The fourth pelagic off Durban this
winter took place last Saturday and the purple patch
A trawler was located some 35 km out and we hung around
until the nets came up for the usual frenzy. Unlike
the previous three trips we were unable to find any
Wilson's Storm-Petrels and Flesh-footed Shearwater
has gone from the unique abundance of just over a
month ago (400-500 birds) to a decidedly unsatisfactory
series of sightings of likely only a single bird on
this latest trip. But this was made up for by excellent
sightings of a Pintado Petrel and
a (juvenile) Southern Giant-Petrel
(neither of which were found in the previous three
trips). All three of the usual albatrosses were found
but the single Shy Albatross took
it's time and has us sweating.
On the way back to the harbour we were awe-struck
by a trio of hump-backed whales which breeched repeatedly
several hundred metres from us. It was an awe-inspiring
sight that several of us caught well on camera. The
on-screen pictures are in many ways better than seeing
the really thing as you can study all the detail impossible
to grasp in real time in the second or two that the
creatures rear two-thirds of their immense bulk from
the ocean. We all saved ourselves a trip to Alaska!
A pod of dolphins also put in an appearance 'flushing'
several flying-fish close to us.
Pelagic approximate totals for the day were:
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 300
Shy Albatross - 1 (immature)
Black-browed Albatross - 4 (juveniles)
Southern Giant-Petrel - 1 (juvenile)
White-chinned Petrel - 200
Pintado Petrel - 1
Flesh-footed Shearwater - 1
Sooty Shearwater - 10
Subantarctic Skua - 10
Cape Gannet numbers were up on the
previous trips (perhaps 200 in all - including fantastic
views of them plunge-diving from height when the trawler
nets came up) and a few Swift Terns
were found in the deep. A smaller tern way out was
much debated but the views we got and study of our
photos subsequently suggest nothing more exciting
than a juvenile Common Tern.
Due to a health problem, two participants in next
Saturday's pelagic (25 July) have had to pull out.
Anyone interested in taking their places (and saving
them from having their fares' forfeited) should contact
Jenny Norman at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone interested in a potential 15 August trip should
contact me direct.
Regards - David
Curator of Birds
Durban Natural Science Museum
P.O. Box 4085
fax (031) 311-2242
e-mail office: email@example.com
e-mail home: firstname.lastname@example.org
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross
(top, adult; below, juvenile) on a Cape Town Pelagics
trip off Durban in July 2008 © David Allan.