An albatross often symbolises something of a curse but for two Penryn students who unexpectedly spotted the majestic creature flying above Lizard Point it proved to be their lucky day.

Toby Phelps, 20, and 21-year-old Matthew Doyle, both third-year zoology students at the Penryn Campus of the University of Exeter, travelled to the Lizard National Trust wildlife watch point to watch the seabirds.

While they may have been hoping to spot a Cornish chough or two, what they didn't bargain for was catching sight of a mighty albatross.

The large seabird, which can have a wingspan reaching up to 12 feet, is most commonly found in Antarctica, Australia, South Africa and South America.

Despite admitting that he came over "shaky" at the rare sighting, Toby still managed to capture a photo or two, showing the underside of the bird's wing displaying the distinctive dark border seen on an albatross.

A video of the albatross by Toby Phelps

Describing the moment he realised it was an albatross, Toby said: "It was staying quite low to the water and then it sort of arced up high. I could see how huge it was and I knew instantly.

"I started to panic and get all shaky. I knew what it was but it didn't make sense."

Already a keen bird watcher, he added that his love of wildlife made seeing such a bird in person "even more special."

Quite how is came to be so far north remains something of a mystery, but Toby believes it may have been so close to the coastline because of last week's stormy weather.

"It was very unsettled and I don't know if that's had anything to do with maybe bringing it in or keeping it closer to land. It's anyone's guess what it's doing in this part of the world, when it should be in the southern hemisphere," he said.

Falmouth Packet:

Toby Phelps and Matthew Doyle, who spotted the bird

"The whole experience just felt unbelievable; we were in total disbelief. It was just incredible we were able to witness that moment."

After word got out about the albatross being in the area other birdwatching fans flocked to The Lizard on Saturday, when it is understood there were more successful sightings, although none on Sunday.

The albatross is perhaps most famous for being both a symbolic and literal weight around the neck of the 'mariner' in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, after the bird is shot and a curse appears to then fall on the ship.

Happily, the only shooting of this albatross was done on camera.