The Black-browed Albatross, Albie, at RSPB Bempton Cliffs

Anyone headed for RSPB Bempton Cliffs this summer?

Thought to be the only albatross of its kind in the Northern Hemisphere Albie, a very lonely Black-Browed Albatross, has returned to RSPB Bempton Cliffs.

This magnificent long-distance traveller from the south Atlantic, with a wingspan of over 2.4m, has been living in the Baltic Seas around Denmark and Germany since 2014 after being blown off course from the South Atlantic oceans. It has remained in the Baltic area ever since, making occasional forays across the North Sea to RSPB Bempton Cliffs, near Flamborough, East Yorkshire, where it was first spotted in the summer of 2017. Nobody really knows why it travels across to Bempton Cliffs but it makes it very special for UK birdwatchers as albatrosses would normally never be seen here!

Albie disappeared after the summer in 2017 but reappeared at Bempton in the summers of 2020 and 2021. However, this year Albie turned up again at Bempton really early in the spring and is still there now as we go into August!

Albatrosses rarely flap their wings, relying on aerodynamic glider-like wings to carry them along with prevailing winds. It’s highly unlikely that this bird will ever make it back to the southern oceans because of the effort it would take to fly against prevailing winds and flap across windless equatorial regions. Sadly, Albie is almost certainly destined to remain single in a foreign place with only Gannets (almost his size!) as companions! RSPB Bempton Cliffs isn’t a bad place to visit and hang out with one’s “Gannety” chums!

Thought to be at least 10 years old, Albie has ranged from the cliffs at Bempton to Flamborough lighthouse. It is certainly a bird worth seeing if you can.

Black-browed albatross