Trip Highlights: Four species of albatross, four species of cormorant, Manx Shearwater, Southern Right and Bryde's Whales.
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross
We began our Cape Town Pelagics trip from the False Bay Yacht Club just before sunrise, heading south into False Bay. The calm coastal waters were busy with Cape Cormorants, Kelp and Hartlaub's Gulls, Greater Crested Terns and Cape Fur Seals. We encountered several feeding groups of African Penguins between their breeding colony at Boulders Beach and Cape Point.
A Bryde's Whale briefly surfaced before disappearing.
After the customary stop to take in the majestic cliffs at Cape Point, we headed into the deeper ocean, encountering White-chinned Petrels, Cape Gannets, as well as Great, Sooty and Cory's Shearwaters. A Manx Shearwater made a very brief appearance before disappearing in the swell. An unexpected surprise was a pair of Southern Right Whales, very rarely recorded in April.
Our skipper received news of two working long-line fishing boat approximately 17 nautical miles west of Cape Point. Once we reached the closer vessel, we quickly got four albatross species: Black-browed, Shy (White-capped) and Indian Yellow-nosed, and a brief view of an Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross.
The vessel also attracted large numbers of White-chinned Petrels and Great Shearwaters. The melle was interspersed with smaller numbers of Cory's and Sooty Shearwaters, several Brown (Sub-antarctic) Skua and the occasional Cape Fur Seal and Cape Gannet. We moved over to the other nearby fishing vessel, where we got an excellent view of an Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross.
After a great morning out in the ocean, we made our way back to False Bay. After a quick lunch inside a calm bay and below the spectacular sea cliffs of Cape Point, we continued to the cormorant colonies at Partridge Point. The large outcrops are home to nesting Bank and White-breasted Cormorants and large roosts of Cape Cormorants, and a today - a single Crowned Cormorant. The nearby Cape Fur Seal haul out was busy with dozens of resting animals. Our trip concluded back at the yacht basin in Simon's Town.
Pelagic species seen and approximate numbers:
Brown Skua - 9-10
Shy (White-capped) Albatross - 10-15
Black-browed Albatross - 5-10
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 3-5
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 2
White-chinned Petrel - 200-300
Cory's Shearwater - 5-10
Great Shearwater - 150-200
Sooty Shearwater - 10-15
Manx Shearwater - 1
African Oystercatcher - 1
Kelp Gull - common (coastal)
Hartlaub's Gull - common (coastal)
Greater Crested Tern - common (coastal)
Cape Gannet - 20-30 (and pelagic)
Crowned Cormorant - 1
White-breasted Cormorant - 40-50 (breeding)
Bank Cormorant - 20-30 (breeding)
Cape Cormorant - common (coastal)
African Penguin - common (coastal)
Cape (Brown) Fur Seal - common (coastal and pelagic)
Bryde's Whale - 1
Southern Right Whales - 2
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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