Sea Birding Pelagic Trips South Africa, Cape Town Pelagics


  Trip Report - 31 October 2007

By Ross Wanless



Two boats left on a trip from Simon’s Town harbour at 7:30 on Wednesday, 31 October. The conditions were pretty marginal, with a stiff southeaster making the sea very choppy, albeit with very low ground swell. We picked up a trawler close in, but it was processing as it steamed for home, and although we were able to enjoy some great birds around the boat and in its wake, we didn’t enjoy the bumping as we kept pace, and opted to push further out for more luck. The boats separated to expand our search horizon, and at about 22 nm beyond the point we found two trawlers. After a bit of thumping through the seas we got in close. Our disappointment was huge when we discovered that one was under tow from the other, and neither was fishing! Three trawlers in one day, none really good for birding is really bad luck!

There were no reports of any other vessels out deep, so we chummed in the deep for about a half hour. This brought in some birds close to the boat, and some people were able to pick up on species that kept their distance. Special thanks to the skippers for persevering in the face of some nasty weather! Although the numbers of birds seen were low, as expected, the diversity was pretty good, and there were some great photographic opportunities for close-up birds diving around the boat. We stopped off at the bank cormorant breeding colony as usual on the way home.



  Pelagic birds



Swift tern – coastal
Sandwich tern - coastal
Arctic tern - 15
Hartlaub’s gull - coastal
Cape/Kelp gull - coastal
Sabine’s gull
Parasitic jaeger/Arctic skua - 5
Pomarine jaeger/skua - 1
Cape cormorant – coastal
Bank cormorant – coastal
White-breasted cormorant – coastal
African penguin – coastal
Cape gannet – coastal & pelagic
Shy albatross – 50
Black-browed albatross – 5
Indian yellow-nosed albatross – 1
Northern giant petrel – 1
Southern giant petrel – 1
Giant petrel spp. – 2
Pintado petrel – 5
Wilson ’s storm petrel – 1
White-chinned petrel – 50
Sooty shearwater – 50
Great shearwater – 20

 Marine mammals



Cape fur seal – common


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