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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Española (Hood) Island

August 27th, 2012 · 2 Comments

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On August 4 I visited the last of the nine islands and islets that I went to in the Galapagos Archipelago when our yacht, the Xavier III, took us to Española, also known as Hood Island. Almost all of the Galapagos Islands have two or even more names.

Española is about 3.5 million years old and is the oldest of the Galapagos Islands. By no coincidence it is also the furthest south. Volcanos created each of these islands, which lie at the very northern edge of the Nazca Plate. This tectonic plate is moving while the hotspot that produces the volcano remains stationary.

Since this is the oldest of the the Galapagos Islands, I had expected to find the lava there well covered by soil. Hardly the case, the loop trail that took was the roughest of all of the islands. It was certainly worth the effort for all the wild beauty we saw.

But when we arrived at the trailhead after landing on the beach we had to wait. Sea Lions and Marine Iguanas had arrived there first and weren’t about to move just to get out of the way of humans.

Morris Garcia, the Park Ranger Who Guided Our Tour, Waits for Wildlife (Panasonic DMC-TS3 at 5mm, f/3.3, 1/1300, ISO 400)

Morris Garcia, the Park Ranger Who Guided Our Tour, Waits for Wildlife (Panasonic DMC-TS3 at 5mm, f/3.3, 1/1300, ISO 400)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

The Marine Iguanas seem to be rather sociable.

We Found this Pile of Marine Iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) on a Lava Rock Waiting Along the Trail (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 160mm, f/8, 1/350, ISO 1600)

We Found this Pile of Marine Iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) on a Lava Rock Waiting Along the Trail (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 160mm, f/8, 1/350, ISO 1600)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

As we hiked further along the trail we noticed a Galapagos Hawk in the distance. As we got closer, we could see two of them. Then, as we got closer yet we saw them together. This was the first time I had ever seen any species of hawk mating.

Notice How Much Larger the Female Galapagos Hawk (Buteo galapagoensis) is than the Male (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/1500, ISO 800)

Notice How Much Larger the Female Galapagos Hawk (Buteo galapagoensis) is than the Male (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/1500, ISO 800)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Later we were fortunate enough to get an even closer view of one of the Galapagos Hawks in better light.

A Galapagos Hawk (Buteo galapagoensis) Waits for Us Right By the Trail (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 135mm, f/8, 1/350, ISO 400)

A Galapagos Hawk (Buteo galapagoensis) Waits for Us Right By the Trail (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 135mm, f/8, 1/350, ISO 400)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

The previous day I had seen a tropicbird on Floreana. But on that island it was sitting and resting. Birds in flight, especially this tropicbird that flew along the coast of Española, are special.

A Red-billed Tropicbird (Phaethon aethereus) Flies By (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 250mm, f/8, 1/200, ISO 400)

A Red-billed Tropicbird (Phaethon aethereus) Flies By (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 250mm, f/8, 1/200, ISO 400)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

At the steepest part of the trail, we saw this pair of Nazca Boobies. Darwin said that these were the whitest birds that he ever saw. But maybe he never saw a tropicbird.

Don't You Love This Pair of Nazca Boobies (Sula granti)? (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 220mm, f/8, 1/1500, ISO 400)

Don't You Love This Pair of Nazca Boobies (Sula granti)? (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 220mm, f/8, 1/1500, ISO 400)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Back at the beach were some of the birds — Hood Mockingbirds — that are among the least shy of humans. This one investigates Kevin’s camera.

A Hood Mockingbird (Nesomimus macdonaldi) Investigates Kevin's Canon 7D Camera (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 100mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO 400)

A Hood Mockingbird (Nesomimus macdonaldi) Investigates Kevin's Canon 7D Camera (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 100mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO 400)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

The main reason why naturalists come to Española is to see the Waved Albatross, the only species of albatross that lives in the tropics. Found only on the island of Española, the Wave Albatross has near-threatened status.

Every time I see an albatross I think of Coleridge’s poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” and of the mariner who shot one, bringing bad luck and eventually death to the crew. But that didn’t stop me from shooting several of the rare Waved Albatross on Española. Of course, I shot them only with my camera.

These Waved Albatross (Diomedea irrorata) were Courting by Clapping Their Bills Together (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 120mm, f/8, 1/1500, ISO 800)

These Waved Albatross (Diomedea irrorata) were Courting by Clapping Their Bills Together (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 120mm, f/8, 1/1500, ISO 800)

Click on the picture above to enlarge
A Waved Albatross Chick (Diomedea irrorata) that Only a Mother Could Love (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 275mm, f/8, 1/750, ISO 800)

A Waved Albatross Chick (Diomedea irrorata) that Only a Mother Could Love (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 275mm, f/8, 1/750, ISO 800)

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I was happy to see these albatross, but somewhat sad that I hadn’t captured any of them in flight. And it is in flight that these birds with their huge wingspans excel. After we finished our tour of Española and were headed back to San Cristobal in order to leave the Galapagos the next day, my luck changed again for the better. As the light faded at the end of the day I was looking out ahead of where our yacht was going when a one of these near-threatened Waved Albatross flew low across our bow.

A Waved Albatross (Diomedea irrorata) Crosses the Bow of the Xavier III (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 340mm, f/8, 1/1000, ISO 1600)

A Waved Albatross (Diomedea irrorata) Crosses the Bow of the Xavier III (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 340mm, f/8, 1/1000, ISO 1600)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

This was the final wildlife photo that I captured in the Galapagos Islands. The next day we flew from the airport on San Cristobal Island back to Quito, high in the Andes of the South American continent. A different world.

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Posted in: Galapagos

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 mike // Sep 1, 2012 at 7:10 am

    Nice shootin’ Tex.

  • 2 Fran Stearns // Sep 2, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    My favorite of this splendid trip is the photo of Marine iguanas above…a delight among delights!

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