Saturday's pelagic out of Durban
was another good one.
The projected rain held off for
the entire day and we were photographing birds in
sunshine for much of the time. Even better, we found
not just one but two trawlers working in close proximity
not far out of the harbour. Conditions were quite
bumpy though, with the inevitable 'pale faces' in
The trip was most memorable (for
me at least!) for the large number of Wilson's
Storm-Petrels seen, perhaps 20 in all. Despite
the presence of the trawlers, the huge number of Flesh-footed
Shearwaters recorded at a trawler on 13 June
(ca 400-500 birds) had largely moved on and we had
to content ourselves with the 20 or so still hanging
We also had excellent views of about
half a dozen each of Shy and
Black-browed albatrosses amongst the hundreds
of Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses.
When the nets on one of the trawlers came up and some
cleaning of fish started, the resultant avian pandemonium
at the rear of the vessel was as hectic and exciting
as I've ever experienced. The closest thing to a disappointment
was the fleeting glimpse of only a single
Subantarctic Skua, the closest I've ever
come to a dip on this bird on a winter pelagic.
The three pelagic trips so far this
winter have yielded 8-9 pelagic species (tubenoses
and skuas) each, quite up from the long-term average
of 6.5 species/trip.
Totals for this trip were:
Shy Albatross - 5 (ads and juvs/imms)
Black-browed Albatross - 5 (juvs/imms)
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 200
White-chinned Petrel - 200
Flesh-footed Shearwater - 20
Sooty Shearwater - 10
Wilson's Storm-Petrel - 20
Subantarctic Skua - 1
Many Cape Gannets and a few Swift
Terns were also seen.
Hump-backed Whales and Common
Dolphins brightened up the return trip.
Regards - David
Curator of Birds
Durban Natural Science Museum
P.O. Box 4085
fax (031) 311-2242
e-mail office: firstname.lastname@example.org
e-mail home: email@example.com
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross
(top, adult; below, juvenile) on a Cape Town Pelagics
trip off Durban in July 2008 © David Allan.