Sea Birding Pelagic Trips South Africa, Cape Town Pelagics


  Trip Reports - 11 august 2007

By Dalton Gibbs

manx shearwater
soft-plumaged petrels
1st great shearwater!




We boarded the “Obsession” out of Simon’s Town on 11 August, just squeezing our tip into the weather window between two big frontal systems. Thus with calm conditions and a relatively flat sea we left port to take advantage of these fine conditions. The approach across False Bay was relatively quite with the usual views of Cape gannets in long lines, Cape cormorant, Cape gull and a lone African penguin. Just beyond Cape Point we soon saw sooty shearwater, white-chinned petrel and shy albatross. Many of the shy albatross were young birds and had been brought in close to shore with the recent cold fronts and we soon had good views of these birds as we travelled further out.

One of the highlights of the trip was a MANX SHEARWATER, which crossed our path but soon disappeared, affording only a quick view at an uncommon time of the year. Further out, a SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL, the first of several for the day, and pintado petrel came into view as we searched the fishing grounds for a trawler. While searching for a trawler we found Antarctic prion, with a single GREAT SHEARWATER following soon there after. With no sign of a trawler, some chumming soon had subantarctic skuas appearing and several young black-browed albatross interested.

Wilson ’s storm petrel also made an appearance, while at one stage we had up to 11 subantarctic skuas and several pintado, white-chinned petrel and sooty shearwater off our boat interested in food. We found all these species evenly distributed, demonstrating to us that there was no trawler in the immediate vicinity and that the birds were foraging over water. As a result we settled down to see what would come passing our way.

fter a short wait we were visited by immature yellow-nosed albatross, the birds unfortunately being too young to confirm a species identification. Southern giant petrel appeared along with several adult black-browed albatross that stayed around the boat for a while. Our patience was rewarded with two adult Indian yellow-nosed albatross that gave clear views. On the way back we watched a mother southern right whale and sub adult calf off Cape Point as they rose from the depths and lolled near the boat for a while. Once back in False Bay we stopped to view the bank cormorant colony near Partridge Point, and had views of all four cormorant species namely; Cape, white-breasted, crowned and bank cormorant in a group. The adjacent rock with its dozens of Cape fur seal was complimented by the dozens of animals that lay in the water near by with their fins straight up in the air.



  Pelagic birds



Swift tern - coastal
Arctic tern 2
Hartlaub’s gull - coastal
Cape gull - coastal
Sub-antarctic skua – 15
Cape cormorant - coastal
Bank cormorant - coastal
White-breasted cormorant - coastal
Crowned cormorant - coastal
African penguin - coastal
Cape gannet – coastal & pelagic
Shy albatross 100
Black-browed albatross 40
Indian yellow-nosed albatross 2
Yellow-nosed albatross (immature) 3
Southern giant-petrel 7
Pintado petrel 100
White-chinned petrel 500
Soft-plumaged petrel 7
Antarctic prion 3
Sooty shearwater 500
Great shearwater 1
Wilson ’s storm-petrel 3

 Marine mammals



Cape fur seal - coastal & pelagic
Southern right whale - 1


Thanks to everyone on board for helping make such an enjoyable trip!