Once upon a time we enjoyed Springbok Radio in this country – the demise of which has caused great sadness among those of us who grew up with its offerings. In about 1971 we probably all sang along with the South African folk singers Des and Dawn Lindberg whenever the radio played their song about a little boy who rescued an oil soaked seagull from the sea.

… And the seagull’s name was Nelson

Nelson who came from the sea

And the seagull’s name was Nelson

Nelson the seagull free…

It was thus natural to temporarily name our seagull visitor Nelson [Nelson who came from the sea]. Our introduction to Nelson came about when he came into the chalet at Tsitsikamma to snatch a large square of quiche from the coffee table near the open door – this is Nelson polishing off the last of the crumbs.

Little did we realise that Nelson was to become a daily visitor – always on the lookout for a bite to eat. He was so quick that I learned to hide my early morning rusk under my sunhat whilst enjoying the view of the waves crashing over the rocks.

Nelson is a Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus) – also called the Southern Black-backed Gull – of which there was an abundance. Its bill is bright yellow with a red spot near the tip. Note too, the orange eye-ring.

We became familiar with Nelson’s feet planted firmly on the narrow ledge of the deck.

Before leaving the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park, we came across this gull sitting on its nest.

… And the seagull’s name was Nelson …


Birds need water. I have mentioned the need for Lesser-striped Swallows to source mud in order to build their nests and expressed the need to provide clean water for birds to drink and to bathe in. Bathing helps to remove dirt from the feathers, making them easier to preen. Different birds drink water in different ways, making it interesting to observe them doing so. Here are three pictures to illustrate the interaction between birds and water. The first shows a Cape White-eye sourcing water to drink from an overhead irrigation pipe in the gardens at !Gariep Dam:

The next is a Red-eyed Dove drinking deeply from a bird bath in a Boksburg garden:

Then we move to Tsitsikamma, where these Kelp Gulls are enjoying the swimming pool at the camping area: