Seven birders from four different
countries joined a Cape Town Pelagics trip from Simonstown
on Saturday morning August 1st guided by
Cape Town Pelagics guide Cliff Dorse.†
We were soon on our way through False Bay with the
early morning light illuminating the spectacular Cape
Peninsula. There were good numbers of Cape
Gannets and a single Sub-antarctic Skua
heading out of the bay with us. We stopped at the
point for the mandatory photo shoot of the iconic
Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope. The photo shoot
was soon interrupted by a very obliging White-chinned
Petrel and our first Shy Albatross
of the day.
There was a lot of activity just off the point with
many Cape Gannets, Swift Terns,
White-chinned Petrels and Sooty
Shearwaters. The highlight of the day for some
followed in the form of a LITTLE SHEARWATER
which put in a brief appearance on its whirring wings
at about 3 miles off the point! The sea was rather
choppy following the cold front which had passed Cape
Town on Friday but we determinedly headed out in a
south western direction towards the trawling grounds.
At about 20 miles we could not see any trawlers or
long-line vessels on the radar and repeated visual
scans of the horizon only revealed container ships
and other large vessels. We puttered slowly out towards
21 miles hoping to sight a fishing vessel. This led
to our first Wilsonís Storm Petrel
and Antarctic Prion sighting for the
day. What was particularly interesting was the apparent
absence of Black-browed Albatross. It was with some
relief when we found our first of only three for the
day! With no sign of any fishing vessels on the horizon
we slowly made our way back towards the point.†
At about 14 miles from the point we noticed the tip
of a dorsal and caudal fin sticking out the water
which turned out to be a Blue Shark.
The shark stayed at the surface and came very close
to the boat. While we were all focused on this stunning
animal an Atlantic Yellow-nosed
Albatross suddenly appeared directly above
the boat. At about 12.5 miles form the point we also
saw our first Indian Ocean Yellow-nosed
Albatross and a Northern Giant
Once back in False Bay we headed towards the relatively
wind-free Buffelís Bay to enjoy a spectacular lunch.
Here we added Ostrich to our day list ≠ not many pelagic
venues in the world where you can get this species!
And finally the standard stop at the Partridge Point
Bank Cormorant colony produced great
views of all four South African marine cormorants.
Summary of birds seen during the trip. Numbers are
rough estimates only.
Shy Albatross c.100 Black-browed Albatross
Indian Ocean Yellow-nosed Albatross 2
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross 1
Northern Giant Petrel 1
Pintado Petrel 5
White-chinned Petrel c.150
Sooty Shearwater c.100
Little Shearwater 1
Antarctic Prion 3
Wilsonís Storm Petrel 5
Subantarctic Skua c.15
Antarctic Tern 5
The following species were common close to the coast.
Cape Fur Seal Common
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.
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