Di­ving for the bi­rds

Knysna-Plett Herald - - Voorblad - Yo­lan­dé S­tan­der * Mo­re de­tails: in­fo@na­tu­res­val­leytrust.co.za or Fa­ce­book/Gar­den Rou­te Bi­rds.

Two bi­rd­li­fe con­ser­va­ti­o­nis­ts o­ver­ca­me their fe­ars and took to the skies to rai­se a­wa­re­ness and funds to pro­tect P­let­ten­berg Bay’s fe­at­he­red cre­a­tu­res.

Dr Mark Bro­wn of the Na­tu­re’s Val­ley Trust, and Elai­ne Reed of Elai­ne’s Bi­r­ding and Wild­li­fe Pro­ducts ha­t­ched a plan to sky­di­ve to do just that for a con­ser­va­ti­on pro­gram­me, Gar­den Rou­te Bi­rds.

The pro­gram­me, a so­ci­al me­di­adri­ven re­spon­se to the Ju­ne fi­res, was i­ni­ti­a­ted by P­lett lo­cal Ro­zan­ne F­leet.

F­leet was con­cer­ned a­bout the 18 000 hec­ta­res of fyn­bos, fo­rest and farm­land de­stroy­ed du­ring the fi­res and le­a­ving ma­ny bi­rds with no food or shel­ter. She then sent out a plea on so­ci­al me­dia for as­sis­tan­ce and to en­coura­ge lo­cals to pla­ce bi­rd fee­ders in their gar­dens to pro­vi­de food and wa­ter for t­he­se dis­pla­ced bi­rds.

One of tho­se who re­spon­ded to her call was Reed who i­ni­ti­al­ly wan­ted to sup­ply her with 85 fee­ders and en­ded up sen­ding mo­re than 400 su­et fee­ders, fruit fee­ders and nec­tar bott­les, as well as nes­ting boxes and co­pi­ous a­mounts of su­et food.

But Reed felt she could do e­ven mo­re and vo­lun­tee­red to jump out of an ai­r­craft for the cau­se. T­his was a qui­te a bra­ve mo­ve by Reed as she is ter­ri­fied of heig­hts.

The Na­tu­re’s Val­ley Trust has been pro­vi­ding ad­vi­ce on re­spon­si­ble fee­ding for the pro­gram­me and hel­ping to e­du­ca­te fol­lo­wers a­bout the bi­rds now vi­si­ting their gar­dens.

Sky­di­ve P­let­ten­berg Bay got on bo­ard with the plan and spon­so­red two jumps. As F­leet had sky­di­ved se­ver­al ti­mes in the past and the i­ni­ti­a­ti­ve had been well sup­por­ted by the Na­tu­re’s Val­ley Trust, Bro­wn was vo­lun­tee­red to join Reed on Sun­day 24 Sep­tem­ber.

“It was com­ple­te­ly in­sa­ne. It was so­mething I ne­ver thoug­ht I’d do, but it tur­ned out to be a won­der­ful ex­pe­rien­ce,” Bro­wn said.

The jump al­so e­na­bled him to ha­ve a bi­rd’s eye view of the in­ten­si­ty of the fi­re da­ma­ge, he com­men­ted.

Bro­wn said the mo­ney rai­sed would go to­wards a new pro­ject of the Na­tu­re’s Val­ley Trust, which in­vol­ves the co­lour-rin­ging of sun­bi­rds and sug­ar­bi­rds in se­ver­al gar­dens in Na­tu­re’s Val­ley, P­lett and Knys­na. “T­his will e­na­ble va­lu­a­ble col­lecti­on of mo­vement and vi­si­ta­ti­on ra­te da­ta at su­gar-wa­ter fee­ders. Funds rai­sed from Sun­day’s jump will go to­wards co­ve­ring the cos­ts of set­ting up t­his new pro­ject.”

F­leet said a spe­ci­al thank you to the pi­lot and o­w­ner of Sky­di­ve P­lett S­haun S­mith for spon­so­ring the sky­di­ves.

“Pe­op­le can help not on­ly by do­na­ting, but by li­king our pa­ge, in­vi­ting friends, sharing and eng­a­ging with us. T­hey can al­so in­tro­du­ce ot­hers to the fact that you can re­al­ly en­joy the bi­rds in your gar­den. And all t­his con­ti­nu­ed enga­ge­ment cre­a­tes a­wa­re­ness that in turn helps to con­ser­ve our bi­rds,” F­leet said.

For tho­se who want to ma­ke do­na­ti­ons, the bank de­tails are: Na­tu­re’s Val­ley Trust, S­tan­dard Bank, ac­count no. 001913859, branch co­de 004205.

P­ho­tos: Sup­p­lied

Dr Mark Bro­wn of the Na­tu­re’s Val­ley Trust, and Elai­ne Reed of Elai­ne’s Bi­r­ding and Wild­li­fe Pro­ducts be­fo­re their jump out of a pla­ne to rai­se a­wa­re­ness and funds for fee­ding bi­rds.

P­ho­to: Sup­p­lied

Elai­ne Reed (left) from Elai­ne’s Bi­r­ding and Wild­li­fe Pro­ducts with Dr Mark Bro­wn of the Na­tu­re’s Val­ley Trust and Ro­zan­ne F­leet who star­ted the Fa­ce­book pa­ge Gar­den Rou­te Bi­rds.

Dr Mark Bro­wn, seen he­re du­ring the last mo­ments of his “in­sa­ne” jump with in­struc­tor Jeff Bergh said it was so­mething he ne­ver thoug­ht he would do.

P­ho­to sour­ced from Gar­den Rou­te Bi­rds

Elai­ne Reed ne­a­ring Mot­her Earth with in­struc­tor Rei­nier Lom­baard af­ter her first-e­ver jump from the sky – o­ver­co­ming her fe­ar of heig­hts for a good cau­se.

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