Bird Island – Lamberts Bay

Bird Island – Lamberts Bay

Lamberts Bay, along our west coast, is best known for Bird Island and the 10 000 strong population of breeding Cape Gannets. It attracts thousands of visitors each year who come to view and photograph these charismatic seabirds from the carefully designed viewing hide and to also enjoy the magical vibe of a west coast fishing town. Several other seabird species are regularly encountered here and even at night, you can easily hear the flocks of calling gannets, gulls and terns that are on nearby Bird Island.ย  Driving into the harbor at sunrise, huge flocks that number in their thousands (of Hartlaubs Gulls and Swift, Sandwich, Common and Arctic Terns) adorn the factory roves or wheel in the skies above constantly calling.

Cape and Crowned Cormorants build their nests on platforms that have been provided for them or nest amongst the masts of abandoned fishing vessels. After having paid your entrance fee and having wandered across the harbor breakwater to the island, you will be entranced for several hours watching the Cape Gannets as they wheel into land and then shuffle forward to their designated spaces, where they settle and preen. Any deviation from the set path results in angry pecks from territory holding birds. It is worth scanning out to sea to watch the flocks of Cape Cormorant heading off to the feeding grounds with the hope of a lucky sighting of the endemic Heavisideโ€™s Dolphin that are regularly seen in the area.

During the 2005/2006 breeding season, more than 200 adult gannets were predated upon by Cape Fur Seals and as a result, the rest of the colony abandoned their nesting attempts. Through conservation intervention, the responsible seals were removed and decoy gannets were placed on the breeding site to try and attract the gannets back. Fortunately in 2007 the colony returned to breed successfully.


Top Species:
  • Cape Gannet
  • Hartlaubs Gull
  • Cape Cormorant
  • Heavisideโ€™s Dolphin


Season and Weather:

The climate is Mediterranean with warm summers and mild winters. Wind is present throughout the year with rain falling mainly in the winter months. Always be prepared for sudden changes in the weather. The summers are the dry and dusty months, whilst winter is the time when the fynbos is lush, green and in flower. The best months to visit are April and September.


Other Activities:
  • Birding
  • Boat trips
  • Fishing
  • Beach activities


Getting There:

Lamberts Bay is best reached off the N7 that runs north of Cape Town. Follow the R364 and the signs to Lamberts Bay. The entrance to the harbor is easily found once in the town.


Peter Chadwick

As a dedicated conservationist and wildlife & conservation photographer, Peter Chadwick has over 25 years of experience in terrestrial and marine protected area management. He is the founder of African Conservation Photography and has worked throughout southern Africa in some of its most special wild places, including the Kalagadi Desert, Kruger National Park, Drakensberg Mountains, the sub-antarctic Prince Edward Islands and De Hoop Nature Reserve and Marine Protected Area. This has instilled in him a deep passion for Africa, its wild places and its peoples.

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