Posts Tagged ‘Layson albatross’

Winter Albatross

February 8, 2019

February in like a lion

Thursday, February 7, 2019 – Southeast Idaho News headline:

Snow event declared in Idaho Falls, move your vehicles

What? Out of the garage? We have to shovel first!

I snapped a photo of David a few minutes ago, shoveling off our back deck

Thursday, Feb 7, 2019

You know, to help us cope with this problem:

Rudy wants in!

I don’t know about you, but I need a tropical vacation. It’s only February and the extended forecast calls for more, uh … Well here, nothing says it like a photo – a screenshot of our extended forecast:

just deal with it

Winter blahs, anyone? Hey, I know! Let’s jet off to my happy place! Kauai!! David and I travel there every January to visit my sister Steph and husband Victor who own a house in Princeville, where they live about half the year. David and I, and my brother Eric have visited Steph and Vic in Kauai every January since 2011 – we returned from our latest trip just a week ago – February 1st. I’ve blogged about our trips every year (45+ Kauai blogs!). So this year I thought, what the heck, forget the blogs. Enough already!

Except, how to get through February? I know of no other way but to jet back to Kauai. Are you on board?? Ready for takeoff…

Uh, not there yet. We’re still on our 6-hour flight from Denver to Lihue, Kauai. My legs have gelled into tingling blobs from sitting so long … looking for scenery now, besides ocean… Oh look! An Island!

Not sure what Hawaiian island this is, just great to see land

Yes! Mid-afternoon, Thursday Jan 17, we’ve landed in Lihue, rented the SUV, driven about an hour to the north shore, and are circling the familiar fountain – Princeville! – just blocks away from Steph and Vic’s house now.

Fountain in Princeville

I don’t know about you, but it takes me a day or two to decompress and relax into vacation. Take in the views, tropical foliage, fauna, and smells. Soak up the sun. Let the ocean breezes caress your face… Breathe in … Release… Relax into your happy place!! Here, let me take you there …

First of all, sit on the patio in a reclining chair, stretch out your legs. Take in this view overlooking the golf course to the ocean:

Paradise

Notice the albatross. Albatross? Yeah, that huge bird out there in the grass – one of the most magnificent birds on the planet. They have to run along the ground, into the wind, to take off but they are highly efficient in the air, using dynamic soaring to cover great distances with little exertion. According to this article, they are capable of traveling 10,000 miles in a single journey and circumventing the globe in 46 days – they manage to fly without expending almost any energy.

Sit a while, and they’ll fly overhead, dip and glide parallel to the ground, swirl back up, here you will see two …

and maybe just maybe, they will land a few feet in front of you.

Adolescent albatross engaging in mating dance

The Layson albatross is a large seabird that ranges across the North Pacific. They fly south from Alaska and the Arctic and arrive on the north and west shores of Kauai in mid-November each year, some to mate and some to nest and have their young. They stay on the island till Mid-July. Kauai is the only place in the world where albatross can be found in residential areas and on golf courses. They are enormously entertaining!

Take a walk in Princeville and you will likely see an Albatross nesting in someone’s yard. We took a walk near Sea Lodge Beach and spotted this one:

Nesting Albatross. The egg hatches in about 60-64 days

Nearby there were several gathering. Here comes one now… Mr Big Stuff. Look at that swagger!

Adolescent males and females bond through ritualized mating dances that may take place over several years. On January 30 I happened to capture their mating dance on video:

Albatross bond for life and do not find another if their partner dies.

Albatross return to their place of birth to begin the mating dance when they are 3-4 years old. They don’t successfully reproduce (1 egg) until they are 9 or 10. The egg hatches in 60-64 days. Adults with chicks to feed take foraging trips that last up to 17 days and travel 1600 miles away from their nest. It takes about 165 days for a nestling to fledge.

Wisdom, an albatross on Midway Island, is recognized as the oldest wild bird in the world. She was first banded in 1956. Check out this link! to learn more about Wisdom who, at age 66, has hatched chicks two years in a row! (Female human’s worst nightmare.)

If you want to learn more about these fascinating birds here’s a link that poses and answers about every question you could think of to ask about the Albatross.

Also, the link to my blog I wrote a year ago about the Layson Albatross on Kauai with my photos, videos and commentary.

Oh, ahem, one last note on the Albatross, FYI, in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the killing of a ‘harmless albatross” dooms the ship’s crew.

Okay, time to kick your cardiovascular system into gear with a hike down to Anini Beach! Yes, the sign is still there…

Tourists angry. Hike too steep!

David and Eric hike down to Anini Beach, coming back up is the killer…

Anini Beach is serene. Wade in and catch sea cucumbers!

Anini Beach

Something is always in bloom in Paradise

Hibiscus and orchids


Pick mandarin oranges off the trees in your own yard

Okay, are you there yet? Relaxed? Basking in the wonders of Paradise? Good!

Back in Idaho today we did get shoveled out!

Feb 7, 2019

Me, personally? I’m looking forward to waking up tomorrow to a Kauai sunrise

And maybe checking out Hanalei Bay. Are you coming along?

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 …

The Day of the Layson Albatross

February 16, 2017

Sunday, January 22, 2017 – our third full day in Kauai. It’s cloudy and blustery today.

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We’re hanging out at Steph and Vic’s house contemplating plans for the day, when we hear a racket outside on the golf course. Albatross!

There’s three of them. One is waddling alone near the back patio

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While two more are engaged in an elaborate synchronized mating dance. I capture some of it on video:

The pair carried on for several more minutes. What a treat it was to witness! According to this link, Albatross courtship is unique among seabirds, both in its complexity and its duration. Males and females engage in a coordinated dance, facing each other, and what you are witnessing in my video is bill “clappering” (in which the bill is quickly opened and closed repeatedly); “sky calling” (in which the bird lifts its bill to the sky, uttering a call like the “moo” of a cow); and fanning the wings while prancing in place. These displays are performed in repeating cycles for up to an hour each, numerous times per day. This behavior allows potential mates to evaluate each others’ suitability as long-term partners.

Albatrosses appear to bond for life. After the initial courtship phase is over, the elaborate courtship rituals are much reduced or abandoned altogether in subsequent years. Researchers believe that this mating dance functions more in choosing a mate than in the long term maintenance of the pair bond.

Here is a youtube video with a closer view of the mating dance taken on Kauai on Valentine’s Day, 2015. Hmmmm. Considering the 50+ percent divorce rate in America, (higher for second and third marriages), maybe we should mimic the mating ritual of Albatrosses. Instead of lavishing our heart’s desire with valentines, chocolates, flowers, jewelry, and expensive dinners on Valentine’s day, we should engage each other in a face to face mating dance involving synchronized hoots, flings, grabs and bends, claps, slapping our teeth, strutting, and skyward calls in hour-long sessions, repeated throughout the day. You know, to test our compatibility with a new love interest. Plus, think of the added bonus of counting each step on our fit bits!

I Googled “Albatrosses on Kauai’ and came across this very interesting blog by Cathy Granholm, “My Albatross Diary” , documenting current news about the Layson Albatrosses in Princeville, Kauai. Cathy lives in Princeville from November to July. She has had an albatross nest in her yard for three years in a row. She monitors the Laysan albatross nests in yards and on golf courses throughout the community of Princeville. Her last blog was published on Jan 2, 2017, featuring Kirwan, the most photographed Albatross in Princeville. I wonder if my photo of the solitary albatross is Kirwan?

On the afternoon of that same day, Eric, David and I decided to take our favorite north shore Island hike, to Larsen’s Beach, home of a large nesting area for Albatross. The nesting area sits atop a rock cliff and is off limits to humans. We saw many Albatross flying overhead and I caught several photos. Whereas Albatross waddle and look clumsy when they walk, they are magnificently graceful sea birds when they fly. Here’s some of my photos of Albatross in flight:

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Of course, Larsen’s beach is also a napping spot for endangered monk seals and sunbathing sea turtles. We met both of these magnificent species on the beach as well. I have photos. And action videos. (Of napping monk seals?) You betcha. And of sunbathing sea turtles. Here, I’ll give you a teaser:

Okay, well, not a lot of action there. And the sea turtles will have to wait. Somehow their introduction here would pale against the captivating life-force of the Layson Albatross.

Annini Beach, Princeville (Kauai-3)

February 1, 2015

We spent a lot of time in and around Princeville where Steph and Vic own their home. Every morning David, Eric and I walked down to Annini beach, you know, to whip our bodies into shape. The path down to the beach is right next to the Westin Resort, just a short cut across the golf course from Steph and Vic’s house. Here is the entrance to the path:

David starts down

David starts down

It’s hard to capture how steep this walk is – but it’s basically like climbing five stories in about 400 paces. It’s extremely treacherous after a rain. Slip and land on your butt just once to experience in full measure the ‘anger us conditions.’

We’re down now, at the beach.

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There’s a huge sand bar so the waves crash very far out. The first time we came here we waded in and caught some sea cucumbers, which, basically look and act like … cucumbers.

I always trailed behind making it back up. I snapped photos of Eric and David ascending the path above me.

Eric is half way up

Eric is half way up

climbing the other half - back to the top

climbing the other half – back to the top

Whew! Check that one off!

You can hardly navigate Princeville without circling this fountain in the roundabout.

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And spotting Layson albatross either circling overhead, doing their courting dance, or nesting. They tend to return to the same place to nest every year. There are two albatross pairs nesting on Stephanie and Victor’s street. One pair is nesting right in a neighbor’s front garden.

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Albatross bond with a mate for life. Their courtship entails especially elaborate dances that have up to 25 ritualized movements.

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They can’t breed until they are five years old. Both birds incubate the egg – the male does so first. There is a 65-day incubation period and the chick takes about 160 days to fledge. To mate and raise a chick requires a big commitment! Maybe that’s why you see a lot of single Albatross hanging around.

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Looking studly and regal.

Albatross live a long time. The oldest known live bird, a female named Wisdom, is at least 63 years old. She recently hatched a healthy chick, believed to be her 36th (to summarize some of the information in the linked article above).

We always try to earn our keep at Steph and Vic’s house to the best of our ability, you know, stay in their good graces so they might invite us back! Although by our second day here, Eric was already getting us in trouble.

“What’s the deal with those chairs you sent, Eric?”

Eric had sent Victor and Steph two antique dining chairs from his store back in Idaho and promised Victor they would arrive the same day (or before) we did – He had shipped them in a single box. Well, they didn’t arrive; not yesterday and … not today either. “You have spider duty, Eric, if they don’t arrive soon.” Victor tells him.

Oh wait! A package has arrived!

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“Is this the chairs, Eric? You just add water to expand them to normal size?”

Two more packages arrive. No chairs.

Victor is also unhappy about a certain detail concerning the antique round oak table Eric had sent two years back. It pulled apart to add leaves but one edge of the seam down the middle stuck up about 1/16th of an inch – it was annoying, and Eric had worked on it last year and declared it fixed.

“The edge is still sticking up Eric.”

Eric fiddled with it. Unscrewing screws underneath, screwing them back in. Adjusting this and that. Finally David, being a physicist, volunteered his expertise.

two hunky dudes

two hunky dudes

Voila! Table fixed.

The chairs did finally arrive. They worked out great.

Eric got out of spider duty. But he had to install the new birdfeeder. Fill it with organic birdfeed.

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Then work on it again to straighten it.

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The birds caught on really fast – “Hey, new hot spot open for lunch!”

Happy birds

Happy birds

Happy birds make happy Steph and Victor. Happy Steph and Victor makes happy world. Jody, David and Eric’s world: Incredibly happy.

I sneak in to capture a picture of the masses of happy birds, including those gathered on the ground around the feeder.

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Oops. No worry. Within 60 seconds they’re all back and everything is happy again.

So ends another day in Paradise.

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Life is good.