Trip Highlights: Atlantic & Indian yellow-nosed Albatross, Parasitic Jaeger, Subantarctic Skua, Sabine's Gull, Great-winged Petrel, Southern & Northern Giant Petrels, 1000's of Dusky Dolphins.
Dusky Dolphins as far as you can see!
The weather Gods smiled on us and the wind was forecast to drop off enough for the trip to run on Saturday 20 February. The wind however was predicted to be about 10 knots out of the north-west and swing to south-east by mid-day. The trip through False Bay was nice and flat, the peninsula mountain chain protecting us from the north westerly. The normal coastal birds in the bay were joined by two White-chinned Petrels. As we passed the point we were welcomed by a rather choppy sea and a fairly brisk north westerly wind.
After the point we started encountering more White-chinned Petrels and our first Parasitic Jaeger, Sooty and Cory's Shearwaters of the day. Within three miles we already had our first Albatross, an immature Shy. We proceeded towards the deep enjoining ever increasingly better views of the species mentioned above. At about 8 miles we came across a massive pod of Dusky Dolphin. They stretched in all directions around the boat. A few close individuals took to some aerial antics which entertained all on board. Here we also encountered Great Shearwater and a juvenile Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross. After spending some quality time with these diminutive dolphins, we had to tear ourselves away and continue out to the deep.
As we continued outwards we soon added Subantarctic Skua, Sabine's Gull and Wilson's Storm Petrel. At 20 miles we could see no sign of any fishing vessels but we received news of a long lining vessel three miles to our north. We made the decision to head in this direction. As we slowly headed north into the wind, we detoured to work through some scattered rafts of birds. Here we had good views of Black-browed, Shy and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross on the water. Brief views were also had of a small Atlantic Blue Shark. We also managed to pick out our first of 5 Great-winged Petrels encountered during the day, the stiff breeze clearly suiting their dynamic flying style. We arrived at the long liner but it had not commenced with the retrieval of its lines. We spent some time in the area until our skipper noted a stern trawler coming out of the west. We immediately headed in this direction.
As we neared the vessel we could see that while she was not actively fishing, and returning to Cape Town harbour, there were good numbers of birds in attendance. We followed in the wake of the trawler and managed to pick out a single Northern Giant Petrel and also found two Southern Giant Petrels on the water. In addition, a single Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross passed by the boat providing good views. We followed the trawler for some time enjoying the spectacle. We then drifted down the wake trying to pick out anything different. There were very good numbers of Storm Petrels in the area and we had great views of both European and Wilson's Storm Petrels.
Contrary to the forecast, the wind was still blowing freshly from the north-west. As such, we decided to run back to False Bay so that we could enjoy our lunch in the calm of the bay. The mandatory stop at Partridge Point produced Bank, Cape, Crowned and White-breasted Cormorants.
Species seen and approximate number:
Shy Albatross c. 80
Black-browed Albatross c. 20
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 1
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 5
Southern Giant Petrel - 2
Northern Giant Petrel - 1
White-chinned Petrel c. 500
Great-winged Petrel - 5
Cory's Shearwater c. 300
Great Shearwater c. 80
Sooty Shearwater c. 80
European Storm Petrel c. 300
Wilson's Storm Petrel c. 200
Parasitic Jaeger - 10
Subantarctic Skua - 10
Sabine's Gull - 4
Cape Fur Seal
Dusky Dolphin >2000
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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