Trip Highlights: 5 species Albatross including a juvenile Wanderer, Parasitic Jaeger, Manx Shearwater, Spectacled Petrel, Southern Giant Petrel, Great-winged Petrel, and a pod of Common Dolphins.
Wandering Albatross (juvenile)
On Saturday morning 7 April, a group of birders with guide Cliff Dorse, boarded a Cape Town Pelagics trip from the picturesque Simon's Town Harbour. The bay was flat and we made good time to Cape Point. We stopped for a few minutes to take-in the spectacular Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope landmarks. We then started to head out in a south westerly direction to the deep. The first White-chinned Petrels and Sooty Shearwaters soon made an appearance. There were also many Great Shearwaters which we started seeing closer in than usual. Cory's Shearwaters were the next to be added to the ever growing day list. A single Parasitic Jaeger also gave brief but good views.
Shy Albatross (adult)
Our skipper was hard at work speaking to other boats out in the deep in an attempt to get some info on any commercial fishing boats out in the deep. All the feedback indicated that there were no long-liners or trawlers anywhere in the vicinity. There was also quite an uncomfortable chop on a rather large swell. We however continued outwards adding Subantarctic (Brown) Skua, Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, Manx Shearwater and Wilson's Storm-Petrel.
At about 18 miles from the point we were just contemplating putting out some fish oil when Morne on Shark Explorer called us up to say that they had found two long-liners. They were however still 11 miles from our current position. All on board agreed that we should make the long run to the long-liner. The going was slow and it took us another hour to get there. As we approached we started adding to the species list. We added European Storm-Petrel and Black-browed Albatross in quick succession.
We had just arrived at the trawler when the bird of the day put in an appearance. It was a juvenile Wandering Albatross which gave great views as it flew past us and up to the long-liner. Despite our extensive searching, we were unable to locate the bird again. Vanessa however spotted a Spectacled Petrel on the water and we soon discovered that there were actually two birds present. We spent an extensive amount of time with the long-liner enjoying great views of the birds in her wake. We eventually managed to find a few Southern Giant Petrels and two different Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross.
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross
Eventually we had to turn and start the run back home. A couple of miles from the trawler, our first and only Great-winged Petrel put in an appearance. There were no other highlights on the run back and we enjoyed a late lunch in the relative calm of False Bay. We also enjoyed a small pod of Common Dolphins off Smitswinkel Bay. The mandatory stop at the Bank Cormorant breeding colony at Partridge Point delivered Bank, Cape and White-breasted cormorant.
Thanks must go to our skipper who did an excellent job and really went the extra mile (11 actually!) to get to the long liner.
Shy Albatross (juvenile)
Species seen and approximate numbers:
Wandering Albatross juvenile - 1
Shy Albatross - c. 100
Black-browed Albatross - c. 25
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - c. 10
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 2
Southern Giant Petrel - 3
White-chinned Petrel - c. 800
Spectacled Petrel - 2
Great-winged Petrel - 1
Cory's Shearwater - c. 20
Great Shearwater - c. 600
Sooty Shearwater - c. 30
Manx Shearwater - 2
Wilson's Storm-Petrel - c. 150
European Storm-Petrel - c. 80
Subantarctic Skua - c. 4
Parasitic Jaeger - 1
Common Dolphin - c. 20
Cape Fur Seal
Shy Albatross (adult)
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 Cliff Dorse.
Photos taken by Danie Opperman.
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