After very rough conditions prevailed
on the Saturday all involved were very pleased when
Sunday arrived with very pleasant sea and good weather.
A Cape Town Pelagic trip left Simonstown on Sunday
17 October 2010 with a group of very keen birders
on board and guided by Cape Town Pelagics guide Cliff
Dorse The usual array of coastal species and spectacular
views kept us entertained as we progressed through
False Bay. Just before the point we had our first
few White-chinned Petrels and at
the point a Giant Petrel put in an
appearance. This bird was a bit too far off to confirm
As we steamed out we had increasingly better views
of White-chinned Petrels and our
first few Sooty Shearwaters and
Great Shearwaters of the day. We also picked
up a handful of Sabine’s Gull.
At 5 Miles we encountered two Humpbacked Whales.
We headed on into the deep while enjoying great views
of all species mentioned above. There was almost no
wind and most of the birds were sitting on the water.
At 15 miles a highlight came in the form of a tight
flock of between 6 and 8 Red Phalarope.
We only picked up our first Albatross, which was a
Shy Albatross, at about 20 miles.
The windless conditions accounted for the lack of
birds moving around. We managed to pick out a long-lining
vessel on the horizon and we headed in its direction.
As we neared the vessel we picked up Wilson’s
Storm Petrel, Pintado Petrel,
and Black-bellied Storm Petrel. In
the vicinity of the long-liner the diversity and numbers
were impressive. This included Northern
and Southern Giant Petrel, Indian
and Atlantic Ocean Yellow-nosed Albatross,
and Subantartic Skua.
We spent some time in the vicinity of the long-liner
and the numerous ski boats where we enjoyed the spectacle
while working through the plentiful birds. Eventually
we had to head back towards terra firma. The trip
back was punctuated by the mandatory stop at the Bank
Cormorant breeding colony at Partridge Point
and delivered good views for all onboard.
Bird species seen - the numbers reflected
can be considered as rough estimations only:
Shy Albatross c. 80
Black-browed Albatross c. 20
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross 5
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross 2
Southern Giant Petrel 5
Northern Giant Petrel 2
Giant Petrel sp. 2
Pintado Petrel c. 40
White-chinned Petrel c. 300
Great Shearwater c. 500
Sooty Shearwater c. 50
Wilson’s Storm Petrel c. 20
Black-bellied Storm Petrel c. 20
Subantarctic Skua 5
Sabine’s Gull c. 10
Red Phalarope (formerly named Grey Phalarope) 6 -
Bird species common close to the
Cape Fur Seal
Humpbacked Whale 2
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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