Trip Highlights: Juvenile Wandering Albatross, Soft-plumaged Petrel, Northern & Southern Giant Petrels
At 07h30 on a Saturday morning a Cape Town Pelagics trip guided by Barrie Rose depart from Simonstown harbour with a group of keen birders on board.
With the rain from the previous day clearing and the threatening high pressure holding off we headed up False Bay in calm and pleasant conditions. A pair of Humpback Whales provided the only real interest before we rounded Cape Point.
Once outside Cape Point we headed in a south-westerly direction and progressed well over a relatively calm sea. Within the first few miles we saw good numbers of White-chinned Petrels, Sooty Shearwaters, Shy Albatross and a couple of Giant Petrels.
We continued adding species and by 26miles with Wilson’s Storm Petrel, Pintado Petrel and a Great Shearwater on the list, it became obvious that we were not going to find a fishing vessel. The only trawler, reported by other vessels, was 15 miles north of us and well out of our range.
We drifted and started a chum slick of minced sardines and fish oil. Within a short space of time it attracted a flock of Wilson’s Storm Petrels which was briefly joined by a European Storm Petrel. Two giant petrels landed in the slick and turned out to represent both Northern and Southern Giant Petrels; a great side-by-side comparison. Two young Blue Sharks fed in the chum slick. A highlight was a Soft-plumaged Petrel which gave us eyeball views for nearly 20mins. Black-browed Albatrosses made brief visits and right at the end a juvenile Wandering Albatross visited the slick and made a close pass affording great views.
Lunch was enjoyed under the sheltered cliffs of Cape Point and after a stop at Partridge Point to take in the Bank Cormorant colony and Cape Fur Seal roost we headed back to Simonstown.
Wandering Albatross – 1
Shy Albatross – 30+
Black-browed Albatross – 10+
Southern Giant Petrel – 1
Northern Giant Petrel - 1
Giant Petrel sp - 2
White-chinned Petrel – ca 200
Pintado Petrel – 30+
Soft-plumaged Petrel -1
Sooty Shearwater – 50+
Great Shearwater - 1
Wilson’s Storm Petrel – 50+
European Storm Petrel - 1
Subantarctic Skua – 1
Cape Gannet – 100
Arctic Tern – 1
Common Tern - coastal
Swift Tern – coastal and to 8mls
Kelp Gull – coastal
Cape Cormorant coastal and to 5mlsls
White-breasted Cormorant - coastal
Bank Cormorant – coastal
Crowned Cormorant – coastal
African Penguin - coastal
Humpbacked Whale - 2
Cape Fur Seal – 100+
Blue Shark - 2
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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