Trip Highlights: 5 species of albatross including close up views of an immature Wanderer, Sabine's Gull, Northern & Southern Giant Petrels, a single Spectacled Petrel and Pomarine Skua.
Wandering Albatross (juvenile).
We left Simon's Town harbour early on Thursday morning on what started out as a rather cold and bumpy trip with only a few birds, but quickly morphed into an epic day out at sea. Blustery conditions, a three to four metre swell and a brief squall had all aboard Destiny feeling cold and slightly wet, but these feelings were quickly forgotten when the group encountered their first long-liner fishing vessel.
Black-browed Albatross (immature)
Large numbers of seabirds were observed including four species of albatross - Shy, Black-browed and both Indian and Atlantic Yellow-nosed species. White-chinned and Pintado Petrels were around in large numbers as well as Great and Sooty Shearwaters. Amongst all the albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters the group also got to glimpse the occasional Subantarctic Skua, Wilson's Storm Petrel and Sabine's Gull.
A little side drama was unfolding too, a group of very large Yellow-fin Tuna were driving fish to the surface and breaching to catch them. This brought in Cape Gannets and Cape Gulls who were keen to benefit from the hard work of the Tuna. Then, out of nowhere, a huge immature Wandering Albatross flew in and dwarfed all around it - including numerous Northern and Southern Giant Petrels. This Wandering Albatross was unlike many of it's relatives and stayed around our boat for a long time. It even sat in the water just metres from us!
Spectacled Petrel squabbles for scraps with a White-chinned Petrel.
Just when we were getting ready to leave a single Spectacled Petrel flew in and landed near the boat. We spent some time observing the bird, but as it was drawing to the end of the trip we reluctantly had to head back towards Simon's Town. However, the birding wasn't quite finished yet and, along with seeing Bank, Cape and White Breasted Cormorants, we were treated to a flyover from a single Pomarine Skua. For Toby Green, a Scottish birder who frequently guides Scottish pelagic trips, this was; he said: "On another level, an amazing pelagic trip."
Southern Giant Petrel
Species seen at sea
Black Browed Albatross
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross
Southern Giant Petrel
Northern Giant Petrel
White Chinned Petrel
White Breasted Cormorant
Cape Fur Seal
Other interesting sightings
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 Nick Fordyce.
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