Birding Challenge goes from strength to strength
The West Coast Region’s 14th annual Wader Bash Birding Weekend Challenge in February proved to be a resounding success. Many a participant bid the organizers a fond farewell with words of “See you again at the Wader Bash 2020!”
The Wader Bash takes place within the boundaries of the West Coast National Park (WCNP). The objective of the challenge is to identify as many bird species as possible within a 24-hour period in the various habitats of the Park. The updated WCNP bird list and differential scoring for common and uncommon birds within the WCNP made this challenge more exciting.
During the weekend a total of 58 participants were active in the WCNP during the 24 hour Birding Challenge. Participants came from far and wide within South Africa’s borders as well as far afield as Denmark and England. The youngest participant was 11 years and the oldest 88 years old.
Twelve teams in total took part in the Challenge this year: Eight teams, a SANParks West Coast National Park team and three high school teams from Hopefield High School, Velddrif High School and Weston High School Vredenburg. All these teams were accompanied by bird experts who led and assisted them throughout the challenge.
The SANParks Honorary Rangers: West Coast Region invites three local High Schools to send teams of Gr 11 and 12 learners to this weekend, thus creating an awareness of the environment and birding in the minds of these young people. The weekend is sponsored in its entirety for the learners by a main sponsor, Cliff Timlin, Tronox.
Hopefield High School’s team won first place in the schools teams’ category of this challenge. Each of these team members won R2 500 for their own study assistance funds sponsored by Gerlinde Moser, Broker Owner of Re/Max. Gerlinde and Beverley Moll, coordinator of Wader Bash 2019, handed the cheque over to the learners at an assembly at Hopefield High School.
The team, Grey-headed Tits, (Johan Nel, Annelize Roos, Sandra Stranack and Marietjie Strydom) won the senior section of this challenge. Sandy Sutherland for the Toucan team won the rare bird sighting prize, The 2015 Eskom Red Data Book of Birds of South Africa. Sandy spotted a Caspian Plover on the Schrywershoek road. The Caspian Plover is considered to be a vagrant to the WCNP.
Generous local sponsorships not only made this weekend possible but also allowed for every participant to receive a prize at the Gala Dinner at Geelbek Restaurant’s Boma on Saturday evening. Apart from these individual prizes, five participants were also lucky enough to win lucky draws.
The weekend was concluded on Sunday morning with two very interesting lectures by Colin de Kock, past chairman and a member of the West Coast Bird Club, and Faansie Peacock, professional bird watcher, artist, writer and speaker. Colin gave a short description of the contents of the Guide to West Coast Bird Hotspots – compiled by four other members of the WCBC and donated to all participants. Faansie gave a lecture on how he compiled his latest book, Faansie’s Bird Book – a fully fledged guide…for kids.
Next year’s Wader Bash Birding Weekend Challenge is planned for 14-16 February.