Learn to love our very own al­ba­tross

Bird Watching (UK) - - Meet The Family -

Ful­mars get a raw deal. Ca­sual bird­watch­ers and non-bird­ers are prone to over­look­ing them on ac­count of their gull-like colour­ing, and even those who do know them for what they are spend too much time talk­ing about their habit of vom­it­ing a foul-smelling stom­ach oil on any­one who gets too close to their nests, rather than ap­pre­ci­at­ing their stiff-winged glid­ing el­e­gance. But they’re mem­bers of the fam­ily Pro­cel­lari­idae (the pe­trels and shear­wa­ters), of the or­der Pro­cel­lari­iformes, which also in­cludes storm-pe­trels, div­ing pe­trels, and those renowned wan­der­ers of the south­ern oceans, the al­ba­trosses. Take a good look and it’s not dif­fi­cult to see the re­sem­blance be­tween them, both in plumage and in the ‘tubenoses’ that help them smell both food and nest­ing sites even when far out at sea, as well as in that stiff-winged fly­ing style we have men­tioned. But, while the ap­pear­ance of an ac­tual al­ba­tross, such as the Black-browed that showed up along the East Coast this spring, cre­ates huge ex­cite­ment among bird­ers, Ful­mars of­fer the rest of us the chance to get a scaled­down but still im­pres­sive al­ba­tross fix from the com­fort of a Bri­tish sea­side re­sort.

HOL­I­DAY TICK Ful­mars are a com­mon sight at Bri­tish sea­side re­sorts OCEAN WAN­DERER A Laysan Al­ba­tross, in Hawaii – like all al­ba­trosses, they range far and wide at sea

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