MONITORING OF CAPE CORMORANTS
February 04, 2010 by dyertrust
Anne Voorbergen is an MSc student from Wageningen University (the Netherlands) and has been on Dyer Island, with the support of CapeNature, for four months. Doing fieldwork for her thesis on the natural Kelp Gull predation of the Cape Cormorant, she has the incredible privilege of witnessing their behaviour on a daily basis.
An observation tower was erected on the Island at the end of 2009 and it is from this structure that Anne gets to monitor the interactions between gulls and cormorants and now even the seals.
I monitored Cape Cormorant colonies of different sizes and collected data on the predation by Kelp Gulls as well as any influence of human disturbance. Since the Cape Cormorant chicks are fledged now, they all take their first swim along the coastline where Cape Fur seals are waiting to have an easy meal. Since a few weeks ago, I have started to monitor this as well. This happens especially during the first part of the day; one morning I counted 16 kills in one hour for a small part of the Island. Since I will have data of both predators I can make a comparison between the two; which predator has more impact on the Dyer Island Cape Cormorant population.
Anne will leave the Island the first week of February. It has been a privilege to work with the birds and study their behaviour and although I will miss them, I am quite ready to meet the real world again!