Trip Highlights: Atlantic and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, Southern Giant Petrel, Long-tailed Skua, Manx Shearwater, Arctic Terns displaying breeding plumage, Bryde's Whales.
A group of birders joined a Cape Town Pelagics trip which departed from Simon's Town harbour at 07h30 with guide Barrie Rose on board.
Our steam up False Bay to the point was fairly comfortable and uneventful. As we approached Cape Point we could see a substantial feeding flock stretching from the Point itself across into the east. We pulled into the flock and edged our way through it. As was the situation the previous week it was made up of thousands of Sooty and Cory's Shearwaters which along with Cape Gannets, Cormorants and Swift Terns were feeding over shoals of Saury and Anchovy which were in turn being harassed by Yellowtail. Two Bryde's Whales surfaced amongst the anchovy on a number of occasions.
After observing this spectacle for some 40 minutes we started our trip offshore. The going was quite slow as we moved into a rising SW breeze. We soon added White-chinned Petrel, Great Shearwater and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross to the list.
After an hour and a half the decision was made to stop and chum rather than push further into the weather. We were 15 miles south-west of Cape Point and were well into blue oceanic water. We set up a chum-slick of cut sardines and were soon adding species to the list. Good numbers of Wilson's and European Storm-Petrels, White-chinned Petrels and Great Shearwaters were the mainstay of the accumulating flock. Black-browed, Shy and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses were constant visitors. Beautiful breeding plumage Arctic Terns, Subantarctic Skuas and a Southern Giant Petrel made appearances and a Long-tailed Skua was quite special. Our chum attracted 6 x 1.5m Oceanic Blue Sharks which fed within a few metres of our vessel for over an hour. A single Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross provided great views as it circled us on two occasions.
As the weather continued to deteriorate we packed up and headed back to Cape Point fairly comfortably with the wind on our stern. We again visit the feeding flocks near Cape Point and were able to add Manx Shearwater to our list.
Back inside Cape Point we ate a great lunch under the cliffs near Rooikrans. We made the standard visit to the Bank Cormorant colony and Cape Fur Seal roost at Partridge Point before heading back to Simon's Town.
Species seen and approximate numbers:
Shy Albatross - 10+
Black-browed Albatross - 8
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 1
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 15+
Southern Giant Petrel - 1
White-chinned Petrel - ca 150
Sooty Shearwater - 3000+
Cory's Shearwater - 3000+
Great Shearwater - 150+
Manx Shearwater - 2
Wilson's Storm-Petrel - 40+
European Storm-Petrel - 10+
Subantarctic Skua - 4
Long-tailed Skua - 1
Cape Gannet - 500+
Arctic Tern - 25+
Swift Tern - coastal and to 8mls
Kelp Gull - coastal
Cape Cormorant - coastal and to 5mls
White-breasted Cormorant - coastal
Bank Cormorant - coastal
Crowned Cormorant - coastal
Hartlaub's Gull - coastal
African Penguin - coastal
Bryde's Whale - 2
Cape Fur Seal - 10 and coastal
Oceanic Blue Shark - 6
Yellowtail - 1 shoal
Saury - shoals
Anchovy - shoals
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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