Cape Wagtails born at sea..

December 05, 2012 by dyertrust

wagtails shashfinThe question has come up quite a few times if you are born on a boat, what does your birth certificate say?

Well, in the case of a Cape Wagtail chick, hatched on Slashfin, a shark cage diving vessel operating from Gansbaai it will say born at sea

A pair of Cape Wagtails made a nest on Slashfin, and two eggs were laid. Both parents would be active on the boat during the periods when our boat is in harbor, and the crew is getting the boat ready for a trip - and then, when they are heading out, the female leaves the boat when they reach the breakers heading out to sea.

We went out one morning to film Slashfin as it came back into harbor and whilst we were sitting waiting for the boat on the jetty, I could hear the wagtails calling from the rocks on the northern side of the little shop at the harbor. Slashfin was nowhere in sight - Apex then managed to get back before Slashfin and the little wagtail flew out to the boat whilst it was still about 200 yards out from the harbor, circled it twice and made her way back to the rocks. Clearly knowing that this was not their boat! When Slashfin reached the harbor, she flew out again and landed on the deck, sitting patiently whilst they drew into the harbor...
Both parents took up duties, alternatively feeding and clearing fecal sacs out of the nest, doing all of their homework before the next trip departs. We were very concerned about the welfare of this chick as we always thought that a nest and brood needed continuous care.

Wilfred Chivell, owner of Marine Dynamics Tours and Slashfin, decided to let nature take its course. Evidently this was the right decision and the recipe worked for these Wagtails, as they successfully raised one of the two chicks, which is now happily running around, on sea legs, escorting the parents all around the harbor.

Would be interesting to see if they're going to choose this nesting site with all of its challenges again!!!!