Cape Gannets along the Wild Coast

Alex LamoreauxBirding, IdentificationLeave a Comment

In South Africa, the Eastern Cape’s coastline is known as the ‘Wild Coast’ due to its habit of smashing ships against its rocky shoreline during the winter months, when storms toss and turn the ocean. This beautiful coastline with its vast expanses of farmland, dune jungle, wetlands, and dark forests that I was able to call home for 10 weeks in 2011 is a great region for seeing one of southern Africa’s most beautiful seabirds, the Cape Gannet. This species is almost identical to our Northern Gannet except for all of its flight feathers are black (not just the primary feathers), as well as the thin black stripe that runs far down the bird’s throat. Cape Gannets are restricted to three breeding colonies off the coast of South Africa and three off the coast of Namibia. Everyday these sleek seabirds fly hundreds of miles from their breeding islands to find fish for their young. Almost every morning I would see gannets flying in single-file lines north up the coast, and then back south in the evening. On special occasions, especially when winds were blowing in off the ocean, the gannets would feed close to shore and I was able to capture the photos below, showing different the plumages of the various ages of this great bird!

Cape Gannet – adult (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Cape Gannet – juvenile (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Cape Gannet – subadult (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Cape Gannet – adult diving (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Cape Gannet – adult diving (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

References:

BirdLife International (2004). Morus capensis. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 11 May 2006.

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