Easter 2018 “Son Rise Service”


With Easter only 3 weeks away, it is again time to plan for the Easter Sunday “Son Rise” service on April 1st on the top of the Jesus hill at Paardeplaats, 12km out of town en route to Sabie (route R37).

The service will start at 06h00, come sunshine or mist. It will be wise to arrive from 05h30 or earlier, to allow yourself time to climb up the hill, and settle in.  Although still in darkness, there will be paraffin lanterns to light your way. If you have good torches bring them along.  There will be ample parking down at the gate, with monitors to direct and help you. For those who can’t make the climb up the hill, there will be a tractor and trailer with benches, which will leave from the gate at the bottom at 05h45. This will be able to carry up to 20 people, and should be reserved for the elderly and those who have health problems and restrictions. One could load blankets and chairs on the trailer to make the ascent easier.

It will be essentially a family affair, non denominational and open to all who want to celebrate this very special occasion. (Most probably the celebration of the most important event in the history of mankind). We will have a fixed program with traditional hymns and songs to be sung.

Wear a pair of good walking shoes, and bring a hat for later when the sun rises, which will be around 06h00. Dress warmly and watch the weather forecast. There are some large logs that can be used as benches. Bring folding chairs, blankets and cushions, tea/coffee and hot cross buns.  The service will take about an hour, and will end with a sharing of the buns and coffee.

This special event is a very inspirational experience, as we gather in the dark to watch the “Sonrise”, and then go off to celebrate at our various churches and with our families.

Please feel free to phone Brian 079 694 9462 or 082 416 1379, to find out more.

The Gurney Sugarbird is alive and well on Paardeplaats says Gauteng Bird Ringers

The Gurney’s Sugarbird is alive and well and living in Lydenburg’s surrounding hills. This was confirmed recently by members of Birdlife Northern Gauteng Bird Ringers Club who came to Paardeplaats Nature Retreat on an annual ringing weekend. In spite of rainy conditions, they caught no less than six Gurney Sugarbirds in their ringing nets – one juvenile and one re-trap from last year’s expedition.

Birdlife Northern Gauteng Bird Ringers Club in action on Paardeplaats Nature Retreat.

The group of avid ringers were joined by Dr Michael Cunningham, a geneticist from the University of Pretoria’s Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology. With his student, Evan Howarth, they took blood samples of Gurneys for research into the relationship of different populations of this scarce species.

The Gurney has been identified as one of four grassland birds in decline and could be added to the list of threatened species, Cunningham explained. This is probably due to the decline in Protea Roupelliae in which the birds build their nests.

Their strongholds are the KZN and Mpumalanga Drakensberg, the Soutpansberg and Waterberg areas. There are isolated populations in Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands and they have been spotted as far south as Grahamstown – the only place known where they overlap with the Cape Sugarbird.

Cunningham confirmed that the Gurney’s Sugarbird research done by ornithologist Dawie de Swardt, originally from Lydenburg and for many years now at the National Museum in Bloemfontein, provides a valuable base for students. “But there is still a lot we do not know about this special bird and its movements,” he said.

Birdlife Northern Gauteng Bird Ringers Club

The bird ringers’ efforts add tremendously to the on-going research in the field. Other than the 6 Gurneys, the expedition caught and recorded the following species at Paardeplaats Nature Retreat:

Olive Bush shrike, Malachite and Greater Double-collared Sunbirds, Wailing and Lazy Cisticola, Cape Canary, Long-billed Pipit, Drakensberg Prinia, Mountain Wagtail, Cape White-Eye, Speckled Mousebird, White-throated Robin Chat, Cape Robin Chat, Streaky Headed Seedeater, Neddicky, Bar-throated Apalis, Willow Warbler, Cape Batis, Cape Rock Thrush, Redwing Starling and House Martin.

Julian (17) started his ringing career at the age of two, accompanying dad Chris on birding trips. He has handled well over 1200 birds in the qualifying process and has released more than 430 birds marked with his own rings.