Trip Highlights: Black-bellied Storm Petrel, Manx Shearwater and Long-tailed Jaeger.
We departed Simon's Town and made very good time down to Cape Point. En-route we encountered several large groups of African Penguins heading out to forage. False Bay was relatively quiet apart from the occasional skein of Cape Cormorants, and scatterings of Kelp and Hartlaub's Gulls.
The sea around Cape Point was very busy. The birdlife was dominated by Common and Great Crested Terns, with the occasional White-chinned Petrel, and Sooty Shearwater darting in to feed amongst the melee. Once we movedout into deeper waters, the first Great Shearwaters were recorded. Much further out, we saw our first Shy Albatrosses. We eventually recorded Cape Gannet, a species we had expected to get close inshore.
With no fishing vessels operating within range, we stopped and laid down some anchovy oil. This slowly attracted in a few more White-chinned Petrels, and the occasional Shy Albatross. As the oil spread we started to pick up a greater diversity of seabirds. The list grew to include Northern Giant Petrel; Black-browed and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses, Parasitic Jaeger and Wilson's Storm Petrel. We however recorded several species that really got us very excited. The top ones included Black-bellied Storm Petrel (a life for many on the boat), Long-tailed Jaeger (an uncommon summer visitor), Arctic Tern and a Manx Shearwater. The other highlight was a very distant Sabine's Gull seen by some.
On the way back to the coast we picked up a Brown Skua and a Southern Giant Petrel, adding to an already excellent trip list. Close to Cape Point we stopped to enjoy a massive Oceanic Sunfish feeding on bluebottles.
Once back in the bay, we enjoyed a light lunch, after which we visited Partridge Point for the Bank and White-breasted Cormorant. The nearby Cape Fur Seal haul-out held a pair of Crowned Cormorants. Just offshore of Miller's Point we got quick views of a young Humpback Whale.
Pelagic species seen and approximate numbers:
Shy/White-capped Albatross - 5
Black-browed Albatross - 1
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 2
Northern Giant Petrel - 2
Southern Giant Petrel - 1
Sooty Shearwater - 50
Great Shearwater - 100
Manx Shearwater - 1
White-chinned Petrel - 50
Wilson's Storm Petrel - 2
Black-bellied Storm Petrel - 1
Brown (Sub-Antarctic) Skua - 1
Parasitic Jaeger - 2
Long-tailed Jaeger - 2-3
Sabine's Gull - 1
African Penguin - 70-80
Cape Gannet - Common (coastal and pelagic)
White-breasted Cormorant - 21 breeding pairs
Cape Cormorant - abundant
Crowned Cormorant - 2
Bank Cormorant - 19 breeding pairs
Kelp Gull - common (coastal and pelagic)
Hartlaub's Gull - common
Great Crested Tern - common
Common Tern - common
Arctic Tern - 1
Cape Fur Seal - abundant (coastal and pelagic)
Humpback Whale - 1
Other species of interest:
Oceanic Sunfish - 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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