10 November 2012 – a killer day…
Trevor joined a Zest for Birds pelagic trip as a guide again today (co-guiding with John Graham, Alvin Cope and Rob Leslie) in what turned out to be fantastic conditions with very little wind and a virtually flat sea. Heading down False Bay was fairly quiet apart from a few Cape Gannets and a couple of Bryde’s Whales showing distantly. Once around Cape Point, we started encountering White-chinned Petrels, Sooty Shearwaters, a few Pomarine Skuas and even a few Giant Petrels sitting on the water.
Another Bryde’s Whale was seen just off the Point and then, at 7 miles offshore, we encountered the absolute highlight of the day, a pod of 8 Killer Whales. We got to spend upwards of 30 minutes with this pod as they continually swam around our boat sometimes within touching distance. At times, they would swim by just below the surface and then turn on their side so that they could look up at us as we were hanging over the side looking down at them. It was an amazing experience and one of the passengers even commented after this that we could now turn back and go home as nothing else was ever going to top that experience during the day!
After eventually pulling ourselves away from the Orcas, we continued heading further out and, within the next few miles, had great close-up views of a pair of Humpback Whales (their smelly breath could even be smelt on the boat they were so close!) and then a pair of Southern Right Whales, one of them showing a large white patch on its lower back, a rather odd looking animal. Birds also continued to show themselves with Shy and Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatrosses, Great Shearwaters and a few distant Sabine’s Gulls putting in an appearance whilst a brief Manx Shearwater also whizzed by.
We picked up a trawler on the radar and headed off in her direction. Because of the lack of wind and the flat seas, even as we started getting close to the trawler, it was difficult to pick up if there were any birds in her wake as they were all sitting in the water. But, once we arrived there, there were certainly birds to be seen. Working through the general area carefully for the next few hours, we soon added Black-browed and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses, Subantarctic Skua and Pintado Petrel amongst many of the other species already seen earlier.
As we slowly started to turn to make our way back home, Rob Leslie bellowed out “WHITE BACK” and, very quickly, everyone managed to get on to a slightly distant Wandering Albatross as it crossed our wake, our 5th species of albatross for the day. The rest of the return journey was pretty uneventful just giving further views of all the species already seen and we eventually arrived back in Simon’s Town after another great day out on the big blue.