lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

A is for Albatross #A-ZChallenge

Welcome to the first post on my A-Z Challenge, 2016!

Ed Dunens wandering albatross

This fabulous photo of a wandering albatross is by Ed Dunens on Flikr.

Wandering albatrosses are huge, they have the largest wingspan of any bird – reaching up to 3.5m, or 11 feet.

They use their wings as gliders, locking them into position at the shoulders – using specialist techniques to minimise their use of muscles and energy, they can glide for hours by staying on the wind and slowly decreasing in height, then turning into the wind, lifting above the waves again before gliding down and repeating. This is known as ‘dynamic soaring’ and uses little more energy than sitting on a nest.

Amazingly, wandering albatrosses have been recorded travelling about 1,000 km a day at an average speed of around 40kmph. They spend most of the time flying – occasionally, if there is not enough wind, they land on the surface of the water. Some do not land on actual land for 2 years at a time.

Squid, shoals of fish, and krill are scooped on the wing – but they can also dive below the surface to a depth of about 5m to catch prey.

Albatrosses are beautiful birds – spectacular birds – but 40,000 of them are being killed by illegal and unregulated fishing by people using up to 130km long lines with 10,000 baited hooks.

Albatrosses see the food, dive to catch it, and are caught – they cannot release themselves and drown. The WWF are experimenting with weighting hooks, so they drop invisibly below the surface, to see if this helps deter albatrosses and keeps more of them safe. If they aren’t killed prematurely, they can live up to 60 years.

Another huge problem is plastic waste. Along with many other marine animals, they mistake plastic rubbish for food and feed their chicks with it – many of you will have seen the agonisingly sad photos of dead chicks’ stomach contents. Below is a film of plastic collected in just one small area from the stomachs of dead chicks.

This is one area in which we can all help – disposing of rubbish very carefully indeed. Making sure no rubbish is left in bins in the street – taking it home and so it cannot blow away in the wind to be carried into watercourses that make their way to the sea.

Climate change is another way in which albatrosses are at risk – warming oceans mean fish that would normally be in one place move to cooler areas – where the albatrosses are not fishing. This is another to help – being as green and sustainable as possible!

131 species of albatross and petrel, 62% of the total number, have been classified by the IUCN Red List as Extinct, Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable or Near Threatened.

Here is my poem for the albatross.

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Albatross

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In a sky stretched tight

the albatross rides

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the rise and fall

of the breath of the tides

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its feathers glide air

on the shape of the breeze

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the spirit of flight

between skies and seas

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sea shoals sustain

where the albatross roams

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sunlight and starlight

and wind are its home.

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© Liz Brownlee

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If you have enjoyed this blog, do come back tomorrow for another animal and another poem, and consider blog hopping to another blog taking part in the A-Z Challenge 2016!

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Albatross information:

WWF 

Cool Antarctica

RSPB

Photo by Ed Dunens (Creative commons attribution licence.)

Poem copyright Liz Brownlee, not for copying.

 

51 Comments

  1. My first A to Z reply:) I had no idea that they could fly for up to 2 years before being on land. I also didn’t know how much plastic was found in their tummies…disgusting. I wishpeoplewould not be such pigs

    Like

    • I’m honoured, Birgit! They are truly amazing! Several people have been to the islands where they breed and taken photos of dead baby albatrosses in their nests – skeletons, surrounding a pile of bright plastic. Just terrible.

      Like

  2. Makes me think of the gorgeous song by Fleetwood Mac from the late 60’s, “Albatross.” It soars and glides along.

    Like

    • Hello, John! Thank you. It does, doesn’t it – I’d forgotten that, I’ll have to find it later!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. perfectly done!! Heard of Albatross in School and again now.

    Like

  4. ana salote

    Love first two stanzas. They stand alone as a mini poem.

    Like

  5. Great to meet another Brit taking part in the Challenge 🙂 I’m sure I’ve shared some of your poems with children I’ve taught as your name seems very familiar! Look forward to reading more throughout the Challenge- Pempi – Stormy’s Sidekick
    Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

    Like

  6. Lovely to meet another Brit taking part in the Challenge 🙂 I’m sure I’ve shared your poetry with children in my classes as your name seems very familiar! Look forward to reading more throughout the Challenge. Pempi – Stormy’s Sidekick
    Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

    Like

    • Hello Pempi, nice to meet you! I’ll be along later to have a look at yours – I’m going out for the first part of the day, unusually. I am in a lot of children’s anthologies – about 70 I think now, so it is very possible!

      Like

  7. Lovely poem with lovely words – and one of my most favourite pieces of music is Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’

    Like

    • Hello, Eunice, thank you! I’m back for a bit before going out again, i’m afraid it’ll be later before I can get to visit all these exciting new blogs!

      Like

  8. Super start to your A-Z challenge!

    Like

  9. Great post, Liz. I loved your poem and I’m looking forward to the next one already. Fortunately the letter A of my ‘wildlife encounters’ theme isn’t an albatross. Although I’ll be interested to see if any of our animals match over the coming days.

    Like

    • Oooh, how exciting, you never know! Thank you. Although I do tend to go for the more unusual creatures…

      Like

  10. A valuable message, and a lovely poem. I remember well your A to Z contributions from last year, and look forward to the rest of this month! 🙂

    Like

  11. Very Nice Post… I am the AtoZ police [sort of] making sure you are still participating, if you are not let me know…

    Welcome in the letter “A”… thank you!
    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2016]

    Stop over and find a free “SIX STRINGS: BLOGGING AtoZ CHALLENGE” Here: http://www.jmhdigital.com/

    HOLLYWOOD NUTS!
    You know you want to know if me or Hollywood… is Nuts?

    Like

    • Hello, Jeremy! Thank you! My brother is called Jeremy… and my son is called Jem, so already VERY disposed to like you! I will indeed let you know if disaster strikes, but I’ve been doing it for 5 years so know the drill!

      Like

  12. Your poems are always so lovely and pack so much into few words.

    Like

  13. Excellent post, Liz. Thanks for popping into to mine…..Your post reminded me instantly of the ‘Ancient Mariner’…..
    Love your poem…..
    Making a note of your ‘spot’. Might well keep in touch. Hugs1

    Like

  14. I loved your series last year and am back for more. Wonderful facts about the Albatross and your poem brought it to life. Hard to choose a favorite line, but among them would be…heck, I can’t choose. Thinking I must invite a poet friend of mine to drop by here soon. Happy A to Z. See you out there.

    Like

    • Hello, Antonia – I’m so pleased you like the poem, thank you. I can’t find your A post on your blog, is it just not up yet? Yesterday’s is there!

      Like

  15. What a lovely bird and poem too. You’re quite talented.

    Like

  16. rosie49

    A very compelling post — thank you. Would you allow me to reblog it on my WordPress site?

    Like

    • Hi Rosie, thank you, but the poem is copyright and cannot be reblogged as I need to keep control of where it is – after this month it will be removed and edited for publication, so, no, sorry!

      Like

      • rosie49

        Thank you, Liz for the speedy reply. I had that same thought. I had just posted about the problem of plastics in our oceans and local waterways and that BBC video left me awestruck. Your concluding poem is beautiful.

        Like

      • Thank you! The BBC video is on Youtube and you can easily post it by clicking on it and then clicking on the Youtube bottom right hand corner – that will take you to Youtube and you can press ‘share’ and get the address to embed it. The more who see it the better!

        Liked by 1 person

  17. A beautiful post! Will have to keep coming back for more.

    Like

    • I’ve followed you, Durbad, so I can hear more tale of India!

      Like

  18. I am so glad that I found your blog on the A to Z again. I will bookmark it so that I can see each post! I love the albatross and didn’t realize how big their wingspan was!

    @AllysePanaro from
    The Frog Lady

    Like

    • Hey there, frog lady! I subscribe to your blog, will be round on the A-z later!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I already am subscribed to your blog as well, but I tend to forget to look at the feed during A to Z time and then look back and see all the awesome posts I missed :/

        Like

      • 🙂 Me, too!

        Liked by 1 person

  19. This is so freaking heartbreaking, but your poem is lovely. Lots of amazing facts that I might never have known. Great post 👍

    Like

    • Thank you, Steph! It is heartbreaking. All those poor sea creatures swimming in seas polluted by us, and then also chased and killed.

      Like

  20. Lovely poem and a great write..thank you. We humans have a lot of guilt on our conscience.

    Like

    • We do! Thank you! And thank you for following.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Welcome Liz. Do let me know of what you think of my efforts at writing:-)

        Like

      • Hello, Adhyapika, I’ve been to see you!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Liz 🙂

        Like

  21. The video was sad and thought-provoking. Thank you for bringing about awareness with your blog.

    Like

    • Thank you for reading, Jenny. It’s a terrible thing, plastic.

      Like

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