Sea Birding Pelagic Trips South Africa, Cape Town Pelagics


  Trip Reports - Trip report for 15 October 2006




- Northern Royal Albatross

This Cape Town Pelagics trips almost didn’t leave the harbour, as the southeaster was blowing a hoolie inshore. Our skipper Rob Lawrence contacted boats a few miles off the point who had only 10 Kn winds and no swell, so we set off for a pretty bumpy ride to the point, led by Ross Wanless and with Chris Boix from Tropical Birding assisting.

There was precious little activity at the point, besides a Southern Right Whale that breached a couple of times as we moved past. It was also pretty quiet on the way to the trawlers, but the winds were dying down and the skies clearing. We found a trawler at about 21 miles, and it had a fair few birds in attendance but had not yet pulled its nets. While we were pottering around waiting for the show to start, we got onto a big albatross. Rob followed it and it settled on the water. As we approached it took off again and so revealed itself to be a NORTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS!

Soon after that, the nets came up and the birds came in! We soon picked up all the regular species in excellent numbers, and enjoyed a fabulous day for photos and close-up views of some really great birds. Great Shearwaters were by far the most abundant species – possibly indicating the start of their pre-laying “honeymoon” period. Interesting to note the low numbers of Wilson’s Storm-Petrels, which are probably moving south in preparation for their summer breeding.



  Pelagic birds seen and approximate numbers



Northern Royal Albatross 1
Shy albatross 400
Black-browed albatross 100
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross 6
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross 2
Northern Giant-Petrel 2
Southern Giant-Petrel 8
White-chinned Petrel 400
Pintado Petrel 500
Great Shearwater 2000
Sooty Shearwater 50
Wilson 's Storm-Petrel 5
SubAntarctic Skua 2
Sabine’s Gull 2
Arctic Tern 10
Common Tern 5

  Coastal species seen



African Penguin
Cape Gannet
Kelp Gull
Hartlaub’s Gull
Swift Tern
White breasted Cormorant
Bank Cormorant
Cape Cormorant


Thanks to Rob Lawrence for skippering the Blue Pointer and to Chris Boix for co-guiding.