Thursday, January 27, 2011

Galapagos Islands: Pelagic Birding from the Boat

Most days at the end of the last excursion we took the zodiac back to the boat overheated and exhausted. My body did not like the heat of the islands at all but oh how my camera soul is rejoicing.

The Celebrity Expedition cruise line had the genius idea to put cold alcoholic drinks and water right at the top of the stairs you come up from getting off of the zodiac. We would all sit around, drink, relax and talk about our day, what we saw and who got photos of what. Mr. Rogue and I would sit and join the group but I would always keep my eyes on the ocean for the hard to find shearwater and petrel birds that sometimes would coast by.

By doing this every day I was able to jump up and grab photos of a ton of these hard to find birds. Most of them did not come out. These birds move fast, they are small, they don’t come close to the boat and since I am off the boat early and back onto the boat late I don’t usually have the best light to catch fast moving birds.

The Dark-rumped petrel is only found on the Galapagos and Hawaiian Islands. They come to land only once a year to breed and the rest of the time they are Pelagic (lives the rest of the year on the water never coming to land). There are approximately only 900 of these birds in the world.


This bird follows the Humboldt Current which flows around and through the Galapagos and off the coast of Peru and Chile. The best way to identify this bird is to see the white band across their tail and since their legs are longer they extend black beyond the tail. The Galapagos species is unusual amongst storm petrels because it is the only petrel that forages close to the shore.


The Audubon’s Shearwater glides close to the water and it was very difficult to get a shot of them. Every single raise of the next wave would hide them from view so it was difficult to keep them in sight on the camera. Imagine my surprise when I found a group of them one evening following a sea lion who was I presume chasing a school of fish. I was able to make this shot with three Audubon’s Shearwaters and the sea lion leaping in the ocean.


The Wedge-rumped Storm Petrel is endemic to the Galapagos Islands. It is also the only Storm Petrel to sleep during the day and feed at night. They wake at dusk and go back to sleep at dawn.


The Galapagos Storm Petrel is one of the six endemic marine birds in the Galapagos Islands. Currently this petrel is in danger of extinction and is on the red list of threatened species.


There was only one other avid birder aboard the boat and it was fun to spend some time with someone as crazy as I was about the feathered animals we saw on this trip. Who else am I going to talk to about weather that bird we saw was an Elliot’s Storm Petrel or a Wedge-Rumped Storm Petrel. Mr. Rogue listens but I can see his eyes glaze over after the first three minutes. I need more nerdy birdy friends. At least I have my mom and Ms. Ivey to gush over my bird photos!

1 comment:

paul peggy zeus said...

You really got to see a lot of variety of birds and wildlife.

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