28 Mai 2010 | Windhoek
Discoveries with the Namibia Bird Club
The Namibia Bird Club, based in Windhoek, is devoted to the feathered flying artists small and large. At the time when the Club was founded in 1962 (as the ornithological working group of the SWA Scientific Society) it was Heinrich von Maltzahn, a farmer in the Otavi area and a member of the ornithological working group of the Scientific Society, who together with Herwarth von Schwindt and Hermann Kolberg started the predecessor of the Bird Club as we know it today. The aim still is, as it was then, to acquaint the public with Namibia's varied and interesting bird life.
Some 80 club members around the country regularly arrange events at which hobby ornithologists are always welcome. For example, bird counts are conducted twice a year in the wetlands around lagoons and at the dams in the interior in order to establish the movement of birds and the possible impact which changing environmental factors may have on them. In order to conduct a bird count we walk through a given area (dam/lagoon) and count all the birds we see there. The results are forwarded to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism which passes them on within the Ramsar agreement. The Ramsar Convention is the agreement on wetland areas of international importance, especially as a habitat for water birds and waders. The signatories are committed to four main areas:
- the protection of wetlands
- promoting international cooperation in the protection of wetlands
- promoting the exchange of information on the protection of wetlands
- supporting the work on the Convention
Even though Namibia, due to its aridity, is not heavily frequented by migrants it was mainly German ornithologists who travelled the country as early as the 19th century and also in the 20th century and noted that quite a number of winter guests can be found here, mostly at the coast - e.g. various species of terns and plovers.
Of particular interest for laypersons is the 'morning hike' at Avis Dam which takes place on the second Sunday of each month. For bird lovers or those who want to join the bird loving fraternity this hike is an opportunity to get to know the creatures of the air. Anyone is welcome to hike along for the duration or distance which suits them best. Together we spot birds and look up their names, habits, etc. in books.
On the fourth Sunday of each month we also visit a farm with a small dam or similar body of water, because birds can always be seen in larger numbers in the vicinity of water. Apart from exploring the birdlife at the respective destination we also have a picnic together to discuss what we have seen and to get acquainted with one another.
For the first time in many years it is once again possible this year to come along when the Bird Club is ringing birds. Furthermore there will be the opportunity to learn more about birdlife in Namibia through various lectures arranged by the Scientific Society.
In order to be able to take better care of injured birds a bird hospital was started last year by Sonja Bartlewski, who also takes an active part in the Bird Club. Sonja gained plenty of experience in this field when she was working for a bird rehabilitation centre in Germany. She is the contact person for members of the public who find injured birds and she will see to it that they are nursed back to health and released into the wild. In this she works closely with Liz Komen of the Namibia Rehabilitation, Research and Education Centre (NARREC) who mainly looks after injured birds of prey.
If you find an injured bird please keep the following in mind:
- to avoid further injury, the bird should be covered with a piece of fabric or clothing before it is picked up
- the bird should be carried in a box or similar, lined with fabric or paper towels
- take care that the box is closed (pierce in air holes before you put the bird in)
- keep the box with the bird in a warm place
- contact Liz Komen at 081-1290565, Sonja Bartlewski 081-1492313
For more information on the Bird Club call Gudrun Middendworf at 061-225727
Gudrun Middendorf (l.), chairlady of the Namibia Bird Club, hiking at Avis Dam with hobby ornithologists
A Red-billed Wood Hoopoe, which is endemic to sub-Saharan Africa