Thursday, May 14, 2009

Darwin Bay - April 27
A 7AM wake-up announcement found us anchored in Darwin Bay at Isla Genovesa with many new birds in sight from the boat including Red-footed Boobie, Swallow-tailed Gull, and Red-billed Tropicbird.

After breakfast and a short panga ("Zodiac") ride to the landing point at Prince Phillip's Steps, we climbed the crater rim to the head of the trail. Large Ground Finch and Warbler Finch greeted us as did many Galapagos Mockingbirds. Nesting birds included Great Frigatebird, Red-footed Boobie, and Nazca Boobie. We walked through the scrub to the open areas of lava to the east where thousands of Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrels cruised low on their way back to nest sites. An incredible number of birds! The area clearly brought the thought that Darwin had marveled at the unique sites and witnessed many a bird and animal spectacle.

We enjoyed great views of the local race of Short-eared Owl who clearly was benefiting from the great numbers of storm-petrels. Three Waved Albatross glided over the colony, perhaps evaluating the area as a potential new nest site.

I forgot to mention the Sharp-beaked Ground Finch and the many Galapagos Doves! Could have stayed here longer just meditating over the years Darwin must have done the same over what he had seen.

In the mid-afternoon, we went over to the beach for a nature walk, swimming, and snorkeling. Many Galapagos Sea Lions on the sand. New birds included Lava Gull, Wandering Tattler, Whimbrel, and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. The Lava Gull was impressive, its feathering matching the landscape so completely. Good looks at Red-billed Tropicbirds and Swallow-tailed Gull. A few Galapagos Shearwater came close. This night we motored 14 hours to the west side of Isabella.

Short-eared Owl

Young traveler and sea lions

Galapagos Shearwater

Swallow-tailed Gull