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Isla de la Plata

Wednesday Nov 27th

Today we get to head out to Isla de la Plata to find the Blue footed Booby bird and do some snorkelling ! Should be a fun day. The weather is good, no rain :)

We arrive at the tour office just after 9. Paid the balance due, went and got a coffee and waited for the guide.  He came just before 9:30 with about 12 people in tow.  6 from the Netherlands 😍 3 from England, 3 from France and 1 local. We walk over to the end of the pier where our boat is waiting. Nice big boat with 2 150hp engines on the back! That should make the trip fast.

The island is about 50kms north from Pto. Lopez and will take about an hour to get there.  When we get to load onto the boat we made sure we had seats in the back and not inside!  I've already taken a gravol just incase, but sitting outside in the wind will be nice!

Once everyone is aboard with us, 2 guides, 1 boat guy plus the skipper we head out. It doesn't take long before we are skipping across the water at a fast speed.  BUT we are sitting on the wrong side of the boat and keep getting splashed everytime the boat hits a big wave.  Reminds me of our trips to the Cayos Cochinos in Honduras, but at least this is a nice wide big boat so getting splashed doesnt worry me or the waves! LOL!!!
Our boat getting prepared with skipper and boat guy
Guide #1 and some of our boatmates

These are 3 of the people from the Netherlands (5 were travelling together)

This girl is also from the NL but is travelling on her own for the last 3.5 months. Going home tomorrow

Boat guy with his back to the pic, guide #2 and one local - oh and Dwayne :)

And we're off!!

We arrive close to the island in less then an hour and we stop in an area where there are lots of big turtles - wow there are a lot. Just swimming around. The guide does throw out a few pieces of banana which the turtles really like! So it keeps them in the area for awhile so everyone can take turns moving around the boat to see them.  Then we head to the beach.  Since there is no pier we have to get out in the water but these guys are good at holding the boat still since the waves are not that big here. So everyone got out ok.

Lots of turtles in this area

Once on the beach we head up to the building that use to be a hotel but now that this is a national park, the government owns it. There are 5 full time rangers on this island which is 2kms wide and 6kms long.  At the building they have place to wash your feet off and put on our shoes since we are going for a hike first.  The hike we are going on is about 3km.

Beached and feet clean we're ready for the hike

Pretty dry here

We're doing the shorter walk since we have a few "older" people in our group 😉

We get started and head up - and it's pretty steep. Lots of stairs to climb to get to our first stop to rest and see a Blue Footed Booby bird sitting on a bench! These birds are actually pretty tame or dumb because they are not frightened by us. And as we walk along the path further UP we see so many BFBB and their babies! They are right on the edge of the path, some are actually right on the path and we have to walk around them. The guide says to stay at least 2 meters away from them.  There are many different stages of babies here, Lots of white downy ones that are a couple of months old, to eggs still being sat on by either the male or female BFBB, depending on which one is out gathering food.

These birds don't mate for life. The parents leave once the baby is about 6 months old and that's when their feet change to blue . The blue comes from the fish that they eat. They are called boobies because it means foolish, silly etc.  These birds are not afraid of humans.  And I guess when they mate the male does some fancy dancin' with his blue feet :)  The female lays 2-3 eggs which do not all hatch at the same time, so the siblings are all different sizes. The first born being the biggest will always get more food then the others if food is scarce. The oldest is also known to push the smaller ones out of the nest if food is scarce. Guess there is quite the study on siblicide of these birds.

Our first close look at the BFBB

Males have a smaller pupil compared to the females

He looks like he's in a bad spot, but is ok just waiting for food

Siblings, all different sizes

So cute and fluffy with their white downy feathers

And tiny little dark wings

The male protecting the young

Really young ones

Male and female. The male whistles and the female hooks

We continue on our hike to the south side of the island where there are more trees. Since this is suppose to be the rainy season the island is very dry and trees are bare. The only ones with leaves are those with deep roots. Maybe because we are just getting into the rainy season?? But once we get to the trees is when we see lots of Frigate birds. These are also fishing birds but they can't dive. They can only get fish from the surface. These are the same birds that steal fish from the fishermen as they are carrying out the catch from the boat. Those frigin' frigates! LOL!!! The males also have a red patch under their beak they can inflate when looking for that pretty lady bird to impress :)  Once the egg hatches (usually only one egg) the male stays for about 4-6 months to help feed the baby and then leaves. The female continues to care for the baby for another 6 to 9 months. She only lays an egg every other year for that reason. These babies take alot of care!!!

Young frigates stay in the trees for safety 

A very young frigate

There are hummingbirds here also but found very few flowers for them to feed from
We then leave the island and head around a quiet bay for everyone to do some snorkelling. We both go out into the water but Dwayne's mask doesnt keep the water out because of his mustache. So he just floats around while I snorkel and check what's out there.  The floor of the ocean is all coral and I see a few colourful fish. Then the guide puts out some food and it brings lots of blue tang fish. So pretty!!!  I only last about 15 minutes in the water any longer and I get seasick, just from the moving water. Don't need that!!! So get back in the boat - the boat guy was really good in getting us back in the boat without a ladder. He has our backside on the boat side then I raised our arms and he pulled me up onto the boat no problem!! So much more lady like then having to flop onto the back and try to get up!! Don't have the upper body strength to do that!!

The trip back the skipper was flying over the ocean!! Way faster then when we came out - guess he has extra fuel to burn on the way back. Those 2 - 150hp engines really put out. The boat was acting similar to a horse going back to the stable at the end of a trail ride!! LOL!!!

Had a great day on the island and when we got back we bought some more prawns for supper 😋 Tomorrow we head further south.

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