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Published: October 4th 2017
Our activities today were all on Genovesa Island. Like just about all of the islands of the Galápagos, Genovesa has its Spanish name and also an English name, in this case Tower Island. It is also known informally as Bird Island because of the large number and numerous types of seabirds which nest here and raise their young, and also smaller birds that are restricted to land. Like most of the islands in the Galápagos, it is a shield volcano, although active within historical times. The center is a large caldera with one wall blown out during an eruption so that the island virtually encloses Bahia Darwin (Darwin Bay). We started our day at El Barranco and then Bahia Darwin.
El Barranco gave us a prelude of the rest of the entire trip - you are usually going to have to do some climbing to see anything worth seeing. El Barranco is a plateau that is reached by a steep series of steps carved into the rock for about 25 meters. Along the way, and at the top of the steps, we were already passing by birds nesting at the side of the trail, both they and their chicks totally
"Prickleless" prickly pear
Friendly to landing mockingbirds who provide pollination
unconcerned with our passage and the clicking of camera shutters. A red-footed booby youngster blocked our path trying out his wings for his first flight yet to come. A new chick huddled at his mother's feet in snowy down. As we started along the path on the plateau, we entered a scrub scant forest of palo santo trees, used for their incense smell. At this time of year, the dryer season, they were largely devoid of leaves, making it easier to see all the birds in them. Red-footed boobies are alone among the boobies in their ability to bend their feet in a grasping manner, making it possible for them to perch on branches. They have bright blue beaks, possibly to make up for not having blue feet to show off during mating season. This island is replete with them, as well as with frigate birds, tropic birds, and Nazca boobies (my personal favorite for their looks). One unusual sight is large flocks of wedge-jumped storm petrels out in the daytime hunting fish, since petrels are generally more nocturnal. To avoid predators, they come back to their nests and burrows at night. We saw part of the reason why -
Described as kleptoparasitic - new word for me
we watched a short-eared owl hunting during the day for chicks in the burrows. The short-eared owls here are a subspecies endemic to the Galápagos, although the genus is very widespread. This one differs from it cousins by the fact that it is smaller and darker in color and hunts during the day. It is also a relatively poor flyer.
The marine iguanas on Genovesa are the smallest in the islands, and this was our first chance to see them up close. In the early morning, males who can become very territorial during mating season huddle together to increase their warmth - as cold-blooded reptiles, they must use the warmth of the sun to increase their body temperature enough to tolerate their underwater journeys to eat algae.
After the El Barranco walk, we got a chance to experience why they need warmth. We went for a snorkel jaunt. I find snorkeling very confining after so many years diving, and frankly don't really enjoy it that much. Almost skipped this run, but decided to go ahead. Swimming along slowly with my head down, I suddenly saw some webbed feet just in front of me. When I brought my head
For just about any animal in the islands, you can probably give the right name if you start with either "lava", "Galápagos", or "Darwin".
up out of the water I was looking directly into the face of a pelican, which then followed me everywhere I went for several minutes. Hardly know what to say about having a pelican hit on you.
For the afternoon excursion, we landed on the beach in Darwin Bay, wiped the sand off our feet, donned our hiking shoes, and set out on a walk over the beach and to some small tidal pools. This was our best chance yet at seeing some of the birds, such as close approaches to nesting frigate birds sharing nesting sites with boobies and the endemic swallow-tailed gull. We discovered a baby stingray in one of the tidal pools. Back aboard the Letty, we headed off for a refueling stop the next morning, which would bring a surprise.
Tot: 2.982s; Tpl: 0.052s; cc: 20; qc: 63; dbt: 0.0582s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb