Trip Highlights: A couple of Albatross species, Manx Shearwater, Great-winged Petrel, Southern and Northern Giant Petrels, Humpback and Southern Right Whales, and 100's of Common Dolphins.
On Saturday 19 August a group of birders from around the world gathered on the Wharf Street pier Simon's Town at 7am excited to join a Cape Town Pelagics trip guided by Vince Ward. The birding began right away with species such Cape and Crowned Cormorants, Hartlaub's and Kelp Gulls, African Black Oystercatchers and a single Grey Heron spotted in the yacht basin.
Just offshore of Boulders Beach penguin colony we had a large group of African Penguins swimming on the surface.
Just past Cape Point there was a large concentration of feeding seabirds. The melee included: Cape Gannets, Cape and White-breasted Cormorants, Kelp Gulls, Great Crested (Swift) Terns, Sooty Shearwaters, White-chinned Petrels, a single Manx Shearwater and a Brown Skua. Before entering oceanic waters, we stopped for a pair of confiding Southern Right Whales.
The oceanic conditions were rather rough, but we were able to locate several Shy Albatrosses, a single Pintado Petrel and a Northern Giant Petrel. We encountered very poor weather on our arrival in the vicinity of the Cape Canyon. We opted to return to calmer coastal waters.
The return trip netted second albatross species: Black-browed Albatross, and a single rather distant Great-winged Petrel.
Just before reaching Cape Point on the return journey, we first encountered a group of five Humpback Whales, and then a spectacular school of several hundred Long-beaked Common Dolphins. We turned to follow their direction of travel for several minutes before turning back towards False Bay.
After lunch we stop at the Partridge Point cormorant colonies which had both breeding White-breasted and Bank Cormorants. The nearby Cape Fur Seal haul-out held a fewer seals than in previous weeks after the sudden disappearance of visiting Great White Sharks.
Species seen and approximate numbers:
Shy Albatross - 10-15
Black-browed Albatross - 1
White-chinned Petrel - 100-150
Pintado Petrel - 1
Great-winged Petrel - 1
Sooty Shearwater - 50-100
Manx Shearwater - 1
Southern Giant Petrel - 1
Northern Giant Petrel - 1
Brown Skua - 1
Great Crested (Swift) Tern - 5
African Penguin - abundant (Boulders); 30-35 offshore
Cape Cormorant - common
Bank Cormorant - 30-40
Crowned Cormorant - 5
White-breasted Cormorant - 15-20
Cape Gannet - abundant
Kelp Gull - common
Hartlaub's Gull - common
Great Crested (Swift) Tern - common
African Black Oystercatcher - 5
Humpback Whales - 5
Southern Right Whales - 2
Long-beaked Common Dolphins - 500-750
Cape Fur Seal - abundant
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 Vincent Ward.
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