Projects of the Animal Demography Unit

Colour-ringing of colonial waterbirds on the Cape peninsula

Site 2 - Paarl Bird Sanctuary

Doug Harebottle
Animal Demography Unit
Paarl Bird Sanctuary
Photo Doug Harebottle

The heronry at Paarl Bird Sanctuary is probably one of the most important inland breeding factories for colonial waterbirds in the southwestern Cape. The colony has known to support over 50 pairs of Cattle Egrets, 100+ pairs of Sacred Ibis, up to five pairs of Blackheaded Heron, up to three pairs of Grey Heron, about 30 Reed Cormorant pairs and 20+ pairs of Blackcrowned Night Heron.

The heronry is situated on an island about 40m from the shore of a large storage pond within the Paarl Sewage Works. The majority of the birds use the large Eucalyptus trees and large bushes on the island in which to build their nests. However, most of the Sacred Ibis have opted to build their nests on the ground or on low over-hanging branches of the blue-gum trees.

A total of three ringing sessions have taken place, four in 2002 and one in 2003. A summary of the birds colour-ringed to date is presented below.

Species 2002 2003 2004
Sacred Ibis 47 0 22
Cattle Egret 25 8 28
Blackcrowned Night Heron 5 0 0
Blackheaded Heron 2 0 11
African Spoonbill 2 3 1
Yellowbilled Egret 1 2 0
Reed Cormorant 0 0 3
TOTAL 82 13 65
Acknowledgements

Mr Cedric Morkel, Superintendent of Drakenstein Municipal Waste Water Treatment Works, is thanked for permission to ring at the site and for use of their boat in gaining access to the heronry. Mr Roelf, of Paarl Waste Water Treatment Works, is thanked for taking ringers over to the island. The following people assisted with the catching and ringing of birds: Bronwyn Leverton, Gordon Scholtz, John Clements, Ursula Franke, Peter Nupen, Michael Brooks, Marius Wheeler and David Swanepoel.

Photo gallery
 Photo Doug Harebottle Part of the heronry looking on to the northern bank of the island. October 2002.

Photo Doug Harebottle
A juvenile Blackcrowned Night Heron sporting its metal and yellow rings. Bird ringed in October 2002.

Photo Doug Harebottle
John Clements holding a juvenile Blackheaded Heron soon after being fitted with a yellow Darvic ring. Bird ringed on 15 October 2002.

Photo Doug Harebottle
Bronwyn Leverton holding the first African Spoonbill to be colour-ringed at Paarl Bird Sanctuary. Bird ringed on 9 October 2002.

Photo Doug Harebottle
The first Yellowbilled Egret to be ringed at Paarl Bird Sanctuary. Bird ringed on 15 October 2002.

Photo Doug Harebottle
African Spoonbill with individual colour markings - red above metal on left leg, yellow on right leg. Bird ringed on 4 November 2003.

Photo Doug Harebottle
African Spoonbill with individual colour markings - light green above metal on left leg, yellow on right leg. Bird ringed on 4 November 2003.

Photo Doug Harebottle
John Clements and Gordon Scholtz holding the first two individually colour-marked African Spoonbills from Paarl Bird Sanctuary. November 2003.

Any queries or questions can be directed to Doug Harebottle
email: doug@adu.uct.ac.za    Tel: (021) 650-2330   Fax: (021) 650-3434