The Galapagos Islands
aboard the
'Beluga'
4 August to 19 August 2003
Highights from a diary by

A birding trip organised by
Waved Albatross
Monday 4 August to Thursday 7 August
Travelling to Ecuador and birding Cotopaxi National Park, Yanacocha, Mindo Road. In less than five days of birding we had seen fourty-four species of hummingbird and many Choco endemics (see the TripList for species seen in Galapagos and Ecuador)
Friday 8 August
….An early breakfast at 0500 had been arranged specially for our group. We were packed, ready and waiting, when Sergio and Ivan arrived at 0615 for the transfer to the airport. The formalities went smoothly with our luggage firstly checked to ensure there were no seeds or fruit going into the islands.
….Our plane took off heading for the island of Baltra, but firstly there was a short stop in the city of Guayaquil on the Ecuadorian coast for further passengers to board. From here it was a one-and-half hour flight over the eastern Pacific.
….On arrival in Baltra our entry, by individual name, was recorded and the park tax was duly paid. In the tiny arrivals area our guide, Juan, from the Beluga was waiting for us. We had the contingent for the cruise now together, a total of fourteen. Our luggage was collected and we left the small airport. Outside we had to board one of the local buses to take us to the bay where the boat was at anchor. The short wait gave us a few moments for the first purchase of customary T-shirts (and more sun lotion).
….The drive to the small quayside was to take only a few minutes. Two inflatable tenders, called pangas by the Spanish speakers, ferried us across to the boat, home for the next seven nights. Aboard we were allocated cabins and Juan told us a little of the schedule for the next few days. We had our first lunch aboard, one of many from the galley that we found excellent, and we started sailing.
….On the short journey to North Seymour we could see rafts of Audubon's Shearwaters, and White-vented Storm-Petrels flew close by the boat, dancing on the water surface with legs dangling in typical feeding action. North Seymour was to be our first landing. For most aboard this was the first time donning life jackets and getting in and out of the zodiac inflatables whilst they bobbed around on the sea.
….Ashore, Swallow-tailed Gulls welcomed us. These were very attractive and it is the only gull that feeds at night. We started our walk. Blue-footed Boobies were all around us and were nesting on the track itself. Many had young, some larger than the adult itself. They were so tame that we had to be careful not to tread on them and sometimes we needed to step back as they were too close to photograph.
Blue-footed Booby
….Land Iguanas, looking like dragons, walked slowly ahead of us, taking no notice of the group at all. Overhead would cruise piratical Magnificent Frigatebirds and along the coastline Brown Noddies would zoom through a feeding flock of boobies that dived in synchronisation. Sea Lion pups were bleating for their parents, and we thought we had better walk a little faster when a young bull Sea Lion decided to exit the water and head our way. On the way back I tried 'pishing' a Yellow Warbler that attracted no less than five of them to within touching distance, less two feet distance from us.
….What a marvellous introduction to the Galapagos Islands. We returned to the boat, everyone thrilled with the experiences of this magical place.
….After dinner we were told of tomorrow's planned landings - it was to be Hood Island, home of the Waved Albatross, another treat in store.
Left and above - Galapagos Petrel that landed on the boat
….After all the group had gone to bed one of the crew advised me that a bird had landed on one of the decks. The boat’s lights had probably attracted it, a phenomenon normally associated with overcast or bad weather. Of all the seabirds I could have expected I was very surprised to see that it was a Galapagos Petrel, a critically endangered species and one we may not even see on this cruise. I decided I had better wake a few people to show them the bird in the hand. After photographing it was released to fly off strongly into the night sky.
Click the Galapagos Petrel (left) for HomePage