The day began in rather chaotic fashion as a simulated invasion of Simon's Town caused a town-wide shut-down. Nevertheless, six of us, plus our skipper Alan Blacklaws, managed to escape largely unhindered and head south on calm seas. We stopped for a quick look at Cape Point where Cape Gannet and Cape Cormorant were numerous, and shortly thereafter began picking up our first pelagic birds, including White-chinned Petrel, Sooty Shearwater, and a few Sabine's Gulls. The sea had become very 'potholed' which made for a rough ride out, but the species continued to come in a trickle. Cory's Shearwater was present in good numbers, and soon we picked up our first Great Shearwaters, before there was much excitement as a Shy Albatross came in for a closer look at us. For many aboard this was their first-ever albatross.
The roughness of the sea was lessening, making for easier birding conditions. With time we added Black-browed Albatross, Wilson's Storm-Petrel, and a couple of uncooperative Yellow-nosed Albatross which sadly couldn't be identified to species level (the possibility of their being juveniles couldn't be ruled out). With time it became undeniable that there weren't any trawlers or long-liners in the area, so we tracked a shark-diving crew for a while, before heading back to False Bay after this produced no new species. On the way in we had a single Subantarctic Skua and brief views of a Pomarine Jaeger. We took lunch near Buffels Bay, before swinging by a Bank Cormorant colony, which also held Crowned and White-breasted Cormorants. A pair of African Black Oystercatchers greeted us at the harbour, where Simon's Town had returned to its usual sleepy state, appearing to have successfully repelled the attempted invasion.
Shy Albatross - 40-50
Black-browed Albatross - 10-15
Yellow-nosed Albatross sp. - 2
White-chinned Petrel - 250+
Sooty Shearwater - 20-30
Great Shearwater - 50
Cory's Shearwater - 50
Wilson's Storm Petrel - 40
Cape Gannet - common coastal
Cape Cormorant - common coastal
White-breasted Cormorant - common coastal
Crowned Cormorant - 3
Bank Cormorant - 10 breeding pairs
Sub-Antarctic Skua - 1
Pomarine Jaeger - 1
Sabine's Gull - 3
Kelp Gull - common coastal
Hartlaub's Gull - common coastal
Swift Tern - common coastal
African Black Oystercatcher - 4
Cape Fur Seal - common coastal
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 Seth Musker.
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