Trip Highlights: Four Albatross species, Flesh-footed Shearwater, Southern & Northern Giant Petrel, Antarctic Prion, and Subantarctic Skua.
With calm seas and little wind predicted we expectantly headed out of Simon's Town harbour at around 07h30 on board the Destiny and with guide Dominic Rollinson.
The trip out of False Bay was calm and fairly uneventful, with a few Cape Gannets and Sandwich Terns noted. It was only as we rounded Cape Point that we saw our first Procellariiformes of the day; hundreds of Sooty Shearwaters with good numbers of Cory's Shearwaters and White-chinned Petrels. We hung around a while and enjoyed Cape Point in the early morning light as well as the many shearwaters shooting by, before continuing south to look for fishing vessels.
It wasn't long until we received word of a couple trawlers operating approximately 18 nautical miles south of Cape Point and so we decided to push on through to these vessels. En route we had our first albatross in the form of several Shy Albatross with small numbers of Great Shearwaters seen too. We soon had a trawler in sight with good numbers of seabirds behind the vessel. We radioed the trawler captain and found out that he would soon be bringing up the net and so decided to hang around for the spectacle. Thousands of birds were soon congregating, waiting for scraps, with Shy, Black-browed, Indian and Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, Great Shearwater, Wilson's Storm-petrel, Pintado and White-chinned Petrel being the most abundant species. In between the commoner species we picked out both Northern and Southern Giant Petrels, the first Antarctic Prions of the season, Subantarctic Skua, and a few European Storm-petrels in amongst the many Wilson's. The bird of the day was a Flesh-footed Shearwater which was picked out by the eagle-eyed Barrie Rose, an uncommon bird off Cape Point.
The vessel soon began processing its catch and so the birds hung around and thus so did we. After a couple hours behind the vessel we decided it was time to head back. The return trip was fairly uneventful apart from a brief sighting of a possible Bryde's Whale. Once back inside False Bay we stopped briefly to enjoy the small Bank Cormorant colony off Partridge Point as well as close-up views of Cape Fur Seals, before ending off a very enjoyable and productive day at sea.
Species seen and approximate numbers:
Shy Albatross - 1200+
Black-browed Albatross - 500+
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 10
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 200
Southern Giant Petrel - 5
Northern Giant Petrel - 5
White-chinned Petrel - ca 1200
Pintado Petrel - 100
Flesh-footed Shearwater - 1
Sooty Shearwater - 800+
Cory's Shearwater - 300+
Great Shearwater - 500+
Antarctic Prion - 10
Wilson's Storm-Petrel - 500+
European Storm-Petrel - 10+
Subantarctic Skua - 5
Cape Gannet - 300+
Common Tern - 10+
Swift Tern - coastal
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
Possible Bryde's 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
guides Dominic Rollinson.
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