Posts Tagged ‘Layson albatross on Kauai’

Aloha, Kauai – Hello Winter

February 21, 2018

In the words of Nelly Furtado:

Flames to dust
Lovers to friends
Why do all good things come to an end?

Alas, the sun is setting on our 10-day trip to Kauai. I try to stave off the melancholy that worms its way into my consciousness toward the end of our trip. As a culminating celebration on the evening of our last full day, the five of us – David and I, Steph and Vic, and my brother Eric – always go out to dinner at the Baracuda in Hanalei. My brother Eric sits on the end of the table, to my left, and I turn to him. “Do it, Eric …”

Eric knows. It’s become a yearly ritual – his duty to cheer me up with his “My heart beats for you” routine:

There. You’re feeling better now too, aren’t you? So sad to leave Kauai.

Okay. I’ll do it. I’ll share a few last photos before we head to the airport.

A last Kauai sunrise:

And Steph and Vic’s bird feeder – which not only attracts hoards of birds, but Nene geese and an egret as well:

One Layson albatross hung out about every day behind Steph and Vic’s house, as if waiting for the swoop of an interested suitor, making the mating noises with the clapping of its beak, and the whining – one day another albatross swooped in several times and then landed and they danced together.

Often though, this albatross would wait there patiently, occasionally flap its wings and finally fly off.

The Albatross is a totally different bird in flight:

Layson Albatross in flight above Larsen’s Beach

Our last day, Saturday, Jan 27, Eric, David and I climbed the Nounou Mountain Trail East to the top of Sleeping Giant. You don’t want to do this hike under wet conditions. We had had a couple of sunny days and decided to do it. The path that takes you up on top of the Giant’s head is about 4 miles round trip with about 1000 ft elevation.

Sleeping Giant’s Head

The hike is considered moderately difficult, but you’d better wear good shoes:

David

Eric and David

Almost to the top of his head now..

You can do it!

On top!

Here’s my video of the panoramic view on top of Sleeping Giant

Eric on top:

Headed back down now.

David

We beat Eric down. I caught a picture of him coming out at the trail head.

Saturday, Jan 27, 2018

Okay, time to wash the mud out of our shoes, take a shower, get our shit together for the airport.

Wait! One last photo of Kauai – near Anahola …

And my favorite photo of Eric on Larsen’s Beach:

And my sister Stephanie with the sea turtle:

Larsen’s Beach

Stop it, Jody.

Okay. Facing the inevitable. We’re at the airport in Lihue now – waiting to board the 11:15 pm red-eye to L.A.

Goodbye, Paradise!

So sad…

Vacation’s over!

Except Eric. Eric is interminably happy.

David and Eric fall off to sleep as soon as the plane to L.A. takes off. I know because I’m wedged between them, in the middle seat, hardly able to move my arms or legs, wide awake. The plane is pitch black dark so we can sleep. But of course, I never can sleep. Or I perceive that I’m totally not sleeping. But I must doze a bit. How else to endure that petrified seated position for six straight hours?

Descending for the landing in L.A. – 6:30 am, Sunday morning:

We arrive at Gate 50 or something and just need to go to 52A to catch our flight to Salt Lake. Great – look it’s just ahead there to the left! Oh… then down this staircase…

Into a long line to an outside door to … catch a bus?

Outside now on the tarmac … Waiting for the bus…

‘Good morning, L.A.!’

Get a seat on the bus!! We did. Sat and watched the line and luggage pile in, one after another – cramming into the seats and then filling the standing room in the aisle clear up to the bus driver. I picked up my phone from where I was sitting and captured a photo:

Happy happy joy joy

It was a ten minute bus ride to our gate in the far flung American Airlines terminal. We unload and head into the terminal – oh that’s right, I remember! There is one food concession in the whole terminal. Jump in line! We’re starving.

We thought we were half nuts to get in line since we were about 20 people back. But we still had a good 45 minutes until boarding our flight to Salt Lake. No. We were totally sane. Look at the line piling up behind us! (Yes, I took photos. How else to entertain myself as the line inched forward?)

I stepped out of line and took a photo of David, with the line ahead of us –

David in line with his calm ‘whatever’ face

Then photos of the line building behind us

Eric, David and I ordered 3 ham, egg and cheese mcmuffin type sandwiches with coffee – so hot we couldn’t drink it. But it didn’t matter so much, when it cooled down enough to take a sip it was so bitter I couldn’t stomach it anyway. Not that I didn’t try. I knocked a wave of hot coffee on my leg before boarding our flight to Salt Lake.

Here we are in flight:

Flight to Salt Lake, Sunday Jan 28

11 am – landing in Salt Lake!

From here we drove the nearly 3-hour drive home to Idaho Falls.

This area of the country has enjoyed one of the mildest January’s on record. These peaks are usually blanketed in snow this time of year. In Idaho Falls the temperatures have been hovering in the 40’s, 10-15 degrees above normal.

We’re home in Idaho now. A consistent ‘Where’s Waldo’ activity keeps our minds and bodies busy in the back yard, complements of our miniature poodle, Rudy.

Find the dog turds:

There’s actually two of them, should I zoom in?

Yea, getting back into the routine. Here’s what our back yard looked like yesterday:

Feb 20, 2018 – 11:19 am

A skiff of snow hoisted on 20 MPH winds with a forecasted high of 16 degrees.

So yeah, winter in southeast Idaho is not going anywhere …

Kauai and the Love-Struck Layson Albatross

February 12, 2018

Back to Princeville on the north shore of Kauai … I always look forward to watching the magnificent sea birds, the Layson Albatross. There are 22 species of albatross ranging widely in the Southern Ocean and the North Pacific. They are absent from the North Atlantic. So if you live on the east coast of the US you won’t see them. The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are home to 97.5% of the Layson Albatross.

Layson Albatross near Steph and Vic’s back yard

Check out this Audubon link for a marvelous photo of a Layson albatross and her young. Albatross breed on Kauai during the months of November to July. They leave their breeding grounds and evidently most go northwest toward Japan, then northeast toward Aleutians, before turning south toward Hawaii again. Non-breeders may wander anywhere in the North Pacific at any season.

Incubation for a albatross egg is 64-65 days. The period from hatching to fledging is 165 days. A young albatross returns to its breeding grounds three years after fledging, and first breeds at the age of 7-9 years. (Check out this wikipedia link on Layson Albatross.) It takes several years of courtship for a male and female to bond, but they bond for life. The courtship involves the use of ritualized dances – up to 25 different movements. So if you visit the northern shore of Kauai between November and July, you can witness their courting – ritualized dances. It’s quite entertaining!

On Saturday, January 20, 2018, David Eric and I were walking near the golf course when we came upon a group of four adolescent albatrosses engaging each other in a mating dance. I captured a video. They make such a racket with their whirring, clucking, whistling, and beak clapping, you usually can hear them before you see them!

We stood 30 feet away and kept watching them. They seemed a bit oblivious to us, they were so engaged in each other.

Soon two albatrosses wandered away from the others to continue their dance. They look so clumsy and awkward on land the way they waddle! (In the background of the video you will also see another albatross nesting near the bushes.)

Be patient with the video and see what happens when one albatross walks away …

I think of the Beatles song “Hello, Goodbye” when watching the Albatross mating ritual.

You say yes, I say no
You say stop, and I say go go go, oh no

You say goodbye and I say hello
Hello hello

I don’t know why you say goodbye I say hello

I say high, you say low…

Here’s a link to marvelous video I found on You-tube of two albatrosses engaged in, shall I say, a ‘passionate’ mating dance – (Oh, you might want to skip the ad and turn your sound down – they make quite a racket!) Well worth watching this video, however, warn the person in the next room that you are about to play it… based on the experience at my house … (I ran David out of the kitchen when he heard it, Megan hollered at me from the next room, ‘What’s that?” – Hey, just a pair of love-struck Albatrosses!)

Albatross look so big and awkward the way they waddle on land, you wonder how they launch their bulky bodies into flight. I caught an albatross on video taking flight right near Steph and Vic’s patio (January 25, 2018). It nestled by the golf course as if waiting for someone, clapped its beak a bit, then as if running out of patience, went into a running take off toward the ocean …

At the end of Larsen’s beach there is a large protected albatross nesting ground, off limits to hikers. Larsen’s beach is probably our favorite hike, I’ve blogged about it several times – link to the blog I wrote last year – Besides the albatross flying overhead, you will likely run into endangered monk seals and large sea turtles sunning themselves on the beach.

Anyway, in case you think these birds are too goofy and awkward to be impressive in flight, think again! Albatross are highly efficient in the air, covering great distances with little exertion. I took a couple of videos of albatross in flight at Larsen’s beach:

They fly in formation – move over Blue Thunder air show!:

Here’s a photo I captured last year on Larsen’s Beach of an albatross landing.

Dropping in for a landing

Look at those webbed feet! Yeah, that’s because they are swimmers too, going after fish, squid and krill in the ocean with squid as their main staple.

Here’s a photo I took at the trailhead of Larsen’s beach.

Trail to Larsen’s Beach

Hike down through the grasses and across the beach to a point where you discover the arch. Here’s a video I took of the arch in January 2016 …

Sit down and picnic above the arch and enjoy the air show, as there are scores of albatrosses nesting on the bluff right above you.

Maybe humans could learn something about courtship from the Albatross, who engage in mating ritual dances over several years and bond with their mate for life.

You’re welcome, my fellow humans, yea, as we muddle awkwardly through one of our courtship rituals – Valentine’s Day.

Just sayin’…