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The Bird Island


Peggy B., Guest, La Pinta, February 2016

We hopped on to the panga boat and pushed off from the La Pinta. Our driver hummed a tune as we zoomed to the picturesque Isla Genovesa.

It was the final day of our Galapagos Islands cruise and we had opted for one more hike.

As we approached the island, our boat idled as we slowed to watch a flock of very noisy Red-billed tropicbirds flying from their distant fishing grounds to nests on the windy cliff side. We actually laughed out loud when one entered its nest with its flowing white-pintails still hanging outside.

After a dry landing at Prince Phillip’s Steps, named in honor of his visit in the 1960s, we climbed the steep, slippery rock steps to the top of the cliffs and followed a one-mile trail through the Palo Santo woods and out onto a scrubby terrain.

My husband Rich snapped this panorama of our group on the trail. There were birds as far as the eyes could see. They sat on and off the trail, mating, nesting and rearing young. Frigate birds even nested with boobies!


We came across A Nazca Booby with two eggs in a nest alongside the trail.


We watched a nesting pair of Red-footed boobies long enough to see the male bring his mate nesting materials. She placed the twigs delicately down. It was such fun watching the interaction. He flew off shortly after, no doubt looking for more building materials!


We were unsure we’d spot the Short-eared Owl and our only chance would be on Isla Genovesa. As we were walked along, Rich nearly jumped out of his shoes as one of the owls leapt out of nowhere. It sat patiently while all 12 of us jockeyed to photograph it.


Eventually it flew away, probably heading closer to the coast to hunt lizards and small birds. The Galapagos Short-eared Owl was smaller, darker and more heavily streaked than mainland owls. I was thrilled to see one as I learned their population is threatened.

As we walked, we came upon a juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron and it barely acknowledged our group as we passed it. We could have reached out and touched it if we wanted.


I loved the exchange between this mating pair of Great frigatebirds.


We saw another mated pair of Great frigatebirds. You can never really see too many.


It was a fantastic last excursion on Isla Genovosa and it summed up our trip perfectly as we saw lots of amazing wildlife during our time in the Galapagos Islands.

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