Sunday, November 1, 2015

Yellow-Nosed Albatross - Thalassarche chlororhynchos (22Feb2014)

I figured I would start my new Blog with my best bird so far.  Back in February 2014, I celebrated my 38th birthday with a pelagic trip out of Hatteras on the Outerbanks of North Carolina.  This Yellow-nosed Albatross was the best gift I could ask for.
The Yellow-nosed Albatross belongs to the Genus Thalassarche which has a common name of Mollymawk.  Mollymawk comes from the Dutch mallemok which means mal - foolish and mok - gull.  This is consistent with the nick name of Goony Bird which probably comes from the awkward way this genus appears on land.


This particular bird was a ball of laughs and lived up to his Dutch name.  As soon as he showed up, the whole boat was instantly in a good mood, laughing and slapping each other on our backs.  There are some scientists that believe there is two species of Yellow-nosed Albatross, one called the Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross and one called the Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross.  Most likely this is an Atlantic bird although Albatrosses can fly pretty much anywhere and routinely do.

To get an idea of size, those are immature Great Black-backed Gulls on either side.  Great Black-backed Gulls are the largest gull species in the world.

The Atlantic species/sub-species nest on Gough Island and some other near by islands in the middle of the Atlantic roughly half way between Cape Town South Africa and Argentina.

Albatrosses on the whole not doing very well due to Long-lining practices.  Some old estimates put this species to only 50k pairs world wide.

In order to take off, Albatrosses need to get a running start.

This sighting was only the 4th record in North Carolina, so I counted myself lucky.  Usually good pelagic birds fly by quickly but this bird stuck around following the boat and interacting with the other birds around.  I could not believe that we actually left this bird behind to go back in.  I could have stayed until dark.

I can't wait to meet some of the other Goony Birds.

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