December 14, 2015: Use the arrow keys to go forward and backward.
1. The breeding season is almost over for this year. The total number of nests this year is fairly close to last year, but we seem to have fewer nests in the immediate neighborhood. Some “old time” couples reunited this year, but did not produce a viable egg. One experienced couple laid an egg, but abandoned it after a few days.
2. Two returning pairs laid eggs within a few feet of each other. On the right is KP531 (father of Uno last year) and on the left is Champion (father of Weber last year), both sitting on eggs. One old time couple (K233/O324) did reconnect earlier this month, but did not lay an egg. Mates occasionally decide to take off a year since the raising of a chick is exhausting. They were Fern’s parents last year.
3. This is KP531. He has fathered 7 chicks with three different mates. His current mate is KP407 who raised her first chick with him last year.
4. Champion (KP618) is the father of 4 chicks, including Weber from last year. His first mate disappeared at sea, so he teamed up last year with KP252. She had raised 3 chicks with another mate, who also was lost at sea.a.
5. Another nest this year belongs to a female/female pair, KP251 and KP517. Four years ago their egg was fertilized and they raised a chick named Winslow. But in the last two years their eggs have been bad. This year, both females laid an egg. Since they know they can only incubate one egg, they discard one, seen to the left of the adult sitting on the other egg.
6. One nest in the neighborhood has a room with an ocean view. This egg belongs to a couple who have raise 3 chicks in the past. While one parent sits on the egg at all times, the other is out at sea foraging for food for itself. Since they often fly almost 2000 miles one way to find food, it takes 7-10 days to return.
7. The most prolific couple in the area have laid an egg that could be their 9th chick. Here KP460 has nested in a secluded spot under a plant in the front yard. With her mate, KP524, she has raised chicks in eight of the last 10 years. One year they had a bad egg and they took off one year without laying an egg.
8. Unattached adults spend their time socializing with each other, either in pairs or groups. One day seven gathered close together. These adults fall into two categories. Most are chicks who return after their 3-4 years at sea after fledging. These young adults prospect for mates, the albatross version of spring break.
9. One of these young adults is K247, a chick named Leilani, who was hatched here in 2007. She is now reaching breeding age. Generally, albatross will start breeding at 7-10 years. Breeding can continue into their 60’s, as evidenced by “Wisdom” on Midway Island. Wisdom is documented to be at least 63 years old, yet she is still laying and raising chicks.
10. In addition to the young adults, we see a number of older unattached birds. Many have lost mates and are looking for new ones. Others just haven’t found the “right” one.
11. This young adult has decided to play “king of the hill” to get a better view of who is coming and going.
12. Albatross often meet in groups of 4-5 to mingle. This is a group of young chicks and older unattached birds. In the mix is “Jade” (left side), another chick from the neighborhood, hatched in 2006. Her parents (KP517/KP465) had 7 chicks before dad failed to return several years ago. Mom is still looking for a new mate.
13. The distinctive albatross dance includes a variety of behaviors; high speed clacking, bobbing heads, several unusual sounds, and putting one’s head under a wing (we still don’t know what that means). This photo shows the blurring of the beaks as they performing the high speed clacking of their bills.
14. Another returning chick, hatched in 2006, is named Princess. Although she is breeding age, she has not yet found a suitable mate.