Posts Tagged ‘Galapagos’


July 4, 2016

Research shows that Magnificent Frigatebirds are not only magnificent, they fly…endlessly.  Over 250 miles per day, non-stop, no resting on the water. They may fly that for days, weeks…they do land to lay eggs and incubate them.

Here are some pictures I took of frigatebirds around the Galapagos a few years back.  It was a trip organized by Partnership for International Birding.  Haven’t been there?  GO!  Enjoy these champion flyers:FRIGATE ALOFT Frigatebird Dive frigatebird flying by frigatebird on mast Frigatebird Profile FRIG-BIRD EYELEVEL frig-pbird provile


November 24, 2014

The latest Audubon magazine has three pieces on the future of the Galapagos’ unique habitat and birdlife…in the face of climate change.  You can click here to read those articles.

If you want to see the Galapagos as they are now, PIB has a variety of trips to both the islands and to the rich birding locales on the Ecuadoran mainland.  You can click here to read about the Ecuador/Galapagos trips we offer.Galapagos Sunday 001 marine ig pileupSome photos from a recent PIB trip to the islands.LAVA GULL2 LAVA HERON ON CHAIN WILSONS PLOVERThe birds, from top to bottom: Lava Gull, Lava Heron, Wilson’s Plover. Blue-footed Booby, Brown Pelican with his outboard motor, Vermilion Flycatcher. Elliot’s Storm-Petrels.BF BOOBIES TRIO ON LAVA bf booby face brown Pelican outboarding cinn flyc perched ell.STORM-PETRELS FEEDAnd a couple of endemics:GALA DOVE1 Make that three endemics” Dove, Mockingbird and Penguin.  The latter loves to swim around with snorklers, even slow-moving hominids with plastic faces on.GALA MOCKINGBIRD1 GALA PENGUIN CU


November 9, 2010

There were lizards.  There were sealions.

There were lizards ON sealions.

Yeah, I know, grasshopper=six legs.  This guy was colorful, named “painted locust.”

Of course, there were those hefty terrapin-types.  Four verrrry big tree trunk legs.

Buff-colored land iguana, a species endangered by loss of habitat and imported predators.  Below the charcoal-colored marine iguana, abundant in years when the ocean currents bring upwelling and plenty of food.



























































Winner of the onshore leg count:


October 11, 2010

After a week of birding the Ecuadoran mainland, I got a chance to go on an extension trip to the Galapagos.  Thanks to PIB and their Ecuadoran partner, Neblina Forest Tours. Of Galapagos, heads every list of 10 places you must visit during your lifetime.   Like Venice, like the Grand Canyon, there is no comparison with other places.

This is a Nazca Booby, perched high on the sheer rock face of Lion’s Head (or Kicker) Rock off the west coast of San Cristobal Island.  San Cristobal is the easternmost and thus oldest island still above the sea in the Galapagos. Archipelago.  Like Hawaii, the Galapagos are a chain of islands formed by a fixed hot spot in the Earth’s crust. The newest islands are still being formed by volcanoes on the western end of the chain, the oldest islands have been moved  to the east by the continually shifting tectonic plates.  Because the Galapagos have never been closer than 700 miles to any continent, the selection process of species that reached the islands and survived and reproduced has created a unique flora and fauna.

Here’s a group of Galapagos Shearwaters just off the bow of our yacht.  Endemic, of course.

And here are two Galapagos Penguins fishing near some of the human snorklers from our boat.  Endemic, of course. And the only penguin whose range extends just slightly north of the Equator.

Click here for the list of Ecuador and Galapagos trips in 2011.

Go Go Galapagos

June 17, 2010

I spoke by Skype with ace birding guide, Lelis Navarette, at his home in Quito, Ecuador.  To get to the Galapagos most Yankee birders will pass through Quito.  Ecuador owns the Galapagos Islands and their environmental agencies are now about to tighten restrictions on visits to some of the smaller and more sensitive islands.  That means some bird species there will soon be off limits to most visitors.  Human impact on the island habitat is threatening some of the unique species that amazed the young Charles Darwin over 170 years ago.  Of course the different finch species on different islands of the Galapagos helped spur Darwin’s thinking about evolution and natural selection.  Current science views the variety of finches in Galapagos as classic example of adaptive radiation.  The evidence is that one single group of House Finches arrived int he Galapagos and over eons evolved into various habitat niches and new species to fit various islands and their survival requirements.

So any keen birder with a curiosity about how ornithology and biology themselves evolved can enjoy a trip to the Galapagos.

This is Lelis’s photo of a Mangrove Finch, found at Playa Negra on Isebela Island in the Galapagos.  Not a dramatic eye-catcher, but a bird of immense scientific importance.  One of Darwin’s Finches.  Lelis tells me this is one of the birds you will likely never see if you don’t don’t get to the Galapagos before the end of THIS year.  That’s when restrictions on travel in the islands become stricter.  Tour boats will no longer get “special permits” to islands among the Galapagos where endemic species are endangered.

Another bird that will become unseeable is the Charles Mockingbird, already extirpated from Floreana Island and now resident only on two islets nearby: Champion and Gardner.

Here is link to the description of PIB and Neblina’s trips to the Galapagos later this year.

Besides the finches, you can expect to see  three species of Boobies (Red, Blue-footed and Masked), the beautiful and nocturnal Swallow-tailed Gull, Magnificent and Great Frigatebirds, Waved Albatross and Red-billed Tropicbirds.

Land birds are also plentiful and include Dark-billed Cuckoos, Large-billed Flycatchers, and the richly-patterned Galapagos Doves. Sorting out many of the thirteen species of Darwin’s Finches provides a challenge, and among familiar birds such as Yellow Warblers and Vermilion Flycatchers you’ll notice slight variations. Several species of mockingbirds are very bold when seeking fresh water. We also search for Galapagos Flamingoes, Galapagos Hawks and the Galapagos form of the Short-eared Owl.

Masked Boobies on Galapagos. Photo by Lelis Navarette.

Galapagos–This Is The Last, Best Year To Bird There!

May 26, 2010

There’s great news and not so wonderful news about the Galapagos.  Ecuadoran conservationists are getting serious about protecting many of the fragile islands their endemic species from over-exposure.  That would mean fewer of us locusts tourists.  But that also means if you wait to go to the Galapagos after Dec. 31, youn’t see many species that are still viewable this year.  And this year only!

I’m going in late September.  Thanks to Neblina Forest Tours and PIB, there are a few slots available for tours to the Galapagos this year.  One trip that begins Sept. 19 in Quito would cost you $2990 per capita.  That includes all in-country transit in Ecuador and three nights in Quito.  Quito is a fascinating city.  The air is thin (8000′) but the culture is thick.  And they spend Yank dollars so the currency is easy to grasp.  After Quito: seven nights on a boat as you see the Galapagos Islands.

I know those famous Darwin finches are all just off-shoots of the ordinary House Finch.  But, hey, endemic off-shoots, and some you’ll never see if you don’t go this year.

Masked Boobies.

After September there are more trips possible.  See the PIB website or email:  Trips after September will run about $3400 from Quito.

–Harry Fuller