Trip Highlights: 4 Albatross species, Northern and Southern Giant Petrels, Arctic Tern, Great Shearwater, Subantarctic Skua and Humpback Whales.
Ten excited birders plus guide Barrie Rose departed Simon's Town harbour at 07h15 on board a Cape Town Pelagics trip headed for the trawling grounds south of the Cape Peninsula.
A light south westerly breeze led to a pleasant run down False Bay to Cape Point. The trip was relatively uneventful although we started to pick up on Sooty Shearwaters and White-chinned Petrels as we neared the Point. After a short photographic stop at the iconic tip of the Cape Peninsula, we headed offshore in a south-westerly direction and were soon adding to our list of pelagic birds. Less than 4 miles off Cape Point we encountered our first Shy Albatross. A few miles later an Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross provided good views for all on board.
As we approached the first of two hake trawlers which were in the area we began to add more species to our list; Subantarctic Skua, Black-browed Albatross, Cape (Pintado) Petrel and Southern Giant Petrel. The 'Umbilo' a freezer trawler was flying its bird scaring lines and had a considerable flock feeding in its wake. We spent a very pleasant 90 minutes observing the flock and increasing our species list. Wilson's Storm-Petrel, Northern Giant Petrel and a single Arctic Tern were welcome additions. As the trawler moved south we moved a few miles inshore to a second trawler.
The 'Freesia' was also accompanied by a large flock feeding on its processing discards. Here we added Great Shearwater and Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross to our list.
Having spent more than two hours in the 2 feeding flocks we turned for Cape Point from 24 miles. The trip back was quite comfortable and we had distant views of two Humpback Whales.
Species seen and approximate numbers:
Shy Albatross - 300+
Black-browed Albatross - 250+
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 20+
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 2
Southern Giant Petrel - 2
Northern Giant Petrel - 1
White-chinned Petrel - c 1000
Pintado Petrel - 250+
Sooty Shearwater - 200+
Great Shearwater - 3
Wilson's Storm-Petrel - 50+
Subantarctic Skua - 4
Cape Gannet - 150+
Arctic Tern - 1
Swift Tern - coastal and to 8mls
Kelp Gull - 40 and coastal
Cape Cormorant - coastal and to 5mls
White-breasted Cormorant - coastal
Crowned Cormorant - coastal
Hartlaub's Gull - coastal
African Penguin - coastal
Humpbacked Whale - 2
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.
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