of birds, including an astounding number of Storm
Easter weekend in Cape Town coincided with the arrival
of one of our first large cold fronts of the season.
It was therefore with some surprise that we got the
message that the pelagic trip would be going ahead,
but this it did and a group of birders left Simonstown
Harbour on the Monday morning aboard a Cape Town Pelagics
trip guided by Cliff Dorse. As we left the harbour
we were immediately greeted by the predicted very
large swell. In the bay we encountered all the normal
coastal species and also had our first Cory’s
Shearwaters and White-chinned Petrels
before reaching Cape Point.
We continued out towards the trawling
grounds and soon added Sooty Shearwater,
Subantartic Skua and Shy
Albatross. At about 5 miles from the point
we encountered our first of many Great Shearwaters.
We were entertained by the above mentioned species
as we headed on outwards. At about 15 miles, when
we were just starting to worry that we were not going
to find any trawlers on the day, we made out the distinctive
shape of a stern trawler in the distance. We changed
course and headed in her direction.
We soon started to see Black-browed Albatross
and large numbers of Wilson’s Storm
Petrel. At 25 miles we arrived at the trawler
and an absolute spectacle of pelagic birds. There
were thousands of birds in attendance and we commenced
with the task of looking through the clouds of birds
for additional species. We soon added European
Storm Petrel, Indian Yellow-nosed
Albatross and managed to pick out a single
Northern Giant Petrel. We moved away
from the trawler, working through the masses of birds
in the general area and headed towards a second trawler
heading in our direction. The number of Storm Petrels
was absolutely astounding. Both species were giving
exceptional views as they passed us within arm’s
length. At the second trawler, the only addition to
the day list was a solitary Sabine’s
The fairly rough conditions had not allowed our boat
to travel at her usual nippy speed and we had to start
our way back towards home. The trip back produced
no additional species but all on board were very pleased
to enjoy a late lunch in the relative tranquility
of False Bay.
The mandatory stop at the Bank Cormorant breeding
colony at Partridge Point delivered both Bank Cormorant
and the other three species of marine cormorant.
It was however distressing to see that the recent
huge swell coupled with spring tides had destroyed
all the nests of this endangered species.
The following is a list of the species seen during
the course of the day. The numbers reflected can be
considered as rough estimations only.
Shy Albatross c. 200
Black-browed Albatross c. 350
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross 2
Northern Giant Petrel 1
White-chinned Petrel c. 1000
Cory’s Shearwater c. 30
Great Shearwater c. 50
Sooty Shearwater c. 30
Wilson’s Storm Petrel 2500+
European Storm Petrel c. 500
Subantarctic Skua c. 10
Sabine’s Gull 1
The following species were encountered close
to the coast:
African Black Oyster-catcher
Cape Fur Seal
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 Cliff Dorse.
To book, simply email
or phone us, or submit a
booking enquiry online.