Saturday, 16 January 2010

Return to North Seymour

The day didn't start at all well, as I was at the appointed place, at the agreed time but the transport didn't show up. I waited until the tour operator showed up, but she described herself as 'just a volunteer', said she couldn't do anything about it now and suggested I got a taxi to The Canal. $15 and 40 minutes later I boarded the Hispaniola, made a general apology (no point trying to explain to 3 Germans, 5 Argentinians and 4 Russians) and we got underway.

Hughsie and I had done this island in 2003, and I remember it as excellent for Swallow-tailed Gull so, given the quality of the last Gull shots, it was worth every penny particularly as there were a 'courting' pair wait as we clambered over the rocks to reach dry land. Even before we got ashore a number of Great Frigatebirds were flying all around us, and coupled with the Floreana experience I can only think I must have overlooked them last time due to lack of knowledge. I was aware that they are more pelagic than their Magnificent cousins and much rarer world wide, but had to count it as a 'lifer' this trip.

Once ashore, there was much to see including good numbers of Marine Iguana and few of their, larger and more colorful, Land-bound counterpart, Blue-footed Boobies on the nest and a few more Swallow-tails. What I really wasn't ready for was Galapagos Dove, a pair of which were both obliging and in 'courtship'. I had caught a glimpse of a single at the airport, but with one eye on the bus (leaving any minute) and the other on the birds there was no photo opportunity. That, as you can see has been rectified. Down at the 'rocky' shore, there were Sanderling and Turnstones aplenty, but a large Plover made my heart skip when its coloration alone made it look like one of the 'Golden's'. Unfortunately, as it took to the wing the black 'arm pits' could be seen, so cleared up that little mystery.

At mid-day the 5 Argentinian lads departed in a Zodiac to get a bit of surfing, and from where we were we could see they should have a good time of it. The others landed on a nearby, sandy beach for a bit of sun worship and snorkeling, me being the only one left aboard. Nirvana, as there was no loud conversation, no Ecuadorian woman on that infernal cell-phone and not ever the throb of the engines. In fact it probably was a good job I was there, as the crew all took to their bunks and when the landing party wanted to return, I was the only one to answer the frantic whistling and shirt waving!

It's now 18-30 and I've just returned from a visit to get my $15 taxi fare back, only partially successful. Firstly, he suggested I wasn't there, then I wasn't paying attention, then this, then that - note there are robbers in our midst! Finally, as I countered all his moves he decided to return $10. Once I had it in my sticky mit I told him I was most dissatisfied with the outcome, as by giving me anything at all he was admitting liability, but he'd gone as far as he would go. It's always best to enter these things with a final thrust in the armory, so I told him I am a freelance writer for such magazines as Dive, Birding World and National Geographical, and that this very evening I was going to write a scathing article about how he conducts his business. That really put the wind up him, he looked about as worried as someone who had just broken the Lottery winnings record, but feel sure he'll think at least once about it before he gets his head down, and I don't think a little badness hurts when warranted.

Now, being a fatalist I left clutching my 'tenner' and crossed the road for my evenings dose of volleyball. You don't need Spanish to understand the verbals the players give to each other when a shot is missed. One of the lads, a dead ringer for an early Ringo Starr, is a real card and it's worth a stop just to watch and hear his antics. Finishing there, I continued along the promenade only to bump into one of the 'Charter Captains' I've come to know taking coffee at a kiosk. We exchanged pleasantries and he invited me to join him, another brilliant laugh. He then invited me on a 'freebie' to Santa Fe manana, saying he only has 6 paying passengers and the company would do him good.

Early Warning - if you are a 'Gulloholic' or only like Sea-birds a little bit, hold on tight to your coffee cup!

Brown Booby

Ditto, much better images than those already posted.

and you can say that again!

Swallow-tailed Gulls in love.

Liked the look of the guano rock for effect.

The best looking Gull in the world.

Nocturnal feeders, Swallow-tailed Gulls have been recorded 6 to 700 miles from the nest site.

To aid night vision they have developed the red eye-lids and white patch at the base of the bill.

Couldn't resist this Blue-footed Booby in such a great pose.

Another male 'Great' Frigatebird. I am told by the Guide that it takes 20 minutes to inflate the gorget, all in the name of getting a bit of crumpet!

To redress the balance, the female Great Frigatebird was omitted from the last posting, so here she is.

and one not quite ready to take off yet.

Male Galapagos Dove, also in pursuit. I have to admit calling Turnstone when I first spotted this little beauty.

Ditto detail, you can clearly see the Turnstone like, bright blue skin around the eye.

Grey Plover, in unfamiliar plumage, with Sally Lightfoot Crabs.

Smooth-billed Ani, introduced to Galapagos and said to be playing havoc with the endemic birds.

Mr. Grumpy going home after lunch - Galapagos Sea-Lion

National Geographic Endeavour

The 500 berth 'Galapagos Explorer' the largest cruise liner dedicated to these islands.

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