Trip Highlights: 4 species Albatross, Flesh-footed Shearwater, Manx Shearwater, Parasitic Jaeger, Northern and Southern Giant Petrels, and Sabine's Gull
Both photos of a Flesh-footed Shearwater
Early on Saturday 18 November a group of keen birders joined a Cape Town Pelagics trip from Simon's Town; with guide Cliff Dorse on board. Conditions in the bay were very good and we were soon speeding out towards Cape Point. As always, the spectacular scenery was a highlight as we ran through the bay. We stopped to take some photos and really appreciate the wonderful views of Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. We then continued our way out towards the trawling grounds. All reports indicated that there were no trawlers or fishing vessels anywhere in the area and we were well prepared with chum and fish oil.
Shortly after the point we encountered our first Sooty Shearwaters and White-chinned Petrels. We also encountered our first albatross, a juvenile Shy Albatross at about 8 miles from the point. We were all rather surprised when we suddenly noticed the distinctive outline of a trawler on the horizon. This was a very unexpected but welcome surprise! As we approached the Steevia, bird numbers and diversity began to increase. There were good numbers of Shy about as well as a few Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross. We managed to have good views of both Northern and Southern Giant Petrels; and a few juvenile and one cracking adult Black-browed Albatross also put in an appearance. The trawler had just retrieved her net and she turned; ran a short distance before starting to fish again. The trawler did not appear to be processing any fish as there were very few birds in her wake. We decided to put out the chum and some fish oil to try bring in some of the birds. This worked well and we were soon enjoying good views of many species as they came in close to get some scraps. The highlight of the day came in the form of two Flesh-footed Shearwaters which gave excellent views. A single adult Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross was also seen as well as a few Sabine's Gulls.
We then ran back up to the trawler, which by this time was well to the south of us. We arrived just as she started to retrieve her net. It was a great spectacle as the birds and seals squabbled for scraps behind the vessel. We also managed a brief look at a Manx Shearwater, but it quickly disappeared amongst the many birds in the vicinity. We were now 20 miles from the point and we decided to put some fish oil in an attempt to locate any storm petrels. Unfortunately they did not oblige and we soon had to start the run back to Simon's Town.
We stopped in at the Bank Cormorant breeding colony at Partridge Point produced good views of Bank, Cape and White-breasted Cormorant. We were able to find the last of the Marine Cormorants, a Crowned Cormorant, in the Simon's Town harbour.
Species seen and approximate numbers:
Shy Albatross - c. 30
Black-browed Albatross - 5 (4 immature & 1 adult)
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 5
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 1
Northern Giant Petrel - 2
Southern Giant Petrel - 3
White-chinned Petrel - c. 200
Flesh-footed Shearwater - 2
Sooty Shearwater - c. 10
Cory's Shearwater - 4
Manx Shearwater - 1
Parasitic Jaeger - 1
Sabine's Gull - 4
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 Cliff Dorse.
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