Galapagos Islands

24th July 1986 - 31st July 1986

24th July.

After arriving in Quito the previous evening we returned to the Airport for a flight to the Galapagos Islands, we landed on Baltra or South Seymour, then we boarded the Santa Cruz, the ship which would be our home for the next 8 days, new species for me will be in bold. From the ship we saw 8 Brown Pelicans, 2 Brown or Common Noddies and a White-vented or Elliot's Storm Petrel.

We sailed to nearby North Seymour for an afternoon excursion lead by one of the ship's guides, here we saw lots of Magnificent Frigatebirds, several Blue-footed Boobies, 10 Swallow-tailed Gulls, 2 Lava Gulls, Brown Pelicans, 4 Lava Lizards, 5 Galapagos Yellow Warblers newly split from Yellow Warbler, a Galapagos Mockingbird, a Lava Heron, Galapagos Sea Lions, Brown Noddys and Marine Iguanas.

We returned to the ship which moored off Baltra for the night.


The Santa Cruz. 

Blue-footed Booby and chick.

Magnificent Frigatebird, male and female

Magnificent Frigatebird, immatures

Galapagos Yellow Warbler

More photos here.

25th July.

Overnight on the Santa Cruz, in the morning a cruise from Baltra to Hood or Espanola Island, on the way seeing a Flesh-footed Shearwater, 2 Audubon's Shearwaters, 4 Swallow-tailed Gulls, Blue-footed Boobies, 2 Red-billed Tropicbirds, 4 Waved Albatrosses and 3 Nazca Boobies.

Arriving at Hood, we walked across the island seeing 20+ Hood Mockingbirds, several Galapagos Doves, a Yellow-crowned Night Heron, lots of Blue-footed Boobies with many pairs displaying, as here they seemed to be at the beginning of their breeding cycle, unlike on other islands where the pairs had various sized chicks. Also there were lots of Nazca Boobies, Galapagos Sea Lions, lots of the redder Hood form of Marine Iguanas, 2 Warbling Finches, 9+ Small Ground Finches, 2 Hood Lava Lizards, 12+ Red-billed Tropicbirds, an American Oystercatcher, several Great Frigatebirds, 2 Magnificent Frigatebirds, 3 Green Turtles, a Galapagos Hawk, 2 Galapagos Yellow Warblers and 30+ Waved Albatrosses 

We returned to the ship for lunch, during which time it sailed for nearby Floreana Island, on the way we saw 9 Madeiran or Band-rumped Storm Petrels, single Waved Albatrosses and a large raft of them sat on the sea, 9 Bottle-nosed Dolphins, a Wedge-rumped Storm Petrel, 4 Audubon's Shearwaters, a Brown Noddy and several Red-billed Tropicbirds.

On Floreana we saw c40 Red-billed Tropicbirds, more Audubon's Shearwaters, 6 Medium Ground Finches, 10+ Galapagos Yellow Warblers, 11 White-cheeked Pintails, 30+ Caribbean or American Flamingoes, 9+ Small Round Finches, a Cactus Finch, 4 Galapagos Flycatchers, 8 Black-necked Stilts, 3 Sanderling, 2 Brown Pelicans, a Floreana Lava Lizard, 2 Great Frigatebirds, a Small Tree Finch and a Medium Tree Finch.


Right: Blue-footed Booby.

Below: Blue-footed Boobies displaying.

Hood Mockingbird & Nazca Booby.

Marine Iguanas.

Swallow-tailed Gull & Red-billed Tropicbird.

Waved Albatrosses.

Swallow-tailed Gull

26th July.

We sailed overnight for Santa Cruz, in the morning as we were approaching the island we saw 13 Great Frigatebirds, a Madeiran Petrel, a Brown Noddy, 2 Brown Pelicans and 115 Dark-rumped now called Galapagos Petrels.

Our first stop on Santa Cruz Island was the Darwin Research Station at Academy Bay in Puerto Ayora, where we saw Giant Tortoises and the rearing pens where young Giant Tortoises were kept.

Also seen on the island were 8 Brown Pelicans, Galapagos Yellow Warblers everywhere, 8 Galapagos Mockingbirds, 5 Galapagos Flycatchers, 8 Large Ground Finches, 8 Medium Ground Finches, several Small Ground Finches, 4 Large Tree Finches, several Small Tree Finches, a Cactus Finch, 3 Lava Lizards, 2 Lava Gulls and a Wandering Tattler.

We returned to the ship which set sail for South Plaza Island, on the way seeing 7 Galapagos Petrels, 8 Nazca Boobies, 6 Madeiran Petrels, a Blue-footed Booby, several Flying Fish, a Red-billed Tropicbird, 2 Magnificent Frigatebirds, 2 Wedge-rumped Storm Petrels, an Audubon's Shearwater, a Brown Noddy and we were accompanied by 2 Lava Gulls which remained on the ship's rail during the voyage.

On South Plaza we saw many of the seabirds we had seen earlier in the day, also a Lava Heron, lots of Galapagos Sea Lions on the beach, Marine Iguanas, 8 Lava Lizards, 2 Turnstones, 5 Galapagos Yellow Warblers, 2 Medium Ground Finches, and, the animal we had come to see, 6 Land Iguanas.

Above: Santa Cruz.

Below: Giant Tortoise at research station.

Lava Gull on the ship, Lava Lizard.

Galapagos Sea Lions

Galapagos Sea Lion

Land Iguana

27th July.

Overnight the ship sailed for Santiago, in the morning as we approached the island we saw 6 White-vented Storm Petrels, 3 Audubon's Shearwaters, 4 Nazca Boobies, a Brown Pelican, Blue-footed Boobies, 3 Lava Gulls and 2 Brown Noddies. 

On our walk on Santiago we saw Galapagos Sea Lions, Galapagos Yellow Warblers, Brown Pelicans, Blue-footed Boobies, 13 Galapagos Mockingbirds, Lava Gulls, 2 Large Tree Finches, 8+ Lava Lizards, 2 American Oystercatchers, 5 Small Ground Finches, a Small Tree Finch, 4 Large Ground Finches, 6 Turnstones, 12+ White-vented Storm Petrels, Magnificent Frigatebirds, 28 Galapagos Fur Seals, 4 Lava Herons, a Wandering Tattler, 3 Yellow-crowned Night Herons, Marine Iguanas, Brown Noddies, Audubon's Shearwaters, a Hudsonian Whimbrel, a Galapagos Hawk, 5 Galapagos Doves and a Warbler Finch.

Back on the ship we headed south to Jervis or Rabida Island, just after leaving Santiago our attention was drawn to a congregation of around 25 Galapagos Petrels and at least 6 Audubon's Shearwaters about 400 yards from the ship. Then we could see that there was a Galapagos Hawk in the water, which must have only just been forced down as it's wings looked dry. It flapped vigorously several times and once almost became airborne, but each time it was dive-bombed by the petrels. The hawk continued to flap as if trying to propel itself towards land, but the current was too strong and it started drifting further out to sea. Soon it became exhausted, laying it's wings flat on the water and extending it's neck upwards, now there were more petrels and shearwaters keeping it in the water. After about 15 minutes the hawk was lost from sight and the seabirds were dispersing, the hawk had disappeared so quickly that it may have been taken by a shark.

Later on Jervis we saw 2 Galapagos Doves, 15 adult and 4 immature American Flamingoes, 9 White-cheeked Pintails, a Small Ground Finch, 7 Galapagos Mockingbirds, Galapagos Yellow Warblers, a Galapagos Flycatcher and 3 Galapagos Hawks.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron. 

Marine Iguanas on Santiago

American Flamingoes on Jervis

Galapagos Fur Seals on Santiago

Large Ground Finch on Santiago

Galapagos Fur Seal pup on Santiago

28th July.

Overnight we sailed back to Baltra, the end of the 4 day cruise and the start of a 3 day, to different islands.

On Baltra we saw 4 White-vented Storm Petrels, a Wedge-rumped Storm Petrel, Magnificent Frigatebirds, Brown Pelicans, 5 Brown Noddies, 3 Nazca Boobies, Blue-footed Boobies, 3 Lava Gulls and 4 Audubon's Shearwaters.

Later, we sailed to North Seymour again, here we saw more of the same species as above, also Swallow-tailed Gulls, 4 Galapagos Yellow Warblers, 3 Lava Lizards, Marine Iguanas, Galapagos Sea Lions, 2 Great Blue Herons and a Galapagos Mockingbird.

We watched the Brown Pelicans fishing off-shore, usually with their attendant Brown Noddies. The pelicans would dive for fish and on surfacing the noddies would flutter above them, swooping to the surface for any tit-bits. At times the noddies would land briefly on the pelican's backs, but their favoured perches seemed to be on the pelican's heads.

Brown Pelican. 

29th July.

During the night we sailed to Bartholome, a small volcanic island close to Santiago. In the morning we explored it's cones and lava fields where there were only a few birds, 2 Galapagos Doves, a Small Ground Finch, several Galapagos Yellow Warblers and 5 Lava Lizards. It was good for seabirds seeing Magnificent Frigatebirds, Brown Pelicans, Blue-footed Boobies and 4 Galapagos Penguins

Bartholomew with Santiago in the background and showing Pinnacle Rock.

Bartholomew showing spatter cones and lava fields.

Galapagos Penguin

Later in the morning the ship departed for the long sea trip to Tower, also called Genovesa Island, during the journey we saw 10 White-vented Storm Petrels, an Audubon's Shearwater, 30 Galapagos Petrels, 40 Nazca Boobies, a Blue-footed Booby, c100 Wedge-rumped Storm Petrels, a Swallow-tailed Gull, 4 Madeiran Petrels, 27 Great Frigatebirds and 14 Red-footed Boobies.

On Tower there were breeding colonies of Great Frigatebirds, Red-footed and Nazca Boobies, we also saw Red-billed Tropicbirds, Wedge-rumped Storm Petrels, Swallow-tailed Gulls, Marine Iguanas, 3 Lava Herons, a Yellow-crowned Night Heron, 2 Galapagos Yellow Warblers, a Galapagos Dove, 7 Galapagos Mockingbirds, a Warbler Finch, 2 Sharp-beaked Finches and 3 Large Cactus Finches.

Galapagos Petrel

Galapagos Mockingbird

Galapagos Mockingbird

Great Frigatebird, female & chick

Great Frigatebird, immature

Immature Great Frigatebird

Warbler Finch

Great Frigatebird, male

Great Frigatebird, female 

Red-footed Boobies

Red-footed Boobies

30th July.

Overnight the ship sailed to Tagus Cove on the northwest of Isabela Island, we spent so time around the cove seeing 3 Galapagos Hawks, 2 Galapagos Yellow Warblers, 2 Flightless Cormorants, c20 Marine Iguanas, 6 Galapagos Martins, a Medium Ground Finch, 2 Green Turtles, a Yellow-crowned Night Heron, 50+ Blue-footed Boobies, 8 Brown Noddies, 3 Galapagos Penguins, Galapagos Sea Lions and 6 Brown Pelicans.

We didn't have time to visit the interior of the island for Giant Tortoises, but did have a walk inland where we saw 2 more Galapagos Yellow Warblers and 4 Medium Ground Finches, also a Small Tree Finch, 19 Small Ground Finches, 2 Galapagos Mockingbirds and 2 more Galapagos Hawks.

Marine Iguanas on Isabela

Small Tree Finch on Isabela

Above: Tagus Cove, Isabela Island. Left: Inland.

Galapagos Penguin on Isabela

Small Ground Finch on Isabela

Later, we sailed to nearby Fernandina Island, where there were lots of Marine Iguanas, 9 Flightless Cormorants, a Galapagos Penguin, 3 Turnstones, 6 Brown Pelicans, 2 Yellow-crowned Night Herons, Galapagos Sea Lions, Galapagos Lava Lizards, 8 Galapagos Yellow Warblers, a Galapagos Hawk, 3 Galapagos Mockingbirds, a Whimbrel, 4 Lava Herons, 2 American Oystercatchers, a Great Blue Heron, a Wandering Tattler, a Grey Plover, Magnificent Frigatebirds, 3 Audubon's Shearwaters and in one of the bays we saw 10+ Green Turtles.

In most parts the old lava flows reach the sea, forming flat rocky surfaces with lots of rock pools and an abundance of Sally Lightfoot Crabs.

While walking along the rocks we stopped to look into one of the pools, when an octopus propelled itself out of the water, over the six-inch lip of the pool and landed on a Sally Lightfoot Crab, about two feet away. The octopus then began to drag the crab back to its pool, its legs scraping against the smooth lava. Once back in the water, the octopus lodged itself against a rock and changed colour so perfectly that it was almost invisible. It straddled the crab and remained in that position, apparently feeding on its catch.


Flightless Cormorant on Fernandina

Flightless Cormorant on Fernandina

Marine Iguana on Fernandina

Marine Iguana on Fernandina

Galapagos Mockingbird on Fernandina

Immature Yellow-crowned Night Heron on Fernandina

Sally Lightfoot Crabs on Fernandina

Lava Heron on Fernandina

31st July.

Overnight we sailed back to Baltra, where we were to board the plane back to Quito, so only time for a last look around seeing Blue-footed Boobies, Magnificent Frigatebirds, c40 Audubon's Shearwaters, a Galapagos Petrel, 18 Brown Noddies, 6 Brown Pelicans and a Monarch Butterfly. The deck of the ship, which had an artificial grass effect, attracted more Painted Locusts, as it had done throughout the trip.

Brown Pelican

Painted Locust

Lots more photos here.


© 2014  Nigel Tucker. All rights reserved.

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