Trip Highlights: Indian Yellow-nosed, Shy and Black-browed Albatross, Northern Giant Petrel, Subantarctic Skua and all four coastal Cormorant species. LINK to Photo Album.
Saturday 29th April was beautifully calm with very light cloud to the west of the Cape Peninsula. Seven keen birders boarded a Cape Town Pelagics trip from Simon's Town harbour with Dalton Gibbs the guide for the day. Within the confines of the harbour were the usual Kelp Gulls, Hartlaub's Gulls and Cape Cormorant, whilst a lone Grey Heron saw us out of the harbour. We were soon off on perfectly flat seas across False Bay, heading toward Cape Point. Out in False Bay African Penguins lined the beach at Boulders Beach. The trip across False Bay was very quiet, and we were soon at Cape Point where we took some scenery photos, checked out over the radio and headed out to the deep.
Just outside Cape Point were numerous Cape Cormorants, Cape Gannets, Swift Terns as well as our first White-chinned Petrel which showed up. Heading out to sea we soon came across a few Sooty Shearwaters and distant views of Cory's Shearwaters. The water was a 15 deg C and green in colour; all indicative of the very calm conditions that prevailed. Further out we found our first Shy Albatross as we headed for reports of trawlers some 15N Miles from our position.
We met up with a small trawler which soon lifted her nets, giving us views of and Sub-Antarctic Skua. There were only a couple of dozen birds behind this boat so we headed further out to find the 'Realeka'; a small stern trawler some 25 NMiles off Cape Point. She shortly lifted her nets, bringing in a haul of fish which brought in birds and seals to the net. There was melee of seabirds all trying to get their place at the net before it was lifted on board the 'Realeka'. Due to the very calm conditions the birds were reluctant to fly and were often very close to our boat, making for prime photographic opportunities.
We stayed behind the 'Realeka' for the next 3 hours, picking up several Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, including some very young birds. A Northern Giant Petrel made an appearance; it was a young bird and came very close to boat to investigate who we were. We had quick views of Wilson's Storm-Petrels moved through the oily patch behind our boat. During our time behind the 'Realeka' trawler we had a continuous stream of the variety of pelagic species with very close views of all species. We had lunch out on the water, with great views of all the species as we ate.
In the afternoon we turned for home, finding Bryde's Whale just off Cape Point and once again when we entered False Bay. We travelled across to the Castle Rock cormorant colony. Here we found White-breasted, Cape Cormorants, Bank Cormorants and two obliging . Back in Simon's Town harbour we found an African Black Oyster-catcher to make a full list of Benguela endemic marine species for the day.
Bird species seen and approximate numbers:
Shy Albatross - 25
Black-browed Albatross - 20
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 6
White-chinned Petrel - 120
Northern Giant Petrel - 1
Wilson's Storm-Petrel - 5
Sooty Shearwater - 40
Great Shearwater - 200
Cory's Shearwater - 3
Sub-Antarctic Skua - 6
Crowned Cormorant - 2
White-breasted Cormorant - 8
African Black Oystercatcher - 1
Cape Gannet - 40
Cape Fur Seal
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
guides Dalton Gibbs.
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