Black-Browed Albatross Bird – Britain’s Rarest of All

Black-Browed Albatross

The black-browed albatross occasionally gets marooned in Britain, one attracting Ilirdtcatchers to the Scottish islands for over 20 years.

If we take numbers of resident individuals as our sole criterion then Britain’s rarest species must be the black-browed albatross (Diomedea melanophris), a single specimen of which many birdwatchers have travelled to see every year since it joined gannetries at the Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth in 1967, later transferring to Hermaness, Shetland. There are over 20 records of the black-browed albatross species in Britain, but so far this lonely individual has failed to attract a mate, and it is hardly likely to do so.

Bird Facts and Information

Albatross Bird Habitat

This species behaves like the wandering albatross and after breeding in the Sub-Antarctic migrates north in winter. Some- times it reaches the northern hemisphere and can become marooned.

Diomedea melanophris

With its 229 cm (90 in) wingspan and 81—86 cm (32—34 in) length, this great bird, resembling an exceptionally large and stiff-winged great black-backed gull, is hardly likely to go unnoticed, though immatures are difficult to distinguish from immature grey-headed albatrosses. But it is the only albatross which occurs with any frequency in north-western Europe, mainly off Britain and Ireland.

Albatrosses are the world’s greatest gliders, depending on air currents for sustained flight. The region of very light winds and calms near the Equator, sometimes called the doldrums, more or less confines albatrosses to the southern hemisphere, but occasionally birds are carried over this invisible barrier on freak winds, when they end up stranded and have little hope of getting back to familiar haunts.

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