rather large swell predicted on Saturday the wise
decision was made to go to sea the following day,
so bright and early on Sunday morning, 4 september
2011, a group of eager birders, departed from Simonstown
harbour aboard a Cape Town Pelagics trip, and headed
for the trawling grounds off Cape Point, guided by
Cliff Dorse of Cape Town Pelagics.
was quite a bit of cloud about, accompanied by intermittent
rain, and visibility was not great. However, the radar
soon picked out a vessel in the distance and we adjusted
our course and headed in that direction. Soon we could
make out the distinctive shape of a stern trawler
on the horizon. At 23 miles we arrived at the trawler
and an absolute spectacle of pelagic birds. There
were thousands of birds in attendance and we commenced
with the task of looking through the clouds of birds
for additional species. We soon added Subantartic
Skua, Southern and Northern Giant Petrel. Shortly thereafter
we encountered the first of two immature Southern Royal Albatross. We moved away from the trawler
working through the masses of birds in the general
area. We encountered a very friendly Soft-plumaged Petrel which spent a good few minutes giving use great views at very
close range. We then decided to catch up the first
trawler as no other trawlers were in striking distance.
route back to the trawler we encountered a Wandering Albatross
which unfortunately did not stick around but did allow
all on board fair views and one or two bad photo records. We
decided to start for home but made an effort to intercept
another fishing vessel which was steaming towards
the south and was not fishing. There were still a
great number of birds in attendance and we worked
through the long column of birds following the vessel.
With some relief, we encountered our first Yellow-nosed Albatross of the day, which was an adult
then headed towards the point and home. The highlight
on the way home was three Antarctic
Terns. The mandatory stop at the Bank Cormorant breeding
colony at Partridge Point failed to disappoint.
As we steamed through the bay we enjoyed the normal coastal
birds such as Cape Gannet, Tern and Cormorant. Before
the point we added our first White-chinnedPetrels, Sooty Shearwaters and a single Hump-backed Whale. We passed
the point and before the Bellows we had our first
Albatross in the form of a Shy.
For the following few miles we were entertained by
White-chinned Petrels, Sooty Shearwaters and Shy Albatross. It was only at about 15 miles when we started to encounter
some other species. These included Wilson's Storm-petrel, Pintado Petrel and Black-browed Albatross.
following is a list of the species seen during the
course of the day. The numbers reflected can be considered
as rough estimations only.
Shy Albatross c. 500
Black-browed Albatross c. 300
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross
Southern Royal Albatross
Southern Giant Petrel
Northern Giant Petrel
Giant Petrel sp. 4
Wilson's Storm Petrel
The following species were
encountered close to the coast:
African Black Oyster-catcher
Cape Fur Seal
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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