First breeding records for Damara Terns and density of other shorebirds along Angola’s Namib Desert coast

  • Robert E Simmons


The Damara Tern Sterna balaenarum is a small coastal-nesting seabird that breeds in the Namib Desert, with a stronghold in Namibia. About 125 pairs are known from scattered localities in South Africa, and there are suggestions that it breeds in the northern end of the Namib in Angola. During a three-day survey in southern Angola in January 2009, from Tombua in the north to the Cunene River mouth in the south (a distance of 197 km), 573 Damara Terns, of which 7.5% were fledglings, were recorded in three main concentrations: two in the Baia dos Tigres region, and one 30 km north of the Cunene River mouth. A breeding colony was located at the southern site containing a minimum of six nests with single eggs (5) or a recently hatched chick (1). This represents the first known breeding record for Damara Terns in Angola and is a minimum estimate of the true numbers. Other shorebirds encountered on the survey included the first record of European Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus and the second record of Swift Tern Sterna bergii in Angola. A total of 26 species of shorebirds was recorded at a density (33 birds km-1 coast) that was identical to that recorded 10 years previously. The probable stronghold of Damara Terns in Angola is the Baia dos Tigres region, where shorebird numbers are relatively high compared to other sections of the Namib Desert coast.

OSTRICH 2010, 81(1): 19–23

Author Biography

Robert E Simmons
DST/NRF Centre of Excellence at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute, Department of Zoology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-947X
print ISSN: 0030-6525