Trip Highlights: Three species Albatross, Great-winged Petrel, Northern & Southern Giant Petrels, Great and Manx Shearwater, Subantarctic Skua, Blue Shark, Sunfish and Humpback Whales.
A small group of birders with guide Barrie Rose boarded a Cape Town Pelagics trip which departed from Simon's Town harbour at 07h15 on Saturday morning.
Our trip down False Bay to Cape Point was pleasant and uneventful. At the point we stopped briefly for the clients to take photographs of the spectacular scenery before heading in a south-westerly direction towards the Cape Canyon. We found our first pelagic birds almost immediately in the form of Sooty Shearwaters, White-chinned Petrels and a Shy Albatross. As we moved offshore the bird numbers increased and we had a Shy Albatross or two in view throughout the entire trip out; this made the bumpy steam more bearable. As we moved further offshore the northwest breeze which was responsible for the uncomfortable ride dropped and bird species increased. We added Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, Great Shearwater, Wilson's Storm-Petrel and Subantarctic Skua to the list.
At 22 miles we came upon the 'Compass Challenger', a freezer trawler targeting hake. The trawler was soon in the process of hauling its gear and we were witness to the large flock foraging on small fish escaping as the net was pulled onboard. Cape Gannets, White-chinned Petrels and albatrosses dominated the flock. Good numbers of Black-browed Albatross and Pintado Petrels were additions to the list. Searching through the flock produced both Northern and Southern Giant Petrels and an Oceanic Blue Shark was also seen in the trawler's wake. After spending over an hour with the flock we turned for Cape Point from 25 miles.
The trip back to the Point was rather fruitful and produced a Great-winged Petrel at 20 miles, a Manx Shearwater at 8 miles and 4 miles from Cape Point we stopped for some whale activity. After drifting for some minutes 3 Humpbacked Whales surfaced some way from us and a while later one surfaced and blew, some 30m from our boat. A short time later we spent some minutes with an Oceanic Sunfish as it idled along on the surface.
Lunch was had in the calm of False Bay before a visit to the Bank Cormorant colony and Cape Fur Seal roost at Partridge Point. We docked back in Simon's Town harbour at 15h00.
Species seen and approximate numbers:
Shy Albatross - 350+
Black-browed Albatross - 450+
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 8
Southern Giant Petrel - 3
Northern Giant Petrel - 1
White-chinned Petrel - ca 1000
Pintado Petrel - 400+
Great-winged Petrel - 1
Sooty Shearwater - 80+
Great Shearwater - 7
Manx Shearwater - 1
Wilson's Storm-Petrel - 50+
Subantarctic Skua - 4
Cape Gannet - 300+
African Penguin - coastal
Swift Tern - coastal
Kelp Gull - 150 and coastal
Cape Cormorant coastal
White-breasted Cormorant - coastal
Bank Cormorant - coastal
Crowned Cormorant - coastal
Hartlaub's Gull - coastal
Cape Fur Seal - 100+
Humpbacked Whale - 3
Oceanic Blue Shark - 1
Oceanic Sunfish - 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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