About Us

My photo
We work as ecotourism guides (as well as biologist and boat captain) often on the BC Coast, but also as far ranging as the Arctic and Antarctic. We have an insatiable curiousity for the planet; all its hidden gems and what makes them tick. That and our love of sailing is what inspired us to sail around the Pacific in Narama, our tough and pretty little sailboat.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Isla Isabel – A seabird watcher’s paradise!

Male Magnificent Frigatebird

It took us three days to sail from Caleta Lobos (near La Paz) to the anchorage at Isla Isabel. In the end we decided to heave-to for five hours so we would approach this poorly charted, rock strewn island in daylight (the chart marks the island nearly two miles away from its actual position). We had a boisterous sail in anything from 15 to 25 knots of breeze, but it was a broad reach the whole way, so we were comfortable and merrily ticking away the miles as we left the Baja behind us. That strong northerly breeze also meant that we didn’t have any southerly swell at the island.
For two days we wandered the trails among several thousand nesting Magnificent Frigatebirds. We listened to the sounds of their bills clapping around us constantly as the adults greeted and courted over nests with tiny chicks, a very pleasant chorus. There were plenty of lewd male throat sacks inflated and scarlet red, tiny new chicks being guarded as well as large nearly fledged juveniles still begging for food. The sounds, sights and smells were nearly overwhelming. There were also plenty of Blue-footed and Brown Booby’s on the grassy banks on every shore, with fluffy, bright white chicks being fed on the nest. We spoke to a grad student from the University of Mexico City who was studying the Blue-footed Booby’s and she kindly answered our plethora of questions. With her field assistants and the pangeros at the fishing camp, humans were definitely out-numbered by birds!

Juvenile Magnificent Frigatebirds
We easily could have stayed longer as it was such a treat to be able to observe their behavior. The frigatebirds would gather grass for nesting material from the few open areas and this they would take on the wing, swooping down and snatching a few blades in their long bills. It seems that this grass was in high demand as it was mowed down in the few areas that we saw. At one of our all-time favourite picnic lunch spots we were sitting on slopping grass with boobies nesting a little way away on either side, the slope reaching down to a volcanic rocky shoreline. We laid down and watched frigatebirds and boobies glide over us only meters away from our heads. Every bird turned its head to examine who these intruders were lying on their island. When we looked out to sea we also saw humpbacks, both adults and calves breaching. It doesn’t get much better than this!
Brown Booby with its chick

We are now en route to San Blas while I write, motoring on smooth windless seas.

Who are you on MY island?

No comments: