Sunday, 10 January 2010

Call Me A `Jammy Git`

I had no intention of putting the alarm on last night, but nevertheless I was still up at 05-30 and on the coach to Guayaquil by 06-00. I say 'coach' because that's what it was, not a sign of a 'chicken' and to prove it this vehicle had suspension. Literally as I bordered we took off, my hope being to make some progress towards Galapagos, but this simply turned out to be one of those days when everything fell into place. I had been advised on fares and prices and paid just the $3 I had been told for the 2 and a half hour drive, and the same with the taxi from bus station to the airport, again the $3 suggested. Once there I found the Tame Air ticket desk, where they were sure there would be no chance of a flight today as being Sunday there was only one flight, plus already the 'standby queue' was 30 strong. Sent to the check-in desk to find out, I made a point of telling them I was travelling solo, as most of those waiting seemed at least to be in couples. Sure enough the lady made a phone call, finding just a single seat vacante. I couldn't believe my luck, but there was more to come. I had considered booking 'on-line' before I left UK but with a flexible itinerary and a stiff price thought better of it. Even then the best offer was 320 POUNDS, so when Tame wanted 300 DOLLARS I was overjoyed. Add to that a wander over to the VIP check-in to ask what I should do next (and acting a little `green`), the chap kindly did the business saving me a wait in the queue. So, could it get any better, yes it did when I got on the plane found I had been seated Club. Now, as the `Cattle Class Kid I have never sat fw`d of the wings before so felt a little queasy, tee hee.

An excellent flight over a cloudy Pacific but within the 2 hours we landed at Baltra, a small island off of the 'capital' island Santa Cruz, at what used to be a US Air Force Base. So far there had been no 'take off your boots, 'creams in a seperate plastic bag', no more than 100mils etc, and here on the island it was much the same. I already had my visa and a security clearance so none of the palaver of more searches, so straight out into the warm sunshine. Things then progressed exactly the same as when Mike (Hughes) and I visited some years ago, with a short bus ride to the 'Canal', a small ferry across then another bus for the 1 hour trip to Puerto Ayora, the town designated as 'Capital' of The Galapagos.

First job was to check out some of the cruises, and as it had already been such a poor season there was some bargaining power to be had. Fortunately, I bumped into a local birder who (unfortunately leaving for San Christobel) put me right with some suggestions. The office we used last time was no longer there so I headed for the Castro Hotel, which was there, remembering Mike and I had paid $25 per night then, plus $1 for breakfast. This time they started at $48, at which I made to walk off. They came down a bit, and finally I made a deal for 7 nights at $27 including bacon and eggs? Booked in, case in room, camera and bins in place it was time to start the days `work`.

I followed a well trodden path and straight away found a few Small Ground Finch (part of the group collectively known as Darwin`s Finches) a Great Blue Heron, a few Noddies (still to be ID`d) and a brilliant Yellow Warbler which escaped the lens. Further down the road I encountered the first Marine Iguanas and Sealions, both lounging on the pavement, and the first glimps of a Lava Gull. I noted where it landed and made a B-line and had to negociate a fore-shore of lava bolders to get at it. Closing in I rattled off a good number of shots, before noticing a man lying on the lava. Thinking he was drunk and asleep I got nearer only to realise he was dead. I spent the rest of the afternoon (about half an hour in truth) helping the police with their enquiries.

Well, life`s never dull around here is it? So standby for another instalment manana. Hope the photies are OK as it has been a bit of a rush, I promised myself not to rush!

Lava Gull, I decided to leave the Best till First, look at this little beauty, another addition to the Gull archive. I hope I`m wrong, but the last time I stood in the place where this image was take, half the estimated world population of the Gull were on the beach. Today there were just 3 I really hope the others turn up tomorrow.

Medium Ground Finch (male)

Medium Ground Finch (female)

Look out lads here comes a Whimbrel. The Waders methodically jolt the clump claw off, followed by the secondary then the other 6 and swallow the bodies whole. Quite an avian sight!

Galapagos Mockingbird

Great Blue Heron - about the only thing around here the`re not trying to turn into an endemic.

and talking of dinner, I think it might be Crayfish.

Small Ground Finch (male)

Small Ground Finch (female)

I really cocked their Sunday afternoon up didn`t I. Police and others at the scene.

1 comment:

  1. Only you could be so daft and find a dead body....perhaps he was after the Lava Gulls!!!!!