Sea Birding Pelagic Trips South Africa, Cape Town Pelagics


  Trip Reports - Trip report for 23 September 2006




- 4 Soft-plumaged Petrels

We left Simon's Town on board the Blue Pointer, guided by Meidad Goren and Sue Jackson. The weather and the sea were lovely, and the large but even swell made the ride out comfortable and the ride back even more so. We headed WSW toward the trawling ground around 25 miles off Cape Point. Ourfirst interesting sight was that of a lonely Arctic skua, an early summer visitor trying desperately to steal food from a Kelp Gull. The second was a SOFT PLUMAGED PETREL, which swung by the boat to give us an excellent viewfor a few minutes before disappearing. We were to encounter 3 more later. Aswe neared the trawlers we found our first Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross,accompanied by about 15 Sooty Shearwaters and some Yellowfin tunas.

We visited one hake longliner with just a few birds in attendance, but it was busy hauling its line and not yet processing food, so we continuedtoward the more promising trawlers in the distance. These rewarded us withgreat numbers of all the species we were looking for, including both Giant-Petrel spp and Wilson's Storm-Petrels. We moved from one trawler to the other for a couple of hours in the hopes of seeing more species, and indeed found many more birds but no new species. Interestingly, many of the Shy Albatrosses seen were juveniles. We all enjoyed unforgettable views of albatrosses and petrels feeding, squabbling and then taking to the air to swing gracefully round the boat. On our return trip, we stopped at the Bank Cormorant colony before heading round the breakwater to tie up, well satisfied with our saturation views of Soft-plumaged Petrels and the more common pelagic species that nonetheless make these trips so special.



  Pelagic birds seen and approximate numbers



Shy albatross 900
Black-browed albatross 800
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross 6
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross 1
Northern Giant-Petrel 2
Southern Giant-Petrel 4
Soft plumaged Petrel 4
White-chinned Petrel 400
Great Shearwater 15
Sooty Shearwater 500
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 90
Cape Gannet 600
Pintado Petrel 70
SubAntarctic Skua 15
Arctic Skua 1
Arctic Tern 25
Common Tern 5

  Coastal species seen



African Penguin
Cape Gannet
Kelp Gull
Hartlaub's Gull
Swift Tern
White breasted Cormorant
Bank Cormorant
Cape Cormorant


Thanks to Chris and Monique Fallows for skippering the Blue Pointer and finding the longliners and trawlers and to Sue and Meidad for guiding.