Trip Highlights: Soft-plumaged Petrel,
On Sunday 7 October 6 birders, with guide Cliff Dorse on board, departed from Simon's Town harbour for a Cape Town Pelagic trip to the trawling grounds south of Cape Point. We were soon steaming through False Bay enjoying the spectacular scenery and the usual array of coastal birds. We detoured briefly to investigate two Humpback Whales off Buffel's Bay.
Shortly after the Point we saw our first pelagic bird of the day, a White-chinned Petrel. This was followed shortly thereafter by the first few Sooty Shearwaters. There was quite a chop on a medium sized swell which made going a little slow. However, we persisted on outwards and were rewarded with our first albatross, a juvenile Shy Albatross which gave very good views. We then started encountering our first Great Shearwaters which kept us entertained as we continued slowly out towards the trawling grounds. Soon thereafter, we again detoured to investigate some whale activity. We were battling to relocate them when suddenly a very large Humpback Whale surfaced right next to our boat! We moved away slightly and were then entertained by a young playful animal which repeatedly breached. We also had an immature Black-browed Albatross and a Southern Giant Petrel which came in and did two circles around the boat before disappearing. Unfortunately there was no sign of any fishing vessels on the horizon and the radar was not picking up anything either. We were at the tip of the canyon and decided to put out some fish oil to see if we could bring in more birds. Moments after the oil went over the side, a Northern Giant Petrel came in to investigate and sat on the sea right next to the boat. This was soon followed by an Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, a few Pintado Petrels and a Wilson's Storm Petrel. What many on board considered to be the bird of the day then put in an appearance, a Soft-plumaged Petrel came in and spent some time arching up and over the patch of oil, giving all on board great views.
We decided to enjoy our lunch in the tranquility of False Bay. As we started to run back, we encountered our second Wilson’s Storm Petrel. The run back was very smooth as we headed in the same direction of the swell and the wind. There were yet more Humpback Whales just before the Point.
After a great lunch, the mandatory stop at the Bank Cormorant breeding colony at Partridge Point produced good views of Bank, Crowned, White-breasted and Cape Cormorants. We then managed to find a few Crowned Cormorants on arriving back in Simon's Town harbour.
Species seen and approximate numbers:
Shy Albatross - c. 10
Black-browed Albatross - 4
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 1
Southern Giant Petrel - 1
Northern Giant Petrel - 1
Pintado Petrel - 3
White-chinned Petrel - c. 25
Soft-plumaged Petrel - 1
Great Shearwater - c.50
Sooty Shearwater - c. 10
Wilson's Storm Petrel - 2
Sabine's Gull - 1
African Black Oystercatcher
Cape Fur Seal
Humpback Whale - 10
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 Cliff Dorse.
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