Greater Sheathbill sighting, Mazeppa Bay, Wild Coast

James Cary, Conservation Manager for the Wild Coast Project captured a record of a vagrant Greater Sheathbill (Chionis alba) at Mazeppa Bay.

Museum ornithologist, Dr Phil Wittington commented as follows “They live on the tip of the South American mainland and sub-Antarctic islands and are sometimes kept on board fishing boats by Asian fisherman who then release them before they make landfall. There have been several in the Western Cape over the years but this is the first one I have heard of in the Eastern Cape”.

So an exciting record for the region …..

mini-Greater sheathbill3

Picture: James Cary

The species was first recorded in the southern African region in 1986 when a single bird flew aboard a fishing boat off Three Anchor Bay, Cape Town. 7 other other records have been noted in the Western Cape all between April and July – the period during or immediately following the northward migration of this species wawy from its breeding grounds around the Antarctic peninsula in the SW Atlantic. Reference: JC Sinclair in The Complete Book of Southern African Birds [1989].

mini-Greater sheathbill4

Picture: James Cary

Thanks to Peter Tyldesley, Head, Wild Coast Project, Eastern Cape, SA for informing the museum of this record.


About East London Museum Science

Conservation Biologist East London Museum South Africa
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