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 :  Warwick Tarboton

Warwick Tarboton with WBC President Lance Robinson

While it is slightly more unusual to recognise one of the leading ornithologists in our region for the Bearded Vulture award this year (as this category usually recognizes the unsung heroes of bird studies in southern Africa), the committee unanimously decided that Dr.Warwick Tarboton is a worthy recipient of the award in 2019 because of his long association with the Wits Bird Club over many years. The biology of the Yellow-throated Sandgrouse in agricultural land in SA, a project undertaken in association with Sheila Blane of the bird club in the 1980s and early 1990s, is but one example of the publications that has contributed to scientific research and the literature when it comes to this species. Warwick has long been a champion of Important Bird Areas and his name is virtually synonymous with that of Nylvsley Nature Reserve and especially with that of the annual woodland census which has been taking place over the past 20 years and run through Friends of Nylsvley which the club has also long supported. Warwick’s passion for biodiversity is now showcased with his new project, in conjunction with wife Michele, as they painstakingly document and advocate the documentation of biodiversity in the Waterberg region, another IBA. Warwick is well published both academically and is a co-author of many of the popular field guides, both of birds and of Odonata. He is distinguished ornithologist and a previous recipient of the Gill Memorial Medal from BirdLife South Africa, however, Warwick remains one of the most unassuming yet knowledgeable persons one would ever hope to be encounter to as a bird watcher or aspirant citizen scientist.

Previous Recipients:  Boudewyn van der Lecq (2011); Nial Perrins (2012); Andre Marx (2013); Etienne Marais (2014); Ernst Retief (2015); Geoff Lockwood (2016); Henk Nel (2017), Derek van der Merwe (2018)



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:  Lia  Steen

Lia receiving her award from Club Chairman Andy Featherstone

Lia Steen has been a member of Wits Bird Club for many years and has twice served on the Committee, once as Programme Planner and more recently as Meetings coordinator. Both of these portfolios can be thankless tasks as it is never possible to please everyone with the choices of venues and speakers. Lia has at all times carried out her duties selflessly and with a cheerful demean and we commend her for her dedication and hard work.

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)