Trip Highlights: 6 Albatross species including a Wanderer and a Northern Royal, Black-bellied Storm-petrel, Arctic Tern, Northern and Southern Giant Petrels
Three birders departed from Simon's Town harbour early Wednesday morning on board a specially arranged Cape Town Pelagics trip guided by Barrie Rose.
The remnants of the previous day's strong south-easterly wind saw us bumping our way up to Cape Point. There was however virtually no wind and we stayed quite dry. We saw our first few White-chinned Petrels before we reached the Point. The Point area had very few birds although we did see a Giant Petrel of indeterminate species and a distant Sooty Shearwater.
Our trip offshore was very quiet as a result of the 4 day south-easterly gale. At about 12 miles we came across our first albatross which was unusually an Indian Yellow-nose Albatross and then we followed up with another 2 miles further on. In the same area we added Great Shearwater to the list. It was not until we reached 20 miles that we saw our first Shy Albatross.
We found the hake trawler 'Lobelia' at 25 miles. It was busy hauling its net and had a large flock of birds in attendance. As we approached a Northern Royal Albatross banked onto the horizon providing distant but definitive views. We spent some minutes adding Black-browed Albatross, Pintado Petrel, Subantarctic Skua and Wilson's Storm-petrel before the Northern Royal showed for a second time. As we watched it disappear over the horizon a second one appeared not 50m off our bow. We followed the bird for some minutes getting very satisfactory views. After watching the vessel haul a 4t catch onboard we edged down its wake. Black-bellied Storm-Petrels, Giant Petrels and a couple of Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross kept up the interest until a young Wandering Albatross gave us a great view as it flew passed at about 40m.
With the wind starting to blow again we pointed our nose at Cape Point and started to head in. Five miles in we came across another trawler. The 'Lincoln' was fishing in shallower water and had a small flock in its wake. We spent 20 minutes interrogating the flock and added European Storm-petrel to our list.
Inside Cape Point we ate lunch before heading to the Partridge Point Bank Cormorant colony. Further down the bay we passed a pair of loafing Southern Right Whales before docking in Simon's Town.
Species seen and approximate numbers:
Wandering Albatross - 1
Northern Royal Albatross - 2
Shy Albatross - 300+
Black-browed Albatross - 80+
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 3
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 5
Northern Giant Petrel - 2
Southern Giant Petrel - 3
White-chinned Petrel - ca 1000
Pintado Petrel - 100+
Sooty Shearwater - 1
Great Shearwater - 800
Wilson's Storm-petrel - 200+
Black-bellied Storm-petrel - 10
European Storm-Petrel - 3
Subantarctic Skua - 8
Cape Gannet - 400+
Arctic Tern - 2
Common Tern - coastal
Swift Tern - coastal
Kelp Gull - 40 and coastal
Cape Cormorant coastal
White-breasted Cormorant - coastal
Bank Cormorant - coastal
Hartlaub's Gull - coastal
African Penguin - coastal
Cape Fur Seal - 100+
Southern Right Whale - 2
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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