1 Manx Shearwater
A Cape Town Pelagics trip left Simon’s Town on the Blue Pointer, guided by Ross Wanless, Peter Ryan and Meidad Goren. The bay was superbly calm, and we picked up a couple of Arctic Skuas harassing Swift Terns while still in the bay. A low mist reduced visibility around the point, but did not prevent us from getting on to a Pomarine Skua, although it could have shown itself better. We made excellent time out to the deep and by 9.30 we were alongside a trawler, about 25 miles out. As if on cue, she pulled up her nets and we soon picked up all the albatrosses and smaller species that were present. Two particular events are worth mentioning. One was a MANX SHEARWATER that we stopped for and of which we got excellent views. The second was what can only be described as a swarm of storm-petrels. There were about 200 individuals (they appeared to be Europeans, but it was difficult to tell) flying together in such a tight pack that they looked like a small dark cloud moving over the water. I personally have never seen anything like that before.
We stayed with the trawler for close to two hours, until the 30 nm mark, at which point the bird numbers started to tail off rapidly, and we headed back to Simon’s Town. Pete, Meidad and I agreed that we have never seen so few albatrosses behind a trawler. With winter approaching, however, that should change! We stopped off at Partridge Point to find at least 18 active Bank Cormorant nests, plus the other three marine cormorant species (White-breasted, Crowned and Cape) simultaneously on the same rock, allowing great photo ops and close comparisons.