Bird Island - The ninth step ... Somewhere in South Africa - CycleBlaze

December 27, 2020

Bird Island

Lambert's Bay

We spent most of this morning being blown away by the fantastic Cape Gannet (Morus capensis) colony on Bird Island.  There are only six breeding colonies in the world and this is the only one accessible to the public. 

Dwindling fish stocks is their greatest direct threat but a few years ago the pressure of reduced food available to Cape Fur Seals (Arctocaphalus pusilla) has increased the frequency of them preying on Cape Gannets.  At one point Great White Pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus) arrived on the islands and did the same.  Kelp Gulls (Larus dominicanus) are also a threat in that they steal their eggs.

The 2005/06 season was devastating for the Cape gannets as Cape fur seals  cut a swathe of destruction through the colony and caused the gannets to abandon their breeding attempt. It took the colony many years to recover to the state that it was prior to this incident.

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The gannets weren't the only birds present this morning.  Gulls, terns and cormorants were out in large numbers and a few smaller birds as well.  

Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus), the vetula sub-species often referred to as Cape Gull.
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Hartlaub's Gull (Chroicocephalus hartlaubii), the common small gull of the West Coast.
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Common Terns (Sterna hirundo).
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Greater Crested Terns (Thalasseus bergii), also known as Swift Terns, amongst the Common Terns
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Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis) flying amongst the gannets (spot the tell-tale yellow bill tip).
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Crowned Cormorant (Microcarbo coronatus).
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Cape Cormorants (Phalacrocorax capensis).
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White-fronted Plover (Charadrius marginatus).
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We took a late lunch cum early supper at Isabella's, a restaurant next to the fish factory at the harbour.  Nice mix of various seafood which is what one would be expected to eat on the West Coast.  A nice way to end our stay here.

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Today's ride: 6 km (4 miles)
Total: 1,208 km (750 miles)

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Bill ShaneyfeltLoving the bird photos with ID! Thanks for the efforts!
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2 weeks ago
Jean-Marc StrydomTo Bill ShaneyfeltHi Bill.
My apologies for not taking many nature photographs on this trip - I know you enjoy them. I guess I am so accustomed to seeing the wildlife in South Africa that nothing really inspired me. However, the Gannets were something else. Leigh has done a short video of them - I'll see if I can post a link.
Regards
Jean-Marc
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonNow we’re talking. The Karoo looks more than a bit too severe for us, but this is fantastic. We may have to fit a tour down there into the planner.
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2 weeks ago
Jean-Marc StrydomTo Bill ShaneyfeltHi Bill. I have linked Leigh's short video of the Gannets for you.
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2 weeks ago
Jean-Marc StrydomTo Scott AndersonHi Scott.

The Karoo can look severe, maybe boring or perhaps even daunting. Yet I really enjoyed traveling through it. The space and emptiness opens up other things that we might not always have the chance to look at. We will probably be returning to the Eastern Cape via Route 62 which passes through the southern sections of the Karoo known as the Robertson Karoo and the Little Karoo. They are quite different to the Great Karoo and Upper Karoo with a lot more recorded history and development than further north.
Regards
Jean-Marc
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2 weeks ago
Bill ShaneyfeltImpressive video! Thanks!
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2 weeks ago