Saturday, April 27, 2013

Birds of a Feather

I never thought I would say this but I think I may have taken too many photos when I was in the Galapagos. It's been extremely overwhelming to go through them and I'm finally picking up the task again over a year later. It was nice to get some distance and I am hoping to finally publish the rest of my photographs.

During our trip, there was a bit of a mix-up with the itinerary as there were new regulations in place regarding how many times a ship could visit each island in a certain period of time. Celebrity adopted a new two-week cycle and we had coincidentally booked the first sailing on the new schedule. We thought (and were told) that we would be on one itinerary but, lo and behold, when we got to Ecuador, we got a note under our door with the other itinerary. I was disappointed as we had paid a lot of money for the trip and I preferred our original itinerary. Fortunately, our land excursion to Punta Suarez made it all better.

Punta Suarez is dominated by birds but this is the granddaddy of them all. Not only is the Waved Albatross the largest bird in the Galapagos, they are also endemic to the region, nest on one specific island (Espanola), and are only on land during specific months of the year (usually between May and December). There weren't supposed to be any waved albatross left on the island during our visit so I was surprised to see that there was a mother and 2 juveniles in plain sight. Our guide told us it is because the juveniles were still learning how to fly. These birds are extremely clumsy on land... they waddle to the extreme when they walk... but their 7 to 8 foot wingspan means they are probably pretty graceful in the air. We watched one of the juveniles put on quite a show as he looked right at us and flapped his wings. A lot of people who visit the Galapagos schedule the trip for specific months in the hopes of seeing this bird... with the change in regulation, the Punta Suarez stop is only available on one of the two itineraries. To this day, I am still in awe that we were lucky enough to see this bird and this made the unexpected itinerary change A-OK. :)

After spending not nearly enough time with the waved albatross, we continued on our hike and got up close and personal with many other birds.

Blue Footed Booby! Vince and I have seen this bird dive for food off the coast of Puerto Vallarta but we have never seen their amazing blue feet.

Hmmm, I didn't see this animal in my guidebook!

Punta Suarez also has some of our familiar friends - the Galapagos sea lion and marine iguana.

This was an amazing day overall... a day that fills your soul.

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