Bird Island Nature Reserve – Lambert's Bay, South Africa - Atlas Obscura

Bird Island Nature Reserve

Lambert's Bay, South Africa

This small island off Lambert's Bay is home to more than 2,000 Cape gannets and is the only such breeding colony open to the public.  


Run by Cape Nature, Bird Island Nature Reserve off the shores of Lambert’s Bay is one of only six breeding colonies of the enchanting Cape gannet. It’s also the most accessible, as the rest are located further out to sea.

The island acts as a research center that also allows for public visits. Visitors are free to walk around the three-hectare island and visit the gannet hide. There, visitors witness as many as 2000 gannets in a unique, yet natural environment.

Depending on the time of year, nesting gannets or furry chicks can also be seen. Regardless of the season, watching these large and attractive birds come and go from the sea to the colony is a fascinating experience. Gannets are monogamous and their various mating rituals can be observed, from bowing, to sky pointing and preening.  Surprisingly, the colony doesn’t smell, but it is quite noisy, with a cacophony of rasping gannet calls.

The island, reached by a breakwater from the mainland, is also home to plenty of Cape cormorants and Kelp gulls. Also present are other species of cormorants and terns. The occasional African penguin has also been spotted, and a colony of Cape fur seals also call the island home.

Know Before You Go

Parking is available at the harbor. Rough seas do prevent entry. 

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March 18, 2020

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