Trip Highlights: Black-browed and Shy Albatross, over 2000 Antarctic Prions, Northern and Southern Giant Petrels.
We left Simon's Town just before dawn and made our way down towards Cape Point. A recent cold front had brought a large number of more pelagic species into False Bay, including large numbers of White-chinned Petrels, Sooty Shearwaters and Sub-Antarctic Skuas. Every available spot at the regular roosts of Cape Cormorants and Swift Terns were occupied. Cape Gannets were also seen in good numbers, presumably favouring the shelter of False Bay to the open seas.
The weather became increasing rough, in stark contrast to the forecast conditions. We decided to abbreviate the trip to spare us a rough and wet trip out to the Cape Canyon.
We spent the trip at about five nautical miles off Cape Point. While not the spectacle that is typical of fishing trawlers, we did accumulate a respectable species list: Shy Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Northern and Southern Giant Petrels and Pintado Petrel. The highlight was over 2000 Antarctic Prions feeding on crustaceans brought to the surface by the prevailing weather.
We returned to the shelter of False Bay for lunch and to visit the Bank and White-breasted Cormorant breeding colonies at Partridge Point. Crowned Cormorants were found roosting on moored vessels in Simon's Town harbour.
Species seen and approximate numbers:
Shy Albatross - 10-20
Black-browed Albatross - 1
Southern Giant Petrel - 1
Northern Giant Petrel - 2
White-chinned Petrel - 100-200
Pintado Petrel - 1
Sooty Shearwater - 50-100
Antarctic Prion - 2000
Cape Gannet - abundant
Cape Cormorant - very abundant
Crowned Cormorant - 12
Bank Cormorant - 20-30
White-breasted Cormorant - 40-50
Sub-Antarctic (Brown) Skua - 6-10
Hartlaub's Gull - abundant
Kelp Gull - abundant
Swift tern - abundant
African Black Oystercatcher - 8
Cape Fur Seal - abundant
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 Vincent Ward.
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