Galapagos Islands - seabirds

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4 years 3 months ago #86375 by nkgray
nkgray created the topic: Galapagos Islands - seabirds
My wife and I have just returned from the "trip of a lifetime", having spent 7 nights aboard a motor yacht island-hopping in the Galapagos Islands. The longer distances were covered at night so the amount of true pelagic birding was limited, but the rest more than made up for this. I saw 22 of the 29 species endemic to the Galapagos (including 2 critically endangered species), missing out on the other 7 only because we did not visit areas where they might be seen. So in that respect I had a 100% success rate on the endemics that I might have expected to see. Additionally I saw 13 of 15 endemic sub-species. Overall a Galapagos list of 60 species, apparently a very good tally indeed. I brought back over 3500 photos (even after nightly review sessions to cull the poor ones) of birds, iguanas, sea-lions and some spectacular scenery, so forgive me if I spread my posts over the next few weeks.

To begin, some of the seabirds.

One of the critically endangered endemic species is the Galapagos Petrel. This one eluded me until the afternoon of day 7, on the 50 km cruise between Española and San Cristobal islands.

Probably the commonest of the seabirds seen both close inshore and well offshore is the endemic Galapagos Shearwater, usually seen sitting in small flocks on the water and rising up at the approach of a vessel.

We were usually accompanied by small numbers of Elliott's Storm Petrel (endemic sub-species galapagoensis) following the wake of the boat. While I saw all 3 of the commonly occurring storm petrels (the other 2 being the Band-rumped and Wedge-rumped) Elliott's was the only one I managed to photograph.

Much more common inshore and on the rocky island shorelines was the Brown Noddy

One flock of migratory Franklin's Gull put in an appearance very late on our final afternoon

One of the endemic gull species is the vulnerable Lava Gull, with a world population (all obviously in the Galapagos) of no more than 400 breeding pairs.

- this one feasted on a large dead fish that had washed ashore on Genovesa Island

Another migrant present in very large numbers - in flocks from as few as a dozen or so up to several hundred at a time - was the Red-necked Phalarope


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