Saturday, February 8, 2014

Fernandina Island

Fernandina is the youngest and least vegetated of the islands. Because it is so young and also the furthest west it is also the most pristine island, probably in the world. This is one island in the group that has managed to stay free of any introduced species. The upwelling of the Cromwell current provides ample nutrients for the fauna that inhabit the island. 
Lava cactus beginning to colonize
Examining a whale skeleton
We left the pangas in a mango grove for our walk around Point Espinosa. After the short walk through the trees we spent the rest of the walk navigating the lava flows observing the largest group of marine iguanas along with several of the endemic birds of the islands. Of particular interest were the migrating shorebirds that are regularly seen here along the Washington and Oregon coasts: whimbrel, ruddy turnstone, willet, and semi-palmated plover. While it was a disappointingly cloudy morning, I was still able to get some good pictures of the iguanas and flightless cormorants. It was also my first chance to get a good look at the Galapagos Dove that I saw from a distance at the airport. 

It's easy to see why these are Flightless Cormorants

It is the fighting season

Galapagos Dove
We got some really good views of male iguanas beginning to compete as the breeding season begins. You can tell that they are ready to fight when they begin to bob their heads. While we saw a lot of this aggressive behavior, we didn’t see any actual fighting. We also witnessed a couple of the flightless cormorants fighting over territory by the shore. 

Too many to count

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