Warnbro Wanderer

by Marg Larner


Marg Larner and the Wandering Albatross
Marg Larner and the Wandering Albatross





The albatross has just been hosed down to protect his feathers against oils from the carers hands

The albatross has just been hosed down to protect his feathers

against oils from the carers hands




Albatross in the transport bat, about to be taken to the release site
Albatross in the transport bag, about to be taken to the release site




Flying back home
Flying back home




Sitting pretty
Sitting pretty......




Stretching his loooong wings
Stretching his loooong wings


WA Seabird Rescue, a wildlife group in Western Australia, received a call to retrieve a large seabird which had washed ashore at Warnbro, which is 50km's south of Perth, between Rockingham and Mandurah. The reasons for his rescue were due to exhaustion, most probably as a result of the aftermath of cyclone Darryl.


Volunteer Marg Larner discovered a very large, exhausted seabird wearing a band from the University of Capetown, some 6,000 kilometres across the Indian Ocean.


Marg's search of the Australian Museum's website and a phone call to the National Banding Centre in Canberra confirmed the bird as a juvenile Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans).


The Wandering Albatross has the largest wingspan of any bird, measuring almost 3.5 metres and a body length up to 1.35 metres.


The Wandering Albatross has a long hooked bill, large webbed feet, with a weight range of between 8 - 12kg. These birds can sometimes spend several months in the air without ever touching land. Their preferred food is squid and fish, however they are often seen scavenging scraps from fishing boats.


Pairs mate for life and breed every two years, usually on subantarctic islands in early November. The nest is a mound of mud and vegetation on an exposed ridge near the sea. The single egg hatches after two months and the chick remains in the nest for around 9 months. Parents will take turns to sit on the nest while the chick is young and return with food. Later, both adults hunt for food and visit the chick at irregular intervals.


"It is extremely rewarding and a real privilege to be called to a rescue and discover a magnificent seabird such as this" Marg said.


"Our visitor is in good health and WA Seabird Rescue volunteers are hand feeding her twice daily."


Volunteers from the Mandurah Water Rescue Group took Marg out to sea recently to release the Wandering Albatross (pictured).


The Albatross' Care - written by Marg Larner.


After receiving a call about a large sea bird needing to be rescued, this majestic bird was found on the beach sitting quietly amongst seaweed heaps. It was just looking around, not at all distressed.


After getting the bird home I was able to properly investigate him and noticed that he was dehydrated. Rehydration was given via Spark, an electrolyte fluid often used for sea birds.


Once the bird was settled, he was fed pilchards, octopus and squid cut in thin slices. Sea tabs were added to his meal, which replace the vitamins lost in the freezing process of fish. It took 2 people to feed him but he didn't struggle, although he was placed securely in a canvas sling to protect his feathers from our hands and to reduce oil contamination.


Care was taken to avoid his trachea while feeding, which was huge and easily visible once bill was opened wide. If you don't open the bill wide it would be very easy to put the fish down his airway - not good!!


A saltwater pool was in his holding area. He was hosed down daily to encourage preening and to maintain water proofing.


When the albatross came into care he weighed only 7.5kg. His weight was 8kg on release. He was in care for a total of 5 days.


Mandurah Sea Rescue team, in their magnificent new rescue boat, helped me release the albatross out to sea. After returning to the water, the albatross floated and preened - really good signs of a healthy bird. We left him flapping his wings and lifting off the water, amongst a flock of shearwaters.....


What a wonderful experience to be able to care for - and successfully release - such a magnificent bird.


Some interesting information on Marg's albatross


4the albatross had been banded on Marion Island, in the South Indian Ocean, South Africa


4Marion Island is part of the Prince Edward Group of Islands, 1800 kms South East of Cape Town.


4the albatross was banded by the South African Bird Ringing Unit on the 9th of September 2005;

4it had been banded as a nestling;

4in four months and twenty-three days the bird had flown 6590km's;


4after rehabilitation the albatross was released approximately 20 nautical miles off Mandurah.


Where do you think he'll turn up next?


this information is from the Department of Environment and Heritage -
Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme.

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