Trip Highlights: 4 albatross species, Northern & Southern Giant Petrels, Great-winged Petrel, Antarctic Prion, Black-bellied Storm-petrel, Manx Shearwater and a Loggerhead Turtle!
A Cape Town Pelagics trip guided by Barrie Rose departed Simon's Town at 07h30 on Saturday morning with several expectant birders on board.
There was little wind and the trip through the bay was smooth and comfortable. These conditions continued outside Cape Point where we started picking up White-chinned Petrels and Sooty Shearwaters.
As we moved offshore we added Cory's and Great Shearwaters, and Shy Albatross to our list. At 16 miles we approached the shark long-liner Oceana Comet and picked up Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, Wilson's Storm-petrel and Subantarctic Skua. We spent 30 minutes taking in the increased numbers of the species seen up to this stage and watching the long-liner haul a couple of Mako and Blue Sharks onboard. Just before heading further offshore to a group of trawlers on the horizon we spent some minutes with a large Loggerhead Turtle.
As we approached the fleet of trawlers a Great-winged Petrel hovered next to us providing great views. At the first trawler, Forest Lily we enjoyed a larger more diverse flock which included good numbers of Black-browed Albatross, Pintado Petrel, European Storm-petrels, a few Antarctic Prions and a Northern Giant Petrel.
We could see a number of trawlers a little further out and headed another 2 miles off shore to interrogate the Freesia. The extra few miles proved well worth the effort as we found Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, Southern Giant Petrel and a Manx Shearwater in the Freesia's wake. Drifting down her wake we picked up on a few migrating Black-bellied Storm-petrels Conditions were very comfortable and we had our lunch amongst the fishing vessels and birds before turning for home.
The trip back to Cape Point was uneventful and we made a short stop at Partridge Point to take in the Bank Cormorant colony and seal roost. Of concern was a number of Bank Cormorant nests that were occupied by White-breasted Cormorants.
The trip was significant in that it produced a good cross-section of late summer and early winter birds.
Species seen and approximate numbers:
Shy Albatross - 250+
Black-browed Albatross - 300+
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - 5
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 30
Northern Giant Petrel - 1
Southern Giant Petrel - 5
White-chinned Petrel - ca 1000
Pintado Petrel - 500
Great-winged Petrel - 1
Antarctic Prion - 20
Sooty Shearwater - 100+
Cory's Shearwater - 50+
Great Shearwater - 400+
Manx Shearwater - 1
Wilson's Storm-petrel - 200
European Storm-petrel - 50
Black-bellied Storm-petrel - 3
Subantarctic Skua - 8
Cape Gannet - 150
Arctic Tern - 20
Swift Tern - and to 8mls
Kelp Gull - 30
Cape Cormorant - and to 5mls
Cape Fur Seal - 100+
Loggerhead Turtle - 1
Skipjack - 1 shoal
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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