“At length did cross an albatross, Through the fog it came; As if had been a Christian soul, We hailed it in God’s name” (16)
A few words from the Ancient Mariner kind of summed up the experience of seeing a Black-browed Albatross sweeping across the cliffs at RSPB Bempton Cliffs in Yorkshire on the 30th June 2021. I could hardly believe my eyes. Having seen hundreds in the southern oceans on my Antarctica trip back in 2019, there’s something quite magical in seeing one in the UK. Somehow at the time it seemed simply surreal and to get some nice photos of it, was an additional bonus.
The albatross is a southern seabird that has been caught, studied, feared and revered in mythology since before recorded history, centuries before the threat of its extinction gave rise to the international battle to conserve this majestic creature.
They are an iconic species, very large, long-winged seabirds predominantly found in the southern oceans, apart from 3 species that breed in the North Pacific. A total of 24 species altogether, with two having been seen in British waters, the Black-browed Albatross and the Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross. It is the Black-browed Albatross that has been seen with the most regularity around the British coast.