Our first full day in the Galapagos was spent in the Northern part of the islands, on Genovesa. The wildlife on Genovesa is primarily birds and underwater – sooo many birds. And the viewing is nice and up close, as these birds have no fear of humans. There are some sea lions as well, but very few compared to the number of birds!
In the morning, we hiked on Darwin’s Beach. This beach was full of red-footed boobies and masked boobies. Why not blue-footed boobies, you ask? Aren’t they the birds the Galapagos Islands are famous for? Yes, you are right; but the birds you see there depend on the season. The red-footed boobies had just had their babies when we arrived in early March, and the masked boobies were at the beginning of their mating season, so they were everywhere on land! The blue-footed boobies, which for the most part don’t mate until closer to June, were in the air (and therefore difficult to photograph).
In addition to the famous boobies, we saw plenty of fragatas (frigate birds). They were also in mating season, and that means the males puff up their red chests in order to attract females.
And since it was mating/nesting season for the various birds, we saw lots of babies too. It turns out all booby babies look the same – you can’t easily tell a baby red-footed booby from a baby masked booby or baby blue-footed booby since they don’t get the different colors in their feet and feathers until they are older. But we could definitely tell the baby fragata apart from the baby boobies.
We also saw a few other types of birds including one or two species of Darwin’s finches, but we found out that spotting all seven of them is impossibly hard, and it can take years of exploring the islands to be successful in doing so. And at the end of our hike we came across an adorable sea lion family.
Along the way we saw some evidence of dead animals, which though sad, peaked my curiosity. We definitely don’t see this type of stuff back home very often! And nature is just taking its natural course here.
Afterwards the zodiac took us a little bit away from Darwin’s Beach, and we swam back towards it, snorkeling the entire way. We were really excited over what we saw:
Then in the afternoon the zodiacs took us to another, further snorkel site, where we saw a new fish, some golden rays, and fur seals! Our guide said this was the only place we would see fur seals on our entire eight-day trip, but it was hard for us to tell them apart from the sea lions.
Finally, we went for a late afternoon hike at Prince Phillip’s Steps. We had a steep climb on jagged lava rock to begin our hike, but then it was flat and easy. We saw many more fragatas and boobies, and it was neat to see them hanging out together. My favorite was the short-eared owl we saw, as well as how close we were able to get to it.