Trip Highlights: Black-browed & Shy Albatross, Southern & Northern Giant Petrels, Great & Manx Shearwaters, Subantarctic Skua, Humpback Whales & Dusky Dolphins.
Six birders departed Simon's Town at 07h30 on board a Cape Town Pelagics trip led by Barrie Rose. With the Northwesters of the week supposedly easing off and a SE gale predicted for the weekend we had squeezed our pelagic into what would hopefully be a 'weather window'. The sky was overcast but a very light northwest breeze made for a pleasant although uneventful trip up to Cape Point.
Once outside Cape Point we proceeded on a westerly course and were soon picking up our first pelagic species. There were good numbers of White-chinned Petrels, a few Shy Albatrosses and a couple of Sooty Shearwaters.
We investigated some gannet activity at 12 miles and were suddenly surrounded by a school of Dusky Dolphins. While drifting amongst the dolphins we were approached by a confiding pair of Humpback Whales which loafed to within meters of us. We gently eased away from them and continued on our way out.
At 17 miles the wind suddenly increased and we were faced with a steep unpleasant sea. With comfort and safety in mind we retraced our steps back to 14 miles and more pleasant conditions. Here we set up a chum slick and soon had a reasonable flock of birds around us although we were still in discoloured coastal water. Over the next hour or so we added both Southern and Northern Giant Petrels, Manx and Great Shearwater, Arctic Tern, Subantarctic Skua and a brief Black-browed Albatross to the list.
The trip back to Cape Point produced another Humpback Whale and a small school of Dusky Dolphin. Between Cape Point and Bellows Rock we interrogated 4 or 5 fairly large feeding activities. Gamefish (yellowtail) were chasing shoals of anchovy to the surface. Large mixed flocks of Common and Swift Terns, Cape Gannets, Cape Cormorants, Sooty Shearwaters and Kelp Gulls were making the most out of the situation.
Later, after lunch was taken just inside of Cape Point, we headed back to Simon's Town via the Bank Cormorant colony and Cape Fur Seal roost at Partridge Point. It was noted that 2 Bank nests were occupied by White-breasted Cormorants. A further Humpbacked Whale was seen in that area.
Species seen and approximate numbers:
Shy Albatross - 15+
Black-browed Albatross - 1
Southern Giant Petrel - 1
Northern Giant Petrel - 1
Giant Petrel sp - 2
White-chinned Petrel - ca 150
Sooty Shearwater - 200+
Great Shearwater - 1
Manx Shearwater - 1
Subantarctic Skua - 3
Cape Gannet - 200
Swift Tern - coastal and to 8mls
Arctic Tern - 6
Common Tern - coastal
Kelp Gull - 10 and coastal
Cape Cormorant coastal and to 5mls
White-breasted Cormorant - coastal
Bank Cormorant - coastal
African Penguin - coastal
Humpback Whale - 4
Dusky Dolphin - 2 schools (100 & 6)
Cape Fur Seal - 100+
Yellowtail - 5+ shoals
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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