Thursday, July 05, 2007

Lost bird on the wrong side of the equator

An albatross native to Brazil and Australia has made an emergency stop at a Somerset holiday camp after being blown off course.The exhausted bird was found parked on the driveway by shocked owners Hugh and Pauline Harris, reports The Sun.It is the first time an endangered yellow-nosed albatross has been spotted in the UK.Hugh, 76, from Brean Sands, said: "It was just squatted down - I think it was tired, absolutely worn out. So I just threw a big towel to catch it. He caught hold of my arm but he was too tired to struggle."The couple took the albatross to the Secret World Wildlife Sanctuary at nearby Highbridge where amazed staff identified it.The bird - usually found in the southern hemisphere off countries like Argentina and South Africa - has only ever been seen once before in Europe, in Norway last year.Sanctuary boss Pauline Kidner said: "When we saw its wingspan was more than two metres we appreciated we were looking at something very unusual."It hadn't eaten but was in good condition so we decided the best thing was to release it as soon as possible."Within 24 hours it was freed from a Somerset cliff top by Pauline's son Simon.The RSPB's Peter Exley said: "It must have got the wrong side of the equator, got caught in prevailing northerly winds and kept on flying."It's once in a lifetime albatrosses land in Britain and unique for this species." -

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