One of the islands we visited was Pinzon – not on this year’s agenda, but will be the next major eradication project. Due to several species, such as hawks and tortoises, that have endemic subpopulations there, the decision was made to postpone Pinzon until this year’s pilot project has been evaluated. Pinzon is the island that people love to hate – the lava rocks there will tear up a pair of hiking boots in no time flat and the plants are have nasty, spiny thorns. We spent half a day walking on Pinzon and I have the battle wounds to prove it. Not only are my pants a bit torn up, but the skin that was under them took some damage, too. When I packed for “field camp in the tropics”, I did not think to bring jeans and long socks!
But it was worth it – my first sighting of Galapagos hawks was exactly what everyone said. Curious creatures, they met us as we jumped off the boat and sat on the rocks to watch us. Yes – they are so close you can almost touch them. Other notable sightings – gorgeous Vermillion flycatchers (rare that anything is that colorful here) flitting around and giant tortoises under Opuntia cacti. And along the coast, boobies (Nazca and blue-footed) and sea lions. Also checked out Rabida, which is the largest island we are doing this year, a much “friendlier” island for hiking. It has the largest population of hawks that we will be working with for now – looked at the logistics of trapping 7-10 hawks and getting them off the island.The easiest spot to capture them is at the top of the island, based on some earlier field trips. Hiking down with them might be a bit challenging – wondering if we can lure them down to a more convenient spot to capture them with a bit of advance work. After all – they have wings – would be nice to let them do the work! Looking at all our options now as we will begin to implement some of them next week when the fun begins!