Thursday, 27 February 2014

Belle Isle Marsh, Boston, Feb 2014

Just inside the entrance to Belle Isle Marsh, Boston, some feeders had attracted Northern Cardinal, Black-capped Chickadees and American Tree Sparrows. The feeders are maintained by Rosanna, the hero of the half-shell in these parts, and I had bumped into her at another one of her feeding stations close by. 

American Robins were feeding from the Rhus bushes here. Whilst some fed from the seed heads, others picked up what was dropped onto the snow.

Were it not for the feeders the list below, already rather sparse, may have been a whole lot shorter: Not that the marsh is unable to support a varied birdlife, a quick glance at eBird’s hotspot details shows that one could aspire to 221 species at this site. But they weren’t here today is all I’m saying.
Snowy Owls have been reported here during the latest irruption and the most recent individual had been logged 4 days previously, so obviously it became the focus of my ramblings. Belle Isle Marsh is a small area of salt marsh and the tide was a long way out today, leaving large plates of ice which had cracked and broken as the water level dropped.

The paths were snow bound but it was easy enough to get around. Dog walkers and their hounds were circling the reserve and treading down the snow, making a compacted course to follow. Sadly the sign asking dog owners to use leashes was being universally ignored, as was the plea to "pick it up".
Inside the circular path is a slightly raised piece of ground with rough grass that pushed up through the white blanket. This looked like a promising place for the owl, but despite a good scanning, I couldn’t find one.
A short boardwalk juts out into the marsh (at Google Earth ref; 42 23 21.23N 70 59 26.50W ) and I spent quite a bit of time here scanning and trying to make small snow piles into Snowy Owls to no avail (as it happens, eBird reveals that the next day she was seen just in front of the boardwalk and this picture makes me wish I could have found her there regardless of the conditions).

But wait.......what is this? The report suggested that it was seen in the reeds by the end of the jetty and so I reviewed my photographs and noticed a ghostly little snowman in the area described. I had been concentrating my search further from the jetty as the latest report had sighted the owl "waaaay off". Had she been right under my nose and I missed her? Doh!

Similar lack of success was in store for me at the viewing tower that affords a great panorama across the marsh, but trying to find a white bird against a white background in a mist with a slight drizzle proved beyond me. I have no doubt that on any other day, the marsh would be jumping with life and I will surely return to see that, but on this occasion I was not able to do it justice. 

Of the few birds that I saw away from the feeders, only a Red-tailed Hawk, warranted a photograph. It had a gummy eye on the right side, so mostly presented its left side to me. Perhaps this was why it stayed put as people passed below it on the path.

Belle Isle Marsh bird list; 17

Canada Goose 40, America Black Duck 3, Red-breasted Merganser 2, Red-tailed Hawk 1, Mourning Dove 3, Downy Woodpecker 3, Northern Flicker 1, Black-capped Chickadee 6, American Robin 25, Northern Mockingbird 1, European Starling 50, American Tree Sparrow 6, Song Sparrow 5, White-throated Sparrow 2, Dark-eyed Junco 2, Northern Cardinal 1, House Sparrow 40.

Belle Isle Marsh can be reached very quickly from Downtown Boston on the Blue Line Train. The entrance to the parking lot is just 300 meters northeast of Suffolk Downs Station along Bennington Rd. It is very close to the airport and the altimeter warned “500 feet” as we passed over on the approach last night.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Feb 2014

Poor weather conditions kept me from getting too ambitious this week. A fresh fall of snow delayed us into Chicago as the airport closed and we had to circle while they cleared the runways. But I had confidence in the American way of dealing with snow and headed out early the next morning to Lincoln Park. Sure enough a path, just beyond the farm on Stockton Drive, had already been cleared and the sound of snow-clearing equipment filled the air. It was a beautiful bright morning and not too cold, a great day to be out.

The path took me across a bridge that spans the South Pond at Google Earth ref; 41 55 5.45N 87 37 59.36W A display suggested that somewhere beneath the snow was a boardwalk, but this would have to wait for another day as the snow clearance was concentrating on the main pathways for now. I was surprised to suddenly find myself in a zoo and felt rather furtive, having got in without having to pay an entrance fee. I felt slightly cheated later on, discovering that Lincoln Park Zoo does not charge for entry! 

The birds were slow to start this morning, but a small pond with a tiny area of open water provided a waterfowl spectacle as a zoo attendant fed the Whooper Swans. Amongst the Mallards were a few Wood Duck, Pintail, Common Goldeneye, Ruddy Duck and Hooded Mergansers

The Whooper Swans were clearly resident at the zoo and the Mallard were flying in from the lake, but I had to ask about the others and found that only the “freeloaders”, i.e. the Mallards, were countable. Apparently one or two of the Hooded Mergansers were wild, but which ones?

The keeper suggested that I should try the Childrens’ Zoo which was more wooded and had the added attraction of Wolves and Otters. The wolves were chasing about in the snow and the otter slid around its enclosure obviously loving the snow! Black-capped Chickadees, Northern Cardinal and an American Goldfinch were seen along this section, but it was not proving to be a great birdy day.

Since there was a Polar Bear pool and an Aviary, I became a little distracted and didn’t concentrate much on the birds after the exhibit houses opened at 10.00. 

The Polar Bear was very animated, playing in the water, chasing a sinking ball and trying to nick my gloves through the glass of the underwater window.

The Africa walk-through exhibit was interesting if a little sad, but the aviary had a large fly area which took my mind off the smaller enclosures leading up to it.

Bird List for Lincoln Park Zoo; 9

Red-breasted Merganser 2, Mallard 200, Downy Woodpecker 1, American Crow 20, American Robin 8, Black-capped Chickadee 5, Northern Cardinal 3, House Finch 5, House Sparrow 60

Lincoln Park Zoo was chosen for its clear paths on an otherwise “wading through the snow” sort of a morning. All the paths through the zoo were clear by 10.00. Bus number 151 runs along Chicago’s Miracle Mile and through Lincoln Park on Stockton Drive. The journey takes less than 15 minutes and costs US$2.25.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Fort Mason, San Francisco, Feb 2014

It came as a shock to hear from Wikipedia that Fort Mason covered 1200 acres. The green area on the map gave no indication of such scale, but I have since learned that much of this area encompasses the piers, wharves and warehouses that make up Lower Fort Mason. Upper Fort Mason, which was to be the focus of my attentions today, covers (this is just a guess) probably less than 50 acres. Even more restrictive than this, I barely wandered beyond the area marked as West Battery, which can be seen at Google Earth ref; 37 48 27.85N 122 25 40.71W.

First bird of the day was an exotic parakeet which I believe may have been the Red-masked Parakeet.  This was closely followed by a couple of Pygmy Nuthatches, a single Townsend’s Warbler and large numbers of Yellow-rumped Warblers. The Yellow-rumped Warblers were feeding from the lawns by Quarters 1, beneath the General’s gum trees. It seemed as though their frontal feathers had been matted together; perhaps the ground gets greasy from the gum trees.
I followed the road around and quickly found myself at the West Battery. This was a pleasant, quiet spot on a Monday morning and proved to be the most productive area of the outing.

Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Anna’s Hummingbirds, White-crowned Sparrows and American Robins were all seen in a very small area close to the canons. Western Scrub-jays, Fox Sparrows and a Hermit Thrush were seen in the ivy by a flight of stairs that led down to the piers.

I was intending to wander out towards the lawned area, but workers in hi-viz vests, brandishing leaf blowers, put me off that idea. Instead, I took the steps that led down from the park and onto the waterfront. I was stopped near the bottom by a Red-breasted Sapsucker that was maintaining its sap wells in a tree close to the steps.

Each time it set off from the nearest grid of wells to inspect its territory, a Townsend’s Warbler flew in and drank at the gouges in the bark. A 10,000 Birds post will deal with this in more detail soon. 

As I was watching, a birder who introduced himself as Bob, happened by. He was familiar with the sapsucker and knew the area well. He told me of some likely spots nearby, but most interestingly, mentioned the possibility of a Wandering Tattler at one of the piers in the immediate vicinity.

We took a stroll down to the bottom of the steps and stopped for a Common Loon and a scan across the harbour before walking out onto the hook-shaped pier. Bob knew exactly where to look, but no tattlers could be seen. We checked from different angles as they sometimes tuck themselves in behind the fence, but still we had no success. We were just cursing our luck when a short-legged yellowlegs flew up onto one of the supports and teetered briefly before settling down to preen.

The sweep of the beach in front of Aquatic Park held a few gulls, notably an accommodating Mew Gull and a young Heerman’s Gull that was obviously full on handouts and couldn’t be bothered to fly away.

Fort Mason Bird List;
Red-breasted Merganser 2, Red-throated Loon 1, Common Loon 1, Western Grebe 1, Double-crested Cormorant 25, Wandering Tattler 1, Heerman’s Gull 1, Mew Gull 3, Eestern Gull 15, Anna’s Hummingbird 10, Red-breasted Sapsucker 1, Nuttall’s Woodpecker 1, Northern Flicker 2, Western Scrubjay 4, American Crow 25, Ptgmy Nuthatch 6, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 3, Hermit Thrush 3, American Robin 12, European Starling 35, Yellow-rumped Warbler 80, Townsend’s Warbler 4, California Towhee 6, Fox Sparrow 4, Song Sparrow 5, White-crowned Sparrow 20, Dark-eyed Junco 1, House Finch 12.

I caught bus no. 30 from 3rd St, just south of Market. It cost US$2 and took around 25 minutes to reach the stop at Van Ness Ave and North Point St. If you prefer to do the tourist thing, the San Francisco Trolley Car that starts from Market and Powell terminates at Aquatic Park, very close by.
I did not see any indications that access is denied at any time. There are a few private residences and a hostel on the site, so I guess they will need access at all reasonable times.

Visit the dedicated USA and Canadapage for more posts from San Francisco, including; Golden Gate Park and HalfMoon Bay.
Birding, Birdwatching in San Francisco, California.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Coyote Point, San Francisco, Feb 2014

Coyote Point on San Francisco Bay was chosen for today’s outing to avoid the horrible weather coming in from the Pacific. The high ground protected the bay from the worst of it, but the day was still grey and wet. Half of me was wondering if I could have tolerated the pelagic trip that would have been my first choice in better conditions, while the other half concentrated on keeping the water from filling the eye cups of my binoculars and telling the first half not to be so stupid.

I approached Coyote Point along the bayside cycle trail from just south of San Francisco’s International Airport, SFO. The water was calm and there were a few ducks to be seen. Canvasbacks stood out by virtue of their white back and large size. They were mixed in amongst some sleepy Great (probably) Scaup.

Horned Grebe and Western Grebe were both seen quite close to the shore, but it was the Willet posing on the shoreline rocks that encouraged me to get the camera out.

This outing also took in eBird’s hotspot at Sanchez Creek Lagoon (Google Earth ref; 37 35 17N 122 20 54W). I had arrived shortly after high tide and was hoping to find some wading birds roosting or feeding in the salt marsh at the western end of the lagoon. Apart from a small flock of Black-necked Stilt, there were none.
A Great Blue Heron and a couple of Snowy Egret were seen by the banks with Mallard, Bufflehead and a single Common Goldeneye on the water. Bushtit, Western Scrub-jay and Chestnut-backed Chickadee were seen in the bushes and trees as I cycled along the path, heading east.

After crossing a small bridge and passing along Beach road, I was back on the bayside trail with Coyote Point rising ahead of me. A mixed flock of gulls were roosting beside the path. I was pleased to see them at close quarters so that I didn’t have to stand around in the wet trying to identify them at distance.

Ring-billed Gulls were easy to pick out and a couple of Mew Gulls were seen down on the water. California Gulls made up the bulk of the flock with a few Western Gulls staying slightly removed from the rest.

More Willet picked along the shoreline rocks as the eucalypt-covered headland loomed before me. I climbed, staying close to the edge and was able to look down on a Spotted Sandpiper while a few Yellow-rumped Warblers and Dark-eyed Juncos flitted through the trees. 

I didn’t stop long in the stand of alien gum trees and came down off the headland, passed the marina and turned my attention to the small area of mud beyond. Two bars almost meet on the far side of the mud and the small gap allows the tide to flow in and out of the hotspot known to eBird as Coyote Point Country Park – Harbour and Marsh. The two bars looked like a slightly open carabiner and held some roosting gulls. I didn’t pay these much attention, but managed a quick look at a bedraggled Forster’s Tern.

The mud was not as busy as I had hoped. It was only a small area and perhaps it can’t support the large numbers of birds that can be seen further down the bay at the Palo Alto Baylands. The birds were mostly Willets with a few Whimbrel and Longbilled Curlews

A single Marbled Godwit stood out warm brown against the Willets’ grey. Least Sandpiper were identified from a flock of “peeps”, but there may possibly have been some Western Sandpiper amongst them.

A man-made reef beyond the roosting bars was studded by Double-crested Cormorants, Western Gulls and a single Brown Pelican. The reef protects the mud and the harbour from bad weather, but the conditions today were merely persistent, but by the time I reached the fresh water marsh, they had become intolerable and after flushing a Wilson’s Snipe and noting a pair of Pied-billed Grebe, I decided to pack it in for the day.

Bird list for Coyote Point; 53
Canada Goose 22, American Wigeon 35, Mallard 20, Northern Shoveler 12, Green-winged Teal 4, Canvasback 12, Greater Scaup 75, Bufflehead 35, Common Goldeneye 1, Ruddy Duck 50, Pied-billed Grebe 2, Horned Grebe 5, Eared Grebe 1, Western Grebe 2, Clark’s Grebe 1, Double- crested Cormorant 40, Brown Pelican 2, Great Blue Heron 2, Great Egret 3, Snowy Egret 8, Turkey Vulture 8, American Coot 150, Black-necked Stilt 27, Spotted Sandpiper 2, Willet 45, Whimbrel 6, Long-billed Curlew 7, Marbled Godwit 5, Least Sandpiper 40, Wilson’s Snipe 1, Mew Gull 3, Ring-billed Gull 35, Western Gull 20, California Gull 120, Forster’s Tern 1, Mourning Dove 2, Anna’s Hummingbird 9, Belted Kingfisher 1, Black Phoebe 3, Western Scrub-jay 2, American Crow 26, Chestnut-backed Chickadee 4, Bushtit 10, Northern Mockingbird 1, European Starling 12, Yellow-rumped Warbler 4, California Towhee 7, Song Sparrow 1, White-crowned Sparrow 20, Dark-eyed Junco 4, House Finch 30, House Sparrow 15.

I travelled from the San Francisco Caltrain Station at 4th St. and Townsend to Broadway Station (Google Earth ref; 37 35 14.86N 122 21 44.64W. The journey took just 30 minutes.
A 2-zone day pass for Caltrain costs US$10. Note that southbound trains start before 05.00 on weekdays, but the first train at weekends is not until 08.15.
The Caltrain track passes very close to the bayshore just to the south of the airport. Broadway Caltrain Station is sited within 600m of the shore and a pedestrian bridge gives easy access across Highway 101.

Coyote point was an island before a land reclamation scheme (originally intended to provide grazing for cattle, but now utilised as a golf course) united it with the mainland. It did its duty during WW II as a Merchant Marine Cadet School and more recently, the Coyote Point Museum was re-branded as “Curiodyssey”, a child-focussed wildlife and nature experience.

Visit the dedicated USA and Canadapage for more posts from San Francisco, including; Golden Gate Park and Point Reyes
Birding, Birdwatching in San Francisco, California.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Kommetjie, Cape Town, Feb 2014

Kommetjie is a charming, coastal village on the west of the peninsula, south-west of Cape Town. It is noted for its expanses of rock tables that are exposed at low tide and as a roosting spot for gulls and terns.

I parked by the protected green area in the middle of the village. Barn Swallows swooped over the grass and a Black Goshawk was escorted from the area by a flock of European Starlings. I had not consulted my map very well and had started further north than I had intended. It was a very pleasant walk just the same and I would have missed the White-fronted Plovers if I had started further on.

Wide expanses of rock had been exposed as the tide withdrew. Mats of loose kelp rested on the rocks and had been washed up onto the shell-strewn beach. Great Cormorant, Cape Cormorant and Crested Cormorant were seen in small numbers, but I suspect that they would be more common at different times of the tide.

The mats of kelp and rock tables leave calm water and rock pools close to shore. Black Oystercatcher, Cape Wagtail, Sacred Ibis and Little Egret picked around the weedy rocks and in the sheltered pools.

A car park overlooks a large pool at Google Earth ref; 34 8 27.94S 18 19 21.87E. A roost here contained Swift Terns, Sandwich Terns and Hartlaub’s Gulls. A Black Oystercatcher flew in to add a brief bit of colour with his flashing red bill.

Hadada Ibis were seen here also as they watched over the roost from a higher vantage. I was surprised at the number of birds seen that I normally associate with fresh water or drier habitats. Blacksmith Plover and Common Fiscal were other unexpected coastal visitors.

My big disappointment of the day was a picture that didn’t quite work. Cape Gannets flew low over the edge of the tide, skimming the face of the waves, shearwater style. As the waves began to crest, they peeled off and banked over the top and back down onto the face of the next incoming wave. It would have made a glorious picture, but it was slightly misty and everything just came out insipid and grey. Great to watch though!

Bird list for Kommetjie;

Egyptian Goose 5, Helmeted Guineafowl 1, Cape Gannet 80, Great Cormorant 6, Cape Cormorant 2, Bank Cormorant 1, Crowned Cormorant 2, Grey Heron 1, Little Egret 4, Sacred Ibis 20, Hadada Ibis 8, Jackal Buzzard 1, Black Goshawk 1, Rock Kestrel 1, Blacksmith Plover 4, White-fronted Plover 2, African Oystercatcher 8, Whimbrel 1, Grey-hooded Gull 1, Hartlaub’s Gull 120, Kelp Gull 20, Sandwich Tern 40, Great Crested Tern 180,Speckled Pigeon 3, Alpine Swift 1, African Swift 4, Common Fiscal 4, Barn Swallow 80, Karoo Prinia 1, European Starling 80, Red-winged Starling 20, Cape Wagtail 30.

Visit the dedicated Africa Page for more posts from Cape Town, including; Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens, Intaka Island and Paarl.

Birding, birdwatching in Cape Town, South Africa 

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Cape Town Pelagic, Cape Town, Feb 2014

I am not sure which came first; whether Capt. Barry Stringer had already decided to go out and kindly acceded to my joining his little group of friendly fisherfolk, or whether my request to go piggy-back on a fishing boat had piqued the idea of a day at the helm. Which-ever way round it came to be, I am very grateful to Anne Gray of Anne Albatross Pelagics for brokering the boat ride out to see the pelagic birds on the ocean south of Cape Town.

Anne had put me in contact with Barry because no-one was running a special pelagic birding trip that weekend. The Cape Town route will soon be passed to our younger, fitter colleagues, so it had become a priority to get a ride out onto the ocean as this might be my last chance!
Barry’s vessel “Devocean” (it takes a certain punning cunning to name a boat it would seem), is a Lee Cat 800 that sails out of Hout Bay on the western coast of Cape Town’s peninsula. The Harbour can be seen at Google Earth ref; 34 3 0.26S 18 20 46.11E.

The day dawned wet and misty as I waited at the harbour (the photo above was taken on the following day from Chapman's Peak Road). Fernando came to say “hello” and made a call to chase newly-married Barry from his bed to get the boat pushed off by 07.00. We made up four with Paul, a fisherman to the bone. They were all very experienced on the water, but had never really taken much notice of the birds at a species level. Still, they kept an eye out for me and told stories of days when birds were so thick around the boat that they couldn’t fish properly.

Today was not one of those days. Visibility was poor and birds were scarce. The lads had to revert to stories of quick mist dispersal to lift my spirits. But the list was opened with a bang shortly out of the harbour when we stopped to look at a small flock of birds on the water. The birds flew as soon as we came close, but before Barry put the power back on, a ghostly form rolled on the water before disappearing into the mist. Orcas! This surprised even the salty sea dogs and the day was already a good one no matter what happened after that. It’s amazing to think that four Orcas, 1 calf and 3 female I think judging by the short fins, should surface in our small circle of visibility. What were the chances that they were passing just at that moment? If the boat hadn’t slowed for the birds we would never have seen them through the mist. If Barry hadn't slept in, we would have been way out to sea by now. 

The first birds to be properly identified were White-chinned Petrels. They were easily recognised with their pale bill and the white chin, when visible, made them unmistakeable. They were also easily the most common bird of the trip, being seen all through the day. A few other birds are predominantly brown. I was hoping for smaller Sooty Shearwaters and Flesh-footed Shearwaters, or even a Great-winged Petrel, but a cursory glance was usually enough to confirm the larger White-chinned Petrel and discount the others..
We had been going a little way before the first albatross showed. It is known as a Shy Albatross in SA birding circles, but I had to enter it as a White-capped Albatross for eBird to acknowledge it.

It took a while to get my eye in on the storm-petrels. There were two likely contenders in the European Storm-petrel and Wilson’s Storm-petrel, though potentially a third uncommon summer visitor, Leach’s Storm Petrel.

European and Wilson’s are superficially similar but can be told apart by Wilson’s trailing feet and European’s under-wing flash. The under-wing marking was not as conspicuous as I would have liked and I had to look twice to assure myself that I wasn’t seeing the upper-wing marking of the Wilson’s, but all was well and my photos bore out the sightings.

Talking of photos, there must be a knack to taking pictures on a pitching and rolling boat. It was a trick that I never quite mastered today and what with incorrect exposures too, I felt like dropping the camera overboard on a couple of occasions. Getting a bird in the frame was difficult enough in itself, but auto-focus was completely hit and miss. The sea was quite calm, but the boat was small and rolled at the whim of the swell. As the morning progressed, we motored further from the cape and the mist cleared. At least now there was some light. Most of the photos accompanying the text were taken after we passed beyond the mist.

A Black-browed Albatross was second of the four likely candidates to be found, but the “yellow-noses” escaped me. A guide would have been helpful for the individual above. It has the under-wing pattern of a Black-browed Albatross, but shouldn't the bill have been orange? Juveniles have dark bills, but a different under-wing pattern. Any thoughts? Anyone? Brown shearwaters with pale undersides passed on a few occasions. Mostly they were Cory’s Shearwater, but there were at least a couple of dark-capped Great Shearwaters too.

The fishing had been slow so far. We had been chugging along with a few lures trolling behind the boat, but nothing had shown any interest in them. Captain Barry was conscious that I had not seen many birds at the time and was keen to find some. He had heard reports that a distant trawler was pulling up its nets. This is what the official pelagic birding trips pray for and the lads pulled in the lures and we sped out to the trawler.

A dozen or so small fishing boats were already clustered around the stern of the trawler as the nets were winched up the rear ramp. There was a lot of fish debris in the water and birds swooped down to pick it from the water.
A Subantarctic Skua (known to eBird as a Brown Skua) still preferred to harry other birds for their titbits rather than dropping onto the water to take advantage of the plentiful food there. Eventually one realised that there was an easier way.

Even though this was the most birds that we had seen all day, the lads on the boat were not impressed by the numbers. This was a trip during the southern summer and apparently birds are infinitely more abundant during the winter months. Different species prevail in different seasons too, so it would still be worth another trip if ever the chance presents itself.
The way home was marked by a fish. Paul brought in a 35kg Tuna and Fernando lost the “big one” of angling story fame. Visibility was much better for the return journey and I could see that there were more birds than we had realised. The mist had been keeping them from us.

A flock of Sabine’s Gulls were horribly over-exposed. Terns troubled me. There were certainly some Common Terns, Swift Terns and Sandwich Terns, mostly seen as we approached land on the return. I suspect that Arctic Terns featured as well, but could not pin one down for sure. Sooty Shearwaters were seen at last as we passed what may have been a shoal of Snook near the surface.

To round out the day, a few gulls were seen to be chasing terns in the distance. I managed to get my binoculars onto them and they proved to be my seventh lifer of the day in the form of Parasitic Skuas.
I believe that we travelled about 30 nautical miles south from the peninsula and had to travel a good part of that before seeing any albatrosses. Some of the coastal birds might have been visible from land. I might have been able to identify Cape Gannets for example, but I would need much more experience before I would try to call shearwaters and skuas from there.

Thanks again to Anne and Barry for sorting the trip and thanks to Paul and Fernando for making it a very pleasant and productive day. Anne's pelagic tours run twice monthly throughout the year and weekly during the prime months of September and October. The tours depart from Simon's Town on False Bay. Let me emphasise that this was not an official Anne Albatross tour which always carries an expert bird guide. Anne knows many of the boat captains and in the absence of an official charter, put me in contact with Barry so that I could piggy-back on his fishing trip. I had to identify my own birds, but at least I was out on the water.
Fishing charter is not Barry's main occupation. He runs a wetsuit business in Ottery, Cape Town. However, I bet he could easily be enticed away from the shop and out for a day fishing. 
Just in case try him on;

Bird list for Cape Town Pelagic; 20

White-capped Albatross 30, Black-browed Albatross 2, White-chinned Petrel 600, Cory’s Shearwater 30, Great Shearwater 2, Sooty Shearwater 6, Wilson’s Storm-petrel 15, European Storm-petrel 30, Cape Gannet 60, Cape Cormorant 6, Sacred Ibis 6, Sabine’s Gull 200, Hartlaub’s Gull 60, Kelp Gull 40, Sandwich Tern 150, Common Tern 120, Great Crested Tern 60, Brown Skua 3, Parasitic Jaeger 15, Speckled Pigeon 3.

Birding, Pelagic birds, Birdwatching in Cape Town, South Africa.