Cape Gannet Colony - Bird Island at Lambert's Bay

Cape Gannet Colony - Bird Island at Lambert's Bay

South Africa
South Africa

When Is the Best Time

Lamberts Bay is a birder's paradise. There are not only the gannets also black cormorants, flamingos, and other colourful birds. 

A group of flamingos in the brackish water
We also spotted lots of flamingos in the lagoon.

Roughly 17.000 gannets nest on Birds Island. It is a photographer's dream for outstanding shots in proximity.

Hundreds of gannets are close together
Gannets know precisely where their nest is - making noise before landing

The best time to visit this marvellous spot is in spring and summer. The gannets migrate before the winter in April and arrive in spring around September.

The gannet colony
Bill scissoring to reduce tension 

Bird Island has a size of three hectares which is far too small for this massive amount of birds. The gannets are famous for their mating ritual, called mating dance. This is the main attraction of Lambert's Bay, not only for birders. Knowledgeable guides give you much information about these fascinating birds.

Opening Hours Cape Gannet Colony

7.30 am - 6 pm

Entrance Fee: Rand 50 only cash accepted

You won't believe it, but the fee did not change in the last ten years. IMO cheap for what you can see.

Lambert's Bay is a quiet and charming village. The beach in the north stretches for more kilometres than you can walk in a day.

Guesthouse in Lambert's Bay
Our lovely guesthouse booked via booking.com.

I highly recommend staying here for two nights for birding and an excellent walk along the beach.

Two fresh lobster
Fresh lobster prepared by our wonderful hosts.

Nights in winter and spring are cold. The summer is hot, and it is the season for big fresh lobster.

The many kilometre long beach in Lambert's Bay
The endless beach in Lambert's Bay just for us.

By chance, we made here a stop for one night and extended our stay. What an unexpected gem on our drive far more north.

Best Months to Visit

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

More Places About

Location and Tips

Lambert's Bay
South Africa
South Africa

The Cape Gannet Colony is one of only six existing colonies in the world. It is a must for birdwatchers, an excellent photo opportunity, and it was an unexpected gem for us when we made a stop in Lambert's Bay. The island is packed with blue-eyed Cape Gannets.

A clean gannet in front of the dirty colony
The gannet just arrived at the colony.

A well-maintained walk along the breakwater leads to the bird hide, which provides a unique chance to come close and watch the mating dances. It is a foul smell, and their noise is loud, but that is mother nature at its best. I loved to watch these smelly, dirty birds. The plumage looks fabulous when they arrive from the sea but soon gets muddy.

Black cormorants on fishermen boats
Black cormorants in the harbour.

The reserve is protected by Cape Nature and has an important role in scientific research about the gannets. The island is also giving shelter to cape cormorants, penguins, and the Cape fur seals. The seals are a threat to the colony and the other bird species as well. 

The information boards at the end of my article were all stolen in the reserve and have not been replaced yet. If you wish to learn more check out my photos.

9 Facts About the Gannets

The massive gannet colony

  1. Gannets often live in large colonies on cliffs, islands and coastal rocks completely or almost surrounded by the sea.
  2. They may remain together for several years, some mate for life. The mating rituals are spectacular to observe fairly close. 
  3. Each gannet pair usually has one egg. If the egg gets lost or broken within the first weeks, a gannet can lay a second egg. 
  4. The incubation of the egg lasts more than 40 days. 
  5. The chicks hatch naked and blind. After one week, they are already covered with fluffy down.
  6. One of the parents is always guarding the nest while the other is hunting for fish.
  7. The juveniles leave the nest roughly after 100 days.
  8. The gannet lifespan is extremely long, with more than 25 years.
  9. They weigh nearly 2.5 kg and have a length of almost 90 cm. 

 

More information about the Bird Island Nature Reserve

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Created by
Micha Herber-Bleich
Micha Herber-Bleich
I am always open, curious about new…