Punta Suarez, Española

The Galápagos Islands

The other visitor site on Española is Punta Suarez, on the west of the island.
Marylee Stephenson's guidebook says, "Once you land, you are immediately in the midst of such numbers and variety of wildlife that it is almost too much to absorb. First, you will be greeted by the endemic Hood Mockingbird."
Here, Martin shows just how approachable they are: he's photographing one with a 35mm compact camera.

Martin photographing a Hood Mockingbird

Nazca booby

Española has one of the breeding grounds of the endemic Nazca Booby (Sula granti), which was formerly regarded as a subspecies of the Masked Booby. Its breeding cycle is different in the different colonies.
It lays its two eggs on the ground, but since 'obligate sibling murder' is practised, only one chick is ever raised per pair per year. The eggs are laid asynchronously, and the older one will normally kill the younger one. If the first egg fails to hatch, the second egg will hatch and provide an 'insurance' offspring for the parents.

Waved albatross pair-bonding

An extra-special wildlife spectacle of Española between April and December is the Waved Albatross, Diomeda irrorata, colony.
When we were there, they were right in the middle of their pair-bonding time. Waved Albatrosses stay paired for life, and their courtship rituals cement their relationship.

Waved Albatrosses go through a whole series of ritualised movements. I was delighted to be able to take two short digicam 'videos' of their display.One of the rituals is sky pointing. I noticed that often when one bird did this, the other bird responded with a sort of 'popping' noise, like a cork being pulled from a bottle.
The Waved Albatross is by far the largest breeding bird in Galápagos, having a wingspan of c235cm and a length of c72cm.

Waved Albatross displaying

Here, Tim has to leave the official path because it has been blocked by a group of Española Marine Iguanas, who, of course, have right of way.
David's looking for something interesting to photograph.

Tim sidestepping a group of Marine Iguanas on the path.

Marine Iguana - Española race

The Española race of Marine Iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus venustissimus) is the brightest, having varying areas of red on its body, and it is also, with the Genovesa race, one of the smallest.
The colouring becomes even brighter during the mating period in November and December.

Gardner Bay (Española 1)

The Islands



 > Punta Suarez





Santa Cruz

Santa Fé


Seymour Norte


The Wildlife

Diary 2004

Diary 2005

Complete Index


Bartolomé  ¦   Española 1  ¦   Fernandina  ¦   Floreana  ¦   Genovesa  ¦   Isabela  ¦
   North Seymour  ¦   Santa Cruz  ¦   Santa Fé  ¦   Santiago

Text and images © Liz Leyden, 2008
Email: liz [at] v-liz [dot] com
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