Part 1…A walk with the Albatross Lady…See and hear the sounds of the albatross in our new video below…Happy Valentine’s Day!

This parent and chick sit close to one another until the chick becomes more confident and the parents feel more at ease. In time, the chick will be left behind on its own, most likely in June or July. Although, Cathy explained, that on occasion a fledgling won’t leave the nest until August, at which time, she can go on her vacation. She won’t leave until they have all left the area and her job of overseeing them for the years is over until next November when many will return to the area.

Honestly, I don’t know where to begin. I sit here with words at my fingertips, anxious to write. I find myself stymied over how to begin to describe yesterday’s walk with Cathy Granholm to hear and see the Laysan Albatross and their 23 to 24 chicks, most of which hatched at the beginning of February.

This Laysan Albatross’s wings were fluffed up to as his/her chick was protected below.  Cathy explained that without a DNA test it is impossible to determine a female from a male.

Most survived, some did not. To see an adult albatross sitting on what is an egg that won’t hatch, in essence, a stillborn, was heartbreaking. And yet, patiently they sit, both male and female in hopes that magically a chick will appear. In time, they accept the loss and continue on in their lives, hoping for another season to come.

This albatross is sitting on an egg that will never hatch, either from lack of being fertilized or dying in the shell.  They will continue for a period of time to sit on the eggs in hopes of eventual hatching of a chick. This was sad to see.

As we walked the neighborhood where each year, year after year, they arrive to nest most meeting up with a lifelong mate and others who may drift from mate to mate, not unlike humans, who drift from partner to partner. It’s ironic how wildlife is so much like us, or perhaps, we are like them.

We couldn’t have enjoyed the time more on the tour yesterday with Cathy, Roger and for a time, Bob Waid, author of the beautiful Laysan Albatross book.

With each of the albatross banded over the years, Cathy can easily identify who is who. After 10 years of walking these streets every single day from November until June or July when the last chick, a fledgling, leaves the nest, she is comparable to a dedicated grandmother observing that each little life continues on independently. It’s dedication only a few of us have witnessed.

As shown, there’s a chick here nestled against its parent. The adults are beginning to realize they cannot sit on top of them much longer as the chicks grow.

As a volunteer for all of the Laysan Albatross in neighborhoods and golf courses in Princeville, she too, like others in her neighborhood has had the joy of albatross nesting in her own yard these past three years. 

To see them each day, a mom and dad taking turns sitting on the single egg, taking turns to fly out to sea to find food, returning to regurgitate it later to feed the chick, is truly a gift Cathy appreciates along with her daily commitment to all of the exquisite albatross throughout Princeville.

Some of the albatross nest in more private spots while others are content to be in the open, plainly visible to onlookers and Cathy’s careful and diligent perusal of their well being on a daily basis. They seem to recognize her as she approaches checking their band to determine who is who.

As a docent for the Los Angeles Zoo for over 26 years, Cathy’s vast knowledge is also parlayed into her work as a volunteer with the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuse.

Rather than repeat all of the wonderful information from Cathy’s well presented and rich in information website, we offer a link to her website here.

As shown in the fluffed up feathers, there’s a chick underneath this parent.

Along with us on the walk was neighbor Roger, a friend of Cathy’s who each day walks with her while he walks her aging dog who pays no attention to the albatross. Together with the three of them, Tom and I walked as she and Roger shared stories about the varying albatross families including heart-wrenching stories of mate swapping, infidelity, and abandonment again, not unlike human life of heartbreak and sorrow.

During our walk, we were joined by author Robert Waid who wrote the beautiful book Richard gave to us, The Majestic Albatross, Images of Kauai’s Beloved Seabird. All proceeds from the sale of the book and video are donated to help the albatross and other wildlife in Kauai. Visit Bob’s website here.

A chick was hidden beneath this parent.

And then, there were the happy stories of healthy chicks thriving under the protective wings of its parents who’s attentiveness and care never falters. With patient care the parents stay to ensure that when summer arrives the chick is mature enough to be left alone in the nest, knowing its time has come to venture out on its own to begin its life without family, in hopes of eventually finding its own mate years later.

From time to time, the parent arises to stretch its legs or head out for food for themselves and the chick while the other parent stays behind. If one of the parents is missing, the remaining parent will leave the chick to get food.

Perhaps, when that mate is found, they too will return to that neighborhood or golf course in Princeville, Kauai as Cathy has witnessed and verified through the banding, to begin the life cycle once again.

We are thankful to our friend Richard for connecting us with Bob, Cathy, and, for she and Roger taking the time to share the stories and insights into the lives of these amazing birds.

A parent lovingly tending to his/her chick.

Enjoy our photos and videos today and tomorrow. We’ll be back with more of each plus an interesting story of a celebrity who lived in the neighborhood and the naming of the chicks.

We observed the chick paying special attention to our approach, not frightened but curious. We stayed at quite a distance taking all of these photos with the use of zoom.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of our family and friends. As for our readers, we include all of you as our friends, as you follow us in our travels each day. That requires “friendship” which we truly treasure today and always.

                                          Photos from one year ago today, February 14, 2014:

A year ago, we shared this single photo of a pie I’d made for Tom many moons ago for Valentine’s Day. It’s a butterscotch pie made from scratch using 12 eggs whites for the meringue. Making the custard-like filling was always tricky but somehow it held together and he loved it. I never took a bite, even long before I’d given up sugar, starches, and grains. For a poem I wrote for Tom one year ago today, please click here.

Comments and responses Part 1…A walk with the Albatross Lady…See and hear the sounds of the albatross in our new video below…Happy Valentine’s Day!

  1. Anonymous Reply

    Happy Valentine's day and what a fantastic place to celebrate.
    We loved your video and post today. The albatross is truly a magnificent bird and we learned so much from your writings. You truly are blessed to have experienced so much from the wild life you have been able to observe.

    And my, what a pie that was, it made my mouth water.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jessica Reply

    Pat, its so wonderful to hear from you. Hope you and Dan are doing well! Yes, we certainly are enjoying our time in Kauai, especially now that we're observing the albatross in the area. Its such fun watching the chicks grow and of course, being able to share what we discover here for our loyal readers/friends such as you both. It means so much to us.

    As for the pie, I doubt I'll ever make that pie again, now that Tom eats like me when we're "home" wherever we may be at any given time. Tom also said his mouth watered today when he saw it. No dessert for us tonight.

    Hope you both had a lovely Valentine's Day. We are enjoying a bit of quiet on a rainy windy day in Kauai and not minding it a bit.

    Many hugs,
    Jess & Tom

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