- Wildlife Groups
Thought to be the only albatross of its kind in the Northern Hemisphere a Black Browed Albatross has returned to RSPB Bempton Cliffs almost exactly a year after it was last seen there in 2020.
This magnificent long distance traveller with a wingspan of about 8 feet has been domicile in the Baltic Seas around Denmark and Germany since 2014 after being blown off course from the South Atlantic oceans and has remained ever since, making occassional forays across the North Sea to Bempton. It was first spotted here in 2017 and was recently thought to have perished after it was set upon by a flock of Sea Eagles off the Danish coast last year. No wonder that some of the hundreds of birdwatchers that have flocked to RSPB Bempton Cliffs were reputedly brought to tears by this birds reappearance - and it's some entertainer; although often sat on the sea (as it was during the entire 2 - 3 hrs I was there), the bird's true glory is revealed when it takes to the air and then, well - what a bird!
As you might expect with such a rarity (only around 30 records in the UK), the bird has attracted large crowds of people already and, if it sticks around, many more will want to see what is probably a 'once in a lifetime' sighting of an albatross in UK waters. Nobody really knows why this individual travels across the sea to Bempton - looking for a mate perhaps, or trying to make it back down to the southern hemisphere? Whatever the reason it's a magnificent bird and welcome on the Yorkshire coast anytime!
Albatrosses rarely flap their wings, relying more on their aerodynamic 'glider' like wings to carry them along with the prevailing winds. It's highly unlikely that this bird will ever make it back down to the southern oceans because of the effort it would take to fly against the prevailing winds and flap across the windless equatorial regions. Sadly our bird is almost certainly destined to remain a singleton in foreign climes, with only Gannets anything close to same size companions! So for now and perhaps for evermore its cruising free and single.
Tony Dixon, Owen Beaumont and Paul Coombes - for their suberb Black Browed Albatross images.
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