Seven Albatross species, a southern Fulmar
and a white morf Southern Giant Petrel
On Sunday 07 August 2011, a Cape Town Pelagics trip
departed Hout Bay harbour at 07h30, guided by Barrie
Rose of Cape Town Pelagics.
We left the harbour in calm
conditions and made good time across the bay to Cape
Slangkop where we turned in a South-westerly direction
and headed out in search of a trawler. We were soon
bouncing across the leftovers of the previous day's
southeaster but the breeze never exceeded 15 knots
and but for some spray we made good progress. The
run out saw a number of Sooty
Shearwaters and White-chinned Petrels cross our path. By the time we
got to 20miles we'd also seen Subantarctic
a few Shy Albatrosses. At this
stage we picked up a number of trawlers on the radar.
A slight change in course resulted in a drier and
more comfortable run and we covered the ten miles
to the trawlers in half an hour. Large rafts of albatross,
gannets and petrels were dispersed from the first
trawler; 'Harvest Nandi' out to the rest of the fleet
which was further offshore. While waiting for the
'Nandi' to haul its net we visited a number of the
rafts which were dominated in numbers by Pintado Petrels, Black-browed Albatrosses and Cape Gannets. While working our way through
these birds a young Wandering
Albatross flew passed within 50m of us!
What a great start!
It wasn't long before a white
Giant Petrel graced us with its presence. After following it for a while
it settled on the water and allowed us to drift up
to within 10m. It was only at this stage that we realised
that the bird did not have a single black feather
making it a truly rare sighting.
At this stage the trawler
hauled its net bringing all the birds off the water,
a sublime spectacle as upwards of 5000 birds swarmed
at the vessel's stern. For the next 2hrs we moved
between the 5 trawlers spending time with the 'Isabella
Marine', 'Harvest Gardenia' and 'Harvest Nandi'. Next
up was an adult Southern Royal Albatross which although picked up in
the distance, headed straight towards us and made
a close circuit of us affording everybody great views.
While moving between 2 trawlers
a juvenile Grey-headed Albatross was picked up sat on the water. In keeping with previous
species it stayed on the water and allowed us to approach
with 10m. After saturation views and many photographs
we left the bird and moved on.
A Southern Fulmar made a
brief appearance and disappeared before everybody
got onto it, as luck would have it, more than an hour
later it flew up to and landed next to the boat.
Giant Petrel, Indian and Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatrosses and Wilson's Storm Petrel were also seen around the trawlers.
At 13h30 with 7 species of
albatross in the bag we turned our bow to Hout Bay.
The trip home saw some distant sightings of Humpbacked
Whales and an African Penguin.
Wandering Albatross – 1
Southern Royal Albatross - 1
Shy Albatross – 300+
Black-browed Albatross – 500+
Grey-headed Albatross - 1
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross – 5
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 2
Southern Giant Petrel – 4
Northern Giant Petrel - 5
Giant Petrel sp - 5
White-chinned Petrel – ca 800
Pintado Petrel – 5000+
Southern Fulmar - 1
Sooty Shearwater – 100+
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel – 50+
Subantarctic Skua – 10
Cape Gannet – 1000+
Common Tern - 1
Swift Tern – 1 and coastal and to 8mls
Kelp Gull – 100 and coastal
Cape Cormorant coastal and to 8mls
White-breasted Cormorant - coastal
Hartlaub’s Gull - coastal
Humpbacked Whale - 4
Cape Fur Seal – 100+
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 Barrie Rose.
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