Trip Highlights: 3 Albatross species, Spectacled Petrel, Black-bellied Storm Petrels, Northern and Southern Giant Petrels, Soft-plumaged Petrel, Great Shearwater, Parasitic Jaeger and Sabine's Gull.
We set out from Simon's Town in perfect conditions. The vessels and buoys in the yacht basin held Cape and Crowned Cormorants, Hartlaub's and Kelp Gulls. While passing Boulders Beach, we got good views of several groups of porpoising African Penguins heading out to forage.
The waters around Cape Point was spectacularly busy. The huge quantities of small bait fish attracted a large number and variety of coastal species: Kelp Gulls, Cape and White-breasted Cormorants; Cape Gannets, Common, Sandwich and Great Crested (Swift) Terns. The activity also included several White-chinned Petrels, Northern Giant Petrels and Sooty Shearwaters. Once away from the coast and into oceanic waters, we got good views of our first Shy Albatross.
After a long trip out, we found a single trawler operating at the end of our range. As it was still travelling offshore we could not follow it further out. The fishing boat did however pull in several thousand birds, providing the spectacle unique to our Cape waters. The undoubted highlight was a SPECTACLED PETREL, in amongst the large flocks of White-chinned Petrels. A close second place went to several Black-bellied Storm Petrels. In addition to these star birds, we also spotted Black-browed and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses, Wilson's Storm Petrel, Northern and Southern Giant Petrel, Pintado Petrels, Great Shearwater, Brown (Subantarctic) Skuas, and Arctic Terns.
The trip back to False Bay was uneventful apart from a single Soft-plumaged Petrel. As always, we stopped at the cormorant colonies at Partridge Point. The large rocks held examples of all four marine cormorants found along the Cape Coast. The Bank and White-breasted Cormorants were on nests, with the Cape and a few Crowned Cormorants only roosting. The lower rocks held a few African Black Oystercatchers and the Cape Fur Seal haul out held a good number of resting animals.
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross
Shy (White-capped) Albatross
Northern Giant Petrel
Southern Giant Petrel
Wilson's Storm Petrel
Black-bellied Storm Petrel
Brown (Subantarctic) Skua
Greater Crested (Swift) Tern
African Black Oystercatcher
Cape Fur Seals
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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