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Location South Africa, Western Cape
Central coordinates 18o 18.00' East  32o 5.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4ii, A4iii
Area 3 ha
Altitude 0 - 8m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa



Summary Situated on the Atlantic coast, c. 150 km north of Cape Town, this small island lies in Lambert's Bay harbour extremely close to shore. A concrete causeway that forms the fishing harbour has linked the island to the mainland since 1959. Rising to only 7.6 m above sea level, the island is rocky and virtually devoid of vegetation.

Site description Situated on the Atlantic coast, c.150 km north of Cape Town, this small island lies in Lambert’s Bay harbour, extremely close to shore. A concrete causeway that forms the fishing harbour has linked the island to the mainland since 1959. Rising to only 7.6 m, the island is rocky and virtually devoid of vegetation.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. Historically this island was dominated by Spheniscus demersus and was devoid of breeding Morus capensis. It would appear that the gannets only colonized this island in 1912; today, it is one of only six localities where they breed. The birds form a single undivided colony in the centre of the island. Breeding numbers have fluctuated dramatically; the population declined steadily between 1956 and 1967, but by 1971 it had recovered, and by 1981 it was 50% larger than it had been in 1971. Numbers of breeding birds have continued to increase since the early 1980s. Phalacrocorax capensis have also nested extensively on the island, occasionally reaching numbers of 61,000 birds. Numbers of Spheniscus demersus halved between the late 1970s and early 1990s, and have subsequently dwindled to a handful of breeding birds. Phalacrocorax coronatus, Larus dominicanus and, occasionally, Sterna bergii breed on the outlying rocks. Phalacrocorax neglectus ceased breeding in 1997, and now only a few roost on the island. Larus hartlaubii and various species of tern roost in large numbers.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
African Penguin Spheniscus demersus resident  5 breeding pairs  A1  Endangered 
Cape Gannet Morus capensis resident  4,000-6,000 breeding pairs  A1, A4ii  Vulnerable 
Cape Gannet Morus capensis winter  8,000-15,000 individuals  A1, A4ii  Vulnerable 
Crowned Cormorant Microcarbo coronatus resident  5-10 breeding pairs  A1  Near Threatened 
Crowned Cormorant Microcarbo coronatus winter  100-170 individuals  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
A4iii Species group - seabirds resident  10,000-19,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2013 high not assessed high
unset
-

Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - persecution/control happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Climate change and severe weather storms and floods happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Climate change and severe weather temperature extremes likely in long term (beyond 4 years) whole area/population (>90%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases problematic native species/diseases - unspecified species likely in long term (beyond 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - sewage happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Pollution excess energy - light pollution happening now whole area/population (>90%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Pollution excess energy - noise pollution happening now whole area/population (>90%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Pollution garbage & solid waste happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Residential and commercial development commercial and industrial development happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors utility & service lines happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Marine Coastal/Supratidal   0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable

Spheniscus demersus African Penguin 500 0 individuals 0 very unfavourable
Morus capensis Cape Gannet 18000 18000 individuals 100 favourable
Microcarbo coronatus Crowned Cormorant 170 25 individuals 15 very unfavourable
Haematopus moquini African Oystercatcher 8 2 individuals 25 very unfavourable
Larus dominicanus Kelp Gull 500 80 individuals 16 very unfavourable

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  The conservation measures needed for the site are being comprehensively and effectively implemented  high 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Bird Island Other Area 4 protected area contains site 3  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Marine Coastal/Supratidal   major
Sea Sea cliffs & rocky shores  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 100%
agriculture -

References Adams (1991), Branch (1991), Broekhuysen et al. (1961), Brooke and Prins (1986), Brooke et al. (1982), Cooper (1981), Cooper and Berruti (1989), Cooper and Brooke (1986), Cooper et al. (1983, 1984), Crawford (1995), Crawford and Dyer (1995), Crawford and Shelton (1978, 1981), Crawford et al. (1982a,b, 1983, 1989, 1990, 1994, 1995c), Frost et al. (1976), Furness and Cooper (1982), Hockey (1983), Hockey and Hallinan (1981), Jarvis (1971), Jarvis and Cram (1971), Morant et al. (1981), Randall et al. (1980), Shelton et al. (1982), Siegfried (1982), Summers and Cooper (1977), Williams (1995), Wilson et al. (1988).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Bird Island. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/08/2015

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