Sea Birding Pelagic Trips South Africa, Cape Town Pelagics


  Trip Reports - Trip report for 31 March 2006





A Cape Town Pelagics trip departed Simon’s Town on Friday 31 March 2006, led by Ross Wanless. The day was all set to be a cracker, as there was virtually no swell, and just enough wind to give lift to the birds, nothing more. We encountered the usual coastal species in the bay, as well as a flock of 20-odd Sabine’s Gulls, and passed a large current-line on the way to the deep, finding hundreds of the commoner petrels in the area. The highlight of the trips came when a whale blow was sighted, and we turned to investigate. We cut our engines and let the whale approach us, and got excellent views of a Minke Whale. This species is not abundant in our waters and is seldom seen on pelagic trips: such good views made it a big bonus.

Our really fast boat got us out to the trawlers in just over 2 hours, which gave us oodles of time to find the best boats. The first trawler started hauling as we arrived, and produced an immense crowd of birds. Its catch was miserable, and it moved off at full steam, making following it uncomfortable, so we skipped over to another boat nearby. After about an hour of almost no action, the winches began and the birds came in. There was a frenzy of activity behind the bag as seals competed with sizeable yellowfin tuna, which broke the surface and even leapt clear of the water at times! The birds were, needless to say, amazing, and at such close quarters that photopgraphers onboard were struggling to get them to fit into the field of view! We headed home after a good 3.5 hours with the trawlers and a good mix of northern hemisphere migrants and southern ocean species.



  Pelagic birds seen and approximate numbers



Shy Albatross 200
Black-browed Albatross 30
Indian Yellow-nosed Alb 15
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Alb 1
Yellow-nosed Alb juveniles 5
Giant Petrel sp. 1
White-chinned Petrel 500
Cory’s Shearwater 10
Great Shearwater 50
Sooty Shearwater 50
Wilson's Storm Petrel 100
European Storm Petrel 50
Subantarctic Skua 10
Arctic Skua 5
Sabine’s Gull 50
Arctic Tern 10

  Coastal seabirds



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


Thanks to Chris and Monique Fallows for helping make such an enjoyable trip!