton, Julian Hare, Dave Whitelaw, Cheryl Leslie, Joan Ackroyd, Johan Schlebusch, Joy Fish, Barbara Jones.
- Any other business
There being no further business the meeting was declared closed at 9.15pm.
The above minutes refer to the Chair’s report. This is copied below for easy reference.
CAPE BIRD CLUB Chairman’s Report March 2015 – March 2016
Note: Abbreviations used: CBC – Cape Bird Club
BLSA – BirdLife South Africa
WCBF – Western Cape Birding Forum
President Steyn, ladies and gentlemen, the scope of my report will run from March 2015 until March 2016 – a slightly longer time period because of the postponement of the AGM from March to April because of the various holidays and other activities taking place in March.
What a year this has been with some big decisions to be made and work to be done because of changes in the structure and governance of BirdLife South Africa. These included drawing up a new constitution and revisiting the way we work with the Western Cape Birding Forum within the new structures.
At a Special General meeting on 11 June 2015 we presented to you some of the changes in the Constitution of BLSA. Bird Clubs could now decide whether or not to continue their affiliations with BLSA and also individual members could now choose between being a full member of BLSA (that is paying membership fees to both BLSA and CBC) or being an affiliate member (paying membership fees to CBC only). It was voted that the CBC should continue its affiliation with BLSA. By supporting the BLSA our club would be supporting conservation efforts far more powerfully than it ever could as a lone club. Also through BLSA we have an international connection to BirdLife International. BLSA has also continued to administer our membership data base and subscriptions for which we are most grateful because in a club of our size this would be a monumental task.
The change in the BLSA structure has also had an impact on the WCBF. More than ever this forum of 17 clubs which meets three times a year, plays an important co-ordinating function between the BLSA and the region’s bird clubs and is the main and formal conduit through which matters of conservation concern in the region are communicated to BLSA. We on the committee continue to have concerns about how this is going to happen in a way that is fair to the members of our club. We called a Special General Meeting in January to gain members’ approval of a proposal to be put to the WCBF regarding the weighting of voting rights of different sized clubs represented on the forum. This was put on the table at the WCBF AGM in February but the matter remains unresolved, with the decision being taken to revisit our proposal at the next Forum meeting. We on the outgoing committee still believe that the one club one vote system on the Forum that some other clubs want, is a flawed system for members of the larger clubs because it minimises their input and impact. Our club represents about a third of members represented through their clubs on the Forum with the other 16 clubs representing the other two thirds.
While we are on the WCBF we need to thank very much two members of our club who served with distinction on the executive committee of that body and held high the name of the CBC. They have both just stepped down: Vernon Head chaired the committee from the inception of the Western Cape Birding Forum and Sylvia was the amazingly organised secretary and the fount of all knowledge about BirdLife South Africa. Thank you to both of you.
The current chairman is Dr Anton Odendal from Hermanus region and his vice-chair is Dr Mark Brown of Plettenberg Bay who will also be the WCBF’s elected representative to sit on the Executive of BLSA.
This year has been a good year – with wonderful outings, camps and evening talks – all giving members a chance to share and grow as birders. But we need to reflect also on those no longer with us. We remember and record the passing of a number of our members:
Helm van Ziyl died in March. Many of the older members will remember him. A dedicated and experienced birder, he was a member of our club for many, many years and in fact took out life membership in the 1980s. He served on the committee for a number of years and was vice-chairman for a short time in the 1990’s. Until quite recently he was still providing his services as legal advisor to the club. He travelled widely and many of his trip reports appeared in Promerops. We offer our condolences to his wife, Gillian.
Jane Underhill, wife of Professor Les Underhill of the ADU passed away after a brave fight against cancer on 10th March. Our condolences go to Les and all the family.
We lost a faithful club member with the passing in August of Margaret Barnes, wife of Eric and mother of Gillian. She attended virtually every evening meeting and in fact was at a bird club course just a few days before she died. Eric and Gillian, best wishes to you both.
Isobel Taylor, a very active birder in the 50s and 60s passed away in January 2016, and she left her large collection of birding books to the club.
Our condolences also go to Vernon Head who lost his beloved dad last weekend.
Our club membership numbers have risen slightly to just above 700 – but this is still many fewer than five years ago. The committee continues to look at strategies to encourage new members and to keep them once they have joined, while, at the same time, looking after those who have belonged to the CBC for a long time. I am sure many of you enjoyed reading about our young birders in the last issue of Promerops – this was part of our effort to encourage young people and their parents. These youngsters will be the CBC of the future. We as a club have also supported students at CPUT by awarding a prize to Dale Slabbert who produced the most outstanding research project for the year (chosen by the CPUT lecturers). At our Quiz evening we honoured Joel Simons who authored and self-published a book entitled The Birds of the West Coast National Park.
The lifeblood of a bird club is the shared enjoyment of the outdoors and the fun of birding with like-minded people – and the committee and portfolio holders have worked hard to come up with fresh venues for outings, new destinations for camps and new course topics and speakers at the evening meetings.
For both our outings programmes and our evening presentations we have Helen Fenwick to thank. She is living mostly in Struisbaai but still competently and willingly arranges these activities. Our thanks to Helen who has done and continues to do a splendid job so willingly. It has not always been too easy as she also travels a lot!
Our evening talks programme has been amazingly varied. It was a coup to get Ian Sinclair to speak about Madagascar. We have also had birding adventures in countries north of our borders, in Sri Lanka and in Mozambique. We learned about the conservation and ecology of a variety of birds from the tiniest sunbirds in our gardens to vultures and mighty martial eagles. We have looked at fynbos and invasive species. We have sat back and been gently entertained by an evening of bird calls. We thank all our speakers who have entertained and educated us with brilliant presentations: Ian Sinclair, Otto Schmidt, Vernon Head, Mel Tripp, Harold Bloch, Ulrike Irlich, Brian Vanderwalt, Gerald Wingate, Rowen van Eeden, Kevin Shaw, Sean Privett and Anina Heystek. Many of our speakers are club members – so remember if you have a story to tell please offer to share it with us, your fellow club members!
While on the topic of evening meetings I must thank Peter Steyn for being our official ‘praise singer’. Thank you, Peter, for always being on hand to thank our guest speakers.
Most of our monthly outings this year have been attended by more people than in the last few years! This is in large part because of the reminder newsletters that Cheryl Leslie sends out but it is also a tribute to our faithful and good leaders. I wonder if everyone knows what effort our leaders go to in planning their outings – with at least one recce and many phone calls and e-mails to ensure that everything runs smoothly! We thank the monthly Sunday outing leaders: Felicity Ellmore (who introduced us to a new venue – Driftsands Nature Reserve [by the way this reserve is the venue for this month’s outing], Gerald Wingate, Brian Vanderwalt, John Magner, Peter Nupen, Jo Hobbs who co-ordinated the Pearl Valley Golf Estate outing near Paarl – another new venue, Mel Tripp, Jessie Walton, Graham Pringle, and Vernon Head. We also thank our mid-week outings leaders: Linda Hibbin , Joan Ackroyd , Dave Whitelaw, Simon Fogarty, Otto Schmidt, Heather Howell, Margaret MacIver, John Magner and Kim Wright.
Merle Chalton has continued to be the face of the CBC for new and beginner birders through her legendary first Saturday of the month Rondevlei outings. Her outings are also regularly attended by our more experienced club members who simply enjoy getting out. In recent months because of work being done at Rondevlei and low water levels the venue has had to be changed to Strandfontein.
In the year under review we had three local camps. The Anne Gray Memorial Camp at Kuifkopvisvanger near Veldrif took place just before the last AGM but falls within the scope of this report. That camp was initiated by Anne Gray before her death. It was decided to honour the memory of this wonderful lady to have one of our camps each year termed the Anne Gray Memorial Camp. Last year the Veldrif Camp led by Mel Tripp and Simon Fogarty was attended by 41 people, the largest camp for a long time. There was a most successful camp in September attended by 33 members at Uylenvlei Resort situated about 15 kilometres from Stanford. John Magner and Graham Pringle, the leaders, guided us through Uilenskraalmond / Gansbaai and the Stanford Hills. The third camp was the Family Camp at Geelbek Stables in West Coast National Park in October, organised by Andrew and Loraine Codd, Cathy Jenkins and me – and attended by 6 families with a total of 11 children and 13 adults, all parents except Cathy and me. We hope this was a precursor of many such camps.
We thank the International Camps Committee made up of Johan Schlebusch, Mel Tripp, Vernon Head and Otto Schmidt. There has just been a birding trip to Costa Rica – which we hope to hear about in the next few months.
The Courses Committee, chaired by Johan Schlebusch, consisted of Joan Ackroyd, Gill Ford, Mel Tripp, Vernon Head, Judith Crosswell, Cathy Jenkins and me. We hosted three very worthwhile courses. The first course was superb – a half day one on 1 August – on woodpeckers, honey guides and barbets – presented by Duncan Butchart, an entertaining and knowledgeable presenter. We tried a new venue, Erin Hall in Rondebosch which proved both accessible and pleasant. The second course, held over 3 Saturdays and a Sunday in August and September, was the Beginners Course presented by Heather Howell at Herschel Girls Prep School. Heather is such a good teacher and many of her course attendees (Both CBC and U3A) become very competent birders because of their excellent grounding and many also join our Club. The third course, a full day one, was held at the Biodiversity Environmental Education Centre in Mouille Point on 31 October. Entitled ‘Diurnal Birds of Prey’, it was presented by David Allan, a highly acclaimed birder and curator of the Durban Natural History Museum. We had quite a number of non-Bird Club members at both courses – something that the committee viewed as a very good thing – not only because it meant we are reaching out but also many of these people were able to see something of who we are and what we are doing and they are potential members.
We owe a great deal to the people who do our advertising for us: Cheryl Leslie in the newsletter, Gavin Lawson on the web page, Julian Hare on our facebook page and Linda Johnstone who has quietly in the background been plugging away at getting advertisements about CBC functions into the news media. Then too there are the flyers and posters designed by Mel Tripp and distributed by various members to their local libraries and gardening shops and of course by all our members who take flyers home and pass them on to family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Thank you to all of you.
At the end-of-year quiz evening held at Pinelands Town Hall, Mel Tripp as our quiz-master, really challenged our knowledge on birds and birding. The winning team was a formidable one made up of the Codd and Buckham families – and what was especially nice was to see the children taking part! Thank you to Mel and his team and also to all the photographers who submitted photos to be shared during the evening.
Our annual Fundraiser at the Theatre on the Bay, again organised by Helen Fenwick, was a one man show by Pieter Dirk Uys. Thank you to all who bought tickets for themselves and who sold tickets to friends. With this effort we were able to raise a considerable amount to support conservation projects.
Promerops is the informative and entertaining mouthpiece of our club. Fiona Jones has produced three fantastic issues of Promerops over the last year. In the beginning as she was finding her feet as editor, she was supported by Jo Hobbs who willingly shared her expertise and contacts. Since then Fiona has just “flown” with the editorship! She has really valued being able to call on what she calls her “Promerops Photographer Pool” – a group who come rushing to her aid whenever she needs a bird photo for the magazine. (Thank you Peter Steyn, Otto Schmidt, Graham Pringle, John Fincham, John Magner, Jessie Walton, Carin Malan) She asked me to tell you that she would welcome with open arms any other keen photographers who would like to join the Photographer Pool. Others who give regular input are Helen Fenwick with her programme of forthcoming events, Felicity Ellmore with her rare sightings column and Dennis Randall who looks after the advertising which helps in a small way to offset the production costs. Joan Ackroyd very efficiently sees to the printing of the address labels and delivers the envelopes to Quasar Automail, a small mailing house in Bellville. Its work generates funds for the Quasar Trust, which supports a residential care facility for quadriplegics in Parow. Using their services is a win-win situation for both the CBC and Quasar Trust, and I mention this in detail as I think it good for members to know that the production of their club magazine supports a community project. Fiona herself has taken on the task of doing the layout and desktop publishing of Promerops – so we no longer need to employ a finishing/proofing artist to do this. This results in a saving in production costs of about R4000 per Promerops issue. Thank you, to the whole Promerops team and especially Fiona. And of course we thank all the contributors of articles without whom there would be no magazine. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, your expertise and your experiences.
I have already mentioned the e-newsletter. Here I formally thank Cheryl Leslie. Do not under-estimate the amount of time that this important communication tool takes to produce – and Cheryl is always so ready to send out additional news snippets and programme changes besides the main monthly newsletter. Some interesting statistics about the newsletter: 645 people subscribe to the newsletter of whom about 90% are club members. Sadly though about half who receive it do not actually open it! If you do not yet subscribe to the newsletter – especially if you go on outings or even attend evening meetings, you may well want to give Cheryl your e-mail address to add to the mailing list – and then please do open it and read it.
Cheryl is also one of the keepers of the CBC Facebook page – along with Julian Hare. Another important communication tool, it reaches out to both members and non-members and helps spread the credibility of the CBC. It is a tool that the Committee feels is important in our efforts to draw in younger members by being relevant and where they are at. There are at present about 1366 members although only a small percentage of these are CBC members.
Julian Hare is also leading the committee in looking at various options for an updated and new-look website. With regards to the present website, we must thank Gavin Lawson our webmaster, for the way he keeps the website up to date with new items of interest and for preserving on it important historical information and data. He always responds quickly when asked to post something new! Thank you, both Gavin and Julian.
Patrick Riley has over the last few years so improved the quality of the sound and projection at our evening meetings. He is there faithfully at our evening meetings and our courses, taking time to set up equipment and doing his best to make it perfect. This year we bought a new computer to improve the compatibility of our equipment. Now an advert: Please, we need the help of someone to assist Patrick. It does not mean that you would have to be there every month but at least we would have a back-up when he is unable to be there. He will give full training!
We have so many people quietly working away behind the scenes to make our club run smoothly and effectively: too many to mention everyone by name. I thank you all for your help, dedication and loyalty.
Sylvia Ledgard is our Information Officer, answering the club’s telephone and dealing with enquiries. She organises the hall bookings and the tea roster for evening meetings. She also so readily supports the committee with her experience, her knowledge and her wise advice with regards to matters historical, constitutional and to do with BLSA.
We call often on Jo Hobbs for her guidance and expertise. She has been very helpful with comments and input regarding the drawing up of the new Constitution and has also been there in the background assisting with and advising on Promerops production.
Gavin and Anne Greig continue to run the book sales. They work hard to ensure to ensure that the table is well stocked with the latest books and books relevant to the courses. Paul and Cathy Jenkins run the general retail and memorabilia table, faithfully setting up their stock at evening meetings. They have also set up quite a trade for second hand books and magazines. Both these stalls bring in some income for the Club.
We owe a lot to the folk who make and serve tea, coffee and biscuits at our evening meetings (led by Sylvia Ledgard)and at courses (Gill Ford and Beryl Riley).
John Fincham continues to keep the slide library intact.
We all know how important it is to support citizen science projects because their invaluable and up-to- date data on birds enable policy makers to make informed policy decisions. Many of our members are involved in monthly and quarterly bird counts and we thank the following members who co-ordinate them: Dick Barnes at Strandfontein, Eric Barnes at Wildevoelvlei, Yvonne Weiss at Paarl Bird Sanctuary, Dick Bos at Athlone Waste Water Treatment Plant, Gavin Lawson at Zandvlei (and he also arranges the monthly hacks), Koos Retief at Rietvlei, John Magner at Kirstenbosch. We also thank all the citizen scientists in our club who assist them. Peter Nupen after 7 years as the Sabap2 Coordinator of the Western Cape, stood down last year in July. Peter, however, continues to atlas himself along with numerous other club members.
(Just by the way the ADU at UCT with CBC is planning two citizen science days in June and July to look at how we can all become involved in citizen science projects and also on the specifics of atlasing and how to do it. I hope many members will support this initiative.)
Linda Hibbin continues to co-ordinate the Kirstenbosch Bird Walks which were started by Anne Gray during the centenary year of Kirstenbosch. We thank her for continuing this important service. She herself leads some of the walks but also has a faithful team of volunteers. (including Otto Schmidt, Simon Fogarty, Brian Vanderwalt, Mariana Delport, Cheryl Faull, Dennis Laidler, Graham Pringle, Cathy Jenkins, Gill Ford and Peter Steyn.) In January they had John Bowie come along and film the walk for an internet series called Bird Matters – https://youtu.be/S5ApGjyWYDk?t=14 ).
I need now thank the Main Committee and their assistants. This committee has worked exceptionally well together and my year as chairman, because of their support and hard work in their allotted portfolios, has been made all the easier. Johan Schlebusch has been a great vice chairman with his knowledge and experience of corporate governance. He also chairs the International Camps Committee. Julian Hare was official treasurer until the end of August, a post he filled for 8 years from 2008. He resigned as Treasurer because he wanted time to focus on membership issues and also on the development of a new-look website. He is also the Cape Bird Club’s Facebook page co-ordinator. Joy Fish, a great asset to the committee, started off as our secretary which job she did excellently (we were hardly home from the meeting and the minutes were already sent!) and then offered to take on the role of Treasurer from Julian, a task which has led her on a steep learning curve to the point where she is learning how to use the Pastel accounting package which Julian introduced to manage our finances. I want to thank Mary Debrick, our club financial manager, who manages, quietly and efficiently in the background, the everyday finances. Both Julian and Joy have indicated how good it has been working with her. With the movement of Joy Fish into the Treasurer’s portfolio in August we were left with the vacancy of secretary. I made an appeal at an evening meeting for someone to join us and fulfil this function. So often we make these appeals to no avail, but Barbara Jones came to me during tea and offered her services. Although a relative newcomer to the Western Cape and to the CBC she took on this job – not easy for someone with minimal knowledge of bird club activities and names. I have already mentioned several times Cheryl Leslie and her e-newsletter, but not yet what her presence on the committee means to us all. She is quiet and logical and we all sit back and listen when Cheryl speaks! She also looks after the notice board which stands in the foyer at our evening meetings. Joan Ackroyd has filled the membership portfolio for many years. It is she who welcomes new members and who reminds folk who have not paid their membership fees. She, ably assisted by Gill Ford, also mans the reception desk at evening meetings. Dave Whitelaw, our longest serving committee member, continues to chair the Conservation Committee and also the Julie te Groen Trust Committee and he will give you a short conservation report after this.
So you see there are a large number of people involved in the running of the club. I hope in the course of this address a little bird has whispered in your ear “That might be an area in which I can offer to help”. We always need additional hands – even if it is just to introduce more variety to club activities. There are myriads of little jobs that would make the load of present portfolio leaders just a little bit easier – but you would not necessarily be taking on a portfolio yourself.
We would also like to see something more happening with regard to bird photography by our members but need help and suggestions. Your outgoing committee is thinking that it is not enough to only show members’ photographs at the Quiz evening, that these photographs actually deserve to be showcased far more effectively. Please share with us any ideas you may have on this.
As we come to elections for the new committee, I share with you that we really would value someone who is younger offering to stand for election – we need younger blood!!!
Each year we try in a small way to honour people who have given their all to the Cape Bird Club and who have served both the club and the birding fraternity as a whole with dedication and distinction. There are so many people who deserve special mention and it is always a very difficult decision.
This year the two people we would like to honour are Sylvia Ledgard and Vernon Head.
Sylvia is a very experienced and knowledgeable birder who has joined dedicated birding trips virtually every year to many parts of South Africa and neighbouring countries. It has been hard to track down exactly when Sylvia joined the Cape Bird Club. Jo Hobbs thinks it was in 1995 as she remembers meeting her for the first time at an outing in that year. The first mention of her is in the July Promerops of 1995 to acknowledge her help with serving teas – so she had already become involved within a few months of joining the club. She STILL, 20 years later, heads the team that serve teas and refreshments! By the next year in March 1996 she was elected onto the committee. She served as Secretary for 10 years until 2006. She was on the committee that in 2003 organised the BLSA AGM at Blue Bay Resort which was the forerunner of the present day ‘Flocks’. After 2006, even though no longer on the CBC committee she continued to man the club’s telephone as our Information Officer, a job she still does to this day, answering questions at all hours and providing information to members as well as the general public. She chaired the Courses Committee from 2007 until 2011. She continues to handle the venue bookings for our evening meetings and courses. In addition, and very importantly, she acted as secretary to the WCBF from its formation in 2003 until February this year (13 years). Her exceptionally comprehensive minutes of these meetings form an excellent historical record of its achievements in that time. All in all that makes it twenty years of solid service to the club and to birding. Not only that. Any problem or query, she is the first person to be consulted and always comes up with a solution and good advice. We on the committee have drawn on her knowledge and expertise over and over and she is always so obliging and kind and friendly. As one of my committee put it – she is a “rock – reliable and efficient, and always there to assist”.
Vernon Head has been a birder since he was a boy, hooked into the hobby by his grandfather. I could not find any record of when he actually joined the club but by 2002 he was Vice Chairman. He took over as chairman in 2003 and remained in this position until 2014, an amazing 11 years. He also handled the important Courses portfolio until Sylvia took it over in 2007. The first major event he hosted as CBC chair was that BLSA AGM at Blue Bay in 2003, a hugely successful event that set the tone for future BLSA AGMs. At the same time that he was Chairman of the CBC he was representing CBC on the BLSA Council of Branches. The formation of the WCBF in 2003 added a new dimension to the local birding scene and he was chairman from its inception until February this year (13 years). He served as a member of the Executive Council of BLSA representing WCBF and the bird clubs of the Western Cape. He was the mainstay of our club even after he became Chairman of BLSA in 2011 a position he held until 2015. As our CBC chairman Vernon involved himself with all the club’s activities and sub-committees. It was amazing how he handled the burden of all this extra work even while serving on the WCBF and as Chairman of BLSA, but the CBC always held his special loyalty and affection, and we all missed him terribly when in the end he had to resign as our chairman simply because there were simply not enough hours in the day to do all he was committed to. He continues to serve on the on the Executive Board of BLSA where he heads the marketing portfolio and he has also been elected to the Advisory Board of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology.
His enthusiastic annual reports at our AGMs were legendary and inspiring. He fulfilled his various leadership roles with excellence – a firm, good natured, very well informed, very constructive, creative and enthusiastic chairman. It was he who put the Western Cape on the map in respect of BLSA and was extremely successful in promoting the interests of birds and birding in the Western Cape.
He led many camps when he had more time and worked hand in hand with the legendary Anne Gray. His dream was to share his amazing birding adventures with CBC’s members and this resulted in the international tours to exotic and legendary places, now an annual event. He continues to lead outings, his speciality being those to the West Coast National Park and also high up on the cliffs at Cape Point to look at pelagic birds. His enthusiasm for birds is infectious and he is always so ready to share his knowledge with lesser birders than himself and with new members. People love his charisma, his enthusiasm, his generosity and his warmth.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, concludes my report.