Working for birds in Africa

Pelagic birding trips in the southern Mozambique Channel.

p 197-204

Two birding trips were made in the southern Mozambique Channel, in February 1997 and November 2005. Geared largely to viewing tropical seabirds within southern African waters for regional listers, they nonetheless provided some novel insights into the summer distribution and abundance of seabirds off northern KwaZulu-Natal and southern Mozambique. Sooty Terns Sterna fuscata were the most abundant species on both trips, and were common south of their generally accepted range. Small numbers of Bridled Terns S. anaethetus were associated with the Sooty Tern flocks in November 2005, suggesting this species may be more common than previously thought in the southern Mozambique Channel. Palearctic migrants, notably Cory's Shearwaters Calonectris diomedea and Lone-tailed Skuas Stercorarius longicaudus, were common on the February trip, but not in November, presumably because they were still moving into the area after moving around the Cape. The November trip reached further north and ventured outside southern African waters around Europa Island. As a result, many more tropical species were seen. Several Jouanin's Petrels Bulweria fallax were observed east of Inhambane, Mozambique, only the third time this species has been recorded in southern African waters. The highlight was probably the fourth record of Barau's Petrel Pterodroma baraui, seen off northern KwaZulu-Natal.

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