Trip Highlights: Indian Yellow-nosed, Shy and Black-browed Albatross species, Parasitic Jaeger, Sabine's Gull, Subantarctic Skua and Northern Giant Petrel.
We started our species list in Simon's Town Harbour with the Cape Cormorants, Kelp Gulls and African Black Oystercatchers on the yacht basin floats. The harbour marker buoy had several Bank Cormorants and Arch Rock held Cape and White-breasted Cormorants and large numbers of Cape Fur Seals. There were several large rafts of African Penguins offshore of Boulders.
The birdlife was uncharacteristically quiet at Cape Point apart from a few Cape Gannets and thousands of Cape Cormorants. A few kilometres past the point, we however encountered large flocks of Great Crested and Sandwich Terns. This large concentration of terns attracted a Parasitic Jaeger.
Once into deeper oceanic waters, the first Sooty Shearwaters, White-chinned Petrels and Shy Albatrosses were seen. Cory's Shearwaters were very abundant.
At 18 nautical miles we located three long-line fishing vessels. There was little bird activity around them apart from White-chinned Petrels, Kelp Gulls and European and Wilson's Storm Petrels. However, once they picked up their lines and started processing, the number and variety of birds quickly increased. We added several additional species including Black-browed and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, Northern Giant Petrel, Sabine's Gull, Brown (Subantarctic) Skua, and Common and Arctic Terns.
At midday we headed back to the coast, stopping inside of False Bay for lunch. On the way back to Simon's Town, we stopped at the Bank and White-breasted Cormorant colonies at Partridge Point. The adjacent Cape Fur Seal haul-out rock was very densely packed, with a charter group of divers, snorkelling with some of the swimming sea lions.
Pelagic species seen and approximate numbers:
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 5-7
Shy Albatross - 5-7
Black-browed Albatross - 4-5
Northern Giant Petrel - 1
White-chinned Petrel - 50-75
Cory's Shearwater - 75-100
Sooty Shearwater - 15-20
Wilson's Storm Petrel - 75-100
European Storm Petrel - 75-100
Parasitic Jaeger - 2
Brown (Subantarctic) Skua - 1
Sabine's Gull - 5
Arctic Tern - 75-100
African Black Oystercatchers
African Penguin - 50-60 (offshore)
Cape Gannet - 40-50 (coastal & pelagic)
Cape Cormorant - abundant
Bank Cormorant - 30-40
White-breasted Cormorant - 40-50
Kelp Gull - abundant; 75-100 (pelagic)
Hartlaub's Gull - abundant
Greater Crested Tern - abundant
Sandwich Tern - abundant
Common Tern - abundant; 1 (pelagic)
Cape Fur Seal - abundant (coastal and pelagic)
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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