My last entry told the story of KP470, a female who has laid eggs year after year with no one to help her incubate them. This year she has a mate, KP735. After KP470 had sat on the egg for over 30 days, KP735 arrived and took over the incubation duty. That was at the beginning of this week.
Usually when the mate returns to sit on the egg to relieve the one who took the first, longest incubation shift, the one leaving will be gone for about 3 weeks, to feed and build up strength. But KP470 never had a partner before, and she obviously has not read the albatross literature, because she was back at the nest on Friday.
I expected to find KP470 on the nest when I checked it on Saturday, but I was wrong. KP735 was alone, still sitting on the egg. KP470 is learning proper albatross etiquette from her new mate. This is not a trivial lesson. When the parents start leaving the chick alone, they will be spending all of their time finding food for themselves and for their progeny. They will not have time to lollygag at the nest. KP470’s job right now is to fly out over the ocean and spend enough time there to replenish the nutrients she lost during all those days she spent on the nest. Once the chick has hatched, she will need all of her strength to fulfill her job as an albatross parent.
It is not an easy job!