Trip Highlights: Four Albatross species, Parasitic Jaeger, Sabine's Gull, Pomarine Skua and the spectacle of 100's of Common Bottlenose Dolphin.
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross
The second of two Cape Town pelagic boats, departed Simon's Town harbour at 07h30 on a cloudy Monday morning, with 11 people and tour leader, Barrie Rose on board.
Conditions were relatively calm after the recent south-east gales and the trip to Cape Point was pleasant although uneventful with mainly coastal species being recorded and a single Arctic Skua/Parasitic Jaeger that crossed our bow.
Once we had passed Cape Point and were heading towards Bellows Rock we experienced the first pelagic activity in the form of Sooty Shearwaters and White-chinned Petrels. A Giant Petrel was too far off to identify to species. Flocks of Cape Cormorants were chasing anchovies and overhead were numbers of Common and Swift Terns. Cory's Shearwaters were quite numerous as we headed offshore and a Pomarine Skua made a brief appearance.
The gales of the previous week had moved the oceanic front further offshore and our journey outwards was fairly quiet. We found blue oceanic water at 22 miles and in the absence of trawlers and long-liners we joined a group of sport fishing vessels that were drifting and chumming for tuna.
Here we got our first albatross in the form of a Black-browed and we quickly added a further 3 species attracted to these small fishing boats; Indian Yellow-nosed, Atlantic Yellow-nosed and Shy Albatross. Great Shearwater, Sabine's Gull and a small flock of Pintado Petrels provided good close views. A Humpback Whale breached fairly close to us and loafed in the area for a short while.
A sport fishing vessel reported a large school of dolphins a few miles away from us and we were soon racing towards them. We found an extensive school of Common Bottlenose Dolphins cruising at 9 knots. The school was at least 3 miles across and could well have contained 800 - 1000 animals. There were a number of birds in attendance; Shy Albatross, White-chins and Sooty Shearwaters dominated and a number of Wilson's Storm Petrels were seen and the presence of European Storm Petrel was photographically confirmed after the trip.
Our trip back to the Point led to a slightly better view of a giant petrel which we confirmed as a Northern Giant Petrel.
Inside False Bay we paid the Bank Cormorant colony at Partridge Point a visit getting Bank, Cape and White-breasted Cormorants. On returning to Simon's Town, we picked up the last species found along the coast, a Crowned Cormorant sitting on a concrete block inside the harbour.
Shy Albatross - 25
Black-browed Albatross - 5
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 1
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 1
Northern Giant Petrel - 1
Giant Petrel sp - 2
White-chinned Petrel - ca 200
Pintado Petrel - 5
Cory's Shearwater - 80+
Sooty Shearwater - 80+
Great Shearwater - 10
Wilson's Storm Petrel - 15
European Storm Petrel - 1
Cape Gannet - 50
Arctic Skua - 3
Pomarine Jaeger - 1
Sabine's Gull - 1
Arctic Tern - 2
Common Tern - coastal
Swift Tern - coastal and to 8mls
Sandwich Tern - coastal
Kelp Gull - 30 and coastal
Cape Cormorant coastal and to 5mls
White-breasted Cormorant - coastal
Bank Cormorant - coastal
Crowned Cormorant - coastal
African Penguin - coastal
Cape Fur Seal - 20+
Common Bottlenose Dolphin - 100's
Humpbacked Whale - 1
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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