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1491albatross in Santa Rosa County

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  • swanny15116
    Jul 3, 2003
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      I know most people will discount this observation but I observed an
      unidentified species of albatross at the milton regional airport and
      wrights basin in Santa Rosa county on the evening of July 2. I am
      hoping that someone else in the western panhandle saw this bird as
      well.

      The bird was unmistakable as an albatross species. I would have not
      mistaken this bird for something else. I have previously seen
      hundreds of gannets, thousands and thousands of gulls, frigatebirds,
      and shearwaters but this bird's wingspan was over 6ft in length. It
      circled around the airport at a height of 80 to 120 ft so
      characteristics such as its heavy and dark tubenose could be seen
      with the naked eye (although I did watch the bird with binoculars
      for several minutes). The bird's back and upper wings were black,
      nearly as dark as a greater black backed gull. The underside of the
      wings were white except for the black outline on the leading and
      following edges. The tail was white except for a terminal black
      band that appeared more dark gray compared to the upper body black
      coloration. The most surprising feature was its black bill which I
      would have expected to be yellow or pail for an apparrent adult -
      non sooty - albatross. Its face was entirely white so there was no
      eye stripe or black smudge characteristic of a species such as
      Laysan Albatross

      I have no way of identifying this individual to species. The bird
      flew over to wright's basin near Milton. This body of water is
      surrounded by private property so I lost it.

      I am relatively new to the area and do not know any local birders to
      call that could verify the species. I also don't know the state
      occurrence of Albatrosses but I am guessing this could be a first
      record, particularly for the Western Panhandle. My other guess is
      this bird fell out of Tropical Storm Bill. I will have to
      investigate where that storm was formed because to my knowledge all
      albatross species are pacific ocean endemics.