A Cape Town Pelagic trip left Simonstown
on May 15th at 7h30 guided by Cape Town Pelagics guide
Barrie Rose. There was little wind and the trip down
the bay was relatively calm although a large swell
was evident after the previous days’ storm.
started picking up White-chinned Petrels and
Sooty Shearwaters off Smitwinkels Bay. A Subantarctic
Skua and 3 Great Shearwaters were sat in
a large raft Sooty Shearwaters just inside
Cape Point. Huge flocks of Cape Gannets (some
juveniles) and Cape Cormorants were moving
out of the bay.
Rounding Cape Point we were faced
with a 6m swell but were able to progress comfortably
due to the lack of wind. Flocks of Cape Gannets,
cormorants, Sooty Shearwaters and White-chinned
Petrels were frantically working on baitfish around
Bellows Rock. We quickly added Shy Albatross
and Antarctic Prion and a flock of 8 Common
Terns to the list just outside of Bellows Rock.
Travelling WSW into the huge sea a single Cory’s Shearwater paid us a brief visit and a few Wilson’s Storm-Petrels crossed our path.
At 20mls a ski-boat informed us
of 2 trawlers a further 5 or 6 miles offshore. At
1000 we arrived at the hake trawler ‘Forest Lily’
which had a cloud of birds in its wake, Black-browed
Albatrosses and White-chinned Petrels dominated
the flock. A single juvenile Grey-headed
Albatross provided major excitement.
After adding both Giant Petrels and Yellow-nosed
Albatrosses we worked our way back down the wake
and were able to interrogate a large flock of prions
and storm-petrels. Three Black-bellied Storm-Petrels
and a few late European Storm-Petrels were
the reward. Black-bellied Storm-Petrels
are not routinely seen on their
northward migration at this time of year making
this sighting quite special. Image: Black-bellied
Storm-Petrel on a Cape Town Pelagics trip ©
At 12h00 we started for home as an easterly breeze threatened to turn the sea ‘upside down’.
The mandatory stop at Partridge Point provided great views of Bank Cormorants and Cape Fur Seals before we docked at 1500.
species and numbers seen
Shy Albatross 150+
Black-browed Albatross - 1000+
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 1
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 4
Northern Giant Petrel - 6
Southern Giant Petrel - 5
White-chinned Petrel -ca 2000
Great-winged Petrel -2
Antarctic Prion - 500
Sooty Shearwater - 800+
Cory’s Shearwater - 2
Great Shearwater - 80
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel - 500
European Storm-Petrel- 10
Black-bellied Storm-Petrel - 3
Subantarctic Skua 20
Cape Gannet - 500
Common Tern - 8
Swift Tern - coastal and to 8mls
Kelp Gull - 150 and coastal
Cape Cormorant coastal and to 5mls
White-breasted Cormorant - coastal
Bank Cormorant - coastal
Hartlaub’s Gull - coastal
African Penguin - 4 and coastal
Cape Fur Seal - 100+
Image: Black-browed Albatross on a Cape Town Pelagics
trip © Barrie Rose.
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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