Trip Highlights: Four species of albatrosses, Sabine's Gull, Long-tailed Jaeger, Flesh-footed Shearwater.
The harbour in Simon's Town provided a good variety of coastal birds as we started our run down to Cape Point. The moored boats and buoys offered up Cape, White-breasted and Crowned Cormorants, Kelp and Hartlaub's Gulls, Great Crested, Common and Sandwich Terns, and a Grey Heron.
The run down the western side of False Bay was very quiet from a birding prospective, with nothing new added to the trip list. Once past Cape Point and out into the open ocean, we began to pick up our first pelagics: Sooty and Cory's Shearwaters, Parasitic Jaeger and White-chinned Petrels. There were also sightings of a few Cape Gannets, and a single African Penguin just past Cape Point. Our skipped received news of a trawler working 18 nautical miles off the coast, and we set a course to join it.
On our arrival, the trawler had only attracted small numbers of White-chinned Petrels, Kelp Gulls and the occasional Northern Giant Petrel. Fortunately, they started to haul the net shortly after we arrived. Consequently the number and diversity of seabirds quickly increased. We quickly picked out Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, followed eventually by both Black-browed and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses. Other additions to the list were several Arctic Terns, Sabine/s Gulls, both Wilson's and European Storm Petrel, a Brown Skua and a Long-tailed Jaeger. A Flesh-footed Shearwater made a very brief appearance before sadly disappeared into the melee.
After enjoying the masses of feeding seabirds, we returned to the coast at midday. We stopped for a quick light lunch below the cliffs at Cape Point, before heading up to Partridge Point. Here we had a quick look at the breeding Bank Cormorants, and nearby haul-out of Cape Fur Seals. With the wind freshening, we completed our trip back to port.
Pelagic species seen and approximate numbers:
African Penguin - 1
Shy/White-capped Albatross - 2
Black-browed Albatross - 3
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 2
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 2
Northern Giant Petrel - 6
Sooty Shearwater - 150
White-chinned Petrel - 300
Wilson's Storm Petrel - 20
European Storm Petrel - 50
Brown (Sub-Antarctic) Skua - 1
Parasitic Jaeger - 8
Long-tailed Jaeger - 1
Flesh-footed Shearwater - 1
Sabine's Gull - 4
Arctic Tern - 7
African Penguin - 1
Cape Gannet - Common (coastal and pelagic)
White-breasted Cormorant - 6 breeding pairs
Cape Cormorant - abundant
Crowned Cormorant - 3
Bank Cormorant - 22 breeding pairs
Kelp Gull - common (coastal and pelagic)
Hartlaub's Gull - common
Great Crested Tern - common
Common Tern - common
Sandwich Tern - common
African (Black) Oystercatcher - 2
Cape Fur Seal - abundant (coastal and pelagic)
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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