Trip Highlights: Four species of albatross, four species of cormorants, Wilson's, and Black-bellied Storm Petrels, Pintado (Cape) Petrels, Humpback, and Bryde's Whales.
After leaving the False bay Yacht Club at 7:15am we made our way down towards Cape Point, passing Boulders Beach where we had close views of multiple groups of African Penguins heading out to sea for the abundance of small bait fish in the Bay. This fish attracted other species of coastal seabirds, including Kelp, and Hartlaub's Gulls, Great Crested (Swift), Common and Sandwich Terns, as well as Cape and White-breasted Cormorants. Several Bryde's Whales were seen feeding with the masses of seabirds.
We made a visit to the breeding Bank and White-breasted Cormorants at Partridge Point. The taller rocks in the area also held roosting Crowned and Cape Cormorants. The exposed mussel beds on the lower rocks held feeding African Oystercatchers. The nearby Cape Fur Seal haul-out was covered with good numbers of seals seeking shelter from the rough seas of recent days.
We made our customary photo stop at Cape Point. The surrounding seas were busy with Cape Gannets and several tern species - Common, Great Crested (Swift), Sandwich, and Arctic Terns - feeding on more of the abundant bait fish.
We received reports of several trawlers fishing 23 nautical miles offshore. The trip out to the fishing ground delivered a good list of pelagic species including: Shy, and Black-browed Albatrosses, White-chinned Petrels, Sooty Shearwaters and Parasitic Jaeger.
On arrival at the fishing boats, we quickly added several new species to the trip list. These included two more albatross species: Indian, and Atlantic Yellow-nosed, Northern Giant Petrel, Wilson's and Black-bellied Storm Petrel, Pintado Petrel, and Great Shearwater, and Brown Skua. These were all in addition to species already seen on the trip out. After several hours enjoying the unique spectacle of masses of pelagic seabirds behind the boats, we sadly had to return to shore.
The trip back delivered a few quick views of diving Humpback Whales; and more Bryde's Whales back in False Bay.
Pelagic species seen and approximate numbers:
Shy/White-capped Albatross - 150-200
Black-browed Albatross - 10-15
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 5-7
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 1-2
Northern Giant Petrel - 1
Sooty Shearwater - 200-300
Great Shearwater - 50-75
White-chinned Petrel - 500-750
Cape (Pintado) Petrel - 5-7
Wilson's Storm Petrel - 50-75
Black-bellied Storm Petrel - 1
Brown (Sub-Antarctic) Skua - 1
Parasitic Jaeger - 2
African Penguin - 100-150
Cape Gannet - 250-300
White-breasted Cormorant - 10 breeding pairs
Cape Cormorant - abundant (coastal)
Crowned Cormorant - 5
Bank Cormorant - 20-25 breeding pairs
Kelp Gull - abundant (coastal); 25-30 (pelagic)
Hartlaub's Gull - 10-15
Grey-headed Gull - 1
Great Crested Tern - 300-400
Common Tern - 150-200
Arctic Tern - 2
Sandwich Tern - 5-10
African (Black) Oystercatcher - 2
Cape Fur Seal - abundant, 15-20 (pelagic)
Humpback Whale - 2-3
Bryde's Whale - 1
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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