A bird-lover’s paradise
Bird Island lies about 100m off the shore of Lambert’s Bay on the Cape’s West Coast. It offers visitors a rare opportunity to see the blue-eyed Cape gannet up close. Bird Island is one of only six sites world-wide where Cape gannets breed, and it is the only breeding site easily accessible to the public.
The island, which is almost 3 hectares in size, is connected to the mainland via a breakwater. It is an important breeding and roosting site for seabirds, particularly Cape gannets and cormorants. Cape fur seals can be seen sunning themselves on the island’s rocks.
In the island’s well-situated gannet lookout, visitors can get close to the birds and witness their unique mating dances. The bird hide is signposted with interesting information about these seabirds and their habits.
The lookout provides an excellent vantage point for visitors to study the island’s gannets. There are signs across the island providing background information on the West Coast’s birds.
Visitors should cross the breakwater carefully. Entrance is prohibited if rough seas make it too dangerous to cross the breakwater.
If travelling from Cape Town, take the N7 towards Clanwilliam. On the approach to Clanwilliam, take the R364 Graafwater/Lambert’s Bay road to the coast. Once in Lambert’s Bay, follow the signs to the harbour and Bird Island. The whole journey should take no more than four hours.
GPS: 32 5 22.13 S 18 18 8.95 E
Office hours: 08:00 to 18:00
Tel: +27 (0)71 657 5651
Accommodation and permit bookings Tel: +27 (0)21 483 0190
(Bird Island pictures by Kim Stevens)
Sea Change is a multimedia project that tells the story of the birth of humanity, and the ancient relationship we all have with the sea. Information boards placed along the causeway that leads to Bird Island provide a wealth of information on the story of humanity’s connection to the sea, with further informative boards placed inside the island’s visitor centre.
As the only accessible spot in the world to see Cape gannets breed, Bird Island is a bird-watcher’s paradise. The island’s hide is perfectly situated to observe their activities first-hand and learn more about their breeding habits. Other birds include the African penguin, the Cape cormorant and the kelp gull.
Bird Island is not only a tourist destination, but used for scientific research.
The research done on the island relates to the bird populations, in the form of monitoring, censusing and patrols. The Gannet colony at Bird Island is one of the most monitored colonies in the world. It is censured (population recorded) every day, while all eggs stolen by gulls are recorded.
All chicks leaving the Island and caught by seals when leaving the Island are accounted for while all mortalities are recorded. Surrounding beaches are patrolled to account for wash-ups from the Island, while monitoring staff assist Oceans to Coast with monthly Cape Gannet diet sampling and recaptures as well as annual Cape Gannet fledgling ringing. All of the information collected on Bird Island is also sent to CapeNature’s Scientific Services department in Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch.
Bird Island is roughly three hectares in size and connected to the mainland of Lambert’s Bay by a breakwater. It is one of just six breeding colonies of Cape gannets on Earth and is also an important nesting and roosting site for a variety of other seabirds. Cape cormorants and kelp gulls are common.
A hide-cum-interpretation centre has been built at the site where visitors can observe and film at close quarters the activities of these resolute birds.
This extraordinary bird island is superbly facilitated with perfect information, signs, extremely wonderful hide for every birder or people valueing the amazing and unusual sight of Cape gannets, cormorants and Cape furred seals which were clearly visible and active. Their behavioural pattern and feeding of the chicks were mind-blowing To pay R40 for this experience is the best way of investing in nature conservstion which one can only dream of being part of. It was immeasurably jouful to learn about their behaviour. The guide told and pointed out to us the chicks. We would have missed it for sure. The drive from Cape Town was a blessing by enjoying the scenic route and then arrived at this gem to spend the best time ever. Thank you to the guide at the hide who was loaded with very well-informed knowledge and experience to which we could just opemed up our ears to hear the facts and stories of those lovely birds. The sterretjies and seaguls were also everywhere. A real paradise bird island. Can not wait to go their for a day to take the photos of all their different behaviour.. A must see if you love nature. Even the noises and smells are gladly acceptable. Very important: Prepare enough time for staying there. We had to leaave and I will regret it until returning again. Bless this beautiful bird hide and evryone involved.
Despyte van die feit dat ons gehoop het om 'n Austral;iese Malgas te sien en nie een kon sien nie, was dit nogtans 'n wonderlike besoek.
Ons het ook die reservaat besoek en het 'n hele 2 ure na die voels sit en kyk, Dit is so besonders dat ons die weer sal besoek elke keer wanneer ons in die omgewing is. Ons het beslis 'n pragtige land en dit sou wonderlik wees as ons al ons reservate sou beman met sulke vriendelike en ingeligte personeel as die by Lambert’s Bay Bird Island Nature Reserve! Julle is 'n voorbeel vir ander. Baie dankie dit word waardeer. Polokwane Limpopo
Ek en my vrou het onlangs Lambertsbaai besoek maar het nie ons Wild kaarte by ons gehad nie
Adrian Fortuin en Marshall van Rooyen het baie moeite gedoen en ons voorlopig laat betaal.
Nadat ons ongeveer 20 minute na die voels gekyk het bring hulle ons geld terug en vertel ons dat hulle met die hoofkantoor in verbinding was en die kaarte se besonderhede opgespoor het.
Hulle het ons ook die kaarte se nommers neergeskryf sodat ons dit ook by Bontebok park kon toon.
Hierdie is uitstaande diens en word baie op prys gestel.
Ons wens hulle alles van die beste toe.
Jan en Magriet O'Kelly
How do you want to get involved?
Bookings are processed through our Call Centre during office hours Monday to Friday 07h30 to 16h30 and Saturday 08h00 until 12h00 noon (CAT).
Our friendly tourism booking officers will take you through the booking process and answer all enquiries.