Trip Highlights: 4 Albatross species, Black-bellied Storm-petrel, Arctic tern and Subantarctic Skua
Six birders departed Simon's Town at 07h15 on board a Cape Town Pelagics trip guided by Barrie Rose.
Calm conditions inside False Bay resulted in a pleasant run to Cape Point where we saw our first pelagics in the form of White-chinned Petrels and Sooty Shearwaters. Our trip offshore was comfortable as we headed in a south-westerly direction across a light sea. At about 8 miles we crossed paths with a large school of Common Dolphins. Coastal water conditions persisted well offshore and we saw little until the water colour and temperature improved towards the shelf-edge where the list started to take shape with the addition of Shy Albatross, Great Shearwater and Wilson's Storm Petrel.
We reached 22 miles in fog and were unable to find a trawler so we went into drift mode and began to chum. We soon had a good slick drifting off our stern and the attendant flock grew from a few white-chins and Great Shearwaters to a mass of nearly 200 birds! Black-browed Albatross, Pintado Petrel, Southern Giant Petrel were the initial additions. We were later joined by a single Black-bellied Storm-petrel a couple of Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, and a Subantarctic Skua that hovered overhead.
After chumming for an hour the fog lifted and we became aware of a trawler some 2 miles further offshore. We ran to the hake trawler 'Lucerne' which was processing fish and had a large flock in its wake. Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross and a few more Black-bellied Storm-petrels were picked out the huge flock. With a freshening south-easter we headed back towards Cape Point where we had lunch before heading back to Simon's Town via the Bank Cormorant colony at Partridge Point.
Species seen with approximate numbers:
Shy Albatross - 300+
Black-browed Albatross - 80+
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 5
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 2
Northern Giant Petrel - 1
Southern Giant Petrel - 3
White-chinned Petrel - ca 1000
Pintado Petrel - 100+
Sooty Shearwater - 30+
Great Shearwater - 200
Wilson's Storm-petrel - 100+
Black-bellied Storm-petrel - 5
Subantarctic Skua - 5
Cape Gannet - 400+
Arctic Tern - 1
Common Tern - 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+
Common Dolphin - 1000+
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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