Trip Highlights: Soft-plumaged Petrel, 4 Albatross species including a Northern Royal, and an Subantarctic Skua.
A small group of birders departed Simon's Town at 07h15 on board a Cape Town Pelagics trip guided by Barrie Rose.
A light westerly breeze led to a pleasant run down False Bay to Cape Point. The trip was interrupted briefly by a single Humpbacked Whale which surfaced 300m ahead of us providing the briefest of views. After a short photographic stop at Cape Point we headed offshore in a south-westerly direction and were soon into our first true pelagic birds as we passed through flocks of White-chinned Petrels and Sooty Shearwaters. Less than 4 miles off Cape Point we encountered our first Shy Albatrosses which kept company with us as we steamed to the fishing grounds. As we moved further offshore we added Antarctic Prion, Wilson's Storm-Petrel, Arctic Tern and a single Soft-plumaged Petrel to the list.
Sea conditions were fortunately quite pleasant as we had to run 27 miles to find the only hake trawler in the area. The Boronia was trawling south and processing fish when we found it. We eased into its wake to enjoy the feeding flock. It is noted that the vessel was flying its bird scaring lines. Black-browed Albatross and Pintado Petrels were numerous and we also added Subantarctic Skua and both Northern and Southern Giant Petrels to the list. As we worked through the flock a Northern Royal Albatross gave us a rather good fly passed. The same individual showed itself well on a further two occasions over the next hour. We identified Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross fairly late in the morning but did see a few quite well. Conditions were such that that we enjoyed our lunch offshore while watching birds.
Our run back to Cape Point was a long one from 30 miles but relatively calm seas made for a pleasant passage.
Once inside Cape Point we visited the Partridge Point Bank Cormorant colony and Cape Fur Seal roost before heading back to Simon's Town.
Pelagic Species seen and approximate numbers:
Northern Royal Albatross - 1
Shy Albatross - 300+
Black-browed Albatross - 400+
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 4
Southern Giant Petrel - 5
Northern Giant Petrel - 2
White-chinned Petrel - ca 1000
Pintado Petrel - ca800+
Soft-plumaged Petrel - 1
Sooty Shearwater - 300+
Antarctic Prion - 200+
Wilson's Storm-Petrel - 100+
Subantarctic Skua - 4
Cape Gannet -150+
Arctic Tern - 12
Swift Tern -coastal and to 8mls
Kelp Gull - 40 and coastal
Cape Cormorant - coastal and to 5mls
White-breasted Cormorant - coastal
Bank Cormorant - coastal
Crowned Cormorant - coastal
Hartlaub's Gull - coastal
African Penguin - coastal
Humpbacked Whale - 1
Cape Fur Seal - 100+
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.
To book, simply email
or phone us, or submit a
booking enquiry online.