Galapagos, North Seymour

"This afternoon, we disembark on North Seymour, also a small geological uplift. After a dry landing, we follow a trail that leads us to sea lions, swallow-tailed gulls and blue-footed boobies. Visit the largest colony of magnificent frigatebirds found in Galapagos. As we stroll along the beach, watch for sea lions body surfing the northern swells." - Itinerary

Walking along the steep cliff at the beginning of the trail afforded great opportunities to photograph flying boobies and frigates as they zoomed by, at eye level. North Seymour supports a large population of blue-footed boobies. The boobies are still nesting at this time, but unfortunately, we didn't see any of them dancing. Most already had one or two hatched chicks; those with two chicks may not have two for long, as blue-footed boobies are frequent participants in sibling murder. It seems that nature does support siblings in the blue-footed boobie family. In fact, we witnessed a few accounts of sibling murder, with healthy chicks sitting just short distances away from the pathetic looking carcasses of other chicks. We even saw one chick pecking at another's neck, in an attempt to drive it from the "nest." Speaking of nests, the blue-footed boobie's nest is nothing more than a ring of guano, the center methodically cleared of any sticks or stones.

North Seymour also has a large population of magnificent frigate birds ("magnificent" is the species name, not an adjective). When a male magnificent frigate is looking for a female to mate with, it inflates its large, red pouch on its chest, forcing its head upwards, which is convenient because the females are always flying overhead. It then flaps its wings, and makes a strange bubbling sound. And, of course, the female goes for the frigate with the larges pouch. Figures.

Past the frigates was another patch of red succulent plants, this time with baby blue-footed boobies sitting around inside. We watched a frigate try to steal food from an adult boobie feedings its young, and all of the surrounding boobies quacked a general alarm. Also, if we happened to wander too close to a baby boobie, instead of moving away, it would quack loudly a few times and wave its wings (they were often standing on stones in the middle of our trail).

There were many marine iguanas sunning by the water near the trail's end. They were literally stacked on top of one another, occasionally sneezing to rid themselves of salt. The iguanas seemed to be a bit nervous about my presence, if approached too closely, but as Darwin wrote in his journals, they refused to enter the water (not that I threatened them. I was just standing there...).

While we waited for the panga to pick us up, we watched a squadron of blue-footed boobies dive/hunting. I managed to get a photograph of one entering the water, its body completely straight and rigid!

It is 9:30pm, and we just went outside to look at the sky, which had been completely clear of clouds just after dinner. Instead, we discovered that a patchy cloud layer had moved in, illuminated like a field of faint cottonballs by the full moon. A shimmering silver disc shined brightly at us from the sea below the moon, the rays from its brightness illuminating a cone of light on the horizon. Mars, as well, glinted its bright redness at us, the only other source of light in the sky. Next week, Mars will be the closest to Earth it has been in 50,000 years.