Black-browed Albatross – Falkland Islands, 2016

We spent a full day around this huge colony of Black-browed Albatross on Steeple Jason on the Falkland Islands. The colony stretches for 5 kilometers along the coast and is some 200m wide. It contains about 100,000 breeding pairs. We got to see the full spectrum of their behaviour. Adult birds wheeled around the colony in their hundreds. Adults were displaying to strength their bonds. Some sat on nests with intact eggs whilst others gently moved eggs with holes in them as the chicks made their bid for freedom and the world at large. Chicks were being groomed and fed. Altogether a wonderful way to spend a day.

Although considered to be a small Albatross, Black-browed albatross still weigh in at an impressive 3-4.5 kg and have a wingspan of up to 2.5m. These are gregarious birds that form long-lasting pair-bonds. They use loud braying sounds during courtship. The nest is a pillar up to 50cm high with a central depression and made up of mud, guano, grasses ans seaweed. It is re-used annually. A single white egg is laid in early October. By early April, most juveniles will have left the nests by early April. We visited the colony in December 2016.

From a conservation point of view the Black-browed Albatross is considered to be endangered. Numbers on the Falkland Islands have fallen in recent times. It may well be the most threatened of all the Albatrosses as a consequence of  over-fishing and long-line fishing.