10 Great-winged Petrels
A Cape Town Pelagics trip left Simon’s Town on the Blue Pointer, guided by myself and Dalton Gibbs. In the calm conditions in the bay we made excellent time to the Point. A few miles out, we started to encounter mixed flocks feeding in association with Bonito tunas, and we zipped between the aggregations, getting great views of Arctic and Pomarine skuas harassing terns, plunge-diving gannets and loads of Cory’s Shearwaters. As we got into the deeper water, we got word of a trawler, but an unpredicted wind started freshening out of the west, making conditions a bit lumpy. Disappointment was great when we got to where the trawler had been, but it was nowhere to be found. We meandered a bit and had brief views of a MANX SHEARWATER, when lady luck smiled and we spotted a large vessel. It turned out to be a trawler, and although it was not fishing, it was processing catch and had a fair number of birds in its wake. We sped along with it and soon racked up a very impressive list, with crippling views of GREATWINGED PETRELS, FLESHFOOTED SHEARWATER and all four regular albatross species.
The trip home failed to produce the Sperm whales that had been seen in the area, but we did encounter a pod of Bryde’s whales feeding in association with hundreds of Cory’s Shearwaters – really impressive numbers of these birds. Although this trip was unusual in many ways, the diversity of birds and huge numbers seen at times, especially the energetic feeding aggregations closer to the point, were fabulous and it was great to be back on a pelagic trip after a 2 month absence (owing to a visit to Tristan and Gough islands!)