On October 19 the sixth False Bay Birdathon was held by the Cape Town Environmental Education Trust (CTEET) in partnership with the City of Cape Town and the Cape Bird Club. The event was hosted on the eastern shores of Zeekovlei near Pelikan Park in the City of Cape Town’s False Bay Nature Reserve.

Above: Staff from conservation nonprofit Birdlife South Africa giving out information resources.

Enjoying perfect weather on the day, the event was attended by more than 2000 learners with 680 children from schools in the surrounding area pre-registering for the birding fun walk at the start of the day. Learners and their families could choose to participate in a 4, 5 or 6 km fun walk, receiving special birdathon medals at the end. Members of CTEET and the Cape Bird Club were stationed along all the routes to show the learners the incredible birdlife that could be seen in the Strandfontein section of False Bay Nature Reserve as well as playing a variety of different environmental education games.

Above: Staff from the City of Cape Town’s Recreation and Parks Department teach learners about marine pollution and the importance of keeping our beaches clean.

The False Bay Nature Reserve was declared a Ramsar site in 2015, providing international recognition of its importance as a wetland conservation site. It is also considered one of the most important nature reserves on the Cape Flats. False Bay Nature Reserve comprises six different parts namely Rondevlei section, Strandfontein Birding section, Pelican Park section, Zeekovlei section, Slangtjiesbos section and Zandwolf coastal section.

Top: Cape Bird Club environmental display. Above: Learners making ecobricks at the CTEET stand.

One of the main aims of the False Bay Birdathon is to engage with communities and stakeholders in the surrounding area around the amazing nature reserve and its biodiversity right on the doorstep. The False Bay Nature Reserve acts as an important recreational space for the Cape Flats and is of conservation importance for its vleis, birdlife, wetlands and threatened lowland vegetation types such as Cape Flats Dune Strandveld and Cape Flats Sand Fynbos.

Above: Max from the City of Cape Town teaches learners about smart living and ways to save electricity.

Alongside the fun walk there were an information rich selection of environmental education exhibits run by many local organisations including the City of Cape Town, Cape Bird Club, Sharkspotters, Birdlife SA and others. Learners were taught smart ways to save electricity by Max from the City of Cape Town and Erin at Sea Search gave an excellent and informative talk on whales and dolphins. Many eager volunteers stuffed rubbish that would otherwise end up in landfill into plastic bottles to make ecobricks at the CTEET stand.

Above: The team from Strandfontein Lifeboat Station, National Sea Rescue Institute teaching learners about sea safety and the importance of pink lifesaving rescue buoys.

Throughout the day there were prize giveaways including field guides on the flora of Table Mountain National Park donated by the Botanical Society. There was also a series of talks and demonstrations including on water safety by the National Sea Rescue Institute, a beautiful concert by the Steenberg High School Wind Band and an exciting snake display by the Cape Reptile Club.

Above: Staff from Eagle Encounters brought along some ‘feathered friends’ for learners to meet.

To round off the day we were joined by the Cape Town Metropolitan Police Department and their K9 Unit who showed off the incredible skills of their working dogs who are trained to protect and serve the people of Cape Town.

Above: Members of the Cape Reptile Club held an exciting and informative talk and demonstration about  our beautiful and fascinating local snakes.

Vicky Johnson, Events Coordinator of CTEET comments: “Our aim with this festival was to educate the youth so that they can become custodians of our natural heritage, to teach them about recycling and saving our natural resources and to show them the nature reserve and the unique birdlife that live in this wetland park. We feel it was a huge success and that every person at the festival came away having learnt something new. Please save the date for next year’s Birdathon: 17 October 2020”.

Above: A few team members from CTEET involved in organising the False Bay Birdathon.

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