Trip Highlights: 4 Albatross species, Southern Giant Petrel, European Storm Petrel, Great and Cory's Shearwaters
Saturday morning saw a group of excited birders gathered at the quayside in Simon's Town harbour. We were soon aboard and speeding through a very flat False Bay. Tour leader for the day was Cape Town Pelagics guide, Cliff Dorse. The spectacular scenery and usual coastal species entertained us on our journey. On route, we encountered a Bryde's Whale which gave fleeting views. Our first tubenose of the day was Sooty Shearwater, with a few dozen birds accompanying us on our passage out of False Bay.
We rounded the iconic Cape Point and headed out towards the trawling grounds. Amongst the constant smattering of Sooty Shearwaters we soon encountered our first White-chinned Petrels and Cory's Shearwaters. Great shearwaters, Shy Albatross and Wilson's Storm Petrel were also shortly added to the day's tally. At about 16 nautical miles from the point we encountered numerous pole-boats which were targeting Longfin Tuna, as well as three long liner vessels which were not yet retrieving their lines. In amongst these boats we encountered our first of numerous Black-browed Albatross, Subantarctic Skua, Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross and our only Giant Petrel of the day, a Southern.
We decided to push on towards the area known as the Canyon to see if we could spot any trawlers in the vicinity. Not finding any, we decided to head back and relocate the long liners. We were soon in the wake of one which had just started to retrieve its lines and was busy processing fish. As such, there was a good number of birds in attendance. This included a European Storm Petrel in amongst the very many Wilson's Storm Petrels. We also encountered two Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross. After spending some time with the long liner enjoying great views of most of the species listed above, we headed home stopping of course to have a look at the Bank Cormorant colony at Partridge Point.
Pelagic Species. The numbers reflected are only a rough estimation.
Shy Albatross - c. 50
Black-browed Albatross - c. 20
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 2
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 2
White-chinned Petrel - c. 100
Cory's Shearwater - 10
Great Shearwater - 4
Sooty Shearwater - c. 200
European Storm Petrel - 2
Wilson's Storm Petrel - c. 250
Southern Giant Petrel - 1
Subantarctic Skua - 5
Bryde's Whale - 1
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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