Sea Birding Pelagic Trips South Africa, Cape Town Pelagics


  Trip Reports - Trip report for 14 February 2006





A Cape Town Pelagics trip departed Simon's Town on Tuesday 14 February 2006, led by Ross Wanless. The first of several rarities for the day was ticked before we even boarded, when Patrick Cardwell found a Giant Kingfisher knocking about the harbour. This is considered a rarity on most of the peninsula. Conditions were flat in the bay and we made Cape Point well before 8 am. The trip out to the fishing grounds was relatively uneventful, picking up all the expected species, and an unexpected aggregation of European Storm-petrels about 16 miles off the point.

Our first stop was at an active longliner, but the birds were not particularly abundant. We did, however, enjoy prolonged views of a couple of Great-winged Petrels and a couple of Long-tailed Skuas, the fourth skua of the day. Skipper Dave Christie noticed an unusual bird on the water near a small raft of White-chinned Petrels; it took off into the light but straight towards us, and as it banked and flew passed we were able to confirm the first SPECTACLED PETREL of the day, and the fourth consecutive Cape Town Pelagics trip to find this rarity! This was also our fifth petrel for the day! We moved a couple of miles to the west to an active trawler, and on the way picked up our fourth shearwater in the form of a fleeting Manx Shearwater. We settled in behind the trawler and were very quickly on to a brown, smallish bird with a pale bill and a very distinctive jizz – it banked and showed pale feet, conclusive evidence of our FIFTH shearwater, and another great rarity: FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER! Not to be out-done, a second SPECTACLED PETREL gave excellent views, and as the net was brought to the surface we were able to enjoy the fabulous scenes as hundreds of birds gathering in anticipation. By then a northwesterly wind had began to freshen, and the skipper called it a day. We surprisingly missed out on Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatrosses, but otherwise everything that we expected to see we did, and then some. The day ended with an impressive tally of 21 pelagic species.



  Pelagic birds seen and approximate numbers



Shy Albatross 100
Black-browed Albatross 10
Indian Yellow-nosed Alb 10
Northern Giant Petrel 1
Southern Giant Petrel 1
White-chinned Petrel 500
Spectacled Petrel 2
Great-winged Petrel 3
Cory's Shearwater 100
Great Shearwater 30
Sooty Shearwater 50
Manx Shearwater 1
Flesh-footed Shearwater 1
Wilson 's Storm Petrel 10
European Storm Petrel 20
Subantarctic Skua 10
Arctic Skua 5
Pomarine Skua 1
Long-tailed Skua 3
Sabine's Gull 10
Arctic Tern 40


Thanks to Dave Christie for expertly skippering yet again.