Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Handful of Stunning Birds


Today dawned our first morning of the eight day cruise!  On board, all thirteen of us are relaxing, enjoying being together, and just having a blast.  Our boat is currently moored in an old volcanic crater.   I am not quite sure of the details, but I was told that years ago a volcano once stood in the very bay where the Daphne is anchored.   After the volcano sank into the sea, water flooded the bay.  Now, along the side of the crater, is a twenty meter cliff made of volcanic rock.  In some parts, the cliffs are lower and less step.  Under these sections, sandy beaches and some vegetation are formed.  My favorite aspect of today, however, was the two hikes we undertook, during which we saw many stunning birds!

To access the first hike, and to see some interesting birds, we drifted along side the cliff face.  From the dingy, we saw many seals, crabs, and birds.  Once, I saw the renowned Blue Footed Booby on a ledge sticking out of the cliff.  After about twenty minutes of slowly drifting and looking for birds, we came to a section of the cliff with stairs cut into the stone.  These sharp steps led to the very top of the volcanic rock mass.  We got out of the dingy and started up the stairs.

The Blue Footed Booby

At the top of the cliff,  we entered into a flat, and dry world.  The few trees we found had few leaves and offered little shade to help squelch the rapidly accumulating sweat dripping down my face.  It was all worth it.  On every dry tree branch and every patch of hot volcanic rock, proudly stood legendary boobies.  Thousands of them stumbled back and forth over the trail, flew over the volcanic rock, or just sat in tree branches, displaying their beautiful colors, beaks and feet.  There are three species of boobies in the Galapagos: The Red Footed Booby, the Nazca Booby, and the exotic and beautiful,  Blue Footed Booby.   On our half an hour hike, we saw only the Nazca and the Red Footed Boobies!  Both of these species were fearless of humans.  The boobies even nested by the trail!...........Hey! What did you call me?

A Nazca Booby and its Baby
Red Footed Booby

After lunch, a siesta, and some refreshing jumps off the boat into the water, we headed out a second time.  During this excursion, we saw an entirely different type of bird that dropped my jaw down to the sharp rocks!   Once in the dingy, we headed toward the beach!  Once we arrived, we followed our guide towards a sign with an arrow pointing towards a small path.  This we followed and soon, as we walked up the beach, the ground became spiky, and the soft sand was replaced with more volcanic rock.  Instead of boobies, here we saw millions of frigate birds.  These large sea birds’ claim to fame, is a red pouch hanging under the male’s chin.  This pouch they inflate when they are attracting females or challenging another mate.  We saw thousands of frigate birds, many with large red pouches proudly displayed.  On the way back, we ran into several seals playing in the sand! 

Efrain Getting off the Dingy

Man, today was simply overwhelming!  I was so astounded to see the Boobies and especially the Frigate Bird.  I hope tomorrow is as good!

Thank you for reading  Rohan Geographic!

No comments:

Post a Comment