West Coast – Lamberts Bay

About the Birding

This small island provides the visitor with fantastic views of the Cape Gannet from the bird hide. This is especially so during the breeding season between September and January, when the birds congregate in thousands to breed. On the furthest western section of the island is a Cape Fur Seal colony that can be observed from the bird hide as well. African Penguin that used to inhabit the island can still be seen loafing on the small sandy beach on the north side of the island near the museum building.

Mixed roosts of terns: Swift (Great Crested), Common (in summer), and Sandwich (in summer) can be observed either on the rocky outcrops on the west side of the causeway just before the island and/or on the sandy section of the island on the east side of the causeway. Breeding platforms have been erected along the eastern edge of the island which are used by White-breasted and Cape Cormorants. Other species that can be seen on the island include Grey-headed, Hartlaub’s and Kelp Gull. Crowned, and Cape Cormorants have bred in the prominent Norfolk Pines in the centre of the town (-32.0933, 18.3034).

Out to sea, vigilant observers may spot pelagic species, like White-chinned Petrels and Sooty Shearwaters especially from the upper deck of the bird hide. The chances of seeing these birds are increased with strong winds and storms that may push them closer to shore.

During the evening large numbers of Cape Cormorant fly in from foraging at sea and land on the roofs of the factories to roost for the night. During the breeding season a few breeding cormorants can be seen among the roosting birds.

Key species:

Cape Gannet, Crowned Cormorant, Cape Cormorant, Kelp Gull, Hartlaub’s Gull, Swift (Great Crested) Tern, Greater Flamingo, Lesser Flamingo, Cape Teal, South African Shelduck

About the Birding Site

Lamberts Bay is a small fishing village 250 km north of Cape Town. There are several ways to reach the town, the quickest would be along the N7 to Piketberg then the R366 to Het Kruis and then the R365 to Lamberts Bay. The alternate route would be the R27 to Velddrif and then the coastal road through Dwarskersbos and Elands Bay to Lamberts Bay. From a birding perspective there are two notable sites, Jakkalsvlei wetland on the northern edge of the town and Bird Island, which is accessible via a causeway from the fishing harbour.

The wetland provides habitat for a host of wetlands birds typical of the West Coast, and the surrounding vegetation has several species typical of the lowland coastal Strandveld. The island is one of three along the South African coast that have a breeding colony of Cape Gannets. There are also several other coastal species e.g. Swift Terns, and Cormorants that also breed on the island.

Key species:

Cape Gannet, Crowned Cormorant, Cape Cormorant, Kelp Gull, Hartlaub’s Gull, Swift (Great Crested) Tern, Greater Flamingo, Lesser Flamingo, Cape Teal, South African Shelduck.

Other Related Information

Access and facilities:
Admission: Adults: R50
Children: R30
Wildcards: accepted
The coordinates for access point onto the island are 32⁰ 05’ 32.2”S + 18⁰ 18” 06.2”E, which is accessed via the harbour entrance gate at 32⁰ 05’ 34.4”S + 18⁰ 18” 09.0”E.
Access is via a causeway that connects the mainland to the island which from a safety aspect is closed during heavy seas.

Other related information:

Recommended accommodation nearby:
Lamberts Bay has a wide variety of accommodation available to the visitor, from a hotel to self-accommodation to camping facilities.

Text prepared by:
Kevin Shaw, Ecologist: CapeNature

Key species:

Cape Gannet, Crowned Cormorant, Cape Cormorant, Kelp Gull, Hartlaub’s Gull, Swift (Great Crested) Tern, Greater Flamingo, Lesser Flamingo, Cape Teal, South African Shelduck

Contact details:

The reserve can be contacted on:

Cell: +27 (0)87 087 4177
Additional information can be sourced from the CapeNature website https://www.capenature.co.za/.

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