CAPE POINT SEABIRD WATCH

by Bryan Butler

As Saturday the 16th June was a holiday it was decided to combine with the Cape Bird Club on Sunday for their annual Sea Bird Watch – a rare occasion to see some pelagic birds – especially for those who do not have good sea legs or who can’t afford a pelagic trip (that’s most of us!).

However a 07h15 start on a cold winter’s day which also happens to be Fathers’ Day meant that only 3 of us braved the elements. We made it on time to the Cape Point Reserve meeting place and joined some 25 Cape Bird Club members – who were very friendly. Leading the group were Vernon Head and Mel Tripp – you couldn’t ask for better leaders!

They took us to the most south-western tip of Africa where we clambered over rocks to a ledge looking out to sea. Scopes were set up and the search started. “White-chinned Petrel” shouted Vernon –“on the right moving slowly up and down – just beyond the kelp line” and so it went on.

Did I mention that the coast line was awash with Cape Cormorants by the thousand – with a few Kelp Gulls and some beautiful Swift Terns and an odd Cape Gannet? Cormorants were constantly in the air flapping those little wings at a frightening speed against a really stiff, cold wind flying left to right, right to left – all with clear intentions. But eyes and scopes were fixed further out to sea, searching for – “yes” – a Sooty Shearwater – near the spray over those rocks in the distance. (Too far for my eyes).

Garyth bagged two lifers, though the old hands had to admit that this was not the best of annual visits to this spot.

After a couple of hours we made our weary way back to the cars for a quick morning sandwich. The convoy then moved on to a spot where we could see a flower which has not been seen in the reserve since 1990.

A recent fire has allowed this plant to revive. Called Hessea Cinnamomea – quite fascinating. The Cape Bird Club members then went on to a lunch spot but us Somerset Westers turned reluctantly for home, arriving back around 1 o’clock. This was quite an experience and good meeting with another Club. Definitely recommended!