The Bearded Vulture Award


Wits Bird Club were presented with a beaded Bearded Vulture in 2010, after making a donation to a project that was aimed at the satellite tracking and monitoring of the Endangered Bearded Vulture.  Following the passing of Professor Steven Piper, the club committee, felt it would be a fitting tribute to Steven and his legacy, to annually award an individual who has dedicated their time and energy to bird conservation.

This years award was presented to :  Rick Nuttall


Rick Nuttall grew up in Grahamstown and now resides in Bloemfontein.  He has had a keen interest in birds since childhood and obtained a master’s degree in Zoology from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Rick is a leading authority on waxbills and joined the National Museum in Bloemfontein as an Ornithologist in 1991 before filling the role of Deputy Director in 2001, and Director in 2003, a position he held until November 2017. He has authored numerous scientific, semi-scientific and popular publications, and served on the review panels of several zoological and ornithological journals. Rick enjoys sharing his knowledge and experiences with others and is a keen amateur photographer and bird sound recordist. Risk has led multiple outings for the Wits Bird Club, most memorable to many members would be those trips to Sandveld Nature Reserve, adjoining the Bloemhof Dam.
As can be noted, Rick has contributed immeasurably to our knowledge of birds and has been instrumental in popularizing our birding pastime.  Due to his inherently kind disposition, and overriding passion for biodiversity, Rick remains an ever-popular leader.  Rick embodies the ethos of the Bearded Vulture Award in honour of the late Steven Piper and is a worthy recipient thereof.

(2014); Ernst Retief (2015); Geoff Lockwood (2016); Henk Nel (2017), Derek van der Merwe (2018), Warwick Tarboton (2019); Stan Madden (2020)



The Wits Bird Club Diamond Award is presented annually and recognises the invaluable contributions of any bird club member.  Inserted into the plaque are diamonds so generously gifted to us by De Beers to mark our 60th Anniversary in 2007.

This years winner:  Johan de Jager

As a long-standing member of the club, Johan has given a lot of his time and effort to promote the club, as well as maintaining the integrity and image of the Witwatersrand Bird Club.

His deep involvement in the West Rand Bird Club (WRBC) satellite is a true reflection of his dedication towards birding, the club and its members.

Johan has been (and still is) instrumental in the maintenance of the WRBC’s membership data. His record keeping of said matters, both physical and electronically is exemplary.

This is further extended to his involvement in the conservation portfolios of CWAC and CAR. Apart from being a dedicated participant in these events, he’s also been instrumental in the record keeping and distribution of data to all role players.

A hidden talent of which most club members are not aware, is his ability to convey his love for nature and specifically for birds to audiences, ranging from Grade 1 learners to senior citizen groups.  On many occasions I sat in awe as he addressed school groups, creating an unbelievable enthusiasm.

Previous Recipients:  Koos van Dyk (2008); Stan Madden (2009); Gisela Ortner (2010); Joan Strugnell (2011); John Freer (2012); Gail Schaum (2013); Alison Hansen (2014); Barbi Forsyth (2015); Murrie Slotar (2016); Gail Schaum (2017), Lester Niss (2018), Lia Steen (2019); Werner van Goethem (2020)