Trip Highlights: 5 Albatross species, Manx Shearwater, Arctic Tern, Subantarctic Skua, Sabine's Gull, Great Shearwater and European Storm-petrels.
Sunday morning saw six birders lead by guide Cliff Dorse, board a Cape Town Pelagics trip from Simon's Town. All were quite relieved that the pelagic was going ahead after strong winds in the deep had forced us to postpone from the Saturday. We were soon leaving the harbour and running through the picturesque False Bay being entertained by they usual array of coastal birds. Conditions were idyllic with very little wind and a very flat sea.
We stopped for some photographs at the iconic Cape Point before continuing out towards the trawling grounds. While our first few White-chinned Petrels and Sooty Shearwaters stayed rather far away we got ever increasingly better views. We deviated slightly to inspect a large raft of Cory's Shearwaters where a single Manx Shearwater put in a fleeting appearance. We continued out towards the trawling grounds and started to encounter Great Shearwaters and some albatross. Uncharacteristically, our first albatross of the day was an Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross rather than the expected Shy. This was however shortly followed by our first Shy Albatross of the day. We were now in the trawling grounds and the numbers of birds had clearly increased. We made our way to a long-liner adding our first Wilson's Storm Petrels and Black-browed Albatross.
The long liner was not retrieving her lines or processing any fish when we arrived but informed us that they would commence at about 11h00. There were however a good number of birds in the area and we worked slowly through them adding Subantarctic Skua and getting great views of most of the species mentioned above. We decided to put out some fish oil while we wanted to see if we could bring in a few storm petrels. Wilson's reacted quite quickly but eventually a European also put in an appearance. Our skipper had noticed another long liner about 6 miles to the north so we decided to go investigate. This proved to be a good move as this boat was indeed processing with large numbers of bird in attendance. We worked through the birds and were rewarded with our first Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, Sabine's Gull and Arctic Tern for the day. We spent some time with this boat before returning to the fist long-liner which had also commenced with retrieving her lines. We enjoyed our lunch in these relatively calm conditions before having to start for home.
The mandatory stop at the Bank Cormorant breeding colony at Partridge Point delivered Bank and the other three marine species - White-breasted, Crown and Cape Cormorant. It was however distressing to see that the Bank Cormorant nests appear to have been taken over by White-breasted Cormorants. Not good news for this endangered species.
Species seen and approximate numbers:
Shy Albatross c. 60
Black-browed Albatross c. 30
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross 5
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross c. 15
Yellow-nosed Albatross (Immature) 4
White-chinned Petrel c. 1000
Cory's Shearwater c. 250
Great Shearwater c. 50
Sooty Shearwater c. 20
Manx Shearwater 1
Wilson's Storm-petrel c. 50
European Storm-petrel c. 10
Subantarctic Skua 5
Sabine's Gull 5
Arctic Tern 5
Cape Fur Seal
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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