Trip Highlights: 4 Albatross species, Great Shearwater and Long-tailed Skua
At 07h45 on Friday morning a group of birders departed Hout Bay harbour on board a Cape Town Pelagics trip guided by Barrie Rose. A strong frontal system had swept over the Cape Peninsula earlier in the week leaving rainy conditions and a large swell but virtually no wind.
Just out of the harbour and passing the Sentinel we encountered flocks of Antarctic Terns feeding over Cape Cormorants. These terns are not routinely seen on pelagic trips and we spent some minutes taking them in. Proceeding further we added a number of coastal species and to our surprise a flock of Wilson’s Storm Petrels even before passing Cape Slangkop. During the passage offshore we continued adding species including White-chinned Petrel, Sooty Shearwater and Shy Albatross, a Humpback Whale surfaced some distance away from us.
Intermittent rain squalls did not dent the enthusiasm and as we approached the shelf-edge Pintado Petrel and a Great Shearwater were further additions. At a distance of 30miles from Cape Slangkop it became obvious that in keeping with conditions over the past few weeks we would not find a trawler. At this stage we set up a chum slick of cut and crushed sardines. It was not long before we had a flock of 20 Wilson’s Storm Petrels feeding in the slick. A group of Pintado Petrels were attracted to the slick and were joined by a very confiding Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross which spent 20 minutes with us. Black-browed Albatross and a single Long-tailed Skua were visitors and provided great views.
We had barely started the steam home when a Northern Royal Albatross made a close pass giving everyone good definitive views. Also seen at this time was a Southern Giant Petrel.
The trip back to Hout Bay was uneventful with only an Arctic Skua showing itself in the distance.
Northern Royal Albatross – 1
Shy Albatross – 30
Black-browed Albatross – 10
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 1
Southern Giant Petrel – 2
Giant Petrel sp - 1
White-chinned Petrel – ca 200
Pintado Petrel – 40
Sooty Shearwater – 50
Great Shearwater - 1
Wilson’s Storm Petrel – 100+
Subantarctic Skua – 2
Arctic Skua – 1
Long-tailed Skua - 1
Cape Gannet – 50
Antarctic Tern – 80+
Swift Tern – coastal and to 8mls
Kelp Gull – coastal
Cape Cormorant coastal and to 5mlsls
White-breasted Cormorant - coastal
Humpbacked Whale -1
Cape Fur Seal – 30+
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 Barrie Rose.
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