Day 6

This morning we visit Punta Suarez at the western end of the Española, or Hood Island, the most southerly island in the archipelago and one of the richest islands in terms of wildlife. We approach a small cove in our panga, and are escorted by half-a-dozen curious juvenile sea lions, tagging along and playing in the motor’s wake. Following another wet landing, we hike through a very large blue-footed booby colony. This is one of the highlights of this site as there is always some type of interesting behavior to observe courtship dances with sky pointing, whistling and honking; mating, which takes about 20 second; nest building, starting with the first
stick offered during the courtship ritual; or chick rearing! As many of the best nesting sites are located right on the trail, there are plenty of opportunities to take close-up photographs of the birds. We pass through a large masked booby colony, and then make our way past a beach full of colorful marine iguanas. Here we can watch water spouting into the sky from the Blow Hole. From the seaward cliffs above we can watch swallow-tailed gulls, boobies, red-billed tropicbirds and other marine birds swooping and diving into the waves. Behind the cliffs we encounter a colony of majestic waved albatrosses. These impressive birds, largest in the archipelago, have a wing span of up to 8 feet and are so heavy that they need to waddle quite a distance to reach the cliffs and catch an updraft in order to take off. The courtship ritual of these beautiful creatures is one of the most complex mating dances of any bird species. It includes honking, whistling, bill clicking, swaying and more and can take up to 4 hours to complete! The albatrosses are out to sea from January through March and typically can not be observed during these months. Walking back to our panga, we might see large cactus finches and are likely followed by Hood mockingbirds looking for fresh water. In the afternoon we cruise around to
Gardner Bay, whose beautiful white sand beach site is reached by a wet landing. This is a good place for long, comtemplative walks on the beach as well as swimming, and there are excellent snorkeling possibilities by the small islets in the entrance to the bay. In addition to the sea lion colony found here we might also observe a Galápagos Hawk and marine iguanas.



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