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Hot summer extends breeding time on Intaka Island

28 March 2017

  

The very hot summer and the protracted drought are heating things up at Intaka Island – for the Whitebreasted Cormorants anyway.

Margaret Mac Iver, one of the founding members of the Intaka Island/ Blouvlei Environmental  Committee who has undertaken a monthly breeding survey of birds on Intaka Island for more than 20 years, says for the first time Whitebreasted Cormorants have been spotted breeding on the island during March.

“While they have been known to breed in March in other areas such as Paarl sewage, in all the years we have been monitoring them on Intaka they have never done so.”

Whitebreasted Cormorants are normally the first to start breeding in Intaka in September each year with breeding numbers peaking in October but by January they are usually finished and have left their nests.

Mac Iver says a number of Whitebreasted Cormorants were now back and building on to the same nests they had used earlier in the season.

“There are currently three or four breeding pairs in the trees and most surprising are the numbers that are suddenly building, and already sitting on nests on the two platforms on the island.  I counted five nests on one and four on the other.”

Mac Iver said it was possible the current warm weather conditions had made the Whitebreasted Cormorants “get in another brood while the going is good!”

“It will be interesting to see whether the forthcoming winter will affect this - and if we get winter storms!”

Alan Liebenberg, Environmental Manager of the Century City Property Owners’ Association, said that Intaka had become a major breeding ground for Whitebreasted Cormorants attracting more than 100 breeding pairs per year.

“However, a few years back they were chased away by water mongooses that were raiding their nests but now we have overcome that problem they are returning in increasing numbers.”