A group of 6 aboard Pisces left the Wharf Street Pier with high expectations. Conditions in the bay were choppy but manageable. A few small groups of African Penguin wished us well from the waters outside Boulders Beach. Before Cape Point we also picked up significant numbers of Sooty Shearwaters, a single Great Shearwater, Swift Tern, Kelp Gull, Hartlaub's Gull and Cape Gannets. After the point the conditions deteriorated rapidly, with lots of white-capping on 4-6 m swells. Not yet deterred, we picked up our first Cory's Shearwaters and White-chinned Petrels. Later we picked up some Shy Albatross, as well as both Wilson's and European Storm Petrels. A couple of Subantarctic Skua passed by very close, affording us great views. Unfortunately the conditions continued to worsen despite the deeper water, and we took a reluctant but unanimous decision to turn around. Coming back in we suffered from dual wave-action coming from both port and bow side, necessitating very slow speeds.
On the journey home we spotted our second species of albatross, an Indian Yellow-nosed. Once back past the point the conditions improved immensely, and we cruised slowly back along the coast. Partridge Point yielded all four species of cormorant - White-breasted, Crowned, Cape and Bank Cormorants. We also stopped by the Cape Fur Seals on their haul out rock, and passed by Roman Rock to see the solar-powered lighthouse outside the harbour. A family of three African Black Oystercatchers welcomed us back to land in Simon's Town. While we did not enjoy any trawler action, there were plenty of new birds for all on board, and the enjoyable cruise along the dramatic coastline lifted the spirits after the treacherous sea.
Species seen and approximate numbers
Shy Albatross - 10
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 1
Wilson's Storm Petrel - 5
European Storm Petrel - 8
Great Shearwater - 3
Sooty Shearwater - 60
Cory's Shearwater - 30
White-chinned Petrel - 50
Cape Gannet - 600
African Penguin - 15
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 Andrew de Blocq.
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