August 2015: The end of the season (page 2 of 2)
7. “Dexter”, another of the chicks, fledged later that day. Someone saw him at 3:00 pm, but he was nowhere to be found at 4:00 pm. This left the last two chicks, “Devin” in front and “Pablo” behind. Both are far outside of their normal range when seen here on the street.
8. Several days later, both worked their way back to see the ocean from the bluff. Devin seemed curious about the old duffer watching him. After a few minutes, Devin did something very unusual.
9. Instead of finding a good launching point for his takeoff, he started to walk through the thick bushes down the slope. Eventually we lost sight of him as he got lost in the brush on the side of the bluff.
In 2011, another chick, named “Robert Frost” started down the slope in exactly the same spot. Later, someone spotted him on the beach below and saw him fledge from the sand.
The name Robert Frost was very unusual. The home owner told a nephew he could name the chick. He couldn't think of a name, so she asked what was he studying in school. He said Robert Frost. Luckily, he wasn't studying Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
10. This path to fledging is very unusual on Kauai. However, the vast majority of albatross live on Midway Island. Since the highest point on the island is only 42 feet, more than 300,000 chicks a year fledge from the sand.
The white line on this photo shows the tough going that Devin had to face. When he got to the African tulip tree (orange blossoms at the right) he would encounter a 50 foot sheer drop to the beach below.
The other chick who went this route, Robert Frost, return to Kauai after three years at sea. So we know that it can be done.
11. The other chick, Pablo, took the more normal route. About 3 hours later, he pushed off from the point in exactly the same spot as Fern.
12. He cruised over the trees in the valley to the open water.
13. And he gained altitude for his trip to his new life on the open waters of the Pacific.
14. Two days later, Pablo’s father returned to make sure the chick had fledged. Parents will return to feed their chick until is obvious the chick has left. After a few hours of calling for the chick, the parent returns to the sea for the balance of the season. Adults will return in November to start the process over again.
Now that all chicks have fledged and all parents have verified, we are now officially empty nesters.