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Sasol/Glendower Agulhas Birding Weekend a success

23 October 2008

The Sasol/Glendower Agulhas Birding Weekend took place very successfully during the 17-19 October 2008. Forty birders took part consisting of Bird Clubs and family groups mainly from Cape Town, the Boland and Overberg regions.

The birding and other activities (guided walks, kayaking and 4x4 trail) took place in the Agulhas National Park: an unknown area to all of them. In all, 170 species were seen and the Chairman of Birdlife SA Overberg, Dr Anton Odendal, was “blown away” by the potential for birding in this area: he has already planned to return with his members.

The guests stayed mainly in the Elim Guest House and on the farms and wine farms surrounding Elim, with some staying in Struisbaai and Agulhas.

The historical Moravian mission village of Elim was our base for the weekend and their flower shed, exquisitely decorated with local fynbos flowers, was the venue. The Elim community very successfully catered for us and provided entertainment for our two evening functions. The opening function on Friday evening, with guest speaker renowned ornithologist Ian Sinclair, was preceded by a guided walkabout in Elim conducted by three Elim residents who showed the visitors the various points of historical interest. The Elim Brass Band, who provided the entertainment for the evening, lent a very special ethos to the event, as did the warm hospitality of the Elim community.

In his welcoming address, Eddie Cassani, SANParks Honorary Ranger Overberg Region and Project Co-ordinator of the event, said that this was "history in the making”"since it was the first time that an entire community was behind a birding weekend in a National Park Thys Ahrends, Chairman of the Elim Opsienersraad, reiterated this sentiment when he spoke of this event as symbolising "a coming together of people of different cultures and walks of life" as had been the case in Elim’s history The Park Manager of Agulhas National Park, Ettienne Fourie, said that the Honorary Rangers made an invaluable contribution to the Park particularly, in this instance, in “bridge building” between the Park and the people beyond its boundaries.

Our speaker on Saturday evening was well-known birder and bird photographer, Peter Ginn. His well illustrated talk was followed by a delicious sheep on the spit and a relaxed evening of entertainment and an "opskop" dance.

The event ended with brunch and a prize giving on Sunday morning and all the participants went away with prizes generously donated by our sponsors. Everyone that attended truly enjoyed the weekend and there may be another one on the cards for next year...have to wait and see.

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