We have known about Bird Island for years but have never been to witness this spectacle of viewing the breeding colony of Cape gannets (Morus capensis ) and other local resident birds on this island.
One of just six breeding colonies of cape gannets on earth and we have the luxury of it on our doorstep, this is an important nesting and roosting site for other sea birds too.
A unique bird hide has been strategically built for us to view these beautiful birds and the close proximity to this colony allows for excellent photographic opportunities.
Courtship and breeding are the order of the day, and with thousands of pairs in one confined space, it all seems like organised chaos.
Returning birds from a days feeding out at sea, wave after wave constantly flying in to feed their hungry chicks and roost for the night.
Swift terns (Thalasseus bergii) also roost on this island along with some sandwich and common terns. This swift turn had a bunch of fish in its bill and was eagerly followed by others hoping to steal a scrap or two.
Connected to the mainland of Lamberts bay by a breakwater and roughly three hectares in size, this site is managed by Cape Nature. All information about this breeding colony is recorded by monitoring staff and the important data is forwarded on to Cape natures scientific services department in Jonkershoek in Stellenbosch.
A Common tern finding a place to land amongst the swift terns. The elegance is admirable.
Video and Sounds of the Cape Gannets on Bird Island Nature Reserve in Lamberts Bay
Turn up the volume and enjoy.
Birds of a feather flock together, one of the swift tern roosts in the area.
Large viewing windows allow for an uninterrupted 180-degree view of the colony. As you can see the Cape Gannets are approximately thirty meters away, which was amazing, the noise of the thousands of birds was deafening, yet a pleasant experience for our whole family.
With some of the best views in and around the island royal blue water of a calm sea makes for a perfect setting, add a few thousand birds going about their daily routine. It is a spectacle that is hard to forget. Well done to Cape nature for the initiative and vision that makes this bird island a special tourist location.
The white fluffy chicks wait patiently for their parents to return with a fresh catch of the day.
Cape gannets are listed as vulnerable and they are confined to the continental shelf, often feeding behind fishing trawlers. Large numbers follow the annual sardine run up the east coast to KZN in winter, with others migrating up the west coast to the gulf of guinea.
The interpretive center and well-maintained pathways, lined with information boards made for an interesting and informative experience.
Evolved over the years and genetically designed to perfection, it was a pleasure to witness the constant flow of birds returning to their young.
The main harbour at Lamberts bay just on the other side of the breakwater is a great place to grab a bite after a few hours of birding pleasure.