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Wondertime Visits Isla Isabel

Blue-footed Booby Birds (photo by Leah)

After nearly five weeks in Banderas Bay we’ve been craving some island time. Badly. So we pointed our bow north to one of our very favorite islands of all time, Isla Isabel, which lies about 18 miles west of the mainland coast, 90 miles or so south of Mazatlan. The weather forecast was perfect for a visit (10  knots or less of wind) since the anchorages are completely exposed and the bottom so rocky that the anchor’s grip on it is tenuous at best. We dropped our Rocna just south of the Los Monas rock sculptures on the east side of the island and it seemed to hold on the edge of a steep shelf that drops back into the sea.

Isla Isabel is home to millions of nesting birds, mainly blue-footed boobies and frigatebirds. Other than visiting yacht crews, the occasional motivated traveller, a handful of fishermen and research students, the island is relatively free from human intervention. As the birds have no predators on the island they are comfortable to nest literally anywhere and everywhere on the 2-mile square ex-volcano.

Leah, being a lover of both birds and wild islands, was enamored with the place. “I call this ‘Bird Island’!” she declared soon after setting off down the trail. She does not exaggerate: you literally have to watch your step at all times as you tiptoe amongst literally thousands and thousands of booby birds nesting right on the ground. It’s hard not to get too close and sometimes they are frightened off, squawking and waddling, leaving their two dusty blue eggs alone in their nests of dirt until they return a few minutes later, the coast clear.

Then you walk down paths through low shrubby trees that are finally clear of whistling boobies. Until you hear the cackling overhead that is the frigatebirds. You peer through the leaves and there they are, right above, in nests precariously balanced in the branches just a few feet over your head. The males have enormous red throat pouches that they inflate to impress a female; if she likes what she sees she caresses it deeply with her beak, and then her whole head. Suddenly you feel like a voyeur and continue walking, being careful now to not step on the large green iguanas that are lying in the grass in the sun.

It is the wild places we tiptoe through like Isla Isabel, places still owned by nature, that we observe with grateful eyes and we’ll always remember and hope our girls do too. I’m pretty sure Bird Island won’t be forgotten.

One Comment

  1. behan says:

    Love these pictures. It’s such a magical place! Looks like you got to see it at the prime time with nesting and a little post-hurricane season green still left. Lovely!