A weekend of feathers and family fun at this year’s Wagtail Conservation Festival


The 2018 Wagtail Conservation Festival, running at the Amanzimtoti Sports’ Centre from 9 to 10 November, is the perfect opportunity for KwaZulu-Natal’s stunning Sapphire Coast to preen its feathers and show the rest of the country the natural beauty this region has to offer.

A weekend of feathers and family fun at this year’s Wagtail Conservation Festival
Image Supplied Wagtail Conservation Festival/ Sapphire Coast Tourism

Presented by Birdlife Port Natal and the Amanzimtoti Sports’ Centre, the Wagtail Conservation Festival is following on from the hugely successful 2017 edition. This year’s event will once again cater to all ages and interests, with a number of environmentally-themed talks and activities planned for festival-goers.

“Last year we welcomed some 2 000 visitors from across the province to the festival, which served to raise funds and create awareness about conservation while showcasing the beauty of the area,” 

explained Romy Wenzel, Chairman of Sapphire Coast Tourism.

“This is the province’s largest conservation festival which caters to dedicated conservationists as well as those looking for a fun-filled day in nature. The event will see a number of new features and speakers, with an interactive play area for the little ones, as well as food and drink options throughout. It’s a great opportunity to expose visitors to the numerous eco-tourism gems that the Sapphire Coast has to offer.”

The Wagtail Festival Dinner

The Wagtail Conservation Festival starts on Friday, 9 November with The Wagtail Festival Dinner welcoming special guest speaker, Faansie Peacock. This renowned South African birder and bird artist has co-authored six bird books and will be launching his first children’s bird book, ‘Faasie’s Bird Book’ at the festival. His talk, entitled ‘Bird Brain - a comedic look at what makes birders tick’ will appeal to both birders and non-birders alike! The evening will also include musical performances by the duo Tim Lewis Music and TONY. Tickets cost R165 which includes a welcome cocktail, buffet-style meal and entrance to the Wagtail Conservation Festival on Saturday, 10 November. Doors open at 6.30pm.

Festival events

Visitors can look forward to a jam-packed Saturday which includes guided nature walks; an interactive kiddies’ zone where children will have lots of fun while learning all about the environment; conservation stalls; food stalls; and a craft beer tent. There will be a number of retail and corporate stands featuring, among others, Cameratek, Bargain Books, Halls Nursery, and Thekwini Toyota Pinetown.

The guided nature walks will take place throughout the day, with the first walk aimed at experienced birders, starting at 6.30am. From 8am there will be several walks, varying in length, all led by experienced conservationists, with a number of the walks planned for children. It’s advised that walkers wear comfortable shoes and bring binoculars.

Speakers and workshops

The festival will host a variety of eco-talks by renowned speakers covering a range of topics, including birds, snakes, insects and flora. All the talks will be in line with the underlying aim with the Wagtail Conservation Festival, which is to promote and create awareness of nature and conservation in the Amanzimtoti area, while highlighting the day-to-day work undertaken by local and national conservation organisations. The talks include: 

· Faansie Peacock - The Kinky Love Life of Birds

· Henk Nel (developer of Birdlasser) and Ian Gordon – Atlassing using the Birdlasser App

· Nick Evans - snake talk and demonstration

· Nicolette Forbes – The St Lucia Restoration programme

· Dr Anthony Forbes - Trophic Cascades and effects on bird populations

· Gill van Wyk – Bringing Wildlife into your Garden

· Steve Davis – Basic Bird Identification

· Steve Woodhall - Butterfly talk

· Steve Woodhall and Steve Davis - Attracting Birds and Butterflies to your Garden

· David Allan - KZN’s best birding spots

· Dr Jeanne Tarrant – Frogs, Freshwater & Family: a Day in the Life of a Frog Conservationist

· Helen Bruigom – Bats

There will also be two workshops at a cost, however the price of the talk does include entrance to the event. These include: 

-  Albert Froneman, one of South Africa’s leading bird and wildlife photographers will be doing a bird photography workshop from 10am to 1pm. Froneman will cover various aspects of bird photography demonstrating with practical examples and spectacular images. The cost of the talk is R250. 

-  Faansie Peacock, one of South Africa's leading bird speakers, is offering a three-hour workshop entitled ‘Wade Watchers’. This interactive course incudes a waders’ booklet. The ticket price is R150. 

The Wagtail Conservation Festival is truly a one-stop festival for all things related to nature and conservation. The main festival events take place on Saturday, 10 November, from 8am to 5pm. Entrance tickets cost R20 for adults, R10 for pensioners and children, and can be purchased at the gate. Tickets for the dinner and the paid talks are available at any Pick n Pay or at www.webtickets.co.za

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