29 January 2012 – a “not quite” spectacle…
Trevor was on board as a guide for the first Zest for Birds pelagic trip today (co-guiding with John Graham, Alvin Cope and Barrie Rose) after the trip had been postponed from yesterday due to high winds. The effect of the high winds was still visible as we bumped our way south through False Bay picking up the first Cape Gannets of the trip and, closer to Cape Point, large numbers of Cory’s Shearwaters and a single Arctic Skua chasing terns.
Once around Cape Point and out into the open water, the Cory’s Shearwaters were still the dominant birds, but we also picked up the odd White-chinned Petrel and Sooty and Great Shearwater moving about. An early bit of excitement was a fleeting Manx Shearwater which didn’t hang around for long, but provided enough time for everyone on board to see it.
As we continued further out to sea, we also started seeing the odd Wilson’s and European Storm Petrels, Subantarctic Skua and, eventually, our first albatross in the form of a Shy. Picking up a couple of trawlers, we headed over to them only to find virtually nothing in the first trawler’s wake, but the second trawler at least had some birds behind it. Soon, we were enjoying Black-browed and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses, Sabine’s Gulls, a dark morph Pomarine Skua, some friendly Great-winged Petrels who were loving the blustery conditions and a regional rarity in the form of a Flesh-footed Shearwater which didn’t hang around for long at all. We also had a false alarm when a aberrant White-chinned Petrel came past showing extensive white on the head. Initially, and from a distance, it was called as a Spectacled Petrel, but only after reviewing the photos was the call retracted and corrected. After spending some time in the wake of the trawler, we eventually had to turn for home just squeezing in a lone Long-tailed Skua as we began our journey back.
The trip home was pretty uneventful seeing most of the same species as already described with the addition of a Bryde’s Whale close to Cape Point and the usual coastal species inside False Bay.