Trip Highlights: Shy, Black-browed & Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, Manx Shearwater, Southern & Northern Giant Petrels
On Sunday 17 August two Cape Town Pelagic boats departed from Simon's Town with Cliff Dorse and Rob Leslie the guides on board. The South-easter had blown at 40 knots until midnight off the point and in the morning we were relieved to see that it had dropped off to a very light breeze.
Our first interesting sighting was just after leaving the harbour where we had three Southern Right Whales. The scenic Cape Peninsula was spectacular in the early morning light and we stopped for a few obligatory pictures at Cape Point.
Shortly after the point we encountered our first White-chinned Petrels and Sooty Shearwaters for the day. The conditions were very calm and while this allowed us to speed out towards the trawling grounds at a good rate, we did not encounter many different species. We were very excited to see the distinctive outline of a trawler on the horizon and we made a beeline for it. It was only when we got closer did we start to add other species to the day list. These were Wilson's Storm Petrel, Pintado Petrel, Shy and Black-browed Albatross. While there were large numbers of birds in the vicinity they were all sitting in big rafts on the water or just milling around. The trawler was not processing any fish as there were no birds actively feeding in her wake. However we enjoyed great views of the species mentioned above and also added Southern Giant Petrel.
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross (left) and Shy Albatross (right) seen during the trip.
There were two trawlers running to the south of us and we headed in their direction to see if they were processing any fish. We arrive to find that there were also no birds feeding in either of their wakes. As such we decided to create a bit of a chum slick with sardines and fish oil. It brought in good numbers of birds including our first Northern Giant Petrel and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross of the day. We noticed that the one trawler had started to retrieve her nets so we joined the ever increasing mass of birds as the nets surfaced. A single Manx Shearwater put in a few fleeting appearances. We followed the trawler as she steamed and processed her catch. We were lucky enough to intercept another trawler heading out of the south but no additional species were encountered in the fray.
After an enjoyable lunch, we headed towards home. The trip back was uneventful except for the mandatory stop at Partridge Point to view the Bank Cormorant colony and three Humpback Whales in False Bay. Thanks must go to our two skippers for a great day at sea!
Summary of birds seen during the trip. Numbers are rough estimates only.
The following species were encountered out at sea:
Shy Albatross c. 150
Black-browed Albatross c. 100
Indian Ocean Yellow-nosed Albatross 5
Southern Giant Petrel 5
Northern Giant Petrel 4
Pintado Petrel c. 500
White-chinned Petrel c. 300
Sooty Shearwater c. 200
Manx Shearwater 1
Wilson's Storm Petrel c. 50
Subantarctic Skua c. 20
The following species were encountered close to the coast:
Cape Fur Seal
Southern Right Whale
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 and Rob Leslie.
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