Trip Highlights: 4 Albatross species, Spectacled Petrel, Southern and Northern Giant Petrels, Great Shearwater, Subantarctic Skua and Arctic Terns.
Seven birders plus guide Barrie Rose departed Hout Bay at 07h15 on board a Cape Town Pelagics trip. An overcast sky and a rather bumpy sea did not dampen spirits as we headed south towards the Cape Canyon and the fishing grounds around it.
Within a few miles of shore we started to pick Sooty Shearwaters and White-chinned Petrels, distant Humpbacked Whales proved to be quite frustrating. The mood however lifted with our first albatrosses and we had soon logged a number of Shy Albatross. An Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross was a good bird to get under the belt while Giant Petrels proved difficult to identify the species. Subantarctic Skua and Wilson's Storm-Petrel joined the list as we moved further offshore. At 22 miles offshore we stopped to view a large raft of White-chinned Petrels. Scanning through the flock of more than 100 whitechins we were rewarded with great views of a Spectacled Petrel which circled our boat on three different occasions.
Moving on we soon had sight of a hake trawler in the distance. As we approached we added Black-browed Albatross and Pintado Petrel to the list. The trawler Ferox soon hauled its net to reveal a catch of nearly 10 tons of its target species. The spectacle of a huge flock behind a hake trawler leaves an indelible impression on every bird enthusiast and this occasion was no different. After the initial excitement we started to sift through the birds and our list began to grow. We able to get good views of Northern Giant Petrel and a single Southern Giant Petrel, both Indian and Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross were present although in low numbers as were Subantarctic Skua and Arctic Tern.
After nearly two hours in the flock we turned back towards Hout Bay; the trip home was quite comfortable with the sea pushing behind us. We paid an interesting visit to the Duikerklip Cape Fur Seal colony under the Sentinel before returning to Hout Bay at 14h45.
Species seen and approximate numbers:
Shy Albatross - 350+
Black-browed Albatross - 200+
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 1
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 5
Southern Giant Petrel - 1
Northern Giant Petrel - 4
White-chinned Petrel - ca 1500
Spectacled Petrel - 1
Pintado Petrel - 50+
Sooty Shearwater - 150+
Great Shearwater - 1
Wilson's Storm-Petrel - 20+
Subantarctic Skua - 8
Cape Gannet - 200+
Swift Tern - coastal
Common Tern - 50+ and coastal
Arctic Tern - 5
Kelp Gull - 150 and coastal
Cape Cormorant coastal
Cape Fur Seal - 100+ and coastal
Humpbacked Whale - 2
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.