Following from last week and the week before, this is the last set of images from by me from the Galapagos (for a while at least)*. There’s less of a tightly defined theme – this set is mostly held together because I like all of them and they were taken in the same part of the world.
The first thing that springs to mind in the Galapagos is “Shooting fish in a barrel”. The wildlife is everywhere. For example, the opening picture was taken within five minutes of making landfall on the first excursion. And that wasn’t even the first opportunity: we practically had a booby waiting to welcome us. I had barely got myself sorted after landing before seeing this guy.
I was in a group of 14 (plus a our Glorious Leader, Ben), and this booby was completely unfazed by us. Risking athropomorphization, it almost felt like he was posing deliberately. He wasn’t our only ‘welcome’ party – the following morning we were greeted with a striated heron patiently waiting for us to clear off so he could get back to hunting.
I’d literally** just finished with the avian subject when a marine iguana made an appearance on the other side of the rock on which I stood. Shockingly, it was even in the water. I moved round quickly before he got out.
These are the only (modern) lizards that live in water, evolving from land-bound cousins like those at the top of the post. It seemed to be a big leap to make the move into the water for lizards. There must have been a strong driver to force them. Personally, I think it was incessant bullying by birds.
A bird (in this case a swallow-tailed gull) standing on a marine iguana, whilst not quite as common as one marine iguana sprawling over another, was not a rare sight. This was the first instance I saw.
Speaking of first sightings: this was my first (and only) sighting of a Galapagos hawk – a large, swift, and graceful endemic raptor.
Less rarely spotted were fregatas on the wing. They seem to spend most of their time circling on thermals waiting for the next likely target to mug.
The frigatebirds were not the only very common sights; sea lions were too. The nice thing about widelife, is – precisely because it is wildlife – ‘common’ does not mean ‘you’ll get bored of it’, rather ‘extra portions of wonder for you!’. For example, these two sea lion pictures could hardly be more different.
Young Sean Lion
Sea Lion III
…. and here’s a different aspect to blue-footed boobies from the picture further up the post.
The Sally Lightfoot crabs were also a common thread to most of the excursions.
Sally Lightfoot Crab
One sight that I suspect isn’t quite as common as some of the above is this:
Brown Pelican Night Fishing
It was only pure chance that allowed me to spot this guy. The AD and I made a habit of doing a lap of the sun deck before turning in each night. On one particular night, there was a bit of commotion amongst a few fellow passengers to starboard. It was the fellow above sitting on the ship’s railings, using the lights to do a spot of night hunting. So I made myself comfortable, and waited.
There were a a few iterations of: take off; circle; dive; miss; return to perch. Eventually, the pelican was successful and caught a fish. I had thought that was the hard bit done. In my mind all that remained was a hearty gulp, and stomach acid would do the rest. Nope. The fish fights back. It took the pelican a couple of minutes to swallow the fish, all the while the fish was making comic-looking ‘outdentations’ to the birds pouch. Fish swallowed, he flew off.
Given they’re the largest (up to 250 kg, apparently) reptile in the world, it would have been a shame not to mention the Galapagos giant tortoise.
I’ll finish with one of the most infamous of them all, and in true Galapagosian fashion it’s showing no fear of humans – even adapting to the presence of the hairless ape.
Small Ground Finch
* Next week will probably still have a South American theme, though.
** I mean literally, not figuratively.