Day 203 of 400: Island Genovesa, Prince Philips Steps, Darwin Bay – Galapagos Islands
After a panga ride across the cliffs, we arrived at the island of Genovesa. It is considered one of the wildest, untouched islands of the Galapagos. The walk was an easy stroll…but what we were strolling through were 1000s of birds. Red-footed boobies which had red feet (from eating so much crab) with a blueish beak and taupe colored body were well-known on this island. There were also Frigate birds which had black feathers and red necks which inflate with air when the males are in heat. The babies of the Frigate birds were everywhere and easily identifiable…they were super fuzzy white birds, usually loudly squawking for food.
As we kept walking we also saw Nazca boobies (white with brown feathers) and the Galapagos mocking birds. The swallowed-tail gull was particularly unusual looking, with a red circle around their black eyes. They are the world’s only nocturnal gull and the eyes are adapted for night feeding. The birds were not afraid of humans in the slightest. These islands are so protected…the animals have not really experienced much danger from visitors. We were literally 2 ft away from birds sitting on their eggs looking up at us as if we were annoyingly in their way.
As we walked closer towards some of the bushes on the island, we could hear and see sea birds everywhere…in the sky, in their nests and at our feet. We saw an adult bird feeding its baby as it regurgitated a whole squid for feeding. This was like watching the discovery channel but we were right there.
We took tons of pictures…how often would we ever be this close to live birds looking right back at us posing for the camera? After our stroll through the bushes, we took our panga back onto the yacht. After lunch, we had a bit of wind down time and then Mark (Giff’s brother-in-law), Giff and I went snorkeling in Darwin Bay…we were accompanied by a friendly sea lion who swam with us. People pay to swim with the dolphins…this sea lion was wild and swimming around us comfortably…in fact, we had to move to get out of his way.
Snorkeling was fairly quick and then we ended up on a different part of Genovesa Island to look for the short-eared owl. Our guides told us he was tricky to find. His brown color was well-camouflaged against the rocky island. We walked slowly along the rocky coast with our binoculars trying to find him. Just as we were thinking we wouldn’t find one…he was spotted. He was standing perfectly still (probably eyeing his next meal) but we saw him. He was a bit far, but this was the first time Giff and I had ever seen an owl in person. After taking pictures, we were walking back through some tall grassy areas when we saw another owl literally right in front of us. He was again standing still but this time, was not camouflaged as well so we spotted him. He turned his head all the way around right in front of us which was kind of cool to see.
Back on the boat we had some relaxation time and played cards with the family before sitting down for dinner. Unfortunately dinner was really pretty bad again…are we going to starve on this ship? The soup was so awful…I think we compared it to dishwater with frozen veggies.