Sunday, 17 January 2010

A Great Day @ Santa Fe

As the ETD wasn't until 09-00, I started the day in what has become usual fashion, a walk through town checking out all the fore-shore, creeks and inlets. A couple of days ago I saw 3 different aged Lava Gulls and though this would be an ideal time to try and photograph all 3, plus a pair of less that cooperative Wandering Tattler that have come nowhere near camera range. The Gulls were there, on the rocks opposite the fish quay, but to far for a shot, but I did achieve the highest count so far, a megre 13. However, there was an addition to the islands list, by way of a 'second winter' Franklin's Gull, which after a check found to be none too common here. Giving up on the Lava's, I did spot one of the Tattlers but again distant, so made back for the port. There I caught up with the same, or another, of the Waders this time much closer and produced the photograph below.

It was now approaching departure time so I met up with my new found mate, Carlo the Captain who assured me we would be leaving after fueling, in about 10 minutes. In typical South American style we slipped an hour later, but I was on a ride as a guest so no room to moan. The 'Flipper' had been chartered for the day by 4 young Argentinian's who, despite 2 male and 2 female described themselves as just friends. One couple were Process Engineers, while the other lad and lass were Research Chemists all working in Buenos Aires, and extremely good company they were. As we left the harbour we got a good look at the M/V Galapagos which has been lying to anchor, in the Roads, for the last 4 days unloading a 'general cargo'. The 50 mile run to Santa Fe Island took exactly 2 hours, and with 10 miles to run we encountered a group of about 100 Wilson's Phalarope which came close, matched our speed and stayed with us almost until we reached land. Once there we investigate a couple of sea caves, where to my delight we found a 'first year' Swallow-tailed Gull. There were also good numbers of Blue-footed Booby and Brown Pelican, all of which were diving for fish inside the caves. Unfortunately, the light was dim, and despite changing light balance, didn't get a crisp shot of the Gull.

After this, the youngsters were anxious to get in the water and came back with tails of Eagle Ray, small Hammerhead, White-tip and Sand Sharks, plus an abundance of tiny fish of every colour. After this they landed for short walk which was followed by a light lunch and 2 people smoking (despite the No Fume sign). At this I took to the forecastle, while once again they went snorkeling and I got into serious 'chill' mode. My relaxation was brought to a quick end when I noticed a fairly large bird with a flight pattern quite unlike any of the others above, as I fair raced along the gunwhale, holding tight to the canopy hand-rail, to get my bins. Lucky or what, there circling overhead was the 'endemic' Galapagos Hawk, not rare but usually favouring certain island of which this was not one. Apart from Osprey and Peregrine, this is the only raptor ever to have been recorded in the islands, so even I didn't have to race for the Field Guide. Such a stroke of luck was followed by a passage back to Puerto Ayora and dinner. Quite a 'freebie'!

Wandering Tattler

My new mate, Carlo the Captain

M/V Galapagos lying in Puerto Ayora Roads.

The Sea Caves


'First Year' Swallow-tailed Gull

What a cracker!

Galapagos Hawk

The highlight of the day - what another cracker!