Back in Galapagos! Happy to be here and anxious to get started with the next phase of the project. One slight problem has been the failure of my duffel to arrive. It did not make the connection in Miami, so did not arrive in Guayaquil with me. The challenge is that one spends the night in Guayaquil, and then takes a domestic Ecuadorian airline to the islands the next day. I headed to Galapagos, trusting the two airlines to be able to figure out a way to get my bag to me. Hoping my bag will arrive before I have to leave for camp. I must admit that my current problem of wearing the same outfit everyday pales in comparison to the thought of heading out to camp for 2 weeks without anything in my duffel – hiking boots are not easily replaced here!
My first day here, I met with my colleagues, Karl, Mark and Franny, to go over the final plans. It was good to see them again – we sat overlooking Academy Bay, a beautiful site and caught up with each other. Karl, a New Zealander who works for Island Conservation in California, is project leader for the rodent eradication. Mark, who hails from Australia, works for the Charles Darwin Foundation – while his area of expertise is invasive plants, he is overseeing the pre- and post- eradication scientific surveys. His teams have been (and will be) collecting data on the animal populations (especially birds) on the islands undergoing rodent eradication. Franny, another New Zealander who works here at the research station, is my primary colleague on the hawk mitigation. She is an excellent field biologist and very creative at problem-solving. Her primary job is a translocation project for the highly endangered Mangrove Finch, one of the 13 species of Darwin’s finches found in the Galapagos Islands.
Plans for the project are progressing well. Although they still have some to finish next week, the bulk of the aviary construction was done last week. The construction was quite impressive in the images I saw – on our first day out to camp, we will stop by and inspect them prior to heading to the other islands to start trapping. You might remember that we are trapping the hawks on Rabida, Bainbridge 3 and Bartolome islands and bringing them to Santiago, where the temporary aviaries are. These hawks on these three islands are considered to be part of the Santiago subpopulation, although we will be taking samples for DNA analysis and confirmation after we capture the birds.