Galapagos 2002 - 15 Feb - P. Espinosa, Fernadina Is.

15 Feb
Landed at 7:30 AM after a near disaster involving Jim Davis, perhaps $10,000 in camera gear and mild chop. Just as Jim stepped on the panga, the chop brought the boat up and away from the Samba. Jim ended up with his heels on the panga rail, a couple of ropes in his hands and his butt in the water, trying to keep himself, or at least his cameras, out of the water. He mostly succeeded in keeping the camera gear dry, although he took a short dip himself. Desiree and Captain Pepe said it was the first time they've had an accident loading or unloading the panga.

A little later, with Davis none the worse for wear, we motored to Punta Espinosa, the northeast corner of Fernandina Island, and the only spot on the island open to visitors. The site is a long lava flow peninsula, weathered with channels and slots in places, and with large sand deposits in others.

Our landing involved a brief dispute with some sea lions, and fifteen feet along trail, in the protection of a mangrove thicket, a cluster of perhaps 100 marine iguanas, dense enough that in the calm air there in the shrubs the stench of marine iguana guano was eye-watering. As the air warmed up, they were increasingly active, with a lot of den-digging, marine iguana lust and general carrying-on.

A Galapagos Hawk, perched on a driftwood log, surveyed all of the activity with some interest, and when he flew every marine iguana that was on the sand made a sprint for the lava. It was the only time I've seen a marine iguana move quickly. But the hawk was just shopping and didn't stoop on anything. It returned to its perch and the bigger iguanas that were clustered nearby didn't seem that concerned.

The hawk's activities also produced some mobbing by a family of American Oystercatchers. The trail wound around past Flightless Cormorants, Galapagos Penguins and a couple of sea lion nurseries, along with a good selection of shorebirds. I sat for perhaps half an hour, watching a Striated Heron fish. In that brief time, he caught and ate at least five fish. It says something about both his skill and the richness of the waters.

This was one of the top stops; definitely a rare treat.

A Galapagos Hawk watches marine iguanas
Punta Espinosa, Fernandina Is.

A troupe of marine iguanas in the mangrove thicket
Punta Espinosa, Fernandina Is.

A Flightless Cormorant suns its stubby wings
Punta Espinosa, Fernandina Is.

Small Ground Finch
Medium Ground Finch
Large Ground Finch
Yellow Warbler
Galapagos Hawk
American Oystercatcher
Galapagos Mockingbird
Blue-footed Booby
Flightless Cormorant
Ruddy Turnstone
Brown Noddy
Galapagos Hawk
Brown Pelican
Audubon Shearwater
Galapagos Penguin
Lava Lizard
Marine Iguana
Green Sea Turtle

Galapagos Sea Lion

Galapagos Map
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