Trip Highlights: Black-browed and Shy Albatross, Northern and Southern Giant Petrels, Sub-Antarctic Skua, Humpback Whale and a pod of Orcas !!
Sunday 24th September was fairly calm with a light westerly wind and a red sunrise across the Cape Peninsula. Seven keen birders boarded 'Destiny' for a Cape Town Pelagics trip which departed ± 7:20am from Simon's Town harbour. Within the confines of the harbour were the usual Kelp Gulls, Hartlaub's Gulls and Cape Cormorant on the buoy lines. We soon set off from the harbour and across False Bay, heading toward Cape Point. Out in False Bay African Penguins lined the shore at Boulders Beach and a small hunting group was in the water. Off Smitswinkel Bay we picked up a Humpback Whale which made a brief appearance before we arrived at Cape Point where we took some scenery photos, checked out over the radio and headed out to the deep.
At Cape Point there were large flocks of Cape Cormorants, Cape Gannets and Swift Terns working bait fish in the area. We headed out, finding our first Sooty Shearwaters and soon numerous White-chinned Petrel which showed up. Heading further out conditions were very quiet with few birds and no signs of any fishing vessels. We scanned the radar and enquired with other vessels but didn't find any fishing boats. At the 20 N Mile mark we put out chum of fish oil and fish. Soon we had Shy Albatross, Arctic Tern, White-chinned Petrel and Sooty Shearwater around our boat. A few Wilson's Storm-petrels followed and soon a young Southern Giant Petrel turned up.
Sub-Antarctic Skua appeared followed soon after by a young Northern Giant Petrel. We had a lone Pintado Petrel circle our boat for a while.
After two hours, with the wind in the West picking up we headed back toward land. En route we found two Black-browed Albatross feeding on a patch of fish. At Cape Point we found a pod of about five Orca and we connected with these beautiful animals close to our boat.
Back in False Bay we had lunch beneath the cliffs of Cape Point before heading across to the Castle Rock cormorant colony. Here we found White-breasted Cormorant, African Black Oyster-catcher, Cape Cormorants, Bank Cormorants and two obliging Crowned Cormorants. With good views of these birds and Cape Fur Seals we headed back to Simon's Town harbour.
Bird species seen and approximate numbers:
Swift Tern - coastal
Arctic tern - 10
Hartlaub's Gull - coastal
Kelp Gull - coastal
Cape Cormorant - coastal
Bank Cormorant - coastal
Crowned Cormorant - coastal - 2
White-breasted Cormorant - coastal - 8
African Penguin - coastal
African Black Oystercatcher - coastal - 2
Cape Gannet - coastal & pelagic - 20
White-chinned Petrel - 50
Northern Giant Petrel - 1
Southern Giant Petrel - 1
Pintado Petrel - 1
Wilson's Storm-Petrel - 5
Sooty Shearwater - 20
Shy Albatross - 5
Black-browed Albatross - 2
Sub-Antarctic Skua - 1
Cape Fur Seal
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 Dalton Gibbs.
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