Projects of the Animal Demography Unit

Colour-ringing of colonial waterbirds on the Cape peninsula

Site 1 - Rondevlei Nature Reserve

Doug Harebottle
Animal Demography Unit
Rondevlei Nature Reserve
Photo Doug Harebottle

Rondevlei Nature Reserve is probably the most important breeding locality on the Cape Peninsula for colonial waterbirds, and probably supports the largest Sacred Ibis breeding colony in the south-western Cape. The reserve also supports significant numbers of Glossy Ibis, Cattle Egret, African Spoonbill, Blackheaded Heron, Grey Heron and Purple Heron during the breeding season which usually spans September to December. The birds use up to three of the four reed-islands in the vlei in which to build their nests.

To date a total of seventeen ringing sessions have taken place, nine in 2002, eight in 2003 and three in 2004. A summary of the number of colour-ringed birds is given below.

Species 2002 2003 2004
Sacred Ibis 476 884 71
African Spoonbill 14 1 2
Blackheaded Heron 13 11 1
Grey Heron 9 21 7
Reed Cormorant 4 5 0
Blackcrowned Night Heron 3 8 2
Cattle Egret 1 67 0
Purple Heron 1 6 1
TOTAL 521 1003 84

Thanks are due to Dalton Gibbs, reserve manager at Rondevlei, and his staff (Justin Miller, Crispin Barrett, Lynden Rhoda, Edward Moses, Theo Geland, Adrian Khan, Lesley-Anne Williams, Tshepo Mamabolo, Tamaryn Allan, and Adele Pretorius), Clifford Dorse, reserve manager at Zandvlei Nature Reserve, and his staff (Erica Foot), the Tygerberg Bird Club ringers (Peter Nupen, Margaret Macall and Bob Ellis), Graham Grieve, Paul Bremer, Darrel Lester, Kim Lester, Nina Lester, Steven Lester, Andrea Deary, Derek Noffke, Diella Noffke and Michael Brooks for their assistance in catching and ringing waterbirds at Rondevlei.

Photo gallery


Description Photos
A juvenile Sacred Ibis being fitted with a red Darvic ring.
Photo Doug Harebottle
Two juvenile Sacred Ibis awaiting release after being fitted with metal and red rings, September 2002. African Snipe nest
Photo Doug Harebottle
The two Sacred Ibis chicks back in the Rondevlei heronry. The red colour-rings are quite visible from a distance and should be able to be seen easily with binoculars or a telescope. African Snipe nest
Photo Dalton Gibbs
Two of the Grey Heron chicks that were fitted with red rings at Rondevlei Nature Reserve, September 2002. African Snipe nest
Photo Dalton Gibbs
A nest of an African Spoonbill among the Sacred Ibis colony. African Snipe nest
Photo Dalton Gibbs


Description Photos
An individually colour-marked Cattle Egret fledgling.
Photo Doug Harebottle
An individually colour-marked Sacred Ibis fledgling.
Photo Doug Harebottle
A young Purple Heron with a unique colour-combination.
Photo Doug Harebottle


Description Photos
The first individually colour-marked Grey Heron for the 2004 season.
Photo Doug Harebottle
The only two individually marked Black-crowned Night Herons ringed at Rondevlei for the 2004 season.
Photo Doug Harebottle
One of 15 Sacred Ibis fitted with an unique colour combination. This bird was re-sighted during January 2005 at Rondevlei!
Photo Doug Harebottle

Any queries or questions can be directed to Doug Harebottle
email:    Tel: (021) 650-2330   Fax: (021) 650-3434