A Cape Town Pelagic trip left Simonstown
at 07h30 on Saturday 23 January, guided by Cape Town
Pelagics guide Barrie Rose.
Flesh-footed Shearwater, a local rarity, photographed
on a Cape Town Pelagics trip © Barrie Rose.
Dusky Dolphin photographed on a Cape Town Pelagics
trip © Barrie Rose.
Conditions were virtually windless and the trip to
Cape Point was pleasant, although uneventful, with
only coastal species being recorded.
Outside Cape Point the windless
conditions persisted and we headed across a calm sea
towards the fishing grounds.
We stopped briefly two miles outside
South West Reef to watch a large shoal of Yellowtail
smashing into a shoal of sardines. It was here that
we picked up our first pelagic species in the form
of Sooty Shearwaters and White-chinned
At six miles off the Point we crossed
a strong current line into 22°C oceanic water. In
this area we found rafts of Cory’s Shearwaters
and sighted 2 Pomarine Skuas.
The next twelve miles was virtually
devoid of life until we approached the shark long-liner
‘Golden Harvest’. Along with hundreds of White-chinned
Petrels we found good numbers of albatross. Shy
Albatross dominated but Black-browed
and both Atlantic and Indian Yellow-nosed
Albatrosses were present.
After 30 mins we became aware of a trawler steaming
north about 4miles seaward of us. The ‘Forest Lily’
was steaming to Cape Town while processing its catch.
A cloud of birds was clearly visible behind the trawler
and we ran there at speed. We pulled up to its stern
and stopped allowing the huge flock to pass around
us as the ‘Lily’ continued into the north at 12knots.
We soon started to add species to the list; Great
Shearwater, Sabine’s Gull, Arctic
Tern, Northern Giant Petrel,
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, Long-tailed
Skua and Spectacled Petrel.
After the main flock had passed we spent 2 hours interrogating
the many rafts of seabirds in the area. This strategy
added European Storm-Petrel,
Southern Giant Petrel, Flesh-footed
Shearwater (a local rarity), Manx Shearwater
and a small Oceanic Blue Shark.
The trip back to Cape Point was
fairly uneventful with some large rafts of Cory’s
Shearwater and another Blue Shark
breaking the journey.
Inside Cape Point we were entertained by a small school
of Dusky Dolphins before heading back
Species and approximate numbers
Shy Albatross - 200
Black-browed Albatross - 80
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 40
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 10
Northern Giant Petrel - 6
Southern Giant Petrel - 2
White-chinned Petrel ca 1500
Spectacled Petrel 1
Sooty Shearwater - 150
Cory’s Shearwater - 250
Great Shearwater - 10
Flesh-footed Shearwater - 1
Manx Shearwater - 1
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel - 20
European Storm-Petrel - 3
Subantarctic Skua - 3
Pomarine Skua - 2
Long-tailed Skua - 4
Sabine’s Gull - 25
Arctic Tern - 10
Common Tern - 4
Swift Tern coastal and to 8mls
Sandwich Tern - coastal
Kelp Gull 150 and coastal
Cape Cormorant coastal and to 5mls
White-breasted Cormorant - coastal
Bank Cormorant - coastal
African Penguin 5 and coastal
Cape Fur Seal 100+
Dusky Dolphin 1 school (12)
Oceanic Blue Shark - 2
Yellowtail 1 feeding shoal
Garfish/Saury (Scomberesox saurus) numerous at current
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 Barrie Rose.
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