Sea Birding Pelagic Trips South Africa, Cape Town Pelagics


  Trip Reports - Trip report for 29 August 2005





Inclement weather caused the weekend pelagic trip to be cancelled. Cape Town Pelagics managed to find enough punters to salvage a trip for the following day. Monday 29 August was eagerly awaited by the birders who gathered on Simon’s Town quay side for the departure of the Ocean Warrior to the pelagic grounds off Cape Point. The trip was lead by Dalton Gibbs.
Soon after we left the harbour we spotted a southern right whale and shortly thereafter a Subantarctic Skua put in an appearance. It seemed as if the recent cold front with its strong winds was going to bring some surprises.

The first vessel we picked up on was an active longliner. Around it were a relatively small flock of commoner pelagic species, however, we picked up an Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross After an hour with the long liner we moved to deeper water and soon found a trawler. Our timing was perfect, for as soon as we arrived she started hauling in the nets which attracted the usual flock of several hundred birds. We settled amongst this mixture of birds and had excellent close range views of Shy, Black-browed, Indian Yellow-nosed and Atlantic Yellow-nosed albatrosses. Both Northern and Southern Giant Petrels mixed with Sooty Shearwater and Wilson's storm petrels dashed amongst the groups of birds. Just as we thought the spectacle of the numbers and variety of birds could not get any better, the cry went up for a SOUTHERN FULMAR. Good views were obtained of this bird as we slowly cruised past it.

Within a few minutes more excited cries rang out as a large white backed albatross was sighted some distance away to the south and heading into the wind. Dave Christie, the skipper of the Ocean Warrior, gave chase. The boat fairly flew over the water and soon closed the gap on what was a NORTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS. As we were watching it, amazingly our binocular vision was filled with another very large bird – this time a WANDERING ALBATROSS, and for a brief moment we had the pleasure of seeing both birds fly along side each other

With these large birds heading off into the southern ocean, we sailed once more slowly past the lines of birds feeding behind the trawler, all the time scanning for spectacled petrel which we failed to find. We turned our bows for home, we got on to the first GREAT SHEARWATER of the season – it doesn’t get much better than this! A further three Southern Right Whales were seen on the way back to Cape Point and another awaited us at Simon’s Town harbour, rounding off a fabulous Cape Town Pelagics trip.



  Pelagic birds seen and approximate numbers



Northern Royal Albatross 1
Wandering Albatross 1
Shy Albatross 400
Black-Browed Albatross 300
Indian Yellow-Nosed Albatross 8
Atlantic Yellow-Nosed Albatross 4
Northern Giant-Petrel 12
Southern Giant-Petrel 8
White-Chinned Petrel 1500
Pintado Petrel 1500
Southern Fulmar 1
Great-Winged Petrel 2
Sooty Shearwater 750
Great Shearwater 1
Wilson's Storm Petrel 40
Subantarctic Skua 50