We went to the Galapagos recently, a trip that had had to be postponed some years ago, due to brain issues, so we were delighted finally to be able to make the trip to a place that we had long wanted to visit. Most people
endure enjoy a cruise for visits to these islands but we decided to do a land-based tour. The primary reason for this is that M is utterly hopeless on boats. Suffers seasickness in the slightest swell. It's impossible to avoid boats for a trip to Galapagos, but we decided that day trips to the islands (couple of hours max in a boat) would provide enough opportunities to see the amazing wildlife and it meant that we could sleep in a comfy hotel in the evenings in a bed that didn't move.
After a particularly horrid trip from Santa Cruz to Isabela on the first day (we knew it was going to be rough when the speedboat crew handed out plastic bags) upon landing, all nausea vanished. The islands are truly amazing - there is wildlife everywhere - in fact, you have to be quite careful that you don't accidentally step on something.
One of the first trips we did was to Los Tuneles (Isabela island), a lava formation that encroaches into the sea and has the most amazing land/sea-scape. Amazing arches of lava have formed in the sea.
There's not much vegetation, but cacti have managed to grow there, some of these are several decades old.
On climbing onto the lava we first encountered blue-footed boobies. This was one bird species we had particularly wanted to see and we were lucky that we were visiting during the breeding season. The blue-ness of the boobies' feet is derived from the algae they eat, but it also forms a significant part of their courting ritual.
The male makes a great display of showing his blue feet to his partner. One foot at a time.
He also shows his impressive wingspan to demonstrate what a catch he really is.
She watches on. His voice is a whistle, she honks. And if she is impressed, she will honk her approval.
It must be love.
We encountered many boobies. These were on North Seymour, an island about an hour's boat trip away from Santa Cruz. This female was completely unperturbed at the tourists taking photos of her as she incubated her eggs.
We also saw fledglings.
The boobies are wonderful birds. The name derives from the Spanish word "bobo", which means "stupid" or "clown". The great thing about Galapagos is that you can get so close to the animals as they have absolutely no fear of humans. Colin met a male booby and was challenged in a contest of 'who has the blue-est feet', Of course the booby won and Colin was deemed to be the beta male of the encounter.
On North Seymour we also saw the magnificent frigate birds. Which were magnificent. And great. 'Magnificent' and 'Great' being the two species of frigate birds. And they really are spectacular. You see them soaring all over the Galapagos islands, following the boats as we sailed across the sea, and even at the local fish market. (Also, note that pelicans and sealions lurk around the fish market as they are fully aware that they might pick up a tasty fish head or some delicious entrails).
Again, because we visited during the mating season we were able to see the male frigate birds trying to tantalise potential mates with their amazing scarlet throat pouches.
The females have less conspicuous markings.
More photos can be found here.