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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
The Galapagos Islands-Guayas Province, Ecuador May-June 2004,
The Galapagos lives up to all the expectations - a fabulous place where the tameness of birds and other creatures has no parallel. With Glenn Scherf, we visited Guayas for a few days en route - separate report follows.
We sailed in comfort aboard the motorised yacht Angelique, visiting 10 islands over a week, often sailing at night, with wet or dry landings on the islands. The food and service was excellent, the one disappointment being the refusal of the crew to make a small detour to see Charles Mockingbird on Champion Islet. We arranged the trip through Quito-based Zenith travel agency firstname.lastname@example.org. We prepaid our airfares from Guayaquil to the islands, only to find the airline TAME had no record of this when we got there - beware of paying a non-English speaking overseas agency for internal flights.
This was the itinerary:
May 27. Flew from Guayaquil to Baltra Island, boat to Santa Cruz Island, drive across the island to Puerto Ayora; an afternoon visit to El Chato Reserve in the highlands before returning to the Angelique.
May 28. Motoring overnight to Floreana (Charles) Island, visits to Punta Cormorant and Post Office Bay; snorkelling off Devil's Crown.
May 29. Motoring overnight to Hood (Espanola) Island, visits to Punta Suarez and Gardner Bay.
May 30. Motoring overnight and through morning to Santa Fe Island, then snorkelling before visiting South Plaza Island, and sailing to North Seymour Island offshore from Santa Cruz and Baltra islands in the afternoon.
May 31. Morning visit to North Seymour, afternoon visit to highlands of Santa Cruz, the boat crew allowing me to depart from the program and walk back along the island's main road (afer getting a lift) towards Canal de Itabaca through the humid scalezia and transition vegetation zones.
June 1. Motoring overnight to Tower (Genovesa) Island, visiting Darwin Bay and Prince Philips Steps; snorkelling. Wonderful island.
June 2. Motoring overnight to Bartolome Island, anchoring off Santiago Island, snorkelling before departing in afternoon for Santa Cruz.
June 3. Departing Puerto Ayora for Guayaquil.
Birds (*denotes lifer)
Brown Pelican (abundant),
*Galapagos Penguin (1 at Floreana; 10 around Bartolome, including 1 seen underwater while snorkelling),
*Waved Albatross (common and breeding on Hood; several at sea),
*Galapagos (Dark-rumped) Petrel (common while motoring off Santa Cruz and Baltra; not seen between Hood and Santa Fe),
Audubon's Shearwater (abundant),
Band-rumped (Madeiran) Storm-Petrel (a few while motoring between islands),
*Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel (fairly common while motoring between islands; abundant at breeding colony on Tower),
*White-vented (Elliot's) Storm-Petrel (abundant),
*Markham's Storm-Petrel (1 while motoring off Baltra),
Magnificent Frigatebird (abundant), Great Frigatebird (common),
Blue-footed Booby (abundant and breeding),
Red-footed Booby (common and breeding on Tower),
*Nazca Booby (common and breeding),
*Swallow-tailed Gull (common and breeding, especially on Tower),
*Lava Gull (a few on Santa Cruz, Baltra and North Seymour),
Kelp Gull (1 on Santa Fe), Common Noddy (abundant),
*Red-billed Tropicbird (common, breeding on Santa Fe),
White-cheeked Pintail (several Santa Cruz, Floreana),
*Galapagos Rail (1 in undergrowth El Chato on Santa Cruz),
Cattle Egret, Striated Heron (common, mostly sundevalli Lava Heron),
Great Blue Heron, Black-necked Stilt, Ruddy Turnstone, Whimbrel,
Wandering Tattler, Semipalmated Plover, American Oystercatcher,
Greater Flamingo (several on Floreana),
*Galapagos Hawk (3 on Santa Fe),
*Galapagos Dove (abundant),
Smooth-billed Ani, Vermilion Flycatcher (1 on Santa Cruz),
*Galapagos (Large-billed) Flycatcher (common),
Yellow Warbler (abundant),
*Galapagos Mockingbird (common Santa Cruz, Santa Fe, Tower),
*Hood Mockingbird (common Hood),
*Large Ground Finch (3 on Tower),
*Medium Ground Finch (fairly common on larger islands),
*Small Ground Finch (common on larger islands except Tower),
*Sharp-billed Ground Finch (4 on Tower),
*(Common) Cactus Finch (several on South Plaza),
*Large Cactus Finch (1 on Hood, 2 on Tower),
*Large Tree Finch (1 El Chato, 1 on road - Santa Cruz),
*Small Tree Finch (common Santa Cruz, 2 on Floreana),
*Vegetarian Finch (2 transition zone on road Santa Cruz),
*Warbler Finch (common),
*Woodpecker Finch (several Santa Cruz highlands, including a couple with sticks in their bills).
50 species (27 lifers)
Californian Sea-Lion (abundant snorkelling companions), *Galapagos Fur Seal (common Tower), Common Dolphin, Bottle-nosed Dolphin,
*Bryde's Whale (1 off Baltra).
Galapagos Giant Tortoise (several El Chato on Santa Cruz),
Marine Iguana (common), Santa Fe Land Iguana (common Santa Fe),
Land Iguana (common), Floreana Lava Lizard, Espanola Lava Lizard, Galapagos Lava Lizard.
From May 24 to May 27 we stayed at the Punta Carnero Hotel near Salinas. Morning bird was concentrated in dry desert scrubs around Punta Carnero, Anconcito and El Tambo, where there are plenty of tracks due to a proliferation of oil wells. I had seen many of the Tumbesian specialties on a 2000 visit to Ecuador.
Brown Pelican, Magnificent Frigatebird,
Kelp Gull, Grey-headed Gull, Franklin's Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Royal Tern,
Chilean Flamingo, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Striated Heron,
White-cheeked Pintail, Turkey Vulture, White-tailed Hawk, Harris's Hawk,
Snowy Plover, Wilson's Plover, Black-necked Stilt, Greater Yellowlegs,
American Oystercatcher, Whimbrel, Willet, Croaking Ground-Dove, Ecuadorian Ground-Dove, White-tipped Dove,
Ringed Kingfisher, Pacific Parrotlet (common),
Short-tailed Woodstar (several), Amazilia Hummingbird,
*Necklaced Spinetail (common),
Chapman's Antshrike (fairly common), Pale-legged Hornero,
Southern Beardless Tyrannulet, Vermilion Flycatcher,
*Grey-and-white Tyrannulet (2),
Mouse-coloured Tyrannulet (2), Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant (1),
Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant (1), Tropical Kingbird,
*Baird's Flycatcher (1).
White-tailed Jay (several), Grey-breasted Martin, Southern House Wren,
Fasciated Wren, Superciliated Wren (common), Tropical Gnatcatcher,
*Collared Warbling-Finch (1),
*Sulphur-throated Finch (1 flock of 15),
Parrot-billed Seedeater, Golden-bellied Grosbeak,
Band-tailed Sierra-Finch, Blue-grey Tanager, Peruvian Meadow-Lark,
Shiny Cowbird, Scrub Blackbird,
Long-tailed Mockingbird (common), White-edged Oriole (2).
59 species (5 lifers).