African Penguins and Cormorants at Stony Point

Stony Point (34°22’26.58”S 18°53’46.72”E) can be reached by following the sign boards from the R44 when travelling through Betty’s Bay – simply follow the penguin signs. The Jackal Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon and Rock Kestrel are often found along the access roads. Endemic terrestrial species that are found regularly along the access roads and the coastal brush surrounding the Stony Point site include the Southern Boubou, Cape Bulbul, Cape Canary, Fiscal Flycatcher, Cape Grassbird, Karoo Prinia, Cape Spurfowl and Cape Sugarbird, as well as the Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Cape Weaver and Cape White-eye. Other resident species found very often include the Yellow Bishop, Familiar Chat, Rock Martin, Speckled Mousebird, Cape Robin-Chat, Red-winged Starling and Malachite Sunbird. In summer the Black Sawwing, Barn, Greater Striped and White-throated Swallows and Alpine, Little and White-rumped Swifts are numerous.

A group of Penguins march along a sandy beach.
African Penguins (Graeme Hatley)

The Stony Point Penguin Colony is one of only two mainland breeding colonies of the African Penguin and the wooden boardwalks allow visitors to get really close to the penguins and a variety of other coastal birds. 

All five South African cormorant species can be found at Stony Point including the threatened Bank, Cape and Crowned Cormorants. The African Black Oystercatcher, Kittlitz’s, Three-banded and White-fronted Plovers and Black-winged Stilt also feature regularly. Small numbers of Swift Tern are resident and the Common and Sandwich Terns are present in summer. Hartlaub’s and Kelp Gulls are common, as are Little Egret, Egyptian Goose, Grey Heron and African Sacred Ibis seasonally.

Stony Point remains one of the Western Cape’s most important birding assets: it is very well maintained and managed by the Overstrand Municipality and CapeNature and visitors regularly comment on the good number of foreign birders that are engaged with on the boardwalks. An exciting recent development at Stony Point was the launch of a themed visitor information centre, a tearoom and a heritage site for the whaling history of the Stony Point site. The Mooiuitsig Community Trust holds the commercial rights to manage the coffee shop and eco-centre, thus benefiting the local community. A visit to Stony Point is a highly enjoyable birding activity and well worth taking the time to experience. Also keep in mind that a visit to Rooiels and Stony Point can be combined with a visit to the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, making for an excellent day’s birding – three completely different habitat types in close proximity to each other featuring different suites of birds. Cape Whale Coast birding at its best!

Stony Point represents one of the many sites along the Cape Whale Coast shoreline where the adverse impact of plastics, fishing line and other pollutants on our environment in general and our coastal birds in particular often seem obvious. Birds are regularly severely injured through entanglement with various forms of ocean litter and the negative visual impact of the litter could have detrimental impacts on tourism to the region. 

A pair of cormorants sit on a rock.
Crowned (left) & Cape Cormorants (Carin Malan)

The members of BirdLife Overberg recently launched the CleanMarine campaign that features various projects such as regular monthly coastal clean-ups, the erection of bins to collect discarded fishing line and warning placards to inform the public about the presence of African Black Oystercatchers and White-fronted Plovers breeding, or raising their chicks along our beaches and rocky shores. 

Please report all injured or oiled coastal birds and animals to the Cape Whale Coast stranding network at 072 598 7117 immediately. This dedicated service is provided by the African Penguin and Seabirds Sanctuary (APSS) of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust in Kleinbaai.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *