a teatray in the sky

Ecuador day 6: Cerro Dragon and Rabida

Posted in 5D Mark II, Animals, Birds, Ecuador, Galapagos, Photography by firthefirst on September 8, 2011

our first night aboard was spent yo-yo-ing up and down while our boat traveled through some choppy water en route to the opposite side of Santa Cruz.  we awoke in the morning to surprising tranquility, water softly lapping against the catamaran hull, and birds calling outside the window.  it was one of those moments when you took a look at your surroundings and tried very hard to remember how exactly it was that you came to be in such a place.

I don’t think Darwin himself was any more excited to get ashore than we were.  everywhere you looked, the island was teeming with wildlife.  it’s hard to imagine what it would have been like back when the animal populations hadn’t yet been hunted and eaten by humans and invasive species.

one of the things I learned while reading during our flight out to the islands was that Darwin made almost no mention of the now-famed “Darwin’s Finches” in his books on the subject of evolution.  in fact, the finches are not relegated to individual islands, and thus their distributions do not lend themselves as easily to supporting Darwin’s hypothesis.  it was in fact the mockingbirds that Darwin admired and marveled at for their evolved differences, but for some strange reason they get little credit for it in popular culture today.

the land iguanas were perhaps my favorite animal to photograph on the islands.  the texture of the skin, their form and bearing, and their lazy haughty gazes are captivating.  as is the goofy way in which they scrabble off into the brush when they’re frightened.

I guess after the hotel, the boat … we should have expected the meals.  but we didn’t.  beyond the food just being delicious, our chef Umberto somehow found the time to whip up a food sculpture once a day.  maybe it’s just a smart way to get people to show up for meals on time.

after a bit of motoring we arrived at the red sand beaches of Rabida, which would be our first chance to see some of the larger mammals on the islands: sea lions!  unlike the ones out in California, the ones here are far less ornery and are nearly wholly oblivious to your presence.

highlight animal of the day was Edgar spotting a group of vermilion flycatchers after some mucking around in the bushes.  the little guys are just as fast as they are adorable.

4 Responses

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  1. Tina said, on September 8, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    group of vermillion flycatchers? how about like 2? 🙂 beautiful photos that really captivate the light well.

    • firthefirst said, on September 8, 2011 at 4:36 pm

      I thought there were like 3 or 4, but I guess it could have just been the same two guys over and over

  2. Sebastian Marquez said, on September 18, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Those are some awesome shots! How has the tourist industry changed since the changes in access… I think they implemented them in 2010? I was there in 2006 and it was wonderful. I loved seeing Marine Iguanas sunning themselves on sidewalks in Puerto Ayora without a care in the world…

    • firthefirst said, on September 18, 2011 at 9:46 pm

      I’m not sure of the extent of the changes, I know they’re limiting the number and size of boats that access the islands, which I am sure can only be a good thing. we happened to be there on a quiet week, we only encountered perhaps a half dozen other tourist groups during our entire time there, and usually just encountered them very briefly.

      the animals are just as fearless and I was relieved to see that people seemed to take the rules about no food and no touching animals very seriously

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