Sea Birding Pelagic Trips South Africa, Cape Town Pelagics


  Trip Reports - Trip report for 27 December 2005





The last pelagic trip of the year was all set to be cancelled, as the winds have been unbelievably strong in the Cape. However, early on the morning 27 December, the skipper made the call that we would attempt a trip, and hope that conditions were at the best end of the predicted spectrum. Not even the recreational fishing boats were heading out, a decision they would ultimately rue! The bay was relatively calm, but the gale force winds the previous 48 hours had driven some interesting birds inside. We had around 20 Sooty Shearwaters and two Cory’s Shearwaters before the point. But the real highlight was a dispersed school of Common and Dusky dolphins cavorting near the point, bow-riding, leaping out of the water and generally entertaining us! We also encountered (relatively) huge numbers of Sooties just beyond the point.

Conditions heading out to the deep were pretty rough and a bit uncomfortable, but everyone on board was keen to keep going so we persevered. Out luck was in, for we were heading straight towards a trawler. We arrived a few minutes after she had hauled her nests, and were greeted with hundreds of albatrosses and hundreds of smaller seabirds tucking in to the processed discards. We were able to get good views of almost all the regular species for this time of year, although there was only one of each Yellow-nosed albatross about, and low numbers of Grear Shearwaters. Interestingly there were no SubAntarctic Skuas and no Great-winged Petrels. However, a lone PINTADO PETREL was very confiding and was an instant favourite for the trip!

On the way home we passed a raft of White-chinned Petrels, which took-off as we sped by. Our luck was definitely in, as we were able to get a brief but conclusive view of a SPECTACLED PETREL! We kept our sights on the bird amongst the flock of its cousins and were able to chase it down and get a second good look, before it turned into the wind and we had to let it go. It was great to see this species again, and a nice bonus on possibly the luckiest, definitely the pluckiest pelagic trip of 2005!



  Pelagic birds seen and approximate numbers



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


Thanks to the skipper for making an heroic weather-call and helping make the last pelagic trip of the year a huge success.