On the Cape Peninsula’s west coast, the coastal village of Kommetjie has a small tidal pool and outcrop of rocky shoreline known as ‘The Kom’. The area is used by a large selection of sea and shorebirds for roosting and foraging.
Much of the rocky outcrops is covered at high tide, so visiting at low tide will provide better results.
The boat-launching site can at times be busy, but this generally does not disturb the bird life unduly.
All four species of marine cormorant, Cape, Crowned, White-breasted and Bank can be seen roosting in groups on the rocky outcrops. Bank Cormorant is however becoming less common and is now listed as Endangered, as is the Cape Cormorant but these are far more abundant.
Mixed roosts of gulls and terns are always present. Hartlaub‘s and Kelp Gull and Swift Tern throughout the year, with the migrant Sandwich and Common Tern present during summer.
During the winter months small numbers of Antarctic Tern move up from their breeding grounds in the Southern Ocean and may be seen roosting on the rocks, although their numbers here are now greatly reduced. Early arrivals in winter still show distinctive breeding plumage.
African Black Oystercatcher are always present, patrolling the rocky shoreline and foraging close to the waterline.
During summer, Palearctic migrant waders forage along the intertidal zone. These may include Common Whimbrel, Common Greenshank, Ruddy Turnstone, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Grey and Common Ringed Plover.
Sanderling also forage amongst the kelp washed up on the sandy beaches, as do Little Egret, Hadeda and Sacred Ibis.
Other species occurring on the promontory and in the strandveld are; Blacksmith Lapwing and White-fronted Plover, Spotted Thick-knee (Dikkop), Cape Bulbul, Karoo Prinia and Cape Robin-chat.
Kommetjie can also be good for pelagic seabirds at the right time. It is best during winter northwest storms with onshore winds that drive the seabirds closer inshore.
The best viewing place is along the path that runs left of the tidal pool, or drive along the tarred road past the houses to the Kommetjie lighthouse parking area. From here a path through the strandveld leads to a coastal path. Any point along this path is good. A spotting scope is advised for best results.
In winter look for Black-browed and Shy Albatross, Sooty Shearwater, White-chinned Petrel, Sub-antarctic Skua, occasionally Northern and Southern Giant Petrel.
You may be lucky and spot Yellow-nosed Albatross (Atlantic/Indian), Pintado or Soft-plumaged Petrel or even Antarctic Prion.
In summer many of the winter species are still present and are joined by North Atlantic seabirds migrating south, in the main Cory’s, Great and Manx Shearwater. Cape Gannet are common offshore throughout the year.
Other species that occur in the strandveld here are; Southern Double-collared and Malachite Sunbird, Cape, Grey-headed and House Sparrow, Cape Wagtail, Cape Canary and Cape Grassbird.