1 March trip
There were calm conditions after the strong south-easter and a westerly wind that blew across Cape Town during the week.
False Bay was calm and the water near Boulder’s Beach allowed us to watch the African penguin as they prepared themselves for fishing. Groups moved out onto the rocks and we watched as several birds “porpoised” past the boat. On route to Cape Point, Cape gannet, Cape cormorant, swift tern and Cape gull were all observed. A short photo stop in the turbulent waters at Cape Point gave magnificent views of the cliffs and lines of Cape cormorant moving off to feed.
We set out for deeper water and soon encountered white-chinned petrel sweeping past the boat, with Cory’s shearwater followed shortly there after.
Pressing on to deeper water, shy albatross appeared some way off as we headed into a light south-westerly wind.
We found our first trawler for the day and quickly picked up Indian yellow-nosed albatross and black-browed albatross on the water together, both fighting over the same piece of fish. Shy albatross, particularly young birds, made up the bulk of the albatross present behind the boat. A lone sub-antarctic skua hung above thee feeding birds and swooped in to steal food, as great shearwater and sooty shearwater were both present in numbers.
Before moving to long line boats further out, we found a northern giant petrel dominating a feeding group and two Sabine’s gulls made an appearance. Cape fur seals rose behind the boat, despite us being 10 Nautical miles out to sea.
We found two long line vessels with few birds behind them as catches were not being processed. Here however we picked up parasitic jaeger, which was ready to harass birds if they found food. In the distance we made out two stern trawlers and set off for them, finding a lone hump-backed whale en route. As we arrived, the trawler “Fuschia” started to process her catch. Numbers of birds of all species quickly appeared and soon we found Wilson’s and European storm petrels which had been conspicuous of their absence up until now. Several Sabine’s gulls and northern giant petrels made up for the dearth in numbers of this species so far in the day. Parasitic jaeger appeared, keeping above the flock of feeding birds, ready to swoop down and snatch food.
After several good views of obliging Indian yellow-nosed albatross we had to turn for home, running with the swell generated by the prevailing wind.
Once back in False Bay the flat water allowed for high speeds, which quickly took us to the bank cormorant colony near Partridge Point. Here we compared numbers of Cape, white-breasted and bank cormorant in a breeding group.
Thanks to all and skipper Gwaine for a great trip and for finding those trawlers.
Species seen and approximate numbers:
Swift tern – coastal
Hartlaub’s gull – coastal
Cape gull – coastal
Cape cormorant – coastal
Bank cormorant – coastal
White-breasted cormorant – coastal
Cape gannet – coastal & pelagic – 40
Sabine’s gull – 70
Northern giant petrel – 6
Sub-Antarctica skua – 8
White-chinned petrel – 400
Sooty shearwater – 200
Cory’s shearwater – 15
Great shearwater – 20
Parasitic jaeger – 2
Shy albatross – 150
Black-browed albatross – 40
Indian yellow-nosed albatross – 5
Wilson’s storm-petrel – 30
European storm-petrel – 15