cape birding route > birding spots > seabirding > seawatching from the peninsula
Info Service
About Us
Birding Spots
Day Guiding
Car Hire
Contact Us
    Site Map
Seawatching from the Peninsula:

Those who don’t trust their sea legs may consider taking their telescopes out on a windy day and gazing out to sea to search for pelagic seabirds that are blown inshore. Although the popularity of this pastime has declined recently due to the increased availability of pelagic birding trips, there are still some sites worth visiting on the Peninsula if you are a hardened seawatcher or a weakened seafarer.

In winter, seawatching is best on the western side of the Peninsula when a strong northwesterly is blowing. Try to find a position elevated enough to preclude your quarry dipping infuriatingly behind the wave troughs, and if possible sheltered from light rain squalls. The best spots are at the Cape of Good Hope (find a sheltered vantage point on the cliffs above the parking area; see map p.14), Cape Point (take the path from the old lighthouse to the new one; p.22) and Kommetjie (from the shore near the lighthouse; p.22). Even the casual seawatcher is bound to see a sprinkling of Cape Cormorant, Cape Gannet, White-chinned Petrel and Sooty Shearwater just offshore. If there is a strong wind, Shy and Black-browed Albatrosses may also be seen, with regular appearances made by Sub-Antarctic Skua, Northern and Southern Giant Petrels, Yellow-nosed Albatross, Wilson’s Storm Petrel and Broad-billed Prion.

In spring, summer and autumn, the persistent southeasterly winds produce good seawatching, and the best vantage points are Glencairn (made famous by seawatching expert, Dr Mike Fraser) and Cape Point. Glencairn is a small suburb on the east coast of the Peninsula, between Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town. Stand next to the railway station, or at the whale-watching site 1 km north of the railway station. The seawatching is best in spring and late summer (October and February–March) on the first or second day of the southeaster. Birds are blown into False Bay and are best viewed in the late afternoon as they move south, out of the bay. Most common are Cape Gannet, Arctic Skua, Sooty Shearwater and White-chinned Petrel. Less common but regular nonetheless are Pomarine Skua and Cory’s Shearwater; scarcer still are Soft-plumaged Petrel, Great Shearwater and Long-tailed Skua.

In summer, scan offshore from the Mouille Point lighthouse (just west of the V&A Waterfront, see p.31) for distant flocks of Sabine’s Gull (October–April), as well as Cape Gannet, White-chinned Petrel, Arctic Skua and Swift Tern.

This website is maintained by Birding Africa.
Please do not use any text, images or content from this site without permission.
© Birding Africa 1997-2009
4 Crassula Way, Pinelands, 7405, Cape Town, South Africa

27/09/09: Dalton Gibbs reports back from Gough Island! Read the blog!

26/09/09: New Cape Town Pelagics trip report from trips of 12 and 19 September 2009.

30/08/09: British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water proved very successful, with sunny weather and over 20,000 visitors. Callan's "Birding Namibia and the Okavango" was the most highly-attended lecture on the Saturday, with over 240 people. Congratulations to the winners of the Birding Africa competition and the African Bird Club raffle that we helped sponsor!

12/08/09: New Cape Town Pelagics trip reports from August and July 2009. Highlights: Little Shearwater and more!

07/08/09: The sub-adult Black Sarrowhawk visits our garden again! Read on about Raptor Research in the Western Cape.

27/07/09: Cape Town's Verreauxs' Eagle Chick has grown! And its sibling never had a chance to hatch. See the pictures of the chick, its nest and the breeding pair. Find out more about the Western Cape Raptor Research Programme.

27/07/09: To follow modern nomenclature and systematics, we've adopted the IOC World Bird List, Version 2.1.

13/07/09: The 8th African Bird ID Challenge has launched! Win a 50% discount on a Cape Town Pelagics trip, a copy of Southern African Birdfinder, or African Bird Club membership for 1 year.

6 July 09: Cape White-eye research in our garden.

2 July 09: Cape Town's Verreauxs' Eagle Chick has hatched! See the pictures of the chick, its nest and the breeding pair. Find out more about the Western Cape Raptor Research Programme.

2 July 09: Campbell Fleming, a Cape Town scholar, avid birder and photographer, joined Birding Africa last month as an intern. Click here, to see what he got up to.

2 July 09: New pelagic trip reports from the Cape Town Pelagics trips in June 2009. Highlights: Slenderbilled Prion and Leach's Storm Petrel

30 july 09: Our latest Cape Fynbos and Karoo trip reports feature Hottentot Buttonquail, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler and other fynbos and Karoo endemics...

26 June 09: Tungsten mining threatens RAMSAR site, South Africa's Verlorenvlei. Read the Media Release.

22 June 09: Claire Spottiswoode, one of the Cape Birding Route founders, was part of the exploratory team at Mount Mabu. The mountain is part of the newly discovered largest rainforest in Southern Africa.

11 June 09: A colour-ringed Black Sparrowhawk visits the Birding Africa office garden. Read why it's a 10 months old male!

14 June 09:
Wildlife at the office of The Cape Birding Route, Birding Africa and Cape Town Pelagics.

31 May 09:
Michel Watelet wins the 7th African Bird Club & Birding Africa ID Challenge. Test your African birding skills and WIN a Birding Africa Cape town day trip or a copy of the Birdfinder!

30 May 09: A tragedy unfolds at Kommetjie south of Cape town as 44 beached False Killer Whales were shot. Click here for more details and pictures.

14 March 09: Raptor Watch in Cape Town on 14 March 09