Trip Highlights: Black-browed Albatross, Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross and Great Shearwater.
The morning of Saturday 6th April was beautifully calm as we boarded our boat out of Simonstown with Dalton Gibbs, our Cape Town Pelagics guide. In the harbour were lines of Cape Cormorant on the buoy lines, accompanied by Kelp Gulls, Hartlaub’s Gulls and three Grey Herons. Once out of the harbour we soon came across a hunting group of African Penguins with Swift Terns flying overhead. The rest of the trip out of False Bay was on a flat sea, with Cape Gannets passing us as we headed for Cape Point.
At Cape Point we stopped to take in the morning views of the sea cliffs and then headed out to sea; finding large numbers of Cape Gannets, Cape Cormorants, and Swift Terns in feeding flocks. These were soon mixed with White-chinned Petrels and Sooty Shearwaters. This feeding activity continued for a number of miles out, with Cory’s Shearwater joining the mix.
We headed further out to sea, finding a few Shy Albatross as we headed out for potential trawlers on the horizon. The boats that we saw on the horizon turned out to be small tuna fishing boats, which did not process their catch and did not attract birds. Despite this as we travelled further out we found Wilson’s Storm Petrels and Black-browed Albatross in small numbers. A group of small ski boats attracted Great Shearwaters in larger numbers and a few European Storm Petrels. A lone Sabine’s Gull arrived with a few Sub-Antarctic Skuas that hung around the boats looking for food scraps. We applied some fish oil to the water, which brought storm-petrels close to the boat and gave good views of their “water walking” behaviour.
We spent some time out in the deep, visiting different ski boats that had attracted birds, including some Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross that we could add to our list for the day. Around midday and after having visited all the ski boats in the area we headed back for land, entering False Bay to have lunch under the cliffs of Cape Point. After a leisurely lunch we crossed False Bay to visit the Castle Rock cormorant colony. Here we found White-breasted Cormorant, Cape Cormorants, and Bank Cormorants and the adjacent rocks held African Black Oystercatchers and Cape Fur Seals in different age classes. On the way back to Simonstown we stopped opposite Boulders Beach, finding some African Penguin on the land in a feeding group returning to the shore. Back in Simonstown harbour we picked up a Crowned Cormorant to complete this group for the day.
Bird species seen and approximate numbers :
Swift Tern – coastal
Sandwich Tern – coastal
Hartlaub’s Gull – coastal
Cape Gull – coastal
Cape Cormorant – coastal
Bank Cormorant – coastal
White-breasted Cormorant – coastal
Crowned Cormorant – coastal
African Penguin – coastal
African Black Oystercatchers – 3
Cape Gannet – coastal & pelagic – 150
Sabine’s Gull – 1
Sub-Antarctic Skua – 5
White-chinned Petrel – 500
Cory’s Shearwater - 200
Great Shearwater – 150
Sooty Shearwater – 100
Shy Albatross – 75
Black-browed Albatross – 50
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross – 3
Wilson’s Storm- petrel – 70
European Storm-petrel – 1
Cape fur seal
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 Dalton Gibbs.
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