Trip Highlights: 3 Albatross species, Northern & Southern Giant Petrel, Arctic Skua, Humpback and Southern Right Whales.
Six birders departed Simonstown at 07h30 on board a Cape Town Pelagics birding trip with Barrie Rose the tour leader.
A very light south-east breeze resulted in a pleasant run up to Cape Point. There was however the remains of the previous days weather outside Cape Point and we rolled around while taking photos of Cape Point and its lighthouses. To our great surprise and delight a Southern Right Whale rose and blew within 20m of our vessel. Once the whale had sounded we moved on and out into the deep. White-chinned Petrels, Sooty Shearwaters, a Northern Giant Petrel and an early Arctic Skua (Parasitic Jaeger) were mixed into flocks of terns which fed over shoals of Katonkel (Bonito).
At about 8 miles we had another close whale encounter as three Humpback Whales surfaced directly in front of us.
As we moved further off shore the sea state improved and we added Shy Albatross, Wilson's Storm-Petrel and Subantarctic Skua to the list.
At 24 miles we found 2 trawlers with large flocks of birds in attendance. We were able to spend nearly 3 hours with these vessels and on one occasion witnessed the hauling of a catch of nearly 5 ton of deep-sea hake. New birds to the list were Pintado Petrel, Black-browed Albatross, Southern Giant Petrel, Great Shearwater and Arctic Tern.
Minutes before heading back towards Cape Point we had a single Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross make a pass close to our stern.
Once inside Cape Point we saw more Southern Right Whales and also visited the Bank Cormorant colony and Fur Seal roost at Partridge Point.
Species seen and approximately numbers:
Shy Albatross - 600+
Black-browed Albatross - 150+
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 1
Northern Giant Petrel - 1
Southern Giant Petrel - 5
White-chinned Petrel - ca 1000
Pintado Petrel - 400+
Sooty Shearwater - 50+
Great Shearwater - 1
Wilson's Storm-Petrel - 800+
Subantarctic Skua - 15
Arctic Skua - 1
Cape Gannet - 500+
Arctic Tern - 2
Common Tern - 4 and coastal
Swift Tern - coastal
Kelp Gull - 30 and coastal
Cape Cormorant coastal
White-breasted Cormorant - coastal
Bank Cormorant - coastal
Hartlaub's Gull - coastal
Cape Fur Seal - 100+
Humpbacked Whale - 3
Southern Right Whale - 8
Katonkel - 1 shoal
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 Barrie Rose.
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