Trip Highlights: Pomarine Jaeger, Flesh-footed and Manx Shearwater, Southern and Northern Giant Petrel
The morning of the 3rd November was calm after a week of strong south-easterly wind that had brought clear skies to the Cape and rain to the interior of the country. We boarded this pelagic trip out of Simonstown, with Cape Town Pelagics guide Dalton Gibbs. In the harbour were the usual Cape and Hartlaub’s Gulls, Cape Cormorant lines on the buoy lines and a Speckled Pigeon. False Bay was relatively flat, and we made good time out to Cape Point where we encountered our first White-chinned Petrels.
We headed out to sea, being trailed by Cape Gannets and flocks of Swift Terns feeding on surface pelagic fish. A Parasitic Jaeger was out and about, harassing the Swift Terns until they dropped their catch. It was only at the 10 N Mile mark we came across our first Shy Albatross and a few Sooty Shearwaters and then a bit later some unidentified storm-petrels. We had co-ordinates of a trawling vessel out on the fishing grounds and headed South West from Cape Point; the trip was fairly quiet, only picking up Sabine’s Gull as a new species. This however changed; as we approached the trawler at 28 N Miles off Cape Point, we picked up Great Shearwater and Wilson’s Storm-petrel around our boat. The trawler was processing catch and we travelled down the slick line, finding Black-browed Albatross and the beautifully marked Pintado Petrel. We saw a number of immature Yellow-nosed Albatross, but being young birds, were unable to determine a species. A few Northern Giant Petrels were found behind the trawler as well as European Storm Petrels that mixed with the Wilson’s.
We followed the trawler for the next two hours, picking up a mixture of these birds, finding a Flesh-footed Shearwater and as well a brief view of Manx Shearwater. We had a constant stream of these species during this time with good views of most species.
After lunch we headed back, travelling with the westerly wind that started to pick up. Near cape Point we had brief views of a Pomarine Jaeger amongst some gulls and a lone young African Penguin that allowed close inspection, before we entered False Bay. Here we immediately found a Sub-antartic Skua and a Southern Giant Petrel that were feeding on a dead gull. We headed over to the Castle Rock cormorant colony where we found White-breasted, Cape Cormorants, and Bank Cormorants. The adjacent rocks sported a variety of Cape Fur Seals in different age classes and then views of Bryde’s Whale before reaching Simonstown.
Bird species seen and approximate numbers:
Swift tern – coastal
Hartlaub’s Gull – coastal
Cape Gull – coastal
Cape Cormorant – coastal
Bank Cormorant - coastal
White-breasted cormorant - coastal
African Penguin - coastal
Cape Gannet – coastal & pelagic – 100
Sub-Antarctic Skua – 1
Parasitic Jaeger – 3
Pomarine Jaeger – 1
White-chinned Petrel – 400
Pintado Petrel – 15
Northern Giant Petrel – 1
Southern Giant Petrel – 6
Great Shearwater – 200
Sooty Shearwater – 50
Manx Shearwater – 1
Flesh-footed Shearwater - 1
Shy Albatross – 200
Black-browed Albatross – 50
Yellow-nosed Albatross sp. (immature) – 10
Wilson’s Storm- petrel – 100
European Storm-petrel – 50
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 Dalton Gibbs.
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