Posted on the 4th September 2012

It all started out with “If you want to grow your list, you got to get to sea, deep sea !”, yes it is that mentors voice again, challenging us! Then Trevor Hardaker (alias Mr Rarities) gave a talk to Birdlife Overberg and we were hooked. We had to get to the sea, in the winter and fast. I discussed it with Lisle Gwynne, the student doing his Masters on the Elgin Buzzard and then there was no turning back.

We booked and hoped that the weather would hold, in the mean time I started with the homework, which was quiet easy as the Zest for Birds website have a wonderful schedule indicating which birds you are most likely to see and in which month of the year. Go and have a look at

Cape Gannet


White-chinned Petrel








Ok, so Lisle phoned the first Thursday with the news the trip had been postponed and with a new date set, I could breath again (I am dead scared !)

The new date got cancelled on the Thursday afternoon with a note from Trevor “Sorry but I’ve just had our skipper on the line again and he has called the trip off. We will eventually get you out to sea sometime, I promise...! “ Another cold front saved my bacon!

Then 3rd time lucky, the news came that there will be a break in the weather between Saturday morning and Saturday evening and we could go to sea!

The Saturday morning started at 06:30, without breakfast (for obvious reasons) at the Simon's Town Harbour. John Graham introduced us to the other guides, Alvin Cope and Trevor Hardaker, all top birders not just in SA, but also internationally. After a run-down of the safety procedure, we waited for the Skipper to bring the Zest II to the dock for us to board.

Mayhem behind trawler


And more .............................







Soon after we left the harbour we started picking up on Cape Gannet, Subantartic Skua , Cape Cormorants, etc. After passing the notorious Cape to Good Hope, we saw our first White-chinned Petrels. Obviously the cameras started clicking, we were soon warned to leave some pixels for what is still to come!

On the way we passed Humpback Whale, Cape Fur Seal, finally the skipper located a trawler on his radar. After 28 sea miles (50km) we reached the trawler just about to pull in his nets. What happened next could only be described as the best birding experience I have ever had: IT IS JUST BIRDS, with guides calling from the different stations! CHAOS if you have a camera with a big lens, the boat is moving, the birds are moving and you have to hold on! Hats off to anyone who takes a sharp bird image at sea!

Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross


Black-Browed Albatross







We saw Sub-antarctic Skua, Cape Gannet, Sooty Shearwater, Great Shearwater, White Chinned Petrel, Wilson's Storm Petrel, Shy Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, Wandering Albatross (photos sent to the experts, as it could be Tristan) and Southern Giant Petrel.

We also some Pilot Whales on our way back to the harbour again. We docked at 16:00 with 9 new lifers to my list! This was a wonderful experience which I would recommend to any serious or non-serious birder, but be careful it is totally overwhelming seeing all those new feathery friends out there!


Shy Albatross
Wandering Albatross








Pintado Petrel


White-chinned Petrel


















JEANNE MULLER (posted: 2012-09-05)
Hi Carin, dit is n baie oulike artikel, ek kan jou eintlik voor my sien praat, soos jy skryf! Well done! Wat n lieflike ervaring!
ANTON (posted: 2012-09-04)
Jy moet ophou om so beskeie te wees: dis 'n pragtige foto artikel Carin. Baie geluk en dankie