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Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

One of the most beautiful birds in the arcipelago

What you need to know about the Great Blue Heron

The Great Blue Heron is known to be the largest heron in all of the Galápagos islands. It stands proudly at almost 3 ft (1m) tall with an incredible wingspan of over 6ft (2m)! Other heron species you can spot in Galápagos include the Lava Heron and Yellow-crowned Night Heron.

The Great Blue Heron is easy to spot with its striking slate-blue feathers which stretch out across the full wingspan. The blue of these flight feathers compliments their grey necks and bright yellow bills - they are one of the most beautiful birds to be found in the skies above the Galápagos.

The herons feed on small fish, crabs, lizards, young iguanas and even young birds. Being large wading birds, the herons find much of their food in deep waters. They hunt using their excellent eyesight, and they swallow their prey whole. This sometimes has the unfortunate result of them choking on their meal, and having to regurgitate the stuck dinner.

Great Blue Herons are known to be solitary, and in Galápagos they nest alone all year round. They are commonly spotted during panga ride excursions to the mangroves as these areas and other intertidal zones like tidal pools and protected shores. These herons do not like to be away from water which is why their choice of habitat is either in mangroves, lake edges or on shorelines.

The sight of one of these magnificent birds feeding or in flight is a moment you will want to capture in memory and on camera. They are indeed one species to look out for when enjoying a wonderful naturalist Galápagos cruise.

Great Blue Heron: Interesting facts

Largest of the Galápagos resident herons

They swallow their prey whole - sometimes they underestimate the size and it gets stuck

One of the most beautifully-colored birds in Galápagos

They are solitary birds that breed all year round in Galápagos

Great Blue Heron: Pictures from our travelers

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

Spots where the Great Blue Heron can be observed

A walk on Bartholomew
A walk on Bartholomew

Bartholomew (known as Bartolomé locally) is the most popular excursion for Galápagos visitors, and its iconic scenery is the most photographed in the whole archipelago.

To start your walk on this island you will land in the small bay opposite the famous Pinnacle Rock. You then start the climb to the 375ft peak of Bartholomew. You’ll travel along a half mile trail that includes a series of wooden steps that have been built by the National Park Service to protect the ground here from erosion caused by tourists hiking to the summit.

When you arrive at the top of island the spectacular views will have made your efforts worthwhile. Your Galapatours expert guide will point out all the landmarks you will see from here - Pinnacle Rock itself, jutting skywards. The huge black lava flows of Sullivan Bay. The islands of Daphne Major and Daphne Minor.

On the way back down, you will be able to recognise the different volcanic formations evident on the island, such as tuff cones and volcanic spatter. You'll also see some remarkable examples of the Galápagos' ability to highlight the adaptation of species. For example the  bushes that all look dead are actually very much alive, with leaves covered with special grey hairs that help to reflect the harsh sun and reduce moisture loss for the plants.

Back at the beach there is excellent snorkeling, thanks to the underwater caves and rocks in the area. You will see various sharks, rays and tropical fish. You may also see Galápagos Penguins swimming with you!

Chinese Hat
Chinese Hat

Chinese Hat ("Sombrero Chino" to locals) is an islet set just a short distance off the southeastern coast of Santiago. The small channel between Chinese Hat and mainland Santiago is fairly deep yet sheltered, and the water here is a glistening turquoise.

The islet gets its name because if you approach from the north, you will see that this small volcanic cone does indeed look like the traditional bamboo or rice hat. Viewed from above on a satellite image, however, you will see that this islet is actually more of an oval shape.

There is a short hiking trail on Chinese Hat that runs along the western coast of the islet. This is a harsh landscape of volcanic rubble and lava formations, a very atmospheric reminder of the fiery origins of the Galápagos.

Along the cost of both Chinese Hat and the opposite Santiago shore you are likely to see Galápagos Sea Lions and Galápagos Penguins, either basking in the sun or seeking shade to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Overhead, you might catch a glimpse of the magnificent Galápagos Hawk.

The stand-out reason for a visit to Chinese Hat however is to snorkel in that turquoise channel. Here you can see various species of sharks, rays, and a variety of tropical fish. Not all Galápagos boats can visit, and permits are only given to a select few boats and guides. Here at Galapatours we offer itineraries on all of these specially selected boats, so if a visit to Chinese Hat is important to you, speak to one of our Galápagos experts today to help choose the perfect itinerary.

Our trips to spot the Great Blue Heron

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