Trip Highlights: Four species of albatross, four species of cormorant, Humpback Whales.
We left Simon's Town early on Friday morning and headed down to Cape Point on a beautifully calm sea. The flat waters of False Bay were perfect for spotting groups of African Penguins swimming on the surface. Other coastal seabirds recorded included Kelp and Hartlaub's Gull, Great Crested (Swift) Tern, Cape Gannets, Cape and White-breasted Cormorants. We had a few distant whale blows, but they were too far to investigate. As always, there were plenty of Cape Fur Seals resting on the surface.
Just before reaching Cape Point we encountered our first White-chinned Petrels and Sooty Shearwaters. We made our obligatory photo stop at the Point, before heading out into the open ocean.
The first few kilometres were busy with more White-chinned Petrels and Sooty Shearwaters. It was not long before we encountered our first of many Shy Albatrosses.
At 17 nautical miles we found a working long-liner. The discarded by-catch and offal attracted a wide variety of pelagic species including four species of albatrosses: Shy, Black-browed, Indian and Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross; White-chinned Petrel, Sooty Shearwaters, Northern Giant Petrel, Wilson's Storm Petrel and Brown Skua. We also had a few individuals from more typical coastal species like Kelp Gull and Cape Gannet, as well as the occasional Cape Fur Seal.
At midday we headed back to the coast, encountering a pair of Humpback Whales just offshore of Cape Point. After a quick lunch back in the bay, we continued north toward the cormorant colonies at Partridge Point. Along the way we encountered a few more Humpback Whales off of Buffels Bay.
Partridge Point had it usual four local species of cormorants. The Bank and White-breasted Cormorants were breeding, with a few roosting Cape and Crowned Cormorants. We also briefly stopped at the haul-out of Cape Fur Seals before heading back to port.
Our final addition to the species list was a pair of African Oystercatchers in harbour, with a few final close views of Crowned Cormorants.
Pelagic species seen and approximate numbers:
Shy/White-capped Albatross - 75-100
Black-browed Albatross - 35-40
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 3
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 2
Northern Giant Petrel - 2
Sooty Shearwater - 75-100
White-chinned Petrel - 500-600
Wilson's Storm Petrel - 1
Brown (Sub-Antarctic) Skua - 1
African Penguin - 50-60 (at sea)
Cape Gannet - 75-100
White-breasted Cormorant - 15-20 (breeding)
Cape Cormorant - abundant
Crowned Cormorant - 3
Bank Cormorant - 20-25 (breeding)
Kelp Gull – abundant; 5-10 (pelagic)
Hartlaub's Gull - 5-7
Great Crested Tern - 7-10
African (Black) Oystercatcher - 2
Cape Fur Seal - abundant (coastal); 7-10 (pelagic)
Humpback Whale - 5
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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