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Old Thursday 10th November 2016, 06:58   #1
bittern
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Pelagics from Cape Town (Simon's Town)

I recently, Sept/Oct 2016, did a couple of pelagics out of Simon's Town. It was a great experience and if anyone is interested I can write up a short description and list of species.

Mike
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Old Thursday 10th November 2016, 08:55   #2
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I'd be interested to see that Mike, good to compare to species seen off Durban

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Old Friday 11th November 2016, 00:13   #3
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OK Andy, I'll get something together in the next day or so, I would also be interested to compare with Durban.

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Old Friday 11th November 2016, 14:03   #4
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As part of a birding trip to the Western Cape area I fixed up a pelagic locally with “Zest for birds” of Simon’s Town. www.zestforbirds.co.za

As this was most likely to be a once in a lifetime experience I decided to go out twice on 24/09 and 01/10 as there was just one space available on both dates. There is a full trip report on cloudbirders.com with a few photos; I also have some smartphone videos which show the bird density around the trawlers.

24/09/2016
The actual area where the birds are to be found is some 20-30 miles from Simon’s Town in an area at the limit of the continental shelf where the local trawlers fish for hake. While the sea was not really rough on either day there was a good chop at times and it would not be for the easily sea sick. The weather on the 24/09 trip was not outstanding and there was mist and light rain for much of the day. No “chum” was used nor needed, as the trawlers were producing large amounts of fish offal which was a magnet for a wide variety of sea birds. On leaving Simon’s Town a solitary African Oystercatcher was in the port and a couple of territorial Peregrines locked claws, once outside the port we initially encountered large numbers of Cormorants, Bank, Cape, Crowned, and White-breasted, and as we moved further offshore we began seeing increasing numbers of Swift (Greater-crested) Terns diving for fish. As we left the terns behind Cape Gannets started appearing and the first occasional White-chinned Petrels were seen. After three or four hours of navigation more and more White-chinned Petrels came into view and soon the trawlers became visible on the horizon. Around the trawlers it was a real scrum with diving Cape Gannets and more and more species, from Wilson’s Storm Petrels to large numbers of Black-browed Albatross, several Shy Albatross and one or two Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, Southern Giant Petrel, the attractive Pintado (Cape) Petrels, hundreds of White-chinned Petrels, a single Spectacled Petrel, Sooty Shearwaters, a Brown (Subantarctic) Skua. Southern Fur Seals were also present and I saw at least one “argument” between a seal and a Black-browed Albatross, many of which were feeding as they rested on the water.

01/10/2016
The second pelagic was a repeat of the first but this time the weather was excellent with blue skies although with quite a chop from time to time. We saw even more birds than the first trip and in addition to the birds that we saw on the 24th we added a group of about 10 African Penguins, Black-bellied Storm Petrel, a distant Wandering Albatross, a single Southern Royal Albatross, Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, several Northern Giant Petrels in addition to the Southern Giant Petrels of the previous weekend, Great Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater and two Sabine’s Gulls, a fantastic day with even more birds crowding around the trawlers than on the 24th. These were my first ever pelagics so I can make no direct comparisons but it seems to me that this is an outstanding spot to see large numbers of oceanic birds and also at the best time of year. The organisation was perfect and John and Trevor spotted and called out the birds as they passed close by.


Bird List (Pelagics only)

Numbers are estimations because of numbers of birds in the air and on the water and are based mostly on the 1 October trip.

~ 10 African Penguin, ~30 Wilson’s Storm Petrel, 1 Black-bellied Storm Petrel, 1 Wandering Albatross, 1 Southern Royal Albatross, 100-150 Black-browed Albatross, ~ 12 Shy Albatross, ~5 Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, 1 Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, ~6 Southern Giant Petrel, 2 Northern Giant Petrel, ~30 Cape Petrel, ~1000 White-chinned Petrel, 2 Spectacled Petrel, 11 Sooty Shearwater, 1 Great Shearwater, ~50 Cape Gannet, ~100 Crowned Cormorant, ~60 Bank Cormorant, ~25 White-breasted Cormorant, 1 African Oystercatcher, 2 Sabine’s Gull, ~50 Kelp Gull, ~50 Greater Crested Tern, 4 Sub-Antarctic (Brown) Skua. Southern Fur Seals also joined in and I saw several “arguments” between seals and Black-browed Albatross feeding on the surface.

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Old Friday 11th November 2016, 17:49   #5
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Excellent summary of the what could be, given a little planning. Thanks for posting.
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Old Friday 11th November 2016, 18:25   #6
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Thanks, planning is certainly necessary as there are only two companies doing trips out from Simon's Town and they are booked up a long time ahead. One was booked almost a year ahead, Zest who I went with only had one or two places. I understand from the guys that run Zest that the period when I went out was pretty well optimal as regards numbers of species.

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Old Friday 11th November 2016, 18:26   #7
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Excellent, Thanks Mike.


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Old Wednesday 1st March 2017, 08:57   #8
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Great report Mike.

Do you normally get both Indian and Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross in SA waters?

Cheers.

Rob
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Old Wednesday 1st March 2017, 09:47   #9
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Cape Town Pelagic have a good website with trip reports for most sailings, I have attached the report from the sailing I made 31 July 16. Along with 5 other passengers, the guide and the skipper we sailed 25miles off cape point and had a seabird bonanza. Reading through the other reports on their website will give good indications which species should be around in which season. We had a national rarity with a Southern Fulmar.

Here is the guides report http://www.capetownpelagics.com/cape...20_31JulCD.htm
Here is my blog report http://bfbsoutdoorramblings.blogspot...n-pelagic.html

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Dave
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Old Thursday 2nd March 2017, 20:03   #10
bittern
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I can't really answer that Rob, we certainly did on my second trip but as the guide was moderately excited I guess it is not for every trip. You can always contact Trevor or John at Zest for Birds for more information, http://www.zestforbirds.co.za/

I think that choosing the right date is very important, I believe that end September/beginning October is about the best time.

Regards,
Mike
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Old Saturday 4th March 2017, 08:21   #11
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Thanks Mike and Dave.

Love the photos of all the birds behind the trawlers, were rarely encounter trawlers in Australian waters so have to rely on our own chum which works quite well.

Cheers.

Rob
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Old Monday 6th March 2017, 09:50   #12
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Hi Rob,

Yes the hake trawlers are a big plus as they throw so much back into the ocean that the birds must smell it from a huge distance.

Cheers,

Mike
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