Of course he/she is “my” albatross chick because, after all, he/she was born on my birthday and I was lucky enough to get to name her. Pela means “soar” in Hawaiian and that is what he/she will do in about four months from now. With in any luck, the fledge will take place off the bluff of Honu Point.
Recently I uploaded two videos of Pela with Larry, his/her dad. The first shows Pela, at five weeks old, greedily asking for some food. Not this time. Lesson: patience is a virtue. Best with volume.
One week later, Pela fares a bit better. This week’s lesson: everything in moderation. Again, don’t miss the communication between these two. Turn up your volume.
I’ve written thirteen blog posts about the Laysan Albatross at our Honu Point Vacation Rental on Kauai, but, by far, this is the one I am most excited about. I have always appreciated these graceful creatures but it was while building our vacation rental that I fell in love with them. Being on the property on a daily basis and watching them soar overhead was magical. Hearing and seeing the mating dances of young birds and eyeing nesting couples snuggling along Kaweonui Road made them even more endearing to me.
Each year I have been jealous when neighbors up and down the street are given the “right” to name a new chick because of it being born on their property. Our bluff property is not safe enough for nests and fledglings wait until they are six months old to waddle down our driveway ready for their first flight.
This year one pair, Larry and Dora, returned and scouted the area for the perfect spot to nest. They eventually decided on the interior of the cul-de-sac at the foot of our driveway. This was my chance! Because the property is not private I asked (okay, begged) our resident albatross historian, Cathy, if I might have the honor of naming this chick. She agreed!
Spending lots of time on Google translator and waiting not so patiently, I searched for the perfect name. An egg was laid and about a month later “my” precious chick started pipping its egg in order to meet his/her surrounding world.
You know how excited I get when the Laysan albatross arrive back on Kaweonui Road in Princeville. For the last couple of weeks partners who have not seen each other for months are reuniting and it is a happy scene.
There is lots of preening and affection happening up and down the street. The couples are deciding on the perfect spot for their nest and then starting its construction. Females are laying their eggs (one per bird) while the males take one last period at sea before having the first, long sit on the egg. From that point on, the two partners take turns on the egg while the other flies a thousand miles for food.
Meet Dora. She arrived first this year and patiently waited until Larry showed up. Together they decided to nest in the cul-de-sac at the foot of Honu Point’s driveway. I captured this short video of Dora as she started to build a nest around herself just one day before she laid her egg (one of the landscapers witnessed the event).
Larry is at sea for a few days. When he takes over Dora will be off to find food. If this egg is fertile we can expect a chick the fourth week of January. In the meantime Dora seems pretty content.
It is always fun to be walking along a Kauai beach and discover a Hawaiian monk seal sunning on the sand. Residents are very protective of Hawaii’s state mammal because they are one of the only two remaining monk seal species on Earth and their habitat is limited to the Northwest Hawaiian Islands and the main Hawaiian Islands, especially Kauai, Oahu and Molokai.
The Hawaiian monk seal is the only seal native to Hawaii, and, along with the Hawaiian hoary bat, is one of only two mammals endemic to the islands. They are on the endangered species list with a total population of approximately 1,400. The bad news is that the larger population that inhabits the northwest islands is declining. The good news is that over recent years the number of pups born in the Hawaiian chain has slightly increased.
Hawaiian monk seals spend most of their time at sea foraging in deeper water outside of shallow lagoon reefs. They hunt fish, lobster, octopus and squid in deep water coral beds. Tiger sharks, great white sharks and Galapagos sharks are their predators. To rest and breed they move onto the sand and volcanic rock. This is when we humans get the chance to observe them.
Sandy beaches are also used for pupping. Females reach maturity at age four and bear one pup a year. Births occur between March and June. Mother monk seals are dedicated to their pups and remain with them for the first five or six weeks of their lives. The pups nurse but the mothers don’t eat anything during this time consequently losing hundreds of pounds. Once the pup is weened, the mother deserts the pup, leaving it on its own, and returns to the sea to forage for the first time since the pup’s arrival. Following is a video reflecting just how protective a mother monk seal can be when confronted by an intruder.
They’re back! Each year Hob Osterlund, author of Holy Moli, Albatross and Other Ancestors, has a contest to guess when the first albatross will return to Kauai. This year one eager bird (not the one shown in the photo) was spotted at a Kilauea property on Thursday, November 8th! A second sighting happened at the Kilauea Lighthouse on Friday. That means many more will follow over the next few weeks. We can hardly wait to see who shows up on Kaweonui Road.
Those of you who have been following my blogs know how crazy I am about the Laysan albatross. In fact, if you go to my blog category list you will see that I have already written ten blogs about these birds. Therefore, I won’t go into much detail, here, about what makes these birds so special to me and others on Kauai. You can read about that in my other blogs. But, I did want to share with you a short documentary that Hob Osterlund has created, Kalama’s Journey. She has been working on the footage for this video for a couple of years. Those of you who have been to our vacation rental, Honu Point, will recognize the opening shots.
For the finest glass art on Kauai, be sure to stop by Kela’s Glass Gallery in Kapaa. Now in their new location across from the Kapaa sports field, Kela’s offers individually, hand-crafted glass made by domestic artists, including 15 from local artists. The owners pride themselves on selling no foreign imports. I stopped by the other day and was blown away by their selection.
Walking through the gallery I was impressed by the variety of glass art. There are glass sculptures, fish and sea life, platters, bowls, paperweights, vases, candles and perfume bottles.
North Shore residents are extremely proud of their Princeville Library, built 19 years ago. This fully stocked, air-conditioned source for books is perfect for borrowing adult and children’s books while on vacation. A large magazine section and DVD rentals are an added bonus. Computer access and wifi make this an important resource for visitors and locals alike.
The Princeville Library is a perfect place to take your children to pick out books to read while visiting the Garden Island. This saves you from having to pack and carry heavy books when traveling. If rain is keeping you from the beach, this quiet sanctuary may be just the spot to while away a few hours.
Friends of the North Shore Library at Princeville is the local affiliate of Friends of the Library of Hawaii, an active group of library users and advocates which for years has supported Hawaii’s public libraries through funding for programs, books and supplemental materials. Four times a year this group offers books, puzzles, cds and dvds for sale at very reasonable prices. Book sales are held on the FIRST Saturday of March, June, September (first Sat. after labor day), and December. The selection is huge and is held in the back room of the library. If you are on island for one of these dates, do not miss it! The Princeville Library sale starts at 9:00 for members and 10:00 for nonmembers.
A must-see for anyone visiting Kauai, especially if you are a bird or whale lover, is the Kilauea Lighthouse. It is a photographer’s dream location. Sweeping, panoramic, whitewater views, with sea birds circling above and burrowing on land, one can not help but get an impressive shot of the beauty that makes Kauai so special. Even more exciting are the humpback whales that cruise by in their pods during whale season (November to April). It is not uncommon to witness humpback whales breaching or pounding their fins on the surface of the ocean at this north shore whale sanctuary.
If you are staying at Honu Point, the Kilauea Lighthouse can be seen from the house. It sits 180 feet above sea level on the most northern piece of property on Kauai. The original lighthouse (circa 1913) is no longer in use but it is an historical landmark. Today a modern light shines out to sea. Here is an early morning winter view from Honu Point.
It is a special time of year for guests staying at Honu Point on Kaweonui Road in Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii. The Laysan albatross chicks who were born in January are very busy practicing to fly. We have ten in the neighborhood and it seems that no matter what time of day you drive by one of them is spreading its wings to test the air flow.
Yesterday I stopped to take three videos. The first two are right from my car as you can tell when the chick decided to check out a piece of frond in the road.
These chicks have stayed very close to their nests for six months with mom and dad flying in to bring them food. The only baby fluff left is on their chest and head. The rest of the body is covered in flight feathers. They have not seen the ocean yet but in a couple of weeks they will find their way to the bluff and take a giant leap of faith. From there they will head out to sea for three to four years, flying about 1000 miles to find and catch their first live food.
To get ready the albatross chick raises and lowers its huge wingspan to test the wind, running down the side of the road. You can see how unsteady they are at this point.
The cutest part is when they start taking little hops to get airborne. Keep in mind that they never actually fly until they jump off the bluff. In years past we have had at least one chick per year jump from our property, Honu Point.
Each albatross chick is banded and, if they stay safe for their years out to sea, they will return to where they were born to find a mate. Our neighbor, Cathy, is compiling a family tree of the birds who have been born and raised in the Kaweonui Road neighborhood since the late seventies. It is always a celebration when one comes “home.”
Vinney fledged from just outside Honu Point’s master bedroom in 2015. An author and neighbor took this great shot. We are waiting for Vinney to come back.
So, if you are visiting Kauai from January to July, be sure to take a drive around Princeville to get an up-close and personal view of these amazing birds. If you are lucky enough to watch one fledge it will be an event to remember, for sure.
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Last week I ran across an article by Jefferson Graham in the USA Today newspaper called, “Photo Tour: Kauai, Hawaii’s Magical Garden Island.” Apparently Mr. Graham has a blog where he shares photo tips from all over the world. Sounds to me like a pretty good excuse to travel! Within the article there is a video called “Photowalk” which shows where and how to get the best shots on Kauai. Despite the fact that he mispronounced Na Pali, I thought it was worth sharing.
Of all the reasons to love Kauai, Mr. Graham narrowed it down to five.