A Cape Town Pelagics trip left
Simonstown on Sunday 7 June 2009, guided by Cape Town
Pelagics guide Rob Leslie.
After the storm on Saturday it was quite a surprise
we were able to get to sea on Sunday, and even more
surprised at how pleasantly the day at sea turned
out with no sign of the big seas that was expected.
Soon after rounding the Point we had our first excitement
for the day, a Manx Shearwater with
a large group of Sooty Shearwaters.
This was followed by a brief sighting of an out of
season Cory’s Shearwater.
At about 20 nm off the Point we located a hake long-liner
with a large group of birds in attendance, dominated
by Shy Albatross. While approaching
the long-liner somebody shouted “Small Petrel”. We
turned to follow the bird and got brief views of a
LEACH’S STORM PETREL.
After spending some time with the long-liner, we moved
south in search of a trawler at the top of the Cape
Canyon. The trawler was attended by upwards of 5000
birds dominated by Black-browed Albatross.
While enjoying the bird spectacle, Phil, complaining
that he had only managed to get 1 photo of a prion,
showed me the picture. A very pale bird! I took a
closer look and confirmed SLENDERBILLED PRION.
Just then a cry of “Spectacled Petrel” went up as
a bird with an almost complete white ring around the
eye flew past, however I didn’t see any white on the
forehead. Photographic evidence confirmed the absence
of a white forehead, and showed that the bird did
not have a dark gonys just an aberrant White-chinned
Petrel. The bird returned showing that it
had a ring around the left eye, but nothing on the
right. In January 2008 I saw a bird with the same
features off Hondeklip Bay and the same (or similar)
bird off Mossel Bay in May 2008. I wonder if this
is the same individual.
All in all it was a very strange day. The very large
number of birds at the two fishing boats gave a satisfying
spectacle plus we saw some vagrant and out of season
birds, but there were a number of regular birds that
were conspicuous by their absence.
Shy Albatross 2000
Black-browed Albatross 1500
Southern Giant Petrel 3
Northern Giant Petrel 4
White-chinned Petrel 2000
Sooty Shearwater 200
Cory’s Shearwater 1
Manx Shearwater 1
Pintado Petrel 500
Antarctic Prion 500
Slenderbilled Prion 1
Wilson’s Storm Petrel 20
Leach’s Storm Petrel 1
Cape Gannet 50
Subantarctic Skua 40
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 Rob Leslie.
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