"Seabirds are so easy to catch and ring!"
"This is the best workshop I've attended, with birds available for ringing non-stop!"
These were some comments heard at the first seabird ringing course to be held in South Africa.
Bird Island at Lamberts Bay is well-known for its Cape Gannets. Here Leshia Upfold from Marine & Coastal Management demonstrates how to catch an adult gannet with a crook. The aim was to colour ring 50 pairs of gannets so that they can be studied in detail (see objectives below).
Here is gannet 3A at its nest with one egg.
Similarly Bruce Dyer handled the Cape Cormorants. The Cape Cormorants were at various stages in the breeding cycle, from eggs to large chicks as in this nest with adult VK.
Vincent Ward, in addition to organising the logistics at Lamberts Bay, worked on the Kelp Gulls. These cannot be approached as closely as the gannets and cormorants, and thus traps were placed over the nests with eggs.
Ringers want to catch as many birds as possible, and so a team put mistnets on the pier, knowing that the Swift Terns and Common Terns roost there at night. A handful of each species were ringed.
Although it was primarily a seabird ringing course, there was opportunity to ring other birds between sessions to reduce disturbance at the seabird colonies.
Herman Bernitz was excited to trap a juvenile Pale Chanting Goshawk. Note the first primary on each wing moulting into adult plumage. This bird was given the first engraved ring for this species. This is a new project organised by Gerard Malan - so start looking out for rings on your travels through the Karoo.
Mistnetting at Verlorenvlei Forest Reserve, Elandsbay, provided a large variety of species, including this newly fledged Barthroated Apalis, as well as Longbilled Crombec, Bokmakierie, Redfaced Mousebird, Karoo Robin, and Namaqua Dove.
At Dassiepoort farm, near Lamberts Bay, we were treated to a beautiful ringing spot under shade cloth and next to a dam. In addition to this Malachite Kingfisher, we ringed many Cape Weavers, Red Bishops, as well as Rock Martin, Southern Grey Tit and others.
A special sighting was of Franklin's Gull.
We certainly had an incredible experience handling large seabirds at Bird Island and hope to be back there next year.