It been an exciting week at Kīlauea Point!
After almost 4 months of extensive ‘undercover’ renovations, the lighthouse has been disrobed.
It was tough having to mollify numerous visitors, many of whom had traveled thousands of miles hoping to view the lighthouse only to find it shrouded from railing to grass.
Of course, we have had our various seabirds to distract them, and in particular the wedge-tailed shearwater chicks that have featured in more than one recent post; but, for just a few of the most curmudgeonly, even those weren’t sufficient diversion.
This week, however, all that’s changed!
The lighthouse has been stripped naked, and it’s looking glorious!
As we watched the scaffolding being removed on Wednesday afternoon, bit by laborious bit, I was surprised how elated I felt.
When I returned the following afternoon, all the scaffolding was down and being cleared from the site. There is still some work left inside before the week-long centennial celebrations that start on May 1, 2013, but the renovations are currently comfortably ahead of schedule.
The added bonus this week is the return of the albatross.
The first arrived on Sunday, and we currently have four birds on Albatross Hill, to the west of Kīlauea Point.
They’re not easy to see, even with binoculars, from the Point, but I was treated to a brief hike over the hill with one of the staff on Thursday, before I went ‘on duty’.
KP184 was the most accessible of the four, though we were careful to keep our distance, so I was grateful for my zoom lens. Interesting how
she it settled down in a semi-seated position. Still, it’s perhaps not surprising if she it was a tad weary after her long journey from Alaska. Why ‘she’ and ‘her’? Because she’s banded on the left leg. Females are banded on the left, males on the right (except when the rangers very occasionally get it wrong!) 🙂 (see correction below)
Stop Press: Knowing that several albatross had arrived at the refuge, I’d been excitedly anticipating the return of our Princeville ‘residents’; today we had news of the first arrival. My neighbor and fellow Refuge volunteer, Cathy Granholm, has studied our local albatross for many years; she regularly checks the nests in yards and golf courses throughout Princeville, keeping detailed notes, and her blog is full of wit and wisdom. She takes a rest from blogging while the albatross are away, from August to November, so I was delighted to read her first post of the season today, and am looking forward to many more informative and entertaining posts over the next few months.
I’m indebted to Cathy, not only because she bothered to read my post ;), but also because she quickly set me right about the banding. It seems that they can’t band albatross females and males differently, because the only definitive way to confirm the sex is by taking a feather and doing a DNA test. Apparently, all their ‘personal bits’ are very well hidden, on both genders!
It is true that the nēnē (Hawaiian geese) are banded left-leg for females, right-leg for males, and I had been reliably (I thought) informed the same method was used for the albatross. However, in the interests of retaining good relations, I will refrain from disclosing my source; suffice to say that, at the time, I was confident the information was accurate. Now I’m beginning to understand how the Beeb and Newsnight got themselves into such deep doodoo! 😦
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