Seeing the big birds

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After a long sail we finally arrive at Isla Espanola and can take the small boat three at the time to go and explore the island. It takes a while for everybody to get ferried ashore with such small boats but finally we are all on land. It doesn’t take long to get the wildlife watching started – there obviously is a sea lion right at the pier of the island and there are also some marine iguanas at the pier along with some birds.

Marine iguana walking on the beach

As we leave the pier we see more of the local wildlife – there are some small geckos which are nice with a bright red head which I guess is a male in the breathing season and some females without the red head.

As we walk further away from where we landed we see some of the dramatic landscape which is on this island and we see more of the Nazca boobies which I had already seen several times before. The Nazca boobies are fairly big and very nice to observe – but the reason I had taken this long and fairly expensive trip was to see a bird which is much bigger than the boobies – the waved albatross call this island its home during the breeding season. the vast majority of this species of albatross gather right here in march when they get ready to lay their eggs – and in the early part of July they are still laying on their eggs with no hatchlings in sight so we can only see the adults. This is fine since the adults are a very big bird and because they need to stay on the nest we can easily get close and see the amazing birds.

Albatros laying on a nest

We spot an albatross and I start taking a few photos of the big bird on the nest. But then I get distracted by a Galapagos hawk which apparently is the number one predators on these islands since there are no large predatory land animals anywhere on the islands. The bird seems happy to let us come pretty close like most other birds around this area so I manage to get some decent photos of my very first Galapagos hawk.

A galapagos hawk on Espanola island

We leave the hawk behind and continue walking around the island. In addition to the many birds the island has a stunning landscape with dramatic cliffs and some blowhole where the water rises to fairly great heights.

As we look at the cliffs one of the most stunning birds on the Galapagos just fly by. It is the tropic bird which has a super long tail behind it. I had seen it before lying on a nest a few days ago – but here flying you can really see the long tail. I wonder how much drag such a long tail most gives the bird in the air – I figure it is a very impractical device it has probably to be attractive to the female tropic birds. Despite the long tail the bird is still flying pretty fast so it is difficult to get a good shot of the bird as it rushes around on top of us.

Tropic bird with long tail flying by

It is a lot easier to admire the Nazca boobies and take some photos of these birds as they hang around the island having a small breeding colony down here.

We leave the Nazca behind and go to the higher parts of the island where a lot of albatrosses have their nests. They come here during the breading season and then they have to make sure they leave by September. After September the wind we are feeling today disappears and then the giant birds can no longer take off and they will be stuck on the island for half a year. So they have to raise their chicks and go to the oceans as soon as possible.

It is very impressive to see all these giant birds – so I think the long sail has been worthwhile just to spot these birds. After all this is the first time I see an albatross – and here we really get to see them up close – we could touch them if we wanted since they have no chance of taking off before we could reach them. Obviously nobody did touch the birds.


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