Original Articles

Age at first breeding of the African Penguin


Abstract

Numbers of breeding pairs of African Black Oystercatchers showed a highly significant increase at Cape Agulhas over a 24year study period. Mean numbers of fledglings per pair did not increase correspondingly but showed a cyclic tendency, peaking twice, with a slight overall decline. The increase in the frequency of repeat clutches was close to significant. Nest failures were ascribed largely to human disturbance. Indications of increasing public awareness about the sensitivity of breeding oystercatchers were noted as well as increasing adaptability to human presence among some birds, whereas other birds moved their nests further away from this disturbance. In view of the closure of the Overberg coast to recreational vehicles from 20 February 2002 and the relative importance of the area for the conservation of oystercatchers, this long-term study represents an important baseline against which to measure change.

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