Trip report: Galapagos, the Endemics Cruise (Nov 2009) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Andres Vasquez. This was a set departure tour.

Even though a cruise through the Ecuadorian Enchanted Islands is normally a relaxing birding tour, this year’s trip faced from the very start a big challenge after having had in 2008 the great luck of getting the first photographic record in 30 years of a bird that seemed to be a Mangrove Finch on Fernandina Island (read the November 2008 TB trip report). The pressure was on my back and the expectations were high. Will we find again the mysterious bird this year? The answer in few words is: WE GOT IT!!! We not only saw it again but this time I am 100% sure it was a Mangrove Finch as we heard it singing clear and loud three times just before I spotted it jumping out right in front of us.

For the second year in a row we cleared all the endemics but this time with such an ease that even I was surprised. This trip was also remarkably good for migrant birds, lots of fish while snorkeling and great displays of whales and dolphins while sea crossing. All that, added to the super-kind and helpful crew of the Yate Fragata and Pato, the naturalist guide, made the 2009 Endemics Cruise pure joy and success.

A trip to the Galapagos Islands is always a once-in-a-life-time experience and the one we had this year was something our guests will never forget. The tame and curious birds, the patient sea turtles, the playful sea lions, the white sandy beaches, the busy nesting cliffs and the spectacular jumps of dolphins will be on our minds for a long, long time.

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