The monthly newsletter of the Lower Breede River Conservancy Trust
Have you renewed your
boat licence yet?
Annual Municipal Boat licences are due for renewal every year from 1 July and valid until 30 June the following year.
Just a reminder of our outlets available for boat licence sales for 2020/2021
Living the Breede
Phone: 067 162 9081 or 082 324 2757
Open: Mon-Sun from 08h00 – 17h00
Breede Riverine Estate
Phone: 028 542 1345
Open: 09h00 – 17h00
Lower Breede River Conservancy Office
Nella’s se Winkel
Phone: 028 514 2010
Open: 8h00 – 17h00
Buy your boat licence online and arrange to pick up your disk at Living the Breede (Malgas) or LBRCT office (Witsand)
Contact our office if you have any questions regarding the boat licences – 028 537 1296 / email@example.com
What we have been up to
In this issue
This issue covers our activities for February 2021. We start off with the highlights of what we have been up to during the month. Marine regulations were further enforced through Operation Phakisa. For the species focus we take a look at Cape Eagle-Owls. We end off with a summary of our bird count and water quality data for the month.
Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) is a government lead initiative that is aimed at the enforcement of the Marine Living Resource regulations of South African estuaries, including the Breede. On the weekend of 12 February our rangers assisted officials from the Department of Environmental, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) as well as members of the police from Mossel Bay and Stilbaai. We provided logistic support, vessels for water patrols and contributed additional manpower. A number of transgressions were identified and fines issued. Time was also spent planning for future operations.
Cape Eagle-Owls (Bubo capensis) are one of the largest owls in Southern Africa. Adults can grow taller than 50 cm and weigh up to 1.4 kg. This nocturnal owl is often confused with the Spotted Eagle-Owl, but can be differentiated by its larger feet, orange eyes and darker breast patches.
Along the Breede River small mammals such as mice, rock hyraxes and rock hares are plentiful and comprise the majority of the Cape Eagle-Owl’s diet. These owls roost in rock crevices, in the shade of overhanging rock ledges, and in trees with dense foliage, such as milkwoods. Before the breeding season it is not uncommon to see a pair of Eagle-Owls roosting together.
Cape Eagle-Owls are territorial birds that have relatively large territories. Breeding occurs annually, typically during the months of May
and June, but records have shown breeding to last until September. During courtship, the male bows up and down in front of the female, whilst puffing up his white throat and hooting in quick succession. Cape Eagle-Owl nests are constructed on the ground and vary from shallow diggings to stick nests built by other birds. Usually two eggs are laid and are incubated by the female whilst the male is responsible for hunting. After approximately 17 days the chicks are old enough to be left alone for the first time, allowing both parents to hunt.
In early December last year we had the privilege of observing and photographing a brood of Cape Eagle-Owls here along the Breede River. The parent’s territory fell between Slangrivier and Bobbejaanskrans on the Infanta side of the river.
These two chicks were old enough for their parents to leave them alone during the day. In the summer heat most of their day is spent
sleeping. Seldom do these chicks make any noises that would give away their position to unwanted predators. The main predators of juvenile Cape Eagle-Owl chicks are Caracals, Martial eagles, and other large birds of prey.
A few weeks later the Eagle-Owls were found again nesting under some Rooikrans trees. Videos. Juvenile Cape Eagle-Owls are pale in colour and blend into their woody landscape very well.
It is not uncommon to see Cape Eagle-Owls hunting at night. Often they perch on telephone poles and fence posts scanning the land
for the slightest movement. At night these owls visit the municipal camping grounds near the tidal pool in Witsand. Unfortunately, Cape Eagle-Owls are frequently subject to road fatalities, so please look out for them!
In the data
Monthly routine monitoring
February bird counts
The LBRC worked in association with CapeNature this month to conduct a Coordinated Waterbird Count (CWAC). These counts are aimed at monitoring the bird populations of the lower Breede river and the conditions of their habitat. It was a cloudy morning with the wind picking up towards midday. A total of 634 birds of 26 different species were observed. The three most abundant species recorded this month were the Common Ringed Plover (261 birds), South African Shelduck (50) and the Kelp Gull (44).
February water quality
The water quality run revealed saline conditions far up river this month. As expected the salinity in the estuary mouth was the highest (around 34 PSU) and steadily decreased with distance upriver. Only closer to the area of Lemoentuin did the salinity start to become negligible. This salt content stretching far upriver is responsible for the death of some of the invasive water hyacinth which still persists in the area. Water hyacinth and its impacts on natural ecosystems are well understood, but cost-effective management strategies remain a problem in South Africa. With summer nearing an end, it is expected that freshwater rainfall will facilitate the establishment of the water hyacinth. The water temperature was warm and pleasant throughout the estuary, averaging 26 °C.
Photo of the month
The photo-of-the-month competition is a new initiative which the LBRC is promoting whereby members of the public can send us their photos of anything related to the natural beauty of the Breede River! The photo of the month for February is of a Cape Grysbok lamb (Raphicerus melanotis). Thank you to Chris Brink for notifying us that it was sleeping on the footpaths of the Witsand Nature Reserve above Skuitbaai early on the morning of the 25th. The bokkie was in healthy condition and had moved off before midday.
Please personal message us your photos on Instagram, Facebook or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope you enjoyed this months’ 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 email@example.com.