Pure joy!...Photos of two of the fledging Laysan Albatross chicks in Kauai...Vinny and Nash...The culmination to our passionate observation...

For the purposes of illustration and the difficulty of determining which bird is Vinny and the other Nash, we've taken
the liberty of speculating which of the two birds is shown in these photos, although each photo is one of the two.  Also, due to the poor internet connection and the number of photos our line spacing may appear inaccurate.


The remaining fuzz doesn't deter Nash from being ready to go.  Only five months old, he'd yet to shed his chick fluff but the dark lined eyes are very grown up.
On Saturday morning as we began our day, sipping coffee and getting online Tom asked if I'd seen my email yet.  I hadn't.  Instead I was busy checking photos for the day's post and contemplating the story line. 
Vinny awoke this morning and decided, "Today's the day," and begins the long walk to the edge of the cliff.
Most days, I have no idea as to our story instead letting the most recent photos lead the way into the day's story.  Posting with photos each day can be rather challenging at times, especially when we don't always have enough good photos on file to share.


Its a long walk for Vinny from the nest to the edge of the cliff.
With today's scheduled appointment for an interview at the Cairns Tropical Zoo (see this post for details on why we're going to a zoo) after which we'll tour the zoo to take many photos of Australian wildlife which we'll share here in days to come, we thought having a story and photos to post early in the day would get us out the door on time.


Nash begins to hike from the nest to the cliff's edge.
At times, we plan ahead by preparing a post a day or two early when we have something specific scheduled in the morning when I usually prepare the post.  Luckily, we're able to schedule the post to automatically upload at a designated time making it possible for it to upload while we're away.


"This looks scary," says Nash. "Its a shame I'm having a bad hair day!"
Today's story is such the case when Saturday morning's email from our dear friend Richard in Kauai, sent both of us these awe inspiring photos of Vinny and Nash as the fledge the nest and head out to sea to fen for themselves.


"So what if I don't look very grown up!  I can do this!"
These amazing photos were taken in the past few days by Bob Waid, albatross expert and photographer, who lives in the special neighborhood in Kauai (along with Richard) which we frequently visited to see the progression of the life cycle of the Laysan Albatross.


"I'm almost there."
Somehow, from years of experience and sheer luck, Bob was able to take these photos that brought tears to my eyes.  Bob Waid wrote the wonderful book on the life cycle and nesting habits of the intriguing Laysan Albatross which we read shortly after our arrival, relishing every photo included in the beautiful story. 


Its a big commitment, worthy of contemplation.


"I can do this," says Vinny.

While we lived in Kauai, Hawaii, USA for over four months before taking the cruise to Australia, we had the exquisite opportunity to visit the albatross, often several times each week, from the incubation stage when the many sets of parent's were taking turns sitting on their solitary eggs, through the date in early February when the chicks finally hatched.



"Hey Ma, hey Pa!  Look what I can do!"
From there, we had the joy of watching the chicks mature as they sat in the nests growing more and more plump each day as the parents took turns flying out to sea to feed.  


Its a whole new world for Vinny and Nash
The parents were often gone for many days, leaving the chick returning to regurgitate the seafood to feed their precious chick.  Watching the feeding in itself was a mind boggling experience, one we treasured along with each step in the growth cycle. 

What a gorgeous young Laysan Albatross, minutes before fledging!


Having had the opportunity to meet both Bob Waid and later, Cathy Granholm, docent with the Los Angeles Zoo (see this link for some photos, a video and our story) both of whom live in the neighborhood only added to our extraordinary and memorable experience. 

Vinny leaping off the cliff to a new life.
Cathy is the record keeper for the progression and growth of the Laysan Albatross chicks and families.  Tirelessly, she's wandered through the neighborhood twice daily, spending hours recording the growth and behavior of the chicks, their parents and yet to mature offspring many of whom return to this magical neighborhood year after year.  

A running start for Nash.
Cathy has managed this daunting task for the past 10 years, making it her way of life for seven to eight months of the year.  What dedication!

On Saturday morning when Tom suggested I immediately check my email with a huge smile on his face, I knew it was something wonderful as opposed to disturbing news of any type.


Almost over the edge!
Opening
the message from Richard, my breath caught in my throat and I loudly gasped when I saw the photos as Tom spewed out the words, "It's the chick named Vinny who is fledging." 


"Hmm...looks like I need to try again."
Then again yesterday morning we found the second batch of photos of Nash fledging sent to us once again by Richard.  I'd contacted Bob by email to ask him if he'd give us permission to post his photos. He was thrilled to share them with us and our worldwide readers.


Finally Nash is on his way.
After over four months, (nothing compared to Bob or Cathy's commitment) of following the growth and progression of the chicks and taking endless photos and videos, the experience had finally come to fruition, even with us now living so very far away.


"Finally, I'm free!"
Having the opportunity to see these photos sent me over the moon in a swoon of joy.  For those of our readers who followed the albatross journey with us, who perhaps tired of our constant comments, ramblings and photos, humor me one more time and check out these photos knowing they are posted with a love of wildlife and a passion for the mystery of life itself.


Vinny takes flight!
We both want to thank Bob, Cathy and our friend Richard for introducing us to this extraordinary annual event that magically worked out perfectly during the time of our lengthy stay in Kauai. 


"Weee...this is fun!"
By the time you see this post, we'll be on our way to see the wildlife of Australia.  Although, we'd have preferred for the opportunity to see the animals in their natural habitat, as we'd watched the Laysan Albatross for months and as we experienced in both Kenya and South Africa, we're grateful for this inside look into life in this environment.


Vinny's off to his new life at sea.
Although the Cairns Tropical Zoo may be a controlled  environment we have no doubt that the wildlife is nurtured with the care, compassion and expertise of many dedicated indiviudals who appreciate each and every creature
Check out that wingspan on a five month old Laysan Albatross chick Nash as heads out to sea.
Most of all, as we wind down our story of this memorable experience, we want to express our love for the Laysan Albatross parents and chicks for giving us the glorious experience of witnessing a vital part of your lives that in essence, changed ours.

Off to the sea, perhaps to return to the neighborhood when they mature in four to five years to have their own chicks to nurture and love.


The last video we took of the albatross before we left Princeville, Kauai.
____________________________________
 
Photo from one year ago today, July 7, 2014:

One year ago today, we'd booked an Australian cruise on the Celebrity Solstice, a ship on which we've sailed in the past on January 5, 2016, a mere six months away.  How the time flies!  For more details on this cruise, please click here.

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