A tale of two nests

KP338 and KP643, or Click and Clack respectively as Steve and I have chosen to name them (unofficially), have been nesting in or near our yard for over 10 years, long before we bought this home in 2011.

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Click (KP338) and Clack (KP643)

Click and Clack are a long-term dedicated female-female couple; however, they have raised chicks in the past, mostly adoptive eggs from PMRF [hereʻs an excellent article explaining the PMRF adoption program], or from a neighboring failed nest, and sometimes because a randy male made ‘contact’ with one or other or both when they arrived on island.

In our neighborhood this year we have a number of female-female couples who have successfully hatched a chick, including one pair who have been successful more often than not. Check out my neighbor Cathy’s post at:  https://albatrossdiary.com/2018/01/30/6723/ **

For the first time, we personally have had the treat of a second nest in our own front yard. Another pair (female-female again), who had previously nested on our next door neighbor’s yard, decided on a spot against our side wall within sight of our ‘office’ slider.

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Our new residents: KP404 and KP756

As with our long-established resident pair, we have watched this devoted couple as they reunited in November after months away at sea, then settled on a nesting spot, built up their nest, swapped incubation duties, and awaited the possible arrival of their chick.

Sadly, it was not to be for them. The egg was infertile, and recently cracked and broke open. The incubating partner, KP756, spent a whole day meeping and mooing, walking around the nest, even doing some nest repairs, before finally abandoning her post and flying off to sea to feed. Three days later, her mate KP404 returned. I was surprised to see her immediately settle on the nest even though she was incubating nothing but a broken pile of empty eggshell. She stayed there overnight, but the next day she moved away and, as I write, is now sitting in exactly the spot where she awaited her mate’s arrival in November.

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KP404 (left) briefly visits Click and her newly-hatched chick after abandoning her own broken egg

The jury is out as to whether KP756 will return this season. It’s likely she has given up and will assume KP404 will do the same. However, the chances are that they will return next season to this same area, whether our yard or next door, to try again.

Back to Click and Clack, and a much happier outcome! On January 27 I noticed there was a hole in the egg and sign of a tiny bit of gray fluff. A chick was pipping! It can take anything from 2-4 days for the chick to finally extricate itself from the shell, and on the morning of January 29 the tiny chick was briefly but fully visible while Click shifted her position with a squirming little life beneath her.

 

Thrilled? You bet! Although there is always a chance that chicks will expire in their early days, this little one seems to be active and healthy. Now, we hope Clack returns soon, loaded with yummy fish oil to feed her offspring. Click has been on the nest since January 15 and, while the adults can hold back a certain amount of food for the newly hatched chick, it will be the returning partner who can provide the extra nourishment needed for fast growth and health.

Every November, we eagerly anticipate Click and Clackʻs return. In the 2014/2015 season they raised Pip (as the homeowners, we had the honor of officially naming their chick)! We haven’t seen Pip reappear yet (three years is usually the earliest that the adolescents first return to dry land), but weʻll be keeping an eye out next year for sure.

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Pip, May 2015, aged 3 months

** Cathy is our dedicated Princeville albatross guru/monitor/friend/savior! If youʻre interested in learning more about our Princeville birds, her blog My Albatross Diary will give you hours of entertainment and education.

 

Paddling in Paradise

The outrigger canoe race season is in full fling.

This weekend the Hanalei Canoe Club (HCC) participated in our second regatta of the season. Like the first, it was held in our beautfiul Hanalei Bay. It’s a great day out for the entire family, with kids’ races all morning, and adults’ all afternoon.

Setup on race days starts at 7am. I try to get there early to enjoy the tranquility and grab a few morning photos before the hoards arrive.

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We gather at the Hanalei Pavilion beach park, and both park and beach are quickly buried under tents and bodies.

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Our clubhouse is located on the edge of Hanalei River, close to the river mouth at the east end of the Bay, so it’s easy to paddle our canoes from the club to the Pavilion early in the morning, where the kids enjoy helping to haul them out onto the beach.

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At the beginning of each regatta the Hanalei Canoe Club tradition is to form a circle around our canoes for an opening blessing, and usually the club song, Queen’s Jubilee. However, Devin our master ukulele player and honorary ‘musical director’ was MIA this weekend, so no song. It’s not easy to remember the Hawaiian lyrics, so I found a recording (there are plenty of them!) on YouTube to help me get it into my head for future events.

As a Brit, I was interested to learn the story behind the song, which was written by Queen Lili’uokalani after traveling to London as a young princess with a large Hawaiian contingent to attend Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.

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All the club members help at various stages, in various roles during the day. Everyone brings food to share; paddlers are a hungry crowd, and the food table quickly looks as if it’s been attacked by a flock of vultures, so we try to stagger the ‘unveiling’ of dishes to make them last a little longer.

At every regatta, and other events too, we sell club merchandise to visitors and club members, which helps raise much needed funds for the club. It takes a large number of helpers to set up and unpack, to man the tables all day, and then to pack up at the end of the event.

We carry a vast array of logo clothing: teeshirts and tanks (cotton, capilene, mesh), sweatshirts, hoodies, caps/visors/beanies, shorts, swimwear separates – in many colors and in all sizes from 6 months to XXXL. So if anyone out there fancies some Hanalei Canoe Club clothing from the Garden Island, let me know! 🙂

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Each club also provides one or two members to work in the official race tent, recording results and timings. I’ve done a stint in the tent at both regattas so far, and it’s interesting to learn how it all comes together.

Besides the official tent, we have our own club Mission Control, where the teams for each race are selected and race results monitored. This week, our extraordinary coach Lilinoe was ‘on duty’ as usual, from first thing in the morning, with baby Kaleb beside her, despite them both having experienced a C-section delivery 12 days previously. That’s Lilinoe below, busy at work in the yellow/green sarong, and Kaleb’s hidden in the buggy. She even showed up at the club with Kaleb when he was just four days old. She’s one tough cookie!

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However, some folks work a tad harder than others! 😀

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We were blessed, again, with gorgeous weather and ocean conditions; yet another glorious day of paddling and camaraderie in the Bay.

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This year the Hawaiian Island Canoe Racing Association (HICRA) State Races will be held in Hanalei Bay on August 3rd. It will be an especially fun occasion for us all at HCC, as the State Races are only held here on our home turf in our home surf once every six years. The event is held on O’ahu every other year, and on a neighbor island other years.

Kīlauea Point Lighthouse Centennial

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May 1st was the 100th Anniversary of the Kīlauea Point Lighthouse – an auspicious date, not least because it’s also my brother’s birthday (though he’s a tad younger!) 😉

With the lighthouse fully restored to its former glory after over two years of intensive restoration from top to toe, this year’s Centennial celebrations were particularly special.

It was a packed week of activities from Wednesday May 1, when the lighthouse was re-opened for back-to-back guided tours, through Sunday May 5, when the town of Kīlauea hosted their community parade and huge open-air party, to celebrate the town’s 150th Anniversary.

Louise BarnfieldI was one of the lighthouse guides who thoroughly enjoyed sharing its history and the incredible restoration work with our visitors.

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Until about four years ago, when it was closed for safety reasons, the lighthouse was open for tours just once a year, on Lighthouse Day, the first Saturday of May. Now we’re waiting to hear whether we will be able to offer tours on a more frequent schedule. It would certainly be sad if the inside couldn’t be enjoyed by more visitors, as it has a fascinating story to tell.

On Saturday May 4 the lighthouse was re-dedicated and re-named in honor of the late Senator Daniel Inouye who played a huge part in gaining sufficient federal funding for the restoration. The initial effort had come some years ago from just a few local enthusiasts who started a fundraising campaign and generously pitched in with the first donations. When Senator Inouye heard of the venture, he took a personal interest in supporting their efforts.

IMG_6128The full day of celebrations started with traditional songs and hula dancing, building up to the early evening dedication ceremony with the hauntingly beautiful opening and closing chants that sandwiched a number of emotional speeches.

At dusk the light was lit (just a stationary light, the lighthouse is no longer operational and the lens doesn’t rotate). The crowd watched as darkness fell and the beam strengthened.

At the same time, the wedge-tailed shearwaters were returning to roost after a long day at sea. They buzzed over our heads as they swooped down into their burrows deep in the naupaka that surrounds Kīlauea Point, and the air was filled with their cries (captured at the end of the video below). Apart from this one day a year the refuge closes at 4pm, deliberately to leave it to the birds, so this was a special experience.

Announcing free airport entertainment at LIH

I’m happy to report that there’s a new show in town to entertain visitors when they arrive at Līhu`e…and it’s free!

It’s been a long time coming but, thanks to some strong community collaboration, a very informative ocean safety video now plays in the arrival hall.

It only takes six minutes out of your life, and it could save it!

ImageI believe the count currently stands at 11 drownings off Kaua`i this year (they are so damned frequent I’m beginning to lose count), and it’s only April! The majority of deaths were visitors. What a tragic way for a vacation to come to a grinding halt, not just for the victims, but for all the families and friends who had expected to escape their regular lives for a week or two in paradise.

I don’t have a count of the far greater number of rescues, but I know that the lifeguards and other responders have been working overtime this year. There are many folks who have had a very lucky escape; but their unpleasant experiences, and the risk to responders, could probably have been avoided if they’d been aware of the dangers in the ocean, particularly along the north shore in winter months.

Take a look at the video below – even if you’re not planning a visit to the island, it captures the beauty of our beaches and impressive power of the ocean.

I particularly encourage my CA friends to share the video, since Hawai`i is such a popular vacation destination for those on the West Coast.

When in doubt, don’t go out!

Outrigger Canoeing: A rookie wrinkly’s perspective

Having had a charity tennis tournament rained out this afternoon, I’m back home and watching the rain continue to dump on us, so it seems apt to talk about a water sport instead.

Back in October a friend invited me to try outrigger canoeing. If you’ve been to Hawai’i, or seen the closing credits for Hawaii Five-0, you’ll know the kind of canoe I mean … this kind:

Many years ago, I rowed in eights and fours in England (on the River Thames), even once taking part in the Head of the River race (which looked a little like this recent example); latterly, I’ve been more into enjoying ‘easy’ kayaking with Steve (we brought a couple of ocean kayaks with us to the island), so I was keen to give the traditional Hawaiian outriggers a go.

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HCC: River access is behind the building – turn right to head up river, or left to head out into Hanalei Bay

Luckily, I joined Hanalei Canoe Club (HCC) during the off-season, so I had a few months of recreational-level paddling with a small (i.e. ‘quality not quantity’) group who regularly go out on Monday and Friday mornings.

Since the paddling stroke is very different from rowing, this gave me a chance to learn the ropes and start to ‘educate’ the required muscles before the serious training began, which it did in February.

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Training sessions are now Monday and Wednesday evenings, and also Saturday mornings if there isn’t a race. As the season goes on, there will be a race or regatta on most Saturdays.

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Hanalei River passes through the Hanalei Wildlife Refuge and taro fields.

During winter months, we train up and down Hanalei River, but when the ocean calms down in the summer we’ll get out into Hanalei Bay.

We paddle in most weather conditions, wet or dry, so training is rarely canceled (unlike tennis)! It’s harder work on windy days and when the river is flowing fast, but on a good day (and there are plenty of those), the views are spectacular. Either way, it’s exhilarating and a great work-out. It’s also a very sociable activity, and it beats going to a gym.

I’m thoroughly enjoying my new sport, not just for the activity itself, but also for the friends I’ve made, and for all I’m learning about the tradition of the sport and Hawaiian culture. The club members are an enthusiastic and close-knit group. Everyone helps to lug all the canoes in and out of the water, and no one leaves until all the canoes are rinsed and stowed away under the building. Every training session ends with us all (30-35 paddlers on most days) gathering in a circle for announcements and the closing HCC Hawaiian chant.

During the season, there are all kinds of events, from long-distance ocean races to regattas that include quarter- or half-mile sprints. There are also many categories for a race: genders, age ranges, and rookies. The Novice A and B categories are for the rookies like me. It’s somewhat bizarre to be able to compete in a new sport when I’m almost past my sell-by date. 🙂

2013 is an especially exciting year for HCC, as it’s Kauai’s turn to host the State Championships in August, and I’m looking forward to being involved in some way or other. However, I cannot imagine participating in any long distance races, which are relays requiring team members to swap in and out of the canoe at intervals during the event! On those occasions I suspect I’ll restrict myself to the role of spectator and team support! 😉 (Here’s a video clip that shows what those swaps look like on the annual Na Pali Challenge, which starts in Hanalei Bay and heads west along the Na Pali coast down to Port Allen on the south of Kauai.)

Below is a brief gob-smacking look at the 2012 Na Wahine O Ka Kai event – a long distance women’s race from Molokai to O’ahu. The 2012 event was <um> pretty brutal! This clip shows the teams struggling to get out from the shore to the start line! 

No! I’m not in the running for any of our HCC teams for the 2013 Na Wahine O Ka Kai … and, if I had been, I definitely wouldn’t be after seeing this video! 🙂

 

Our albatross girls: futile not fertile


IMG_5681It seems that KP338 has finally decided enough is enough, and has left the nest that’s in our front yard.

She swapped with KP643 for the last time on March 12, and on that occasion they spent a particularly long time sitting side by side on the nest, ‘chatting’ together, and occasionally sitting up to look at, and chatter at, the egg.

Was it just my imagination or did I detect a worried look on their faces, and maybe frustration too?…

IMG_5672On the morning of March 14, I noticed 338 was standing over the egg for several minutes, with no sign of settling down; whereas usually, when a nesting bird needs a stretch, it’s a quick stand-up-shuffle-and-sit-down-again, to keep that precious egg warm.

By lunchtime she had left the nest, waddling around the front yard and back-and-forth across the driveway for a while, before settling down a few yards from the nest under the sago palm…yes, the same sago palm where both she and 643 had laid their eggs back on December 4 and 5, before 338’s egg rolled down the slope to its resting place nearer the garage.

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We won’t remove the egg yet (amazingly, it’s still whole after almost 3-and-a-half months!) unless of course it breaks and emits an unholy smell!

We’ll just let nature take its course. 338 is likely to  return to the nest a few times, even though she has now let the egg go cold. 643 might return, and they might still hang out in the neighborhood together for a while, just like our neighbor’s couple that I featured in my previous post.

If we’re lucky, they’ll treat us to some noisily entertaining and affectionate displays of their own, before eventually heading off to Alaska for the summer months.

I’m already looking forward to November, assuming they return for another try, when I’m hoping some randy male gets to one or other of them before they settle down together.

Laysan albatross couple dance like there’s nobody watching *

The couple in the video nested this year in a neighbor’s yard, but the egg wasn’t fertile and eventually broke, so now they’ve settled in the yard next door to their nest, and we see them almost daily displaying like this.

These displays are common among our neighborhood albatross at this time of year – either couples whose egg did not successfully hatch, like these two, or non-nesters seeking a partner for future years. Often, we also see larger groups of 4 to 6 adolescents ‘displaying’ together. It’s always fascinating to watch their moves!

Eventually this couple will fly north for the summer, but this continued ‘affection’ indicates that they plan to return to their nest, or close by, next year to try again.

* “You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”  — William W. Purkey