A rare Indian Ocean yellow-nosed mollymawk may have been blown 8000km off course before landing on Northland's west coast, but, despite the best efforts of the Whangārei Native Bird Recovery Centre, the bird could not be saved.
However, despite the sadness from the centre at the bird's death, its rarity means it will like end up in Te Papa's bird collection.
Centre manager Robert Webb said the yellow-nosed mollymawk was the smallest of the albatross species and this bird, believed to be male, was found standing on Ninety Mile Beach on Monday. It was taken to the centre by the Department of Conservation and immediately given antibiotics.
''He must have been blown off course by those strong winds we had last week. He looked okay and on Tuesday he started feeding - really gutsing it down as they do - and we were hoping he'd pull though and we could release him back into the wild,'' Webb said.
''His droppings all looked normal and everything seemed fine, and he didn't appear to be having any problems.''
But, on Thursday, not long after the Northern Advocate took photographs of the bird, it died.
''While it still looked okay. it must have picked up an infection, sadly. It was such as shame as it's the best thing when we can nurse them back to health and release them. Just not this time.''
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The bird's death won't be in vain though.
"Somehow Te Papa heard we had it and got in touch earlier in the week, and as it's so rare they asked, if it did die, could they have it to add to their collection. It's so rare to see them here and it's the first one I've ever seen,'' Webb said.
■ The Indian Ocean yellow-nosed mollymawk is one of the most endangered albatross species due to the number of birds caught and drowned on hooks set in commercial longline fisheries, globally. It has an estimated global population of 41,580 pairs, equating to perhaps more than 160,000 individuals in all age classes.
One or two pairs breed in the New Zealand region, at The Pyramid in the Chatham Islands. Solitary or gregarious at sea in the Indian Ocean, they follow fishing vessels in large numbers to scavenge discarded fish offal, and feed on fish, squid and crustaceans.
Outside the breeding season most birds disperse to seas off southern Africa and Australia.
It has a small head, slender neck and body, and a long slender black bill with a thin bright yellow stripe along the top, grading to pinkish-red at the tip. The back, upper wings and tail are dark grey, and the head, neck, underparts, underwings and rump are white.
The facial markings and black-brown iris give adult birds a "severe" look. The underwings are tipped with black and have a narrow black margin at the leading edge. The legs are pale blue-grey and the feet have pinkish webs.
Indian Ocean yellow-nosed mollymawks feed on fish and squid, and less frequently on crustaceans.