Espanola Island: July 16, 2016

blue-footed-booby-07-16-2016-7489Espanola Island is a small island in the southernmost tip of the Galapagos Archipelago. As one of the oldest islands, it is estimated to be between two and three million years old, and was where we spent our last full day of the trip. In the morning, on the rocky, windswept Punta Suarez side of the island, we were greeted by nesting seabirds, and fortunate enough to see the courtship rituals of Waved Albatross and to some extent the Blue-Footed Boobies, although most of the latter’s nesting seemed to be over.

If you click on the pictures below you can see some of the “waved” pattern on the Waved Albatross’s breast. The bird in the second photo has a band with a number on it.

Below is one of several videos I took of the courtship behavior. It was impossible to capture any one entire interaction as they seemed to go on and on for a long time!

Some Blue-Footed Boobies were displaying but were too far away to capture on video. I suspect we were several weeks too late.

Nazca Boobies also nest here.

There was a Wandering Tattler in this tidal pool, along with a Sea Lion.

Beautiful Swallow-Tailed Gulls were present too. Below is a close-up of the red skin that forms a ring around the eye.

swallow-tailed-gull-07-16-2016-7277swallow-tailed-gull-07-16-2016-7750This was my last opportunity to try and capture a Red-Billed Tropicbird.

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And the Galapagos Hawk made an appearance.

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Nothing like another Magnificent Frigatebird.

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Espanola has its own species of lava lizard.

And the finch find of the day was the Large Cactus Finch.

Also present, the Marine Iguanas, a Hermit Crab and a Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron

In the afternoon we visited the other side of the island, Gardner Bay, which has a wide stretch of beach and a lot of Espanola Mockingbirds begging for water. It was hard to resist them but we were not allowed to give in to their demands. You can see and hear them begging from my roommate in the video below.

A couple more Blue-Footed Boobies.

blue-footed-booby-07-16-2016-7934I love the blue accents on the rest of this bird.

blue-footed-booby-07-16-2016-7358Below, our last dinner sculpture and the final day’s plan to visit Santa Cruz Island in the morning before our flight back to the mainland.

I am going to the Gull Frolic on Saturday and will likely report back from that with some photos. The forecast is for warmer temperatures than last year, but it is always windy and somewhat chilly on the lakefront near the Wisconsin border. I am thankful the forecast for rain has been postponed until Sunday.

Galapagos Day 5?

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Paint-Billed Crake

The thought crossed my mind recently that visiting the Galapagos was a trip of a lifetime – but I did not expect it would take me another lifetime to get through all the pictures.

The Paint-Billed Crake above and below has got to be the most cooperative crake I have ever tried to photograph, let alone see.

paint-billed-crake-07-14-16-5591These pictures are in no particular order. In fact I think they’re nearly in the order I uploaded them. They are all from Floreana Island and environs.

Always looking for a cooperative Blue-Footed Booby, but sometimes they move too fast.

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Blue-Footed Booby

blue-footed-booby-07-14-2016-5792The Nazca Boobies, on the other hand, are always available for pictures.

Below, a Brown Noddy on the left, and on the right and below, the ubiquitous Elliott’s Storm-Petrel. I got spoiled seeing these birds off the bough of the boat every day. Guess I’ll need to take more pelagic trips if I want more of this sort of thing.

Floreana Island has its own subspecies of Galapagos Mockingbird.

floreana-mockingbird-07-14-2016-6082I think we saw at least one Galapagos Flycatcher every day.

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Galapagos Flycatcher

This island also has a budding tortoise population.

The hard-to-capture bird below is a Galapagos Shearwater. They were rarely seen except for one early evening when a group of them was following the boat, walking on water.

Adding another Darwin’s Finch to the list, below is the Medium Tree Finch, I believe a male on the left and a female on the right.

And below, two individuals from the Small Ground Finch clan. We may have seen them every day too.

The Red-Billed Tropicbird below was my ongoing challenge. Although we saw plenty of them they were either too far away or too fast to capture perfectly. But I kept trying.

I will never tire of Sally Lightfoot Crabs. Who is Sally Lightfoot? Apparently no one in particular, but one website says they get their name from being nimble on their feet. That’s a Marine Iguana with and below the crab.

The Galapagos Sea Lions we saw nearly every day, too. No complaints.

Below, a juvenile Swallow-Tailed Gull and two flight shots. You can actually see the swallow-tail in the top right flight picture. Click on it for enlargement.

Below, a Wedge-Rumped Storm-Petrel and me, likely trying to get pictures of it.

Those Galapagos Yellow Warblers always seemed happy to see us.

I hope you are enjoying the holiday season, wherever you are. We are currently toughening up to withstand the Polar Vortex which shows no signs of going anywhere anytime soon. Snow is predicted this weekend. That’s Snow with a Capital S.

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Small Tree Finch

I’m doing well after my second cataract surgery and looking forward to a new prescription in a few weeks.

I’m not happy with working late, Friday night. End of Complaining. Hope to be back to this page soon.

 

Galapagos Part 2: Genovese Island

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Short-Eared (Galapagos) Owl

Life has been getting in the way a bit more lately: my apologies for the delayed post. Every time I go back to these photographs I think it will be easy, that I must have been done with them, and then I find out that is not the case. Then I was looking forward to a weekend without much planned thinking I was going to do a lot of work at the computer and it just didn’t happen.

I think WordPress takes matters into its own hands when I haven’t posted for a while and generates some kind of phenomenal amount of hits, then sends me a message our of the blue saying my blog is really popular. This has happened to me twice lately. I get the hint. Okay, back to work.

These photographs were all taken on Monday, July 11, 2016 as we visited what is called Prince Phillip’s Steps in the morning, on Genovese Island, and Darwin Bay on the other side in the afternoon. Galapagos Dove and Nazca Boobies above.

This was the only island where we could see Red-Footed Boobies.

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Some Nazca Boobies had youngsters. There seemed to be a problem trying to feed too large a fish to the fledgling.

This Swallow-Tailed Gull below seemed to be having the same problem. I suspect there may be an upset in the availability of smaller prey. But at least they weren’t trying to feed plastic.

The Swallow-Tailed Gulls are quite striking. You will likely see them again in future posts. We even got treated to a pair that was copulating.

It was a real treat to spend time with the Short-Eared (Galapagos) Owl below. Leave it to a Galapagos Mockingbird to bother him. As always, feel free to click on the pictures to get a larger view.

I think I spent the entire trip trying to get a decent photograph of a Red-Billed Tropicbird. There is likely a better flight shot down the line in a future post. In any event we got to see a lot of them on Genovese and even discovered one nesting (below).

nesting-red-billed-tropicbird-gal16b-lisa-spellman-7285Magnificent Frigatebirds also call this island home.

And we got to see what to my uneducated eye is the difference between the Magnificent and the Great Frigatebird: a blue-green sheen to the plumage of the latter.

And of course we had Darwin’s Finches! Four different species on this island. The first, below, is the Large Ground Finch.

Then, the Large Cactus Finch.

And we also had the Sharp-Beaked Ground Finch.

Also, below, the Gray Warbler-Finch.

Not to be confused with the Yellow Warbler.

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Yellow Warbler

We also saw a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron trying to sleep.

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Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

And I think this was the only time we got to see a Galapagos Fur Seal.

galapagos-fur-seal-7-11-16-7360Not to be confused with the ever-present Galapagos Sea Lion.

More Sally Lightfoot Crabs…

Back at the catamaran, we were treated to another fruit sculpture and received our marching orders for the next day.

I’ll try to be a better blogger and come back sooner. If nothing else, just to escape the landslide into November 8th.

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