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© RSPB
Black-browed albatross by Ruedi Abbuehl
For golfers, an albatross is achieving an impressive three under par, but for wildlife lovers it is one of the rarest sights in birdwatching.

Little wonder that birdwatchers were celebrating when an incredibly rare black-browed albatross touched down for a few moments on Sunday afternoon at the Suffolk nature sanctuary where the BBC records the popular wildlife show.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds' Minsmere reserve is known as one of the best places in Britain to see rare creatures but the albatross's brief visit has left conservationists nonplussed.

By rights, black-browed albatrosses are birds of the South Atlantic and there are only a handful of records of them wandering north of the Equator into British waters.

According to reports from the BirdGuides information service, the albatross was spotted sitting on a pool close to the reserve's South Hide before flying off with its powerful, eight-foot wing span towards the North Sea.

Minsmere has been the home of Springwatch for the last two years as it has one of the richest varieties of wildlife anywhere in Britain.

On a spring day, it is possible to see more than 100 species of bird, including rare avocets, marsh harriers and bitterns, but none as legendary as the albatross.

Ironically, the RSPB has been heavily involved in conservation work to save the albatrosses, particularly at its nesting grounds on the Falklands.

Prince Charles also became a champion for the bird when their numbers went into dramatic decline because they were ending up on the hooks of massive fishing ships patrolling the South Atlantic for squid and Patagonian tooth fish.

One of the Prince's famous "spider" letters to ministers was about the impact of catching toothfish in large numbers.

Distribution map for Black-browed Albatross

Distribution map for Black-browed Albatross (Thalassarche melanophris)