In the Rockies

In the Rockies
Butler Gulch

Thursday, November 8, 2018

And then there were the birds!

                      The frigates flew with the boat much of the time, but this day I was up above at the right time and enjoyed taking their photos. I enjoyed watching all of the birds wherever we were but four hikes, one the first part of the week and three of our last four outings focused on the islands' birds. I've shown you the flamingo and the pelican in other posts. Iguanas were in some of the areas with birds so they'll show up here too. The one below was my favorite. Could it have something to do with the color?!

The bird above was found in the same swamp as the flamingo--a Galapagos mockingbird.

We climbed up a rocky path to see these Galapagos hawks devouring a dead baby seal. My shot of one standing alone won't upload but think you can see how different they are from the ones around our areas. I wasn't warned and didn't take my hiking poles on our first hike out to see birds, became afraid I'd fall on the large round rocks and got behind the rest of the group. After that I took one pole, and my roommates used the other one. With my camera, I couldn't have used more than one. The shore where we watched for these swallow-tailed gulls to take off was spectacular.

On the way to these birds we saw this iguana posing. 

 From the trail as we were beginning the walk to the shore birds.
See how the bird blends with the rocks--over which I didn't enjoy walking! This was our first walk with birds where the rocky paths were a challenge. The island is Plaza Sur, a small island we visited near Isla Santa Fe where we saw the hawks.

I should perhaps have blown this one up so you could fully appreciate the sight of so many of the red-orange crabs lining the rocky shore above the sea. 

And now we are on to another island--Espanola, the southernmost island of the Galapagos where birds abound--especially the waved albatrosses. Nearly all of the world's 12,000 pairs breed here. We walked through the middle of booby colonies too. And sea lions and marine iguanas make their way to the water on the beaches. 

This wonderful geyser-like eruption is made simply by the waves hitting this spot in the rocks!. Gorgeous! 
Here is a pair of waved albatrosses! There were many seeming, like this pair to pose for us. And below are boobies. The blue feet don't always show up well and some were other types of boobies. The hills were alive--literally! I was delighted no matter the rocks over which to walk!

These two are masked boobies.

A blue-footed booby is on the left, and a delighted Maggie here!

There are more bird walks and birds. However, I'm signing off for now with no promises for more Galapagos blogs. I hope at some point to write a bit about Quito. Perhaps I'll start that blog with the last bird walk on the islands. For now, I want to work on the novel!

Saturday, November 3, 2018

The Galapagos -- Post 2 -- Simply Amazing!

                         View from cliff-top trail on Espanola, the southern-most island of the Galapagos

There were other ships at many of the ports, one group in particular traced many of our stops. I knew this primarily because our guide and theirs, a woman, visited either in passing or on the beaches from which snorkeling was the primary activity. And not so many of that group joined the snorkelers. On one beach I chatted with a man from Columbia Missouri who graduated from Missouri State in Springfield. He was the only American with whom I spoke on the islands.

 Our forays into the island paths didn't lend many flower photos, and I was using my distance lens but here are a couple of flowers in this jungle-like area.

This was the big payoff on this walk. We were close enough in this lagoon that I could have captured this flamingo with my I-phone! And we saw more than one!

From the turtle breeding center I walked along the sea, then cut through this pink house restaurant to read the road where I joined others searching, in what was barely a town, for post cards to send from Post Office Bay where we were going the next day.

And Post Office Bay, you asked? It wasn't what I expected! 

This funny little peaked box contained many post cards. We searched through them for addresses near us to take to, ideally, deliver in person, and we left our own cards, most of which were addressed to ourselves. Mine was hand delivered while I was on a recent trip to Tulsa for a memorial service. Our new receptionist called and asked me to come down as the folks delivering it wanted to meet me. I answered from outside the Crystal Springs Art Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, so didn't meet those folks. They also wanted to know if I'd been in the Galapagos to write the card! 

I was trying out my mask and flopping around in the water near this beach, not making much progress. I don't know how much better I would have done with fins, but there were none small enough for my feet. Unexpectedly, a voice above me said, "I'll take you out to see the swimming turtles." It was a woman from New Zealand and her husband. She took my arm and he swam along the other side and they led me out farther than I could have gone alone to see the underwater swimming turtles!! It was exciting and by the trip back to the beach, I'd relaxed enough to enjoy the snorkel. Back on the beach as I exclaimed my thanks, she said, "I couldn't stand for you not to see the turtles."

And speaking of turtles/tortoises, I loved the ones roaming around the field on a farm we visited. That farmer made a business of allowing tourists to visit. They had boots for us to wear in case of mud and for sturdier walking and coffee/tea afterward. Our group was boarding our van to leave as the next much larger group arrived.

This tortoise is heading to submerge in a small pond, joining others already there.

Early the morning we were going to visit the Charles Darwin Research Center, we bid goodbye to six of our fellow passengers. Four I'd spent enough time with to be sad they were leaving--the couple who led me through the water to see the turtles swimming and a mother and daughter. The daughter was another camera buff and the mother a nurse with whom I'd walked another beach and visited while others were snorkeling. Those of us who stayed went to the Darwin Center's visitors' pavilions together and began to seek each other out at meals and cocktail hour. Our guide, pictured below, spoke as if he was reading the best book I read prior to the trip, adding his stories. He was extraordinary!

We did go inside a room where "Big George" stays on display. He's the oldest known tortoise, maybe approaching 100 years though his age can't be documented, and is preserved for visitors to view through glass.

Afterward we found our first tiny touch of the Internet in the Galapagos National Preserve's small gift shop just outside the Research Center's grounds. It was so slow that we got e-mail titles but not the content. This was a town with many many shops filled with the same variety of souvenirs and also restaurants. After walking, shopping and enjoying the fish market below, six of us found a place to enjoy drinks.

That's it for this morning. Next time I'll share the birds and shores that were my favorite spots! I also loved riding on the sea, whether reading up on top, watching the birds following us or riding around in the panga while others snorkeled!