There are plenty of places to see Vermilion Flycatchers and they’re probably not the first bird to come to mind when one visits the Galapagos, but did that stop me from taking way too many pictures of this one? Of course not!
My desire to escape is likely a shared sentiment, so I invite you to Day 4 of the Galapagos adventure. We spent the day at Isabela Island. In the morning we were at Volcan Sierra Negra and in the afternoon, at Punta Moreno.
Some birds we had seen before, others not.
Nice look at a lone Whimbrel.
The cutie pie below is a Warbler Finch.
Small Ground Finches…
The best opportunity for a picture of Lava Gulls was here.
Green Warbler Finch…
We got our first looks at Galapagos Giant Tortoises, for which the islands are named. Galapagos was a Spanish word for “saddle” which describes the shape of the tortoise shells.
At Sierra Negra the subspecies is guntheri.
Below is a video of an interaction between two of these magnificent creatures, which might give you more of an idea.
We were also fortunate to get good looks at the Galapagos Hawk.
At Villamil, Punta Moreno, there was a nice colony of Greater Flamingos.
The dinner sculpture and the next day’s plans…
Three more days’ worth of photos to go. I’m off to a choir rehearsal this evening which should help distract me long enough from the incomprehensible reality to feel empowered by making a little noise.
Getting through these pictures is almost more exhausting than…being there? Than…getting to work Friday morning through the Cubs Victory Parade Crowd?
Or picking up my annual birdseed order from Chicago Audubon yesterday?
Back to the Galapagos.
Below you are looking at potentially the most exciting bird we saw on the entire trip. Why? It wasn’t on our list because it’s endangered, so we were lucky enough to be allowed to look for it. Somehow our group got permission to visit the normally off-limits part of Southern Isabela Island, known as Playa Tortuga Negra, where the Mangrove Finch still exists in declining numbers.
Also on this side of the island, a lovely Galapagos Flycatcher, interesting plants, and the ubiquitous Galapagos Mockingbird.
We went back to the catamaran for an early lunch, then went snorkeling before exploring the lava rocks on the other side of the island. I tried out my underwater camera gear for the first time. I was not able to capture anything very well, but the dive was great fun. We never stayed in for very long, but I always felt like I could stay down forever.
The lava rock on the other side of Isabela, from the landing known as Punta Moreno, was a challenge to negotiate.
I’m likely not keeping all the photographs in order, but the presence of rock has a way of keeping things together. Below, Brown Pelicans on the left and a Blue-Footed Booby on the right.
Galapagos Brown Pelicans
We had our Galapagos Yellow Warbler for the day (below left) and a Small Ground Finch.
Below, a Striated Heron with a Sally Lightfoot Crab.
There were nesting Brown Pelicans (below), on the Playa Tortuga Negra side.
A closer look at the Sally Lightfoot Crab and a Lava Lizard on the right. You’ll have to click on the pictures to see them better.
Sally Lightfoot Crab
Two types of cactus grow in the lava rock, Lava Cactus and Candelabra Cactus. Whichever one is getting started on the left seems to prove the point.
Below, some more species endemic to the islands: the Lava Heron and Galapagos Shearwater.
The Brown Noddy on the left is not an endemic species, but the Flightless Cormorant is. Check out its very blue eye.
Where we saw the Flightless Cormorants nesting it was hard to get detail because of the intense light. So I’m glad I got to see the blue eye on the one above.
Below, the Galapagos Penguin. This was our best chance to see this delightful bird.
Marine Iguanas piled up on top of each other…
Another Galapagos species…the White-Cheeked Pintail. We saw them wherever there was fresh water. This is the only duck species on the islands.
Galapagos Sea Lion
Again, we were pampered daily by the crew…the dinner sculpture on the left, and a sculpture of fresh towels in our cabin on the right.
Here, back home in Chicago, it is November and we are having warm, sunny weather in the 70’s. The irony leading up to the worst presidential election of my lifetime is not lost. I’m borrowing that sentiment from a sermon heard while singing in the choir this morning. Not the irony part, but life seems overloaded with irony lately.
I find I’m reminding myself to appreciate the moment as if there’s a more acute sense that I should not be taking anything for granted.
I’ll be back as soon as I can manage it. I promise. 🙂
These pictures are from two days at Sacha Lodge in the Ecuadoran Amazon. The first day we spent time at the wooden tower. There were two towers available to us, the wooden and the metal. The wooden tower was the oldest and construction had already begun to replace it while we were there. The climb up the narrow steps all the way to the top was excellent physical therapy. This tower was built around a huge tree, part of which you can see in the pictures below. A canopy view is a mixed blessing sometimes. While you can see birds on the very tippy-tops of trees, they are often too far away to photograph well. So generally the more detailed photographs were taken on the ground either on the way to the tower or on the boardwalks. Below pictures are one of the entire tower from the bottom, and what it was like to be on the top.
I added two new parrot species to my life list that first day we spent at the wooden tower. Below, on the left is a Black-Headed Parrot, Scarlet-Shouldered Parrotlets on the right.
Here’s the only Attila of the trip.
You never know who’s perched on a branch but in this case it was a lot easier to see the birds below: a Straight-Billed Hermit and a Russet-Backed Oropendola.
Trogons are so amazing. We saw both of these on the same day. I think a Two Trogon Day is exceptional.
We saw some other creatures too, of course, but the Squirrel Monkey was much more difficult to capture than the snake. Squirrel Monkey and Anaconda. Click on the picture to see the monkey a little better. I think our guide told us the Anaconda was a youngster…
The little bird below is a Slender-Footed Tyrannulet. Whatever possessed them to give it this name is beyond me. Slender-footed as compared to what? But it’s a lovely little bird. And you can see his feet.
I had an opportunity to try to capture the Black-Bellied Cuckoo below both days, first from the tower on the left, and the photo on the right was taken from a closer vantage point.
Below on the left is a Yellow-Tufted Woodpecker, and on the right, a Spot-Winged Antshrike.
It was very exciting to get a good look at a King Vulture, below. Although I think I have seen this bird before, I have never seen it so well.
Tanagers were tough to get photos of on this trip. On the left, Silver-Beaked Tanagers which we saw almost daily, and on the right, a glimpse of a Paradise Tanager from the canopy tower.
You have to work a little bit at finding the bird below.
The bird below was not shy, and I am just now noticing how lovely his throat complements the fruit on his chosen plant perch.
Blue-Gray Tanagers look different in this part of the world, but they haven’t been split from the other I have been so used to seeing.
Birds by the water…the Blue-and-White Swallows that hung out around the restaurant by the Napo River and a Striated Heron.
Below is the female counterpart to the bird at the top of my post. She’s lovely too.
Gilded Barbet (female)
I will be back soon with more from this trip! I still have some unidentified captures but none of them were great photos, so I can spare you the agony. 🙂