Trip Highlights: Three Spectacled Petrels, Long-tailed Skua, four albatross species, European Storm Petrels and a Bryde's Whale.
Sunday morning saw Cape Town Pelagics run two boats out of Simon's Town harbour in calm conditions and a glassy sea.
Our first exciting encounter came just before Cape Point, as a Bryde's Whale gave great close up views while feeding on bait fish; Swift Terns and Cape Fur Seals in close proximity. After stopping for photographs at Cape Point, we headed for the deep. There were plenty of active pelagic birds not far offshore - White-chinned Petrels, Sooty Shearwater and Cory's Shearwater were our first three pelagic ticks, while coastal species such as Cape Gannet and Cape Cormorant were also around. A Parasitic Jaeger also did a flyby early on, and we watched three Sabine's Gulls interacting before they moved on. A little further out, we managed to spy the diminutive Wilson's Storm Petrel.
Once we had located a trawler on the horizon we picked up speed to maximise our time in the deep. We were nearly at the trawler when we picked up our first albatross, an Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross. The Flamethorn was the vessel we found, but she had, unfortunately, just finished hauling in her nets and was heading back to harbour without resetting - meaning that we had missed the best window for birds. Nonetheless, the numbers were staggering in her wake and we quickly picked up a number of excellent species.
Almost immediately upon arrival we picked up the first of three Spectacled Petrels to be seen on the day - a very special find on any trip. Nearby, we found both Southern and Northern Giant Petrels, and also a brief look at a Long-tailed Skua. Albatrosses were abundant, with the Shy and Black-browed Albatrosses almost matched in number by Atlantic and Indian Yellow-noseds. Great Shearwater were also plentiful. Up at the trawler, the Wilson's Storm Petrels had disappeared and were replaced by many European Storm Petrels. One Subantarctic Skua and one Arctic Tern flew by briefly. We spent around an hour and a half working the slick until the birds dried up and we decided to head back home.
Once inside the bay we visited Partridge Point and the nearby seal haul-out spot. We picked up the customary four Cormorant species - Bank, Cape, Crowned and White-breasted Cormorant. All in all, it was a very successful trip, with virtually no 'misses" of any expected birds and the added excitement of not just one, but three Spectacled Petrels.
Species seen and approximate numbers:
Sabine's Gull - 5
Parasitic Jaeger - 5
Long-tailed Skua - 1
Subantarctic Skua - 2
White-chinned Petrel - 1500
Spectacled Petrel - 3
Southern Giant Petrel - 3
Northern Giant Petrel - 1
Sooty Shearwater - 150
Cory's Shearwater - 300
Great Shearwater - 250
Wilson's Storm Petrel - 10
European Storm Petrel - 40
Black-browed Albatross - 30
Shy Albatross - 50
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 10
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 30
Cape Fur Seal
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.
To book, simply email
or phone us, or submit a
booking enquiry online.