Sunday 6 October saw birders from South Africa, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom board the Destiny for another Cape Town Pelagic trip. We were soon racing through the picturesque False Bay accompanied by the regular coastal species, namely; Kelp Gulls, Cape Gannets and Swift Terns. After a brief stop at to photograph the iconic Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope, we started out towards the trawling grounds.
The sea was rather choppy and going was slow. We soon encountered our first White-chinned Petrels, Sooty Shearwaters and our first Southern Giant Petrel of the day within the first two miles. At about five miles we encountered our first Great Shearwaters of the day. It was here where we also encountered a large Humpback Whale which showed briefly. We eventually made out two long-lining vessels on the horizon and headed in that direction. Rather surprisingly, we only saw our first albatross, a juvenile Shy, at about 16 miles from the point. On arriving at the long liners, we saw they were not yet retrieving their lines but there were some birds about. We soon added Black-browed and Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross and Subantarctic Skua. We decided to put out some fish oil to see what else we could bring in. We had great views of all the species mentioned above and eventually managed to draw in a Soft-plumaged Petrel which gave great views to all on board. The oil also managed to attract a couple of Wilson's Storm Petrels. We then noticed a third long liner a bit further out which seemed to have more birds in attendance. We approached and were happy to see that they were indeed retrieving their lines. We spent an extended amount of time with this vessel and added Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross and a single Great-winged Petrel to the day list. We were just beginning to contemplate running for home when a trawler suddenly appeared on the horizon, it was traveling away from us but we decided to run up to her and spend some time in her wake. There were good numbers of birds in attendance and it was here where we finally managed to locate a Northern Giant Petrel. We then had to start the trip back to the relative calm of False Bay where we enjoyed our lunch.
In False Bay, we encountered a very young Humpbacked Whale off Buffel's Bay. The mandatory stop at Partridge Point delivered Bank, Crowned, Cape and White-breasted Cormorant.
Species seen and approximate numbers:
Shy Albatross - c.100
Black-browed Albatross - c.20
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - c. 10
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - c. 20
Cape (Pintado) Petrel - c.10
White-chinned Petrel - c.300
Soft-plumaged Petrel - 1
Great-winged Petrel - 2
Southern Giant Petrel - 5
Northern Giant Petrel - 1
Sooty Shearwater - c.10
Great Shearwater - c. 200
Wilson's Storm Petrel - c.30
Brown (Subantarctic) Skua - 3
Humpback Whale - 2
Cape Fur Seal - Common
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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