Gavin Turner will be talking on Wednesday 17 July on his pelagic trip.  This is a talk that you should not miss!!  He says,

“A group of nine of us went on a pelagic trip, at the end of January, from the New Harbour out to the trawler fishing grounds some 30 kilometres south of Cape Point.

Seabirds, which breed on land but otherwise spend their lives at sea, congregate in large numbers around the trawlers, squabbling for scraps. The diversity of seabirds is highly seasonal – in summer North Atlantic seabirds migrate south. (In winter different seabirds migrate northwards from their breeding grounds as far south as Antarctica).

We were able to experience large flocks of summer birds following behind the trawlers, as well as unforgettable close-up sightings of a good selection of birds interacting between each other.”

Gavin Turner

A Morning in Walker Bay


There can be few pleasures that top a morning spent birding out in Walker Bay.  Walter took four of us out this morning and we had a really wonderful trip in his fishing boat.  When we set out there wasn’t a bird in sight, and pretty heavy swells and quite a bit of chop were the order of the day.  We wondered if we were on a wild Albatross chase!

Then we stopped about 3,5 km offshore and drifted. Walter had some sardines which he threw about and it wasn’t long before a Brown Skua appeared.  Within a short time there were about four of them around the boat and we had excellent sightings.  Then a couple of White-chinned Petrels appeared – also enjoying the chum.  Later they were joined by a few Sooty Shearwaters , whilst the odd Kelp or Hartlaub’s Gull dropped by.  Terns, both Common and Swift, were occasional visitors, and then what we had been waiting for – a Shy Albatross.  It swooped in and landed near the boat and we had the most amazing views of it.

Sadly we did not see much else, but it did not matter – what we did see was amazing and we all felt very privileged to have been able to enjoy this experience.  Thanks to Walter for being a great skipper and allowing us to use his boat as an observation platform, albeit a very unstable one!  We bobbed around in the choppy water, but nobody had any ill effects and we are all raring to go on the next trip!

Pelagic Birds at New Harbour


A quick visit to the New Harbour this morning revealed a number of pelagic species foraging nar the Abalone Factory water outlet.  These included Shy Albatross, White-chinned Petrel, Southern Giant Petrel and some unidentified Shearwaters.  It seems these birds come closer inshore during stormy periods, so one could do worse than to spend a while there on days like today.   Ronnie

Pelagic Birds come to Hermanus

Lester reported yesterday,

“With the chilly wind and passing cold front, there was a nice selection of Sea Birds this morning at the New Harbour. Top of the list were two Southern Giant Petrels, and we had nice views of Brown (Sub-Antarctic) Skua, Sooty Shearwater, White-chinned Petrel, some Jaegers and lots of Gannets.”


Pelagic Birding from Hermanus


Four couples, the Maphams, Meyers, Planes and the Turners set off from the New Harbour at 03h30 on Friday 30th January for the pelagic fishing grounds 50kms off Cape Point. Our small unique tailor made trip arranged by Walter Mapham on the “Majestic” was an unforgetable birding experience.

Once the fishing trawlers were located we were able to get up close to view  these beautiful pelagic seabirds.  Gavin and Cynthia were able to capture the most amazing photographs, which we hope he will soon be able to share with our HBC club members.  A few of us were privileged to have a preview presentation after our fish braai at the Boat Club on Thursday 7th.

Gavin was able to identify, aided by his photos 4 species of Albatross,  two Giant Petrels , four other Petrels including two small Storm Petrels, three species of Shearwaters and the Subantartic Skua.  A few more familiar seabirds like the Cape Gannet, Cape Cormarant, Cape Gull and Artic Tern were also seen.

We eventually returned safely to Hermanus after 20h00, after a magical sunset at sea, a very tired, but happy bunch with some memorable birding experiences. Our thanks to Walter for selecting a perfect day and doing all the planning for our full day at sea.

Ed Meyer.