The albatross is one of the most wonderful flying sights you can see while traveling the world under sail. For most of my life, I have read about them in many sailing books. They are much larger than the normal sea birds, with enormous wing spans. In fact, the largest albatross have the largest wing span of any birds now alive. Their wings are very distinct with sharp edges and the birds have amazing control over the surfaces. Albatross are known for staying with boats at sea often for many days at a time.
Although I have sailed for many years, my travels had mostly been in the north Atlantic. However, Albatross have been extinct in those waters for many years.
When we got within two days of New Zealand, we were suddenly visited by albatross. I was really excited and amazed by these beautiful birds. They were much larger than any sea bird we have seen to date. They seemed to take a delight in swooping down as low as possible – sometimes completely disappearing by the waves we were gliding through. Their ability to glide without pumping their wings was astonishing. I took many photos. Here is a sample of them flying behind and around us.
First one, and then a second bird joined us. True to their reputation, we had two birds follow Tahina for two days until we were actually quite close to the islands of New Zealand. Sometimes they would fly ahead of us and then land in the water, wait for us to catch up, and then take to flying again. They were entertaining to watch, and photograph. It was a real honor to have such beautiful escorts!
It just occurred to me, it is kind of ironic that I’m giving thanks for having been able to see birds – on Thanksgiving Day! Guess I had birds on my mind…