Trip Highlights: .
After the weekend trip was cancelled due to poor weather conditions we were delighted when everyone was available to head out to sea on the Monday instead. The group met guide Vince Ward at 7am on the Wharf Street pier, Simon's Town. The day's birding list started right away with several species roosting in the yacht club, including a juvenile African Penguin, Cape, Crowned and White-breasted Cormorants, Great Crested (Swift) Terns, Kelp and Hartlaub's Gulls, and a pair of African Black Oystercatchers.
The trip out towards Cape Point was uneventful apart from several African Penguins at sea offshore of Boulders Beach, and a single Brown Skua that approached the boat.
Just past Cape Point there was an abundance of small fish at the surface which attracted numerous White-chinned Petrels, Sooty Shearwaters, Cape Gannets, Great Crested (Swift) Terns, Kelp Gulls and Cape Cormorants. The local Cape Fur Seals were also seen in abundance. We turned south-west and headed out towards deeper water.
There were no fishing vessels on our arrival at the Cape Canyon so we resorted to chumming. This brought in several White-chinned Petrels, Sooty Shearwaters and several Shy Albatrosses. The highlight was a single Pintado Petrel.
We received the location of a distant trawler and we stopped chumming and headed further south. On arrival at the trawler, we quickly added several additional species to the day's list: Northern Giant Petrel, Indian and Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, and a single Great Shearwater. The spectacle of a thousand plus birds behind the trawler offered close-up views of species seen on the trip out. Of particular interest was a single Great Crested Tern, usually a coastal species.
The arrival of the forecast northerly wind meant we had to return to land. The trip back delivered two Southern Giant Petrels, closely following out boat.
Just before rounding Cape Point we had a brief sighting of a Humpback Whale surfacing a few metres from the boat.
The final stop was at the cormorant colonies at Partridge Point. The Bank and White-breasted Cormorants were still actively breeding. The adjacent Cape Fur Seal haul-out had a small number of resting animals, with many having returned to Seal island after the recent departure of the migrant great White Sharks.
Pelagic species seen and approximate numbers:
Cape Gannet several pelagic
Great Crested (Swift) Tern - 1
Shy Albatross - 40-50
Black-browed Albatross - 5-10
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 2-3
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 1
White-chinned Petrel - 400-500
Pintado Petrel - 15-20
Sooty Shearwater - 200-300
Great Shearwater - 1
Southern Giant Petrel - 2
Northern Giant Petrel - 3
Brown Skua - 5-7
African Penguin - abundant (Boulders); 20-25 offshore.
Cape Cormorant - common coastal
Bank Cormorant - 30-40
Crowned Cormorant - 5
White-breasted Cormorant - 15-20
Cape Gannet - abundant
Kelp Gull - common
Hartlaub's Gull - common
Great Crested (Swift) Tern - common
African Black Oystercatcher - 2
Cape Fur seal - abundant
Humpback Whale - 1
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 Vincent Ward.
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