Black-browed Albatross

I just returned home from two fantastic weeks in the Falkland Islands. As many of you know my group and I visited Sea Lion, Bleaker and Saunders Island while we were there. One of my favorite birds to photograph is the Black-browed Albatross found on Saunders. They are beautiful birds that nest on cliff sides and construct their nests out of mud and grasses. These are large birds with wingspans of six feet or more yet they seem so graceful. They tend to their young meticulously; grooming them and nurturing them in such a gentle manner.

Image © 2018/Denise Ippolito Photography

These large seabirds come to land to breed, otherwise they will remain at sea. They mate for life and can continue to breed for up to 35 years, returning to the same nest site year after year. They lay one egg and it incubates for approximately 2 months. I spoke to an ornithologist on the island and he said that once the chick is 35 days old the parents will leave it to go to sea for up to 10 days. During this time the chick will stay on the nest (it is hot wired to stay on the nest and not leave or fall out) defending itself from predators by making air bites at anything flying over top or anyone or thing that gets too close to the nest.

The albatross also has a salt gland above the nasal passage which helps to remove salt from the ocean water that they take in. This gland excretes a saline solution through the bird’s nose. I spent some time photographing the solution as it dripped from the tip of the bill.

Image © 2018/Denise Ippolito Photography

I could watch these birds all day at their nesting sites. There is so much interaction going on and so much hustle and bustle yet there is a sense of peace within the colony. I smiled from ear to ear during my photography time there on Saunders, I can’t wait until I see these elegant birds again. About 75% of the world’s Black-browed Albatross population can be found in the Falklands and on the South Georgia islands.

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11 Responses

  1. Sharon Hallowell says:

    Such wonderful images…all of them! And I appreciated learning the anatomy lesson, too.

    Hi Sharon, thanks so much, I missed you 🙂

  2. Jim Fennessy says:

    Beautiful images Denise. The resting albatross has the classic seductive eye and style reminiscent of old time movie starlets from long ago. I have not yet processed any of my albatross images from this trip, and you have set the bar very high. This Falklands workshop was as good as it gets.

    Hi Jim, It was certainly a great trip and you added to that! Thanks again for everything.

  3. James Saxon says:

    Thanks for the narrative that accompanies the images. Love the images.

    Hi James, thank you kindly.

  4. Wonderful work, Denise. I see you have a body of work developing of birds at rest with their single eye open (thinking Cormant in Farnes and your first image here). Love the drip of salt water! Your timing is impeccable.

    Hi Carla,Thanks, I think because I love seeing that intimate moment. Miss you!

  5. pat lillich says:

    I never saw the saline solution dripping! fantastic photo – what a wonderful trip you created!

    Hi Pat, Thanks! Can’t wait to catch up and all!

  6. Liz Wroth says:

    You are about so much more than f-stops and ISO — the birds are compelling as they teach us about life and what’s important — Denise the image of the albatross chick being groomed is heart-tugging, thanks so much for sharing with us!!

    Hi Liz, you are so kind, ope to see you and Tom soon.

  7. Frank Sheets says:

    Great images all, but absolutely love the first one. Love the fall off of focus on the perimeter while the head and eye are tack. Wonderful portrait. Just a wonderful, wonderful image. Seen a lot of great images, but this one is top notch. Good on ya! Has the potential of a contest submittal.

    Hi Frank, I heard from Laurie the other day. So happy she is still photographing! Thank you for your more than kind words.
    Hugs to both, Denise

  8. Angela says:

    I always look forward to your images after your trips. I am enjoying Jim Fennessy’s as well! I ran into Jim before he left and could not wait to see what you both captured. Just Beautiful!

    Jim should be listed as a national treasure–everyone knows and likes him! Thank you kindly.

  9. Liz Lauer says:

    The Falkland Islands is one of my favorite places in the world and Denise, you were able to capture the magic with these images. If the trip were not so long, I would return in a heartbeat. Awesome!

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