Trip Highlights: Wandering Albatross, Great Shearwater, Great-winged Petrel, Atlantic and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross
The first day of spring saw a group of excited birders gather on the wharf at Hout Bay. We were soon informed that our boat had been upgraded to a larger boat: great news as several impressive cold fronts had passed over the Cape over the past few days. While we were very lucky that the sea conditions had subsided enough for us to get out, conditions were still quite rough. We were however, soon leaving the relative shelter of Hout Bay and it was not long before we were seeing our first pelagic birds. These were Sooty Shearwaters, White-chinned Petrel, Southern Giant Petrel and Shy Albatross.
Scrutiny of the radar and communication with another Cape Town Pelagics vessel running out of Simon's Town, confirmed that the only trawler operating in the vicinity was 14 miles to the south of us and travelling south. This was unfortunately out of striking distance for us and we decided to do a bit of chumming with fish oil and sardines. This was very effective and we soon had Subantarctic Skua, Wilson's Storm Petrels, Northern Giant Petrel and a single Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross come in to investigate. We then proceeded to head in a south westerly direction and after a few miles and some more chumming, we managed to attract a good number of birds, including the only Great Shearwater of the day. While drifting with the chum line, a Wandering Albatross made a flyby to the delight of all on board! We turned and slowly headed back towards the first area where we had chummed. Here we encountered two single Great-winged Petrels and a final chumming effort delivered an Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross.
Sea sickness had claimed quite a few victims and we decided to head back to Hout Bay. On route we encountered a small flock of Antarctic Terns and a Humpbacked Whale.
The following is a list of the species seen during the course of the day. The numbers reflected can be considered as rough estimations only.
Bird species seen and approximate numbers:
Wandering Albatross 1
Shy Albatross c.30
Black-browed Albatross 5
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross 1
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross 1
White-chinned Petrel c.250
Southern Giant Petrel 5
Northern Giant Petrel 2
Great-winged Petrel 2
Sooty Shearwater c 50
Great Shearwater 1
Wilson's Storm Petrel c.30
Subantarctic Skua c.20
Cape Fur Seal
Southern Right Whale
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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