addition to the petrels and albatrosses that flash beyond
the waves in blustery conditions, the coastal areas hold endemic
specialties such as Bank Phalacrocorax neglectus and Crowned
Cormorants, migrant Antarctic Terns in winter, and even a
chance of Greater Sheathbill.
The Cape's amazing
seabird abundance and diversity are products of the Benguela
current that originates in the icy waters of Antarctica. Surging
up the west coast of southern Africa, the nutrient-rich waters
cause upwellings along the continental shelf, nurturing a
profusion of ocean life that supports both a lively fishing
industry and vast numbers of seabirds.
Pelagic species congregate around the trawlers, making them
easy to locate and approach. The high point of a pelagic birding
trip is trailing behind a trawler with up to 5,000 birds squabbling
for scraps in its wake.
The diversity of seabirds
is highly seasonal, so consult the monthly
table, compiled from over 300 pelagic birding trip lists
during the past ten years. This will help you to decide
when best to go in order to maximise the chances of seeing
your most-wanted species.
Note that seabird numbers
fluctuate from year to year, and that birding in the vicinity
of a trawler will make a huge difference to your trip.