Part 2…A walk with the Albatross Lady…See and hear the sounds of the albatross in another new video below…

A little sunlight and a beautiful albatross protecting her chick.

Yesterday, after another drive to the neighborhood where the albatrosses reside, now nesting with their solitary chicks, we were relieved to see that a chick that had huddled alone against the side of a house the previous day was no longer by him/herself. Perhaps, the parent had gone off to find food while the other parent hadn’t returned from the last time out to sea. Sadly, sometimes they don’t return due to illness, injury or death or for a reason none of us will ever know.

Interaction between the albatross is a gift to behold.
We saw a total of eight albatross in this yard interacting with one another as shown in today’s above video.

If only we really knew what transpires in the lives of these curious and amazing birds. We can only learn so much by observing them. In reality, that’s the case with the animal kingdom. We can only surmise the magnitude of their lifestyles and the depth of their understanding of their significance in our world, in their world.

Roger, our co-host on the tour on Friday explained how this particular house in the neighborhood was previously owned by Graham Nash, singer-songwriter of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. When an albatross chick is born in a homeowner’s yard they have the opportunity to name the chick. At one time, a chick was named Nash.
Its interesting to see how social they are with one another.

As considerable time and expense is spent in researching animal life, scientists can only speculate as to how smart they really are. Isn’t it only recently that the intelligence of our household pets are finally being realized by science, when all along, those of us fortunate enough to have a dog, a cat or another animal in our homes, knew how smart and intuitive they were all along?

As mentioned yesterday, its impossible to determine a male and female without a DNA test but, for some reason I think this albatross looks like a dad protecting his chick.

Our precious dog Willie (read his website here) as he was dying of cancer, on his last day of life dragged me by his leash to the yard of each of our five neighboring homes where he proceeded to dig up the bones he’d buried near their mailboxes long ago. That very day, the end of his life, he brought the bones back to our house placing them in a pile, seemingly content with a job well done. The significance of his action baffles us yet to this day.

This chick did a little clacking of his own when he spotted us at a good distance, always respectful of their need for privacy.

Who are we to speculate on what they could possibly be thinking or if they are “thinking” at all or merely utilizing their instinctive skills? Then again, how dare we assume they don’t “think” when we look into their eyes and see such understanding and love?

Cathy explained how these fluffed up feathers often indicate a chick is beneath this parent.

And, as we wandered through the neighborhood with Cathy and Roger on Friday afternoon, admiring the lifecycle of the Laysan Albatross, a powerful sense of “they know exactly what they’re doing.” They are smart and introspective and emotional and thoughtful and most of all, loving to each other and their young. How do I know this? 

Some of the albatross appear to have a greater need for privacy tending to nest in more hidden areas.

Walk amongst them. Watch them dance together bobbing up and down with pure joy. Watch them clean the fluffy feathers of their young with tenderness and care. Look into their black rimmed eyes filled with expression, filled with life and you too will know.

These six albatross were taking a break from the nests for fun and “displaying” as described by Cathy, our expert guide.

Its nothing eerie or mystical. It’s not about me or some communicative skills I possess with wildlife. I don’t. Its life. And when I held the camera in my hand leaning on the door jamb of the safari vehicle in the Masai Mara only 10 feet from a lion and our eyes met, I knew then. 

Some of the parents almost squash their chicks when sitting on them and others are more mindful of giving them room as they grow.

God (or whatever higher power you believe or not), put us all on this earth to cohabitate together, giving us the emotional intelligence and capacity to coexist in harmony, if only we learn to respect each other’s space, each other’s needs and each other’s destiny. 

A chick safely nestled in the grass and under mom or dad’s legs.

The Laysan Albatross come to this neighborhood (and the golf course here in Princeville) year after year, some lost at sea never to return, others returning to discover their awaiting mate (or a new mate) again and again.  In essence, we can question and speculate all we want. But, the true answer only lies in the power of life placed upon this earth for all of us to love, respect and admire.

Other albatross seem content to be out in the open clearly visible to passersby.

And that, dear readers, we do.  We admire the Laysan Albatross and again, we are humbled and grateful for the gift we’ve been given to share, even for this short time, in their world.

                                            Photo from one year ago today, February 15, 2014:

This Black Headed Oriole graced our yard at African Reunion House as we were often on the lookout for birds. For details from that date and a favorite shot at the end of that post, please click here.

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.

Part 2, a day to remember…Thanks to new friends…The Laysan Albatross story begins…

Here’s our video of the Laysan Albatross.
 When we lived in Africa, whether on safari in Kenya or in our yard in Marloth Park, each time we had the opportunity to see wildlife, our pulse quickened and a rush of feel good hormones, one of which is dopamine rushed through our bodies.
Looking up to see if her mate is coming back with dinner.

It may be a work of art, an animal, or a stretch of beach that triggers the release of the powerful hormone that makes us feel great. For many, the triggers may be different. For us, seeing wildlife sends us both into a level of joy that is hard to describe which has only escalated these past few years as we’ve traveled the world.

This nesting albatross was the first one we spotted, sleeping on her/his nest. Both the male and female tend to the nest.

When our friend Richard invited us to walk with him in his neighborhood to see the many nesting Laysan Albatross in various neighbor’s yards, upon sighting the first bird, I felt as if someone shot me in the arm. An immediate smile overtook my face, my heart raced with excitement, and for some odd reason  (hum…) I felt as if I was “home” (wherever that may be).

The dark coloration around their eyes varies from bird to bird.

For at least 30 minutes, we wandered from yard to yard, occasionally waving or talking to neighbors who were comfortable seeing us with Richard rather than tourists snooping in their yards. 

Even a hibiscus plant is a good spot to nest.

What our eyes beheld was awe-inspiring; as many as five albatross at one time in various yards throughout the neighborhood, paying little attention to us as we made a special effort to stay far back to avoid disturbing them.

These two were hanging around the dense vegetation in the center of the cul-de-sac.

It’s important not to get too close to these seemingly friendly birds. They release a hormone when frightened which may be dangerous to them. Staying as far back as possible is imperative for their good health.

Then, there were three…

Luckily, our camera has an excellent ability to zoom in, making it possible for today’s video and photos.  Our course, the dopamine coursing through my body, made my hands a little unsteady, so I did my best. Usually, I refer to this shakiness as excitement and enthusiasm when in essence, it is dopamine.

Then there were four…

As we walked from house to house, we couldn’t believe how many nesting, dancing, interacting, and sleeping albatross we spotted. If we say that we saw the exquisite birds in no less than a dozen yards, we wouldn’t be exaggerating. 

A loner, nesting close to a house.

I wondered how residents would be able to go about their daily lives when these precious birds were living in their yards. Surely, if it was us, we’d be sitting outside on lawn chairs, at a safe distance, watching their daily interactions with the hope of eventually seeing a hatchling.

This one reminded me of Tom, “Oh, I hate going for a walk!”

Well, we’re the people who sat outside all day in the bush in 90 degrees, bug and snake-infested Africa waiting for the next moving creature. Of course, we’d be equally enthralled with these birds.

So beautiful!

For Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology’s information about the Laysan Albatross including a clip of the sound of the birds, please click here.

Flying is the Laysan Albatross’s forte, not walking which appears awkward.

Again, we thank our friend Richard for bestowing this amazing opportunity upon us. Without his assistance and friendship, we’d never have known about these exquisite birds, only seeing them when they occasionally fly over our heads.

It was surprising how they paid no attention to us walking by, continuing with their adorable antics.
Contemplating their next move under a lemon tree.

Once again, we find reasons to be grateful for perhaps another bit of “safari luck.”

These smaller two may have been siblings, were grooming each other.
Marine Conservation Biologists in Hawaii band the birds in order to maintain an accurate record of as many birds as possible.

Tomorrow, we’ll share a wonderful story of the oldest banded Laysan Albatross. Do check back and have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, January 27, 2014:

Neither of us had ever seen the Sickle Bush which grows in Africa. We were fascinated by its prickly feel and look, along with its beautiful colors. For more “small things” we found in the bush, please click here.

Part 1, a day to remember…Thanks to new friends…The albatross story begins…

Stained glass, whether antique or newer, attracts a tremendous amount of interest for its often fine workmanship as in the case of this piece in Elaine and Richard’s home.

Yesterday morning, about the time we finished posting, we received an email from our new friend Richard, a 17 year homeowner in Princeville and 7 year permanent resident. 

The view from the lanai at Elaine and Richard’s lovely home.

He said he had a gift for us and would be at the golf club until noon. We were planning on heading over there anyway since it was my day to workout. Shortly we were on our way. 

Elaine and Richard’s inviting living room filled with comfortable furnishings and amenities.

It was cloudy by the time we were out the door, preventing us from lounging by the pool after my workout. But Tom could visit with Richard while I worked out.

The huge master bedroom is warm and appealing with its fine furnishings and décor.

Giving a gift to people you’ve only known a few days was beyond gracious of Richard and accepting such an unexpected gesture was a new experience for both of us. 

This antique desk and handmade wood ship are eye-catching.

After the discussions of our love of wildlife and Richard’s perusal of our site, he easily determined that this gift was better given sooner rather than later while we could enjoy the depth of its meaning during our time in Princeville.

The gift Richard gave us yesterday, The Majestic Albatross by Robert Waid, a neighbor of his.
Perusing these photos certainly triggered enthusiasm on our part, anxious to see even one of these majestic birds up close, if possible, during our time in Princeville.

Having discussed the wonders of the albatross on the island of Kauai and the many currently nesting near his home, this book, written by albatross expert and aficionado, Robert Waid, also lives in Richard’s neighborhood. 

These bears reminded us of all the Santa Bears we had in our old lives.
This large China hutch contains many photos of family members, all of which Richard treasures.  We too had such treasures in our old lives. Now, we have all the scanned photos as opposed to the frames and places to store them. Oddly, we don’t miss having “stuff” but can easily admire the stuff of others.

Of course, we were chomping at the bit to have a peek at this amazing phenomenon, occurring right here in Princeville. With this book in hand, our desire to witness these birds first hand only escalated.

Richard sat behind the impressive magistrate’s desk giving us a feel as to how a visit to his office in St. Louis might have been.
Richard, an attorney from St. Louis, Missouri, sent his English magistrate’s desk and other treasures to Hawaii years ago via a container on a ship. This method is often used to transport cars and belongings from the mainland (and other countries) to Hawaii. Note the other antiques in his “man cave,” a converted garage.
Without any prompting from us but certainly based on our enthusiasm, Richard invited us to see his home and meet his lovely wife Elaine who had little warning that people she’d never met were stopping by on a Sunday. 
Richard and Tom sat outside at the golf club engaged in lively conversation while I worked out. My HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout takes less than 20 minutes instead of the usual one hour or more most exercisers usually spend. As a result, we showed up at Elaine and Richard’s home a bit earlier than expected per Richard’s earlier phone call.
This stained glass window, of which Richard and Elaine have many, reminded us of the zebras drinking from our pool in Marloth Park, only one year ago.
A grandfather clock in Richard’s man cave.

Of course, Elaine was gracious and welcoming while we attempted to be as unobtrusive as possible while Richard gave us the full tour of his beautiful and interesting home with expansive views of the sea.

Although not antique carpeting, this pattern is definitely befitting the environment.

Today, we’re sharing photos of the tour of Elaine and Richard’s lovely home, and tomorrow, we’ll be back with our video and photos of the “majestic albatross” (per Robert Waid).

This is Elaine and Richard’s wedding photo, 28 years ago.

Thanks to Elaine and Richard for their hospitality, kindness, and generosity and of course, to their neighbor, Robert Waid, for his inspiration and exquisite book

A Hawaii themed stained glass window built into a stone wall.

We’ll be back tomorrow with some of the most exciting and heartwarming wildlife photos /videos we’ve been able to share in quite some time.

Happy Monday, dear friends.

                                             Photo from one year ago today, January 26, 2014:

Three giraffes crossing the road when we were on our way to the local market. Even Tom couldn’t stop smiling whenever there was this type of traffic jam.  For details from that day, please click here.