Trucking Along...& Galapagos Part VIII. 07:34:49S 116:07:98W

Zipadedoda of Dart
David H Kerr
Tue 18 Mar 2008 10:47

First off all please accept my apology for the confusion as to why the Blogs have recently not been posted. Mailasail are looking into what could have caused this. Hopefully it will not happen again, because normally these are very reliable.


Since the last (chronological) blog, we are still Goose winging with the Staysail as well and are really eating up the miles, with speeds of up to 9.5knots SOG being recorded.  We have covered the best part of 200nm in the last 24 hours. Mind you not the most comfortable of rides, but the quicker we get the Nuku Hiva, the happier I will be! Just 1421NM to go now. Or to put it another way, Dartmouth to Bayona ….…twice. Hmm, funny how after a while, distance and time play tricks on you at sea ……………..


To continue the Galapagos saga……


Rabida. This is a very different Island. It has rusty red sand and rock and is home to Pink Flamingos…or more correctly was. The lake (rusty muddy looking affair), you can see in the left side of the picture below. used to be home to several pairs of Pink Flamingos. However, there was a draught on this Island last year and this lake dried out. Consequently the red shrimps that the Flamingos feed on (and it is these that give them the pink colour) also died off. So no food = no Flamingos. They hope that the shrimps will return soon as will the Flamingos.





The picture below shows off the red lava and the rugged terrain of this Island. What you can’t see in this picture are the two sea lion pups playing in the surge in this gorge. The water here is crystal clear and you could easily see the ranks of Surgeon fish charging back and forth on the surge.



Another delightful creature to inhabit this island is the local Lava Lizard. These are chameleon. If you get too close, they turn a rust red colour. I did get one picture of this happening. But the camouflage is so effective you can’t see the lizard clearly on these low resolution pictures. So you will just have to take my word for it. Or come and see for yourself, which is a much better idea!



Rabida is also an important nesting ground for Marine Iguanas. More of which anon. But this does mean that quite a lot of the beach area is restricted access.


Rabida, in common with most Islands has loads of birds. It is also a major nesting site for Pelicans. But we have done Pelicans to death!

The chap below is interesting. They are called Smooth Billed Annie’s. They are about the same size as a rook. They are not native to Galapagos, but were introduced abut 100 years ago by cattle farmers. I believe they came from India originally, and their task was to remove ticks from the skins of the cattle. The cattle have all gone now (except for a couple of Islands), but the birds remain. They are in fact quite common and have become a pest. They kill small birds for food now instead of ticks. So in common with all none indigenous creatures in the Galapagos, steps are being taken to eradicate them.



The other pests on this island are wasps. (Also imported). Mercifully we were not bothered by them, but there were a lot of containers on the ground, which are used to attract the wasps and then kill them. I did read that Mina birds had also been introduced to some Islands in the Archpeligo a long time ago to control the wasp population. But I saw no evidence of them.


We did see lots of beautiful small birds, especially Yellow Warblers. I managed to get several pictures of bushes,……… where they had been………………………………


But the star of the show on this Island is the Galapagos Hawk. These are rare, and Bird watchers from all over the world come to see them. Apparently the week before we were on the Island a British couple of bird watchers came every day to see this elusive bird. Never saw one!


We did not expect to see any, but within 10 minutes of landing on the Island, I saw one dive down into the scrub in the back of the beach, between the salt water lake and the sea. So camera at the ready I raced over to where it had landed. There then appeared a second one. It’s mate.  They are quite big. Around two feet long from break to the tip of the tail. The feet and beak are a livid yellow.



The staple diet of these hawks is marine Iguana!


The principle way they hunt them is to wait until the female Iguana is entering her nest, then because she has her head buried in the sand and cannot see the hawk, it swoops down and buries its sharp and powerful talons in the tail of the Iguana, One hawk holds the Iguana, then the second one swoops down and then drags the doomed Iguana backwards out of its nest. This one put up quite a struggle. In the end it tired and was dragged out. As soon as the head was clear of the nest the female Hawk drove its beak into the Iguanas head and that as they say was the end of that.




Anyone for fresh Iguana sushi……..


Note, in the interests of good taste I did not publish the final picture in this sequence.


Next up, we cross the equator again…twice, and visit South Plaza.  Home of the Tropic Birds.