The Birds in Reserves Project, or for short BIRP, started in 1992 and is run as a National “Citizen Science” project by the Animal Demography Unit (ADU), based at the University of Cape Town (UCT). The primary aim of the project is the collection of bird occurrence data, specifically inside South African protected areas (PAs). The process is fairly simple; volunteers go out to any PA and simply make a list of all the bird species observed. Data can be collected up to a maximum of seven days. This project is well suited for people that simply want to contribute their sightings (within protected areas) to a worthwhile cause. Equally, the BIRP project can serve as an avifaunal baseline monitoring tool for all protected areas, whether big or small. The data is submitted to the ADU, processed and made available on this website.
The data collected serves a variety of users; private, recreational, institutional and academic. The project is supported and endorsed by both the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) as well as BirdLife South Africa (BLSA).
The menu on the left provides you with a host of functions in order to obtain information from this site. Species summaries, site summaries, observer summaries including other project related information are available. We also encourage decision makers and managers to use the data available to help them make informed planning and management choices. We hope that this site will serve you as a valuable conservation assessment tool.
If you would like to become involved in the BIRP project, we would dearly like to hear from you. Your contributions will certainly benefit bird conservation in South Africa. Please download the BIRP instruction booklet which contains all the relevant information pertaining to this project. Alternatively contact the project coordinator (telephone 021 650 4698).
We encourage you to use the BIRP information for personal or recreational use; including education, research and conservation purposes. For these applications the data will be provided free of charge. This information may not be incorporated into other websites, or used for commercial gain. Please contact the project coordinator for further details. Effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the data, but the ADU cannot guarantee that all data are correct. If you are aware of any errors or omissions in the data, please contact the project coordinator.
|2012-09-28 ||Doug Harebottle |
|Coverage for 3DDG challenge ends at 75% |
The initial aim with this challenge was to get the six most south and western degree squares of the Western Cape to a minimum of four lists per pentad (i.e. light green) within a 12 month period, from 21 September 2011 to 21 September 2012 (spring equinox to spring equinox). Garth Shaw enthusiastically took up the challenge to coordinate the atlasing effort within the region.
The map on the left shows coverage at the start of the project which then had about 52% of the pentads already at four or more cards. The map below shows coverage a year later and one can see the change in the last 12 months - the number of light green pentads now stands at 75%. Although the project never completed its goal, it has made major strides in achieving the type of coverage that we need to do meaningful statistical analysis.
The northern parts made the largest contribution to the project with 109 target cards being submitted. The square (3218) took its number of green cards from 53 to 97, an increase of 44 pentads. The Worcester square (3319) appears to be the one still requiring the most attention. Its progress however has been steady. Exactly 100 target pentads were submitted, of which 14 were for virgin pentads. Garth comments, "some of my most interesting birding came from some of these mountainous pentads in this degree square." A total of 27 pentads were turned green in this square.
The 3419 square showed the next best increase, with most of the improvement coming from the region between Gaansbaai and Bredasdorp. Coverage was improved from 69 green pentads to 94 (an increase of 25 pentads). Fifty-two target cards were submitted in achieving this. There are now only another seven pentads that are not yet green, of which three require one more card each to turn green. The square comprising Swellendam and surrounds (3420) contributed 55 target cards with 16 pentads turning green. This area still has possibly the easiest to access virgin pentads in the area, with a number of pentads in the Witsand / Cape Infanta region needing just one more checklist to reach four checklists.
Square 3318, north of Cape Town, still has a frustrating two virgin pentads that need to be accessed but the good news is that these will be covered in the coming months. Barring these two pentads, the square is shaded green. The last square, the peninsula (3418) only required a single card from one pentad, which was duly atlased!
Overall, 327 target cards were submitted, turning 116 pentads green. Not a bad effort considering the distances and terrain involved! The 116 pentads represents 7.2% of the 3DDG region. During the same period 2.8% of pentads turned green in the rest of the atlas region. A fantastic effort by all involved, but special thanks to Johan van der Westhuizen, Zenobia van Dyk, John Jones, Adrius Rabie, John Carter, Deona Andrag and Stuart McLennan (amongst many others) who all put in a special effort for the challenge.
It is very clear what the value of a project like the 3DDG, or the 4DG, project is. The contributions made by everyone involved adds a valuable piece to the bird diversity puzzle which will ultimately assist in bird conservation in South Africa. Other atlasers are encouraged to consider starting similar projects in their areas, and drumming up enthusiasm and momentum to get more people working towards specific goals. The value of the cards submitted for the 3DDG challenge is not to be underestimated.
Garth's endless enthusiasm and motivation in getting atlasers to far flung corners of the Western Cape has been inspiring. We are extremely grateful he championed this mini-project and appreciate all the feedback and reports that kept us abreast of the progress of the challenge.
|2012-08-12 ||Doug Harebottle |
|Snake Sunday, 12 August 2012: The Herald Snake |
Today is SNAKE SUNDAY!! And we are featuring the Herald Snake (Crotaphopeltis hotamboeia). The Herald Snake, or Red-lipped Snake, occurs widely throughout the damper parts of the Western Cape province of South Africa and northwards up the eastern coast and inland to Gauteng province (see map). Some specimens of this snake have unmistakable red or orange lips, but often this feature is absent and the lips are cream or white. However, this snake always has black temples and fine white speckles on the brown to grey body. When alarmed, herald snakes will coil into striking position and flatten the head which makes the black temple regions obvious and resulting in the head looking much bigger.
Herald Snakes have an average length of 45 cm (max. 1 m). This snake prefers to eat frogs, but will take lizards and in adulthood, small rodents. It is normally associated with damp habitats and is sometimes found in urban gardens where there is sufficient moisture to sustain its amphibian prey. It is a back-fanged snake with a mild venom that does not result in significant medical symptoms for humans – they are effectively harmless to humans. They bite readily when first captured, but soon settle.
You can help us to map this awesome snake's 21st century distribution by submitting your photos to ReptileMAP at http://vmus.adu.org.za/ The photo featured here is record number 1666 from the ReptileMAP database. The photo was taken by G. Diedericks in Mpumalanga province.
|2012-07-11 ||Doug Harebottle |
|Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site atlasing weekend 14-16 September |
Here is a message from Alan Lee about an atlasing expedition to the Baviaanskloof. Alan is busy with a post-doc project on climate change and Fynbos birds and has been cycling through large areas of the Fynbos biome in the Eastern Cape collecting bird data in the region. You can read more about his adventures on his blog site.
"The Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA) is happy to invite atlasers to improve SABAP2 coverage in the Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site for the weekend 14 - 16 September 2012.
Reserve management has kindly offered the free entry and use of Geelhoutbos as a base, as well as field ranger support and safety briefings. This is a chance to for some adventurous atlasers to see parts of the Baviaanskloof normally closed to the public and to meet other atlasers, key ECPTA staff and the Friends of Baviaankloof Wilderness Area. There are also opportunities to altas areas outside of the Baviaanskloof, but those interested in this will need to make their own arrangements.
Access to the core area requires 4x4. To get to Geelhoutbos, participants will need a vehicle with high ground clearance (4x4 is preferable, although not essential).
Facilities at Geelhoutbos are very basic, so participants would need to be self-sufficient in terms of food and camping equipment. There is plenty of space to camp and there is also an unfurnished wood cabin that can be used.
Entrance fees are waived for birders involved in the survey and for partners. Any other participants will have to pay normal entry fee. Group size is limited to 30.
Please send your statement of interest email@example.com before 20 August 2012."
We hope that many atlasers - particularly those in the Eastern Cape - will be able to take up this opportunity and join Alan in what promises to be an exciting and fun-filled atlasing bash in the wilderness landscapes of the Baviaanskloof.