Galapagos finches are legendary – after all, they form the backbone of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. And they’re in fine company – according to the Galapagos Conservancy, the islands are home to 56 species of native bird, and 45 of those are endemic (ie, found nowhere else on the planet). Then there are the migrants and super-rare species that make such sporadic cameos they’re impossible to quantify.
These 20 islands, about 1000km off Ecuador’s west coast, are bird-nerd heaven – something I quickly discovered on a 9-day adventure with Aurora Expeditions. The cruise visited several breeding colonies around the archipelago, including the waved albatross and Nazca booby on Espanola; red-footed boobies on San Cristobal, and frigatebirds and blue-footed boobies on North Seymour. Plus, the brackish waters of Las Bachas and Punta Cormorant are home to the iconic flamingo (with just 350 individuals, this is the world’s tiniest population of the long-limbed pretties), and if you’re mega lucky, you’ll see find Galapagos Penguins on Bartoleme (FYI they’re the world’s most endangered penguin species).
There really are too many birding highlights to list here – so here is a tiny pictorial taste of all the feathery action. Click on a thumbnail below for the full size pic and shooting info: