Light-mantled Sooty Albatross

  • Dewi Edwards
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7 years 10 months ago #15544 by Dewi Edwards
Dewi Edwards created the topic: Light-mantled Sooty Albatross
After reading Helm’s trip report to Antarctica and South Georgia I thought it was about time that I posted something from the time I spent there. Helm’s excitement at seeing Light-mantled Sooty Albatross reminded me of the times I spent watching these enigmatic birds, so thought I’d start with this species.



The eerie, haunting call of a Light-mantled Sooty Albatross must surely be one of the most evocative sounds in the natural world. To sit on a mist-shrouded cliff top and hear the plaintive, long drawn out Pree-oowww echoing in the gullies below sends a shiver down ones spine.

On clearer days, you can sit and watch these birds in an aerial ballet in which a pair will fly together along the cliff tops, mirroring each others movements with a grace and precision which is simply breathtaking.

I’ve been lucky enough to spend 5 seasons working on South Georgia where I had the opportunity to spend some time observing these birds.

The adults generally arrive back on their breeding grounds in mid-October. Previously paired birds await the arrival of their mates, whilst younger birds search out partners of their own by displaying.

Returning Bird.


Searching for nesting ledges.






Males generally arrive first and patrol the cliffs looking for suitable nesting ledges. Once selected, he lands and begins to attract a mate by Sky-calling. When the other partner returns, or a new one is found, both birds take to the wing and start their twinning display. Younger birds need a lot of practice and it is obvious to see which birds have been together before as their flights are perfectly synchronised, whilst the younger birds are almost clumsy in comparison. Sometimes a third or fourth bird will join in these flights.

Sky Calling.


Start of display by single bird.


Synchronised Twinning display.




Youngsters practicing.


Ledge displays are also performed, where pairs will sky-call, bill point and tail twist to each-other in a ritualistic manner.

Head bow


Bill Thrusting.


Head Bow and Sky call display.




The single egg is laid at the end of October or first week of November and both birds take turns with incubation, which lasts approximately 70 days. The egg hatches out during the last week of December or first week of January and is not left on it’s own until three weeks have elapsed. After this period, both the adults go out to sea in search of food and return approximately every two days to feed the chick. Their diet consists of Squid, Crustaceans, Fish and Carrion.

Nest building.


Newly laid egg.


Incubation.


Recently hatched chick.


Older chick.


Starting to loose the white below the eyes.


Almost fledged.


Fledging takes around 140 days after hatching and the juveniles will spend on average 7 years out to sea before returning to their natal areas to breed.



Hopefully this report will have some of you looking to book a berth on the first available ship heading South!

Cheers,

Dewi.

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  • peter sharland
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7 years 10 months ago #15579 by peter sharland
peter sharland replied the topic: Re: Light-mantled Sooty Albatross
Awesome, Dewi.
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Thanks for sharing.

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  • gordon
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7 years 10 months ago #15581 by gordon
gordon replied the topic: Re: Light-mantled Sooty Albatross

peter sharland wrote: Awesome, Dewi.
<!-- s:hypnodisk: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/hypnodisk.gif" alt=":hypnodisk:" title="Hypnotised" /><!-- s:hypnodisk: -->


Thanks for sharing.


Awesome experience!!! <!-- s:yes: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/yes.gif" alt=":yes:" title="Yes" /><!-- s:yes: -->

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  • wernher
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7 years 10 months ago #15589 by wernher
wernher replied the topic: Re: Light-mantled Sooty Albatross
Superb photos and report!

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  • Doug
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7 years 10 months ago #15590 by Doug
Doug replied the topic: Re: Light-mantled Sooty Albatross
I have to get to Antarctica somehow! Stunning.

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7 years 10 months ago #15607 by Vocifer
Vocifer replied the topic: Re: Light-mantled Sooty Albatross
Superb series of photos!

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7 years 10 months ago #15627 by NickyO
NickyO replied the topic: Re: Light-mantled Sooty Albatross
Fantastic post, thanks for sharing with us mortals Dewi!

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  • Dewi Edwards
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7 years 10 months ago #15707 by Dewi Edwards
Dewi Edwards replied the topic: Re: Light-mantled Sooty Albatross
Thanks for the comments, glad you enjoyed the report. Wanderers next maybe?

Nicky, I'm just a mere mortal as well, a very lucky one though! :D I'd give anything to be birding in SA right now, anyone fancy swapping for a few months/permanently?

Cheers,

Dewi.

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