Al B. Tross Is Back Despite Injured Leg – the Wait Is Over
Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Al B. Tross Is Back Despite Injured Leg - the Wait OverHe’s simply known on California’s Mendocino Coast as Al B. Tross — “Al” for short. And he’s back at Point Arena Cove for the 14th straight year.

Mendocino Coast Birder Bob Keiffer sent this email alert Monday evening and other local birders confirmed Al’s arrival Tuesday morning. Said Keiffer: “The bird apparently flew in yesterday evening (apparently near dusk) and was confirmed this morning as it was still there resting. I will check my records and update this message tomorrow about historical arrival and departure dates….but I believe that this will be the 14th (documented) consecutive winter period that the albatross has used Pt. Arena Cove as it’s resting refuge. The condition of the injured leg (from last season) is not known at this time.”

A Laysan Albatross, Al usually arrives in late November or early December near the pier at Point Arena Cove and stays for several months.

What makes Al unusual is that he is the only albatross anyone has seen on the West Coast. These large seabirds breed on islands in the mid-Pacific, especially islands in the Hawaiian chain. Intrepid birdwatchers who venture out in large fast boats occasionally see them in the ocean waters of the North Pacific and the Gulf of Alaska. But seeing Al in Point Arena is a huge event for mainland U.S. birders lucky enough to spot him on Mendocino County’s south coast.

The Laysan Albatross is a little more than two feet in length with a wingspan of over six feet. It has black wings and tail, a white head and body, pink legs and webbed feet. There is a soft gray and black patch around and under its eyes. It has a large gray to yellow-orange bill with a black hooked tip. Males and females look alike.

Al was first discovered on Nov 30, 1994 by a visiting birder. He left the sheltered waters of Point Arena Cove on March 18 of the next year. Then, to everyone’s surprise, he returned in the fall of 1996. County birders have recorded the bird’s arrival and departure dates since that memorable first encounter. Al typically arrives around Thanksgiving and leaves by the end of March. This will be his, or her, 14th consecutive winter vacation in Mendocino County.

He is often seen or photographed quite easily from the public pier. When storm winds blow from the south, he seeks refuge in more protected locations out of the public view.

2 Responses

  1. Johanna Jensen says:

    I am sorry to say the report of “AL”s return appears to be based upon fiction. The person making the report says his contact at Point Arena got his information about the arrival from two other locals. His contact genuinely believed the story as true and reported it to him. He let the world know about the supposed arrival because it seemed genuine and timely. To his dismay, he later received a message from the same contact person saying he could not verify the story in talking to the local Harbormaster and other Pt. Arena Cove locals ….and he had not seen the bird either. So far, no one can verify the arrival story. He feels badly about the false report as he knows there’s nationwide interest in this bird. Let’s hope that the bird does, in fact, return for the fifteenth winter.

  2. Johanna Jensen says:

    8 December 2007 – Hooray! AL, the local winter visiting Laysan Albatross is, in fact, back. The latest news from a reliable source says it was reported to him by two independent observers that at 2:45 pm someone saw him fly in and land at the wharf. At 4:30 pm one of his tried-and-true observers verified it was just riding in the water and preening.

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