Trip Highlights: Two species of albatrosses, Wilson's Storm Petrel.
The guests, guide and skipper all met just before 7 am at the Lookout Deck in Hout Bay on what promised to be a calm, wind-free day at sea. After we set off of from Hout Bay harbour, we soon began to tally up coastal species such as Great Crested (Swift) Tern, Crowned Cormorant, Cape Cormorant, Kelp and Hartlaub's Gulls.
We followed the coastline up to Kommetjie and the headed out westwards to investigate a boat found on our vessel's radar. As soon as we moved away from land, the first Cape Gannets appeared and we started seeing the first of several hundreds of White-Chinned Petrels. Further along our route towards the continental shelf we also started picking up a few distant Shy Albatrosses.
The vessel found earlier on the radar turned out to be a longline fisherman and only a small number of curious birds followed in its wake, mainly Kelp Gulls, White-chinned Petrels and a few Shy Albatrosses.
We could find no trawlers and therefore decided to cast some bait overboard to attract a few extra species. This strategy was met with moderate success and we added Sooty Shearwater, Brown (Subantarctic ) Skua, Wilson's Storm Petrel, Northern and Southern Giant Petrels and Black-browed Albatross.
We had a lunch of sandwiches, muffins and cold drinks and then decided to slowly head eastwards towards land again. En route, we had further sightings of several White-chinned Petrels, a few Shy Albatrosses and Brown Skuas and good numbers of Kelp Gull, as well a a single raft of 50+ Cape Gannets sitting on the water while digesting an earlier meal.
We then paid a quick visit to the seal island where a few hundred Cape Fur Seals presented good photo opportunities before heading back to Hout Bay harbour after a lovely day of birding out at sea.
Pelagic species seen and approximate numbers:
Shy/White-capped Albatross - 150-200
Black-browed Albatross - 2
Northern Giant Petrel - 2
Southern Giant Petrel - 1
Sooty Shearwater - 5
White-chinned Petrel - 500-800
Wilson's Storm Petrel - 1
Brown (Sub-Antarctic) Skua - 5
Cape Gannet - 300-500
Kelp Gull - 1000
Cape Cormorant - 1000
White-breasted Cormorant - 20
Crowned Cormorant - 10
Great Crested Tern
Cape Fur Seal - abundant, large numbers seen
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 David Swanepoel.
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