Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Pelagic Birding trip report and a Karoo Lion!

I was fortunate to do a Pelagic Birding trip on 4 July 2015 out of Cape Town (Simon's Town Harbour).  This was my first pelagic trip, and what an amazing day!  Our group of birder's met at the harbour before sunrise, and excitement filled the air (not only because of the anticipation of the day ahead of us, but meeting the LEGENDS John Graham and Trevor Hardaker).  They are amazing birders and incredibly humble, please visit their websites and
Black-browed Albatross
We boarded the boat, and experienced a very bumpy ride into False Bay.  I got a bit worried for my stomach's sake, and thought that if the sea looks like this in the Bay, what would it look like when we pass Cape Point..??  Surprisingly the sea calmed down a bit and my stomach felt much relief!
Sooty Shearwater
White-chinned Petrel
Soon after passing Cape Point we encountered our first pelagic species, in the form of Sooty Shearwaters, the odd White-chinned Petrel and a Giant Petrel (quick sighting, couldn't determine whether Northern or Southern).
Shy Albatross
As we powered on further south, we came across more birds, including an out of season Manx Shearwater, a nice surprise, as well as our first Shy Albatross for the day.  Little did I realise we would encounter literally thousands of Albatrosses's the next few hours.

2 Trawlers were spotted out in the deep, and on we headed.  There we were treated to a spectacle of thousand's of seabirds around us! There must have been 1000+ Black-browed Albatrosses alone...
Other species included Cape Gannets, Wilson's Storm Petrels,  Northern and Southern Giant Petrels, Pintado Petrels, Antarctic Prions, Subantarctic Skuas, Shy Albatross, Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, Sooty Shearwater and White-chinned Petrels.
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross
Black-browed Albatross
Black-browed Albatross
Pintado Petrel
Pintado Petrel
Antarctic Prion
Wilson's Storm Petrel
The highlight of the day belonged to 2 Northern Royal Albatrosses! They are huge, and have a wingspan of >3m!  They are an Endangered specie, and regarded as a rarity along our shores.  Can you believe that most birds circumnavigate the Southern Oceans during the year!
Northern Royal Albatross

Northern Royal Albatross taking off!
Majestic Northern Royal Albatross in flight
The last nice bird of the day was Bank Cormorants closer to Simon's Town.

Bank Cormorant
Upon returning to Gauteng we stopped over at the beautiful Karoo National Park located outside the town of Beaufort West.  I went on an early morning drive in freezing conditions, and encountered an amazing male lion just after sunrise!
Karoo National Park lion



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