Weaver news

Opening of Grootvaly Ringing Centre

2013-03-12 (340)

On 8 March the new ringing centre in the Grootvaly wetland was opened. Stan Madden, former bird ringer, campaigned for several years for funding to establish a permanent ringing centre.

Stan Madden - opening speech (Ernst Retief seated)

Audience at the opening

After the specches a proposal was submitted to call this the Stan Madden Ringing Centre! Then nets were put up and ringing continued from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning.

The centre (from the Blesbok River)

Ringing outside the hall

Mostly Southern Masked Weavers and Southern Red Bishops were caught. The adults were starting body and primary moult, as can be seen in the yellow feather on the mask of the weaver male, and the first two primaries of the bishop.

Southern Masked Weaver

Southern Red Bishop

Other species that were caught include Dark-capped Bulbuls, Levaillants Cisticola, Lesser Swamp Warblers, African Reed Warblers, two Greater Swamp Warblers, and Red-billed Queleas.

These are species that can be caught elsewhere, but there is great potential for ringing waterbirds. Many ducks, stilts, a flamingo and waders were seen. Waterbird traps will be constructed for use at the centre.

Waterbirds feature in the early history of the Blesbok. The first birds to be ringed here were waders on 26/01/1974, by Manfred Schmitt, who trained Stan and others. Before this, several Yellow-billed Ducks were recovered here - they had been ringed at Barberspan. Over the years, other waterbirds have been recovered from here as well. With renewed interest in waterbird ringing at Barberspan, there is the possibility of retrapping ringed waterbirds at the Grootvaly centre.

Accommodation is free, so make use of the opportunity to ring at the centre!

Satellite photo of the centre (from Google Maps)
1. Open parking area
2. Main hall
3. Covered parking
4. Boardwalk
5. Bird hide

View Larger Map

Turn-off to centre -26.213258,28.48227 (green arrow in map above)
Coords for centre -26.219801,28.483196

The Grootvaly Bird Ringing Centre was established by the Grootvaly Blesbokspruit Conservation Trust as well as the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality. The centre will be managed by the Trust in co-operation with BirdLife South Africa and the Animal Demography Unit.

The purpose of the Grootvaly Ringing Centre is to collect avian data to monitor bird movements and numbers within the Blesbokspruit Important Bird Area. All qualified ringers are invited to use the facilities to ring and to educate the general public about ringing and bird conservation in general.

You can download the ringers protocol here.

Sunset at the boardwalk


Thanks to Stan Madden, Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, Ernst Retief and everyone else for their hard work to make this opening event happen!
Thanks to the ringers who came on the weekend: Ella and John Roberts, Craig Symes, Craig Nattrass, Gert Opperman, and Grant Egen.