Visitors to RSPB Bempton Cliffs yesterday morning were greeted with the most amazing sight when an albatross - normally found in the Southern Hemisphere - soared passed the East Yorkshire coast.
Astonished birders crowded onto Grandstand viewpoint at the nature reserve as a black-browed albatross came into view, after first being spotted over Filey Brigg. Photographers snapped frantically and gasps of amazement went up as visitors realised what they were seeing.
Keith Clarkson, site manager at Bempton cliffs, said: "In terms of rare sightings, this is right up there - the albatross is the seabird you dream of seeing. To witness it sweep beneath our Grandstand viewpoint was extraordinary, just extraordinary."
David Aitken, warden at the nature reserve, added: "It's the Holy Grail of seabirds - and it's here."
It is not clear how the bird ended up on the East Yorkshire coast, but the belief is this was a young bird still honing its navigations skills and it somehow took a 180 degree turn in the wrong direction.
The black-browed albatross is an endangered species and numbers have been in decline due, it is thought, to deaths from long-line and trawl fishing. It looks spectacular in flight with a wingspan of 210-250cm and a graceful gliding movement.
The RSPB runs a Save the Albatross taskforce which aims to reverse the fortunes of this majestic seabird. You can find out more at www.rspb.org.uk/joinandhelp/donations/campaigns/albatross
A number of birding enthusiasts were already at Bempton Cliffs to see another rarity: the eastern crowned warbler that had also been spotted on the reserve - a first for Yorkshire and only the fourth for Britain.
For more information about RSPB Bempton Cliffs, visit rspb.org.uk/bemptoncliffs or like the Facebook page: RSPB North Yorks & East Riding.