Trip Highlights: Incredible sight of 100's of Atlantic / Common Bottlenose Dolphin with many birds in tow, four species of Albatross, late in season Pintado Petrels and a Parasitic Jaeger
It was calm beautiful weather with some clouds draped over the coastal mountains at Simon's Town. We boarded one of two Cape Town Pelagics boats heading out to sea with Vince Ward our trip leader. The harbour itself delivered White-breasted and Cape Cormorant, Swift Terns, Kelp and Hartlaub's Gulls. Just passed the Boulder's Beach colony, there were 3 adult African Penguins at sea.
Further South in False Bay, we encountered common coastal species including Cape Gannets, Swift, Common and Sandwich Terns. Just passed Cape Point, we sighted our first pelagic species: White-chinned Petrels; Sooty, Great and Cory's Shearwaters. After turning southwest, a single fast moving Parasitic Jaeger cut in front of the boat but attempts to chase it down failed. A few miles further on a jumping Humpback Whale provided a thrilling show.
No trawlers were working at the 25 nautical mile mark. We resorted to chumming around several game fishing boats. The chum drew in FOUR species of albatross: Shy, Black-browed, Atlantic and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross. The surprise of the trip were several Pintado Petrels, this species is usually very rare off the coast during the southern hemisphere summer.
The highlight of the day was school of hundreds of Common / Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins. Their feeding activity attracted large numbers of additional pelagic seabirds, including Wilson's and European Storm Petrels.
Back in False Bay we stopped for an excellent lunch, and then cruised up to the cormorant breeding colonies off Smitswinkel Bay. We were able to find both breeding Bank and White-breasted Cormorants. We ended the day with a Crowned Cormorant back in Simon's Town harbour. This bird rounded out the four cormorant species occurring along the South African West Coast.
African Penguin - 3 at sea, common at Boulder's Beach
Cape Cormorant - breeding
White-breasted Cormorant - breeding
Crowned Cormorant - 1
Bank Cormorant - breeding
Kelp Gull - Common
Hartlaub's Gull - Common
Sabine's Gull - 1
Swift Tern - Common
Sandwich Tern - Common
Common Tern - Common
Parasitic Jaeger - 1
Shy Albatross 20-30
Black-browed Albatross - 5-10
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 1
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 3
White-chinned Petrel - 50-100
Sooty Shearwater - 10-20
Great Shearwater - 30-50
Cory's Shearwater - 30-50
Pintado Petrel -5-10
Wilson's Storm Petrel - 30-50
European Storm Petrel - 1
Common / Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin - 100's
Humpback Whale - 1
Cape Fur Seals - common coastal
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 Vince Ward.
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