Sea Birding Pelagic Trips South Africa, Cape Town Pelagics


  Trip Reports - Trip report for 23 April 2005





A party of 5 departed from Simon’s Town at 7 am on Saturday, 23 April 2005, led by Ross Wanless. Despite some early rain, the trip got off to a cracking start. We were barely beyond Miller’s Point when a large school of Dusky dolphins was sighted. As we drew closer they began to forage, and large numbers of Cape gannets, Swift terns, Cape cormorants and Cape gulls came in to feast. We spent 15 – 20 minutes with dolphins and seals feeding and playing around the boat.

Just beyond the point we got good views of our first giant petrel – it was a young Northern. We picked up the usual procellariiforms and the odd Subantarctic skua on the way to the trawling grounds. After some searching, and the single Great-winged petrel of the trip, we soon picked up a couple of active hake longliners and a pole boat. Before we had really gotten comfortable, a giant albatross hove into view. We were able to follow it for 2-3 minutes through the melee of other birds, and were able to identify it as a Northern royal albatross! It clearly showed the white back, tail and head contrasting with clean black wings, without any whitening from the edges, top or centre of the wings.

We then moved on to two nearby trawlers, which promised to have more birds behind them. Although we followed them all the way to about 30 nm south of Cape Point, the distance travelled was worth it! We had impressive numbers of birds around the back of the boats, and everyone got excellent, close-up views of every species. We were also lucky enough to get onto a Pintado petrel – apparently the first bird of the season, and a welcome bonus for the cruise. As we were leaving, the skipper called cetaceans ahead, and we got great views of a pod of around 20 pilot whales. The perfect way to round off a really superb pelagic excursion.



  Pelagic birds seen and approximate numbers



Northern Royal albatross 1
Shy albatross 1000
Indian Yellow-nosed albatross 10
Yellow-nosed albatross 3
Black-browed albatross 300
Northern giant petrel 8
White-chinned petrel 1000 +
Pintado petrel 1
Great-winged petrel 1
Great shearwater 250
Cory's shearwater 2
Sooty shearwater 200
Manx shearwater 2
Wilson 's storm petrel 500
European storm petrel 5
Subantarctic skua 20


Dusky dolphins 100
Pilot whales 20


Thanks again to Dave Christie for a superb pelagic!