Trip Highlights: three species of albatrosses, Sabine's Gull, European Storm-petrel, Great-winged Petrel.
The first addition to our trip list was a great non-seabird, as one of the local Peregrines perched on a nearby cell phone tower. The sea-birding within False Bay was dominated by the usual variety of coastal species, like Cape, Crowned and White-breasted Cormorants, Cape Gannet, Kelp, and Hartlaub's Gulls, Great Crested and Sandwich Terns.
After a quick photo stop at Cape Point, we headed out into the open ocean. The trip out to the fishing grounds were dominated by Cory's Shearwaters, with smaller numbers of other species like Sooty Shearwater, White-chinned Petrel, Arctic Tern, Sabine's Gull and Cape Gannet.
With no vessels operating around the Cape Canyon, we put down some fish oil at 26 nautical miles from Cape Point. The pungent slick worked very well, drawing in a respectable list of species, including White-capped; Indian, and Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatrosses; Cory's, and Sooty Shearwaters, White-chinned Petrel, Northern Giant Petrel and Great-winged Petrels, and European Storm-petrels.
At midday, we started our run back to the coast. The trip was punctuated with a few sightings of Cory's and Sooty Shearwaters. After a light lunch under the cliffs at Cape Point, we continued up the coast to Partridge Point. There were breeding Bank, and White-breasted Cormorants on the larger raised granite stacks. The nearby Cape Fur Seal haul-out has fairly full of basking fur seals. The surprise was a single moulting African Penguin in the midst of the seals.
The final stop of the trip was close approach of the boulder strewn coastline near the Boulders Beach penguin colony. The rocks held numbers of moulting African Penguins, Great Crested and Sandwich Terns, and several African Oystercatchers.
Pelagic species seen and approximate numbers:
White-capped Albatross - 5-10
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 2
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 2
Northern Giant Petrel - 1
Giant-petrel spp - 1
Sooty Shearwater - 5-10
Cory's Shearwater - 75-100
White-chinned Petrel - 5-10
Great-winged Petrel - 1
European Storm Petrel - 6-7
Arctic Tern - 3-4
Sabine's Gull - 1
African (Black) Oystercatcher - 5-6
African Penguin - common (onshore at Boulders)
Cape Gannet - common
White-breasted Cormorant - 22 breeding pairs
Cape Cormorant - abundant
Crowned Cormorant - 6
Bank Cormorant - 4 breeding pairs
Kelp Gull - common
Hartlaub's Gull - 7-8
Great Crested Tern - common
Sandwich Tern - common
African (Black) Oystercatcher - 5-6
Cape Fur Seal - abundant
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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