Trip Highlights: 14 pelagic species congregating behind 3 long-liners
We set out at sunrise from Simon's Town harbour aboard a Cape Town Pelagics boat full of pelagic virgins on a mission to find some avian denizens of the deep.
The birds were absent until Cape Point, where we had our first of many White-chinned Petrels. We stopped for photographs of the icon Cape Point cliffs and lighthouse before heading out to the open ocean. Pretty soon the activity picked up with Swift Terns, Cape Gannets, Cory's Shearwaters, Sooty Shearwaters, and a single Great-winged Petrel. It didn't take long for our first albatross, which turned out to be a Shy Albatross. At 18 nautical miles out, we found three long-liners.
A quick radio comm with one revealed they were pulling lines at 11 am. So we opted to wait out in the deep and enjoy what we could find. We were spoiled with views of both Wilson's and European Storm Petrels, Black-browed Albatross, Subantarctic Skua, and one distant Southern Giant Petrel. Once the birds begun to assemble behind one of the boats we also picked out a few Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses and one Pintado Petrel.
Fighting for fish scraps are White-chinned Petrel, Indian Yellow-nosed and Shy Albatross and Great Shearwater.
We enjoyed the scenes for a while behind each of the three vessels before heading back in for lunch at Buffelsbaai near Cape Point, and a visit to Partridge Point to find Cape, White-breasted, Crowned and the endangered Bank Cormorant. As a bonus, we also had an African Black Oystercatcher amidst the Cape Fur Seals.
Species seen and approximate numbers:
Shy Albatross - 200
Black-browed Albatross - 10
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 5
White-chinned Petrel - 800
Great-winged Petrel - 1
Pintado Petrel - 1
Southern Giant Petrel - 1
Cory's Shearwater - 30
Great Shearwater - 20
Manx Shearwater - 1
Sooty Shearwater - 50
Wilson's Storm-petrel - 5
European Storm-petrel - 1
Subantarctic Skua - 5
Swift (Greater Crested) 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 Andrew de Blocq.
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