Galapagos, Genovesa

"We spend the entire day on Tower (Genovesa), considered to be one of the most spectacular Islands in Galapagos. We land on Darwin Bay, a coral sand beach where swallow-tailed and lava gulls gather near the tide pools. Enter a forest of mangroves where colonies of great frigate birds nest. The males inflate their red-throated pouches to attract females as they fly overhead. After swimming or sea kayaking, take a panga ride along the jagged shoreline to spot. the beautiful red-billed tropic bird. At Prince Philip’s Steps, we find storm petrels and the elusive short-eared owl. Red-footed boobies nest here in Palo Santo trees." - Itinerary

Historically, Genovesa Island has not had as much human traffic as the other islands have had, and as a result, the animals on Genovesa completely ignore us. The first part of the trail let us through nesting red footed boobies, whose red, webbed feet are almost prehensile, allowing them to stand -- and nest -- in trees. Nazca (formerly called "masked") boobies were also nesting, although their nests are little more than a circle of sticks and stones on the ground. Hatchlings are hairless at first, but are quickly covered with a fuzzy whiteness that makes them look like something you might buy at a toy store (except that they are really ugly, and probably no one would buy them). There were also numerous great frigate birds (?) around, also with new hatchlings in nests. Although frigate birds look regal when standing and when flying, they acquire most of their food by stealing it from boobies. Their aerial acrobatics are absolutely phenomenal to watch!

Later on in the trail, we started spotting Darwin finches. We saw a sharp-beaked finch (a.k.a. the "vampiric" finch, so named for its habit of feeding on boobie blood), a large ground finch, and a few other species. Close to the end of the trail among a field of relatively young black lava, we saw a bed of some sort of cactus, and a short-eared owl, which feeds on the storm petrels that fly around the cliff's edge like a swarm of large flies. When a targeted petrel enters its crevice/home, the owl flies in after it, corners it, and kills it! It must be a funny sight, because the short-eared owl is anthropomorphic in an extremely amusing way; it sort of looks like a funny old man.

A curious Galapagos mockingbird followed us for much of the trail. It flittered to and fro, and eventually flew up and landed on my mother! She stood there, a big smile on her face, as it stood on her hand and stared at her (in its twitchy sort of way).

In the afternoon, we disembarked at a white sand beach for snorkelling and relaxing, and we saw swallow-tailed gulls (colorful, red ring around the eye), the aforementioned boobies and frigate birds, a few marine iguanas, many playful sealions, and colorful red crabs. Underwater, we saw two very small (but pretty) spotted eagle rays, a school of yellow tailed surgeonfish, and some other fish I didn't bother to look at closely because the visibility was so bad.