Breede Monitor 

Issue 8 ~ April 2019

The members quarterly of the Lower Breede River Conservancy Trust.

The African hoopoe

The Hoopoe is instantly recognisable by its distinctive 'crown' or 'crest' of feathers, its rich cinnamon colouring contrasted by the black and white stripes of its wings and tail. The crest is briefly raised when the bird is unsettled or startled.


A favourite of many birders, the African Hoopoe is found in gardens throughout South Africa as it has adopted to rural and urban gardens, including Witsand and Infanta. This cinnamon coloured bird with black-and-white-striped wings with its decurved bill only raises its crest displayed during courtship or when excited or alarmed. Name is derived from its call "Hoop-oop or Hoop-oop-oop".


The hoopoe was classified in the clade Coraciiformes, which also includes kingfishers, bee-eaters, and rollers. These birds are not fast fliers and often fly close to the ground. This unmistakable bird probes the ground looking for insects and their larvae particularly worms. African Hoopoes nest in cavities and they cannot dig their own holes.

In the southern Cape they use of natural holes in stumps or trees and often disappear from areas during the winter months and arrive again from July. They are usually found singly or in pairs. The egg laying season is August to February. They lay from four to seven eggs over a period of a few days, the female alone will incubate the eggs for 14 - 16 days. Once hatched, the male does the hunting for the chicks for the first week of their lives and then the female gets involved in the feeding of her young. The African hoopoe is monogamous unless its mate dies. In the event of a partner dying the African Hoopoe bird will seek out a new mate.

Conservation Status:

The African hoopoe is widespread in sub-equatorial Africa, and unlike the Eurasian hoopoe, it is resident all year round. Because of the few requirements needed for the African hoopoe it is quite the successful bird species and numerous. Although the hoopoe is only listed as one species on the IUCN Red List, there are no reasons to believe that the African hoopoe would be listed as anything else but least concern.

Annual members information meeting

We held our Annual Information Meeting on 20 April this year in Malagas. A meeting for Witsand has been arranged for 22 June.

Please find below the presentations given at the meeting. If you have any questions regarding the management presentation, please send an email to

For any questions regarding the conservation presentation, please send an email to

Water Quality

We might have had a rocky start to the winter rain but when it rained, it poured! From light showers to melting snow to frosty mornings, the Breede estuary got its fair share of freshwater. The salinity graph, noticeably from August to October shows a dip. This was the freshwater in the system. Freshwater retains heat better than salt water so there was a slight rise in temperature of the water, allowing a bit of fish movement to prepare for the springtime.  The water became a bit darker allowing us to only see a third of a meter deep upstream. But there are no complaints. The freshwater restarts our water systems and brings exciting times ahead for the summer holidays.

Salinity (PSU) for April 2018 to March 2019

Temperature (ā°C) for April 2018 to March 2019

Turbidity (m) for April 2018 to March 2019

Bird species trend

The bird count surveys for the last quarter produced 2623 birds and 50 species, again showing the healthy diversity of birds around the estuary.

Egyptian Geese were the most numerous bird seen during this quarter: 804 birds were recorded. This was followed by 331 Yellow-billed ducks. Summer-migrant Common-ringed Plovers were next abundant with 236 birds. We were lucky enough to count 93 spur-winged geese, 77 Grey Plovers and some less common summer migrants: Wood Sandpiper, Terek Sandpipers and Pied Avocets.

Once again, the mudflats are were the most species and numbers are recorded, thus an extremely important habitat for the bird life in the area.

Bird biodiversity for April 2018 to January 2019

Marine debris

Over the last quarter, small plastic pieces were the most numerous litter found on Witsand main beach, Blokke to tidal pool and Gov Slip to Skuitbaai. The only site where this was not the case was Oysterbeds to Groenpunt. Between Blokke and the tidal pool, of all the pieces of litter picked up, over 44% were these plastic pieces. As this section of beach is popular with fishermen, the next most abundant litter category was fishing litter, particularly fishing line. In total 63 meters of line was picked up on this section of beach. At the Gov. slip site, cigarette butts were very important litter found with 24 butts (15.6%) found.

The most abundant litter type at Oysterbeds was fishing line which accounted for 26% of all litter found during the last quarter. This means 153 meters of fishing line was found at the site. Pieces of glass bottles, particularly beer bottles followed fishing line with 91 pieces being recorded. Plastic beverage bottles and cigarette butts were the next most commonly recorded species. With small plastic piece accounting for more than 55% of all litter found on Witsand main beach, the next most abundant litter types were plastic and foam packaging at 10% and fishing line at 6%.

If you see litter on the beach, please pick it up. If everyone did their part Witsand beaches would look better and be cleaner.

6-pack holder20.12%
Beverage Bottles (Glass)331.97%
Beverage bottles (Plastic)432.57%
Beverage cans70.42%
Bottle caps (metal)100.60%
Bottle caps (plastic)734.36%
Cigarette Butts885.25%
Construction material40.24%
Cotton Spool50.30%
Cups and Plates (Foam)30.18%
Cups and Plates (Paper)10.06%
Fishing beads10.06%
FIshing Bouys, Traps10.06%
Fishing Gear633.76%
Fishing line22213.25%
Fishing nets10.06%
Foam pieces251.49%
Food wrappers472.80%
Forks, Knives80.48%
Freezer brick10.06%
Glass pieces1086.44%
Glasses strap10.06%
Grocery bags90.54%
Hand wipe10.06%
Hessian Bag10.06%
Lids (Plastic)130.78%
Other pastic bags20.12%
Other plastic10.06%
Other plastic bags583.46%
Other plastic bottles100.60%
Other plastic/Foam packaging935.55%
Paper bags10.06%
Pen lid20.12%
Pipe cleaners20.12%
Plastic dart10.06%
Plastic Drum10.06%
Plastic lure10.06%
Plastic pieces54732.64%
Plastic pipe10.06%
Strapping bands342.03%
Take away containers (Plastic)50.30%
Tile piece30.18%
Tobacco packaging20.12%
Tobacco wrap110.66%
T-shirt piece10.06%
Grand Total1676100.00%

Thank you for reading

We hope you enjoyed this quarterly issue. Should you have any feedback, questions, or matters you would like us to cover in a future issue, please do not hesitate to write to us at 


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