Earlier in the week it had looked very doubtful that we would be
going to sea on the weekend due to unfavorable weather
conditions. It was therefore with some relief that
we gathered on the wharf in Simonstown on Saturday
morning October 23rd and departed on a Cape Town Pelagic
trip guided by Cape Town Pelagics guide, Cliff Dorse.
As always the spectacular scenery on the journey out of False Bay
did not fail to impress all on board and the usual
coastal bird species wet our appetites for what was
Interestingly, the first few miles from the Point were relatively
quiet with only a few White-chinned
Petrels and Sooty Shearwaters
being observed. It was at about 3 miles from the Point
when we saw our first Great Shearwater
of the day. The vast number of Great Shearwaters that
followed proved to be one of the highlights of the
day with thousands of birds being seen.
In amongst these Great Shearwaters we picked
up our first Shy Albatross of the day.
We located a trawler on the horizon and as we headed in its direction
we could see that a cloud of birds was in attendance!
As we neared the trawler we soon picked out Wilson’s
Storm Petrel, Pintado Petrel,
Black-browed and Atlantic Yellow-nosed
Albatross. The trawler was not actively fishing
but rather steaming in a southerly direction. From
the large amount of birds in attendance it was clear
the vessel was processing fish. We quickly added Southern
Giant Petrel and Indian Yellow-nosed
Albatross as well as our first Black-bellied
Storm Petrel of the day. The appearance
of a Wandering Albatross caused much
excitement on board as it joined the fray of birds
following the trawler.
We then headed towards a second trawler
which was now in striking distance. Here we had more
of the species mentioned above as well as Northern
Giant Petrel and Subantartic
Skua. A pole fishing vessel was also operating
in the area and as we approached we noticed an immature
Southern Royal Albatross in attendance.
All enjoyed good views of this bird which was undeniably
one of the highlights of the day! We spent some time
in the vicinity of the pole fishing vessel and a nearby
long-liner enjoying the spectacle on offer. At this
point we also encountered a Sabine’s Gull.
Eventually we had to head towards the Point and home. On route
we picked up a few Arctic and a single Pomarine
Jaeger. In the comfort of the bay we enjoyed
a light lunch while two Southern Right
Whales were in attendance. This was followed
buy a stop at the Bank Cormorant breeding
colony at Partridge Point.
Bird species seen during
the course of the day. The numbers reflected can be
considered as rough estimations only.
Shy Albatross c. 80
Black-browed Albatross c. 30
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross 4
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross 10
Southern Royal Albatross 1
Wandering Albatross 1
Southern Giant Petrel 10
Northern Giant Petrel 2
Pintado Petrel c. 50
White-chinned Petrel c. 250
Great Shearwater c. 5000
Sooty Shearwater c. 30
Wilson’s Storm Petrel c. 50
Black-bellied Storm Petrel c. 15
Subantarctic Skua 4
Sabine’s Gull 1
Arctic Jaeger 5
Pomarine Jaeger 1
Arctic Tern 2
Bird species that were common
close to the coast:
Cape Fur Seal
Southern Right Whale 2
A message from Cape Town Pelagics: A huge thank
you to our experienced skippers who are able to safely
lead us to the best birding areas and skillfully manoeuvre
the boat into just the best position while all on
board are busy concentrating on the birds! Coordinating
a pelagic trip over a year in advance with guests
from all across South Africa and different countries
around the world requires an organised office team.
We thank them for their special eye for detail - and
for the sometimes last-minute rearrangements and frustration
if the weather delays the trip to another day! Our
biggest thank-you is to our Cape Town Pelagics guides
who take time out of their work, often involving seabirds
and conservation, and time away from their families,
to provide our guests with a world-class birding experience.
Cape Town Pelagics donates all it profits to seabirds,
and so all the participants who join the trip make
a contribution towards bird research and conservation
a big thank you from all of us.
Trip report by Cape Town Pelagics guide Cliff Dorse.
To book, simply email
or phone us, or submit a
booking enquiry online.