The African Penguin
The South African population of the African Penguin, 2015 census: 19000 breeding pairs or 38000 adult breeding penguins, of which Stony Point supports 13% of the national breeding stock of this endangered species.
African Penguin Annual Moult
- The annual moult season commences from October, with a peak occurrence in December. It then tapers off in the early months of the following year.
- Every penguin will moult every 12 months – like clockwork. During the moult the birds have to remain ashore because feathers are shed and replaced. The moult phase is the most sensitive period in the annual cycle for the African penguin.
- Moulting penguins at Stony Point ‘loaf’ within the intertidal zone of the coastal fringe as this location is the coolest environment where natural and sustained metabolic processes can evolve with detriment to this annual fasting phase.
- Peak count: December 2015 was 1973 adult moulters and 416 juvenile moulters.
African Penguin Chick Boulstering Project
This conservational intervention currently aligns with the actions and tasking as required and as per Government Gazette #36996, 31 October 2013 – Department of Environmental Affairs pertaining to Objective 4.2.6 and Action 126.96.36.199 of the Biodiversity Management Plan for the African Penguin.
- Owing to the onset of adult moult at Stony Point, which commences in October, nest sites become abandoned.
- Chicks remaining on the nest would eventually starve to death in the absence of parents, owing to the onset of the annual moult season. These chicks are identified as ‘wanderers’ in poor condition.
- Evening observations are conducted where abandoned chicks are identified; where possible, without disturbing normal commute activities of adults returning to active nests, these chicks are removed.
- Those removed during the moult season are stabilized and then transported to SANCCOB for rehabilitation rearing and are later released back into the wild as ‘blue’ fledglings.
- 286 abandoned chicks where removed in November, with 39 deaths at SANCCOB. 228 were released, 197 at Stony Point, and 18 remain at SANCCOB.
Summary of 2015 African Penguin Colony Occurrences [January to December]
- Abandoned nests with egg content – 1287 [February to March]
- Predated eggs – 346. Predated chicks – 143. Predated adults – 225 [93% within the residential]
- Natural death chicks – 232. Natural adult deaths – 9.
- Injured – 80 [38% of associated admissions]
- Oiled – 14
- Sickly – 41 [including arrested moulters]
This species is currently listed as an endangered sea bird, owing to population decline.
- Summer breeder – commencing in September and brood attempts cease in February.
- Predominantly brood in the southern aspect of the Stony Point colony.
- 2015/2016 seasonal census at Stony Point concludes a total of 901 active nests.
This species is currently listed as an endangered seabird, owing to population decline. There is a breeding population of 220 pairs in South Africa. [Namibia supports the largest population of this species.]
- Summer to Autumn breeders
- Stony Point is the home to the largest Bank Cormorant breeding population in South Africa, consisting of a mere 62 breeding pairs.
- Clutch size: 1 – 3 eggs per attempt
- Nest sites is vulnerable to high winds and high seas, owing to the location of the nest site colony – atop the rocks of Beacon Bay.
- Currently there are 22 active nest sites with egg content.
With fewer than 2000 breeding pairs in the home range, this is one of the rarest birds in the world.
- Stony Point supports a breeding population of 26 breeding pairs [alongside the Bank Cormorant] in the May peak and then 39 breeding pairs in the October breeding period [alongside the Cape Cormorant].
- Vulnerable to disturbance and extreme weather.
This is a vulnerable shorebird breeding species that predominantly breeds in and along the coastal fringe, just above high tide levels – in sandy shore lines and it forages in the rocky intertidal zone.
- Oystercatchers breed predominantly during the months of November to March.
- Nest sites are vulnerable to human traffic above the high water marks of sandy shorelines. They are also vulnerable to free-roaming dogs that are not under the direct control of recreational beach users.
- Over recent years the nest sites have been monitored and areas of high nest site densities have been mapped for annual monitoring purposes.
- Within the coastal boundaries of the Betty’s Bay Marine Protected Area, 12 active nests were monitored throughout the 2015/2016 breeding season to determine the success of attempts.
- Seven of the 12 monitored nests were successful and a total of 21 chicks fledged in this breeding season, marking this as the best year for the oystercatchers breeding within our MPA boundaries.