Trip Highlights: 4 Albatross species, Antarctic Prion, Northern and Southern Giant Petrels, Subantarctic Skua, Southern Right Whale and a Sunfish.
The trip departure was delayed till 9 am to allow for the winds to drop down, which afforded us time to get to know each other over coffee at Bertha's. We swapped birding tales until it was time to go. The sea was fairly choppy inside the bay which made for an uncomfortable ride out.
Our sightings got off to a rocketing start with close up views of two Humpback Whales only 15 minutes into the trip. We also spotted African Penguin, Cape Gannet, Swift Tern, and Sooty Shearwaters before reaching the picturesque Cape Point. Once outside the bay the swell lengthened, allowing a smoother ride. We enjoyed our first sightings of White-chinned Petrel and Shy Albatrosses en-route to the trawling grounds, where there were reports of trawler activity. We soon found ourselves in the rather fortunate position of having to choose which of four trawlers to visit!
We picked one and immediately began to find some new species. Cape (Pintado) Petrel were especially numerous, as were the Black-browed Albatross. We also managed to find a single Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, three Indian Yellow-noses, two Southern Giant Petrel and five Northerns. Wilson's Storm Petrels flitted in and out, seemingly dancing atop the water surface as they gleaned items of food. Also in attendance were around eight Subantarctic (Brown) Skua. A Sunfish also put in an appearance, floating near the surface in the slick behind the trawler. We enjoyed the fracas for around an hour and a half before the trawlers began running south and out of our range. We paused for lunch while we waited for another trawler which was headed towards us from the deeper water. She turned out to be the Freesia, and she was pulling with her some thousands of White-chinned Petrels, and a few hundred of Shy and Black-browed Albatross. We tried to pick out something different from the passing flocks to no avail, and decided to head back in to Simon's Town.
Before docking we stopped off at Partridge Point to see the Bank, Crowned, White-breasted and Cape Cormorants, and at the nearby haul-out for the Cape Fur Seals. All-in-all it was a very successful trip, especially as there were 5 first timers onboard.
Pelagic species seen and approximate numbers:
Shy Albatross - 400
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 3
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 1
Black-browed Albatross - 600
White-chinned Petrel - 4000
Pintado Petrel - 300
Antarctic Prion - 1
Subantarctic Skua - 10
Sooty Shearwater - 250
Northern Giant Petrel - 6
Southern Giant Petrel - 3
Wilson's Storm Petrel - 200
Mammals and other species:
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 Andrew de Blocq.
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