Trip Highlights: 3 species of albatross, Southern Giant Petrel, Pintado Petrel, Antarctic Prion, and Subantarctic Skua.
Wilson's Storm Petrel
This Cape Town Pelagics trip with guide Dominic Rollinson on board, left Simon's Town harbour at 07h30 on a fairly pleasant winters morning, with very little wind to speak of.
The 30 minutes or so that it took to get out of False Bay was calm and fairly uneventful, with only a few Cape Cormorants and Swift Terns noted. It was only as we rounded Cape Point that bird numbers started to pick up. We soon had Cape Gannets and large numbers of White-chinned Petrels. We hung around a while and enjoyed Cape Point in the early morning light as well as smaller numbers of Sooty Shearwaters, however the large numbers of Cory's Shearwaters which were seen two weeks prior were not around this time. Just south of Cape Point we had a large school of Long-beaked Common Dolphins which hung around the boat for a few minutes affording for good photographic opportunities.
We continued our way south keeping a look out for any fishing trawlers in the area, after a while we realised we were unlikely to find any vessels today and so decided to rather head for a group of distant birds on the horizon. There must have been a large bait ball just below the surface as there were a number of albatrosses and petrels in the area, with the occasional bird flying off with a fish. Some of the commoner birds seen here included Shy, Indian Yellow-nosed and Black-browed Albatross, Pintado Petrel, Antarctic Prions, Wilson's Storm-petrel and Sub-Antarctic Skua. Surprisingly only one giant petrel was seen today, a Southern Giant Petrel and also a single Cory's Shearwater which was constantly being harassed by a couple of Sub-Antarctic Skuas.
The trip back did not produce a great deal different, we did however have good views of a single Bryde's Whale as we re-entered False Bay. Just off Partridge Point we enjoyed some lunch and views of the small Bank Cormorant colony alongside the commoner Cape, White-breasted and Crowned Cormorants. Cape Fur Seals were seen on their usual haul-out rocks nearby which ended another enjoyable day at sea.
Species seen and approximate numbers:
Shy Albatross - 150
Black-browed Albatross - 75
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 5
Southern Giant Petrel - 1
White-chinned Petrel - ca 300
Pintado Petrel - 10
Sooty Shearwater - 150+
Cory's Shearwater - 1
Antarctic Prion - 10
Wilson's Storm-Petrel - 50+
Subantarctic Skua - 5
Cape Gannet - 100+
Common Tern - 10+
Swift Tern - coastal
Kelp Gull - coastal
Cape Cormorant coastal and to 5mls
White-breasted Cormorant - coastal
Bank Cormorant - coastal
Crowned Cormorant - coastal
Hartlaub's Gull - coastal
Bryde's Whale - 1
Long-beaked Common Dolphin - 250+
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
guides Dominic Rollinson.
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