Trip Highlights: Great Shearwater, Southern Royal Albatross, Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, both Southern & Northern Giant Petrels, plus 5 Southern Right Whales.
The Cape Town Pelagics trip scheduled to run on the weekend was cancelled due to huge swells and windy conditions out at sea. Three clients were available on the Monday when calmer conditions returned and a ‘special’ last minute trip was organised by Cape Town Pelagics with Barrie Rose guiding.
Heading out through False Bay on our way up to Cape Point, a pod of 5 Southern Right Whales appeared in our path as we passed Miller’s Point. Keeping the legally required distance from them we took in their antics for some minutes before heading on our way.
At Cape Point we eased our way across a large 4 to 5m swell stopping to interrogate flocks of Sooty Shearwaters and White-chinned Petrels. Within a few miles Shy Albatrosses made an appearance and accompanied us on our steam out to the canyon edge.
At 18 miles we sighted a trawler moving up from the north. As we approached the trawler our species list grew with the addition of Black-browed Albatross, Wilson’s Storm Petrel, Pintado Petrel and Subantarctic Skua. We arrived on the stern of the hake trawler ‘Fuchsia’ as it started to haul its net. A large flock of birds accumulated during the hauling process and when the ‘bag’ of eight tons of hake popped onto the surface 50m from us we were deafened by the cacophony of 500+ Cape Gannets as they pounded into the water. Once the catch was on board and processing had begun the flock grew and spread out; thousands of Pintado and White-chinned Petrels and hundreds of albatrosses making up the bulk of the flock. Working our way through the birds we added both species of Giant Petrel and an Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross. A young Southern Royal Albatross passed well down our wake but returned on a further 5 occasions until everyone had accumulated really good views. A Great Shearwater was unseasonal and caused some excitement.
During lunch which was taken offshore in the now calm conditions we picked up 2 trawlers slightly further offshore and could not resist a brief visit to the nearest before heading home. On our approach to the trawler an adult Southern Royal Albatross made a leisurely pass around us and provided us with excellent views.
The trip home was very pleasant with the large smooth swell on our stern; we docked in Simon’s Town at 15h30.
Southern Royal Albatross - 2
Shy Albatross - 800+
Black-browed Albatross - 600+
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 1
Southern Giant Petrel - 8
Northern Giant Petrel - 3
Giant Petrel sp - 4
White-chinned Petrel - ca 1000
Pintado Petrel - 3000+
Sooty Shearwater - 400+
Great Shearwater - 1
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel - 100+
Subantarctic Skua - 10
Cape Gannet - 800+
Swift Tern - coastal and to 8mls
Kelp Gull - 20 and coastal
Cape Cormorant coastal and to 5mlsls
White-breasted Cormorant - coastal
Hartlaub’s Gull - coastal
Southern Right Whale - 5
Cape Fur Seal - 100+
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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