Sea Birding Pelagic Trips South Africa, Cape Town Pelagics


  Trip Reports - Trip report for 7 January 2006





The first pelagic trip of 2006 got underway (in a lucky break in the incessant gales) on 7 January 2006, led by Ross Wanless. We had reasonably good conditions all the way out, and besides the regular in-shore species, an early Manx Shearwater got us off to a good start. We were fortunate enough to find a trawler about 15 miles off the point, and arrived to find her processing the catch, with hundreds of seabirds in attendance as a result. The biggest surprise of the day was the phenomenal numbers of Long-tailed Skuas out there – in the region of 20, affording superb, close and sustained views. While we were knocking around we got on to a SPECTACLED PETREL, the second in successive trips. We were able to keep our eyes on it and followed it till it settled in a raft of White-chinned Petrels. We called the other boat of birders over, and all enjoyed absolutely cracking views of the confiding bird, down to the dark tip of the culmen. A few Great Shearwaters were around, which together with the regular Sooty and Cory's shearwaters and the earlier Manx made 4 shearwaters for the trip.

The trip home produced a fabulous spectacle about 1 mile off Cape Point. We sighted a pod of dolphins, and as we looked, some 50 Atlantic Common Dolphins burst out of the face of a swell, in unison! They were in a very playful mood and swam with us for several hundred metres, close enough for some people to put their hands in the water off the side of the boat and almost touch them! The birds that gathered above them included a couple of Pomarine Skuas, which meant we totalled 4 skua species for the trip too! It’s always wonderful to see dolphins, but to have them playing so close is really amazing!



  Pelagic birds seen and approximate numbers



Shy Albatross 300
Black-browed Albatross 50
Indian Yellow-nosed Alb 2
Northern Giant Petrel 5
Southern Giant Petrel 2
White-chinned Petrel 500
Spectacled Petrel 1
Cory's Shearwater 50
Great Shearwater 10
Sooty Shearwater 200
Manx Shearwater 2
Wilson's Storm Petrel 5
European Storm Petrel 15
Subantarctic Skua 2
Arctic Skua 8
Pomarine Skua 5
Long-tailed Skua 20
Sabine's Gull 20
Arctic Tern 10


Thanks to the skipper Dave Christie for a great trip.