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Monday, January 24, 2011

Galapagos Islands: Punta Suarez Point & The Sea Birds

This was our favorite stop, a true birders paradise. There were so many birds we were literally tripping over them… the skies were full and they were even camped out in the paths. And oh the photos I got today, hurrah!

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PUNTA SUAREZ POINT ON ESPANOLA ISLAND

The Espanola cliffs were covered in orange and yellow ice plants making for a dramatic foreground to the dark blue ocean. With the sheer cliffs it was a truly magical view.

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Today we were really hoping to get a peek at the Waved Albatross. Normally they are gone from the island by this time of year however our guides had spotted two the previous week and made me hopeful that we would be able to spot one today. After an hour of walking one of the people in our group finally saw one in the sky… with a 7.5 foot wingspan they are a hard bird to miss.

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THE FAMOUS WAVED ALBATROSS

Their tremendous wing span can cause some issues, they have trouble taking off and landing with their long wing to body ration, however once in the air they can glide for hours without a single wing beat. To make it easier for take-off they will generally just jump off the side of a cliff. Later in the hike we were excited to find a juvenile waved albatross resting on the edge of a cliff.

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WAVED ALBATROSS JUVENILE

This bird has a unique salt gland that is situated above their nasal passages and helps them to desalinate their bodies. Because of their long ocean flights and the vast amount of ocean water they imbibe catching their prey this gland excretes a high saline solution. I crept in for a shot with the juvenile waved albatross; this is not a bird you see every day.

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ME POSING WITH THE JUVENILE WAVED ALBATROSS (back bird) AND THE MASKED BOOBY (front bird)

Sea birds filled the sky. I spent quite a bit of time attempting to catch some of them in flight. Most were cooperative like this Swallow Tailed Gull. Over and over they soared right in front of my lens and I was able to make a ton of great images of them in flight. What a pretty bird.

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SWALLOW TAILED GULL

The naturalists were always full of the fun facts of every bird. This Swallow Tailed Gull is the only fully nocturnal gull in the world. They like to feed at night on the fish and squid that come to the surface to eat plankton.

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SWALLOW TAILED GULL – THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE SHOTS OF THE TRIP

In order to see while hunting food at night the Swallow Tailed Gull’s eyes are large in size and volume than any other gull. They also possess a special part in their eye that reflects light back to the retina increasing the amount of light they can see. The red eye right shows to other gulls that they are ready for breeding. When breeding season is over than the orange ring dulls to black.

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WE LEARNED A LOT OF COOL THINGS ABOUT THE SWALLOW TAILED GULL’S EYES

I only got to see two Lava Gulls and I was lucky to see even that. Right now the Lava Gull is one of the rarest birds in the world, the entire population lives on the Galapagos Islands and there are only about 800 birds. Like many of the Galapagos birds this bird also has a colored eye ring, although less prominent than some its eye is ringed by red and it sports slashing white upper and lower eyebrows. What a lucky find.

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LUCKY TO SEE THIS RARE LAVA GULL

At the cliffs we also spotted many Red Billed Tropicbirds, they are such a beautiful elegant bird and I adored their long flowing tail. This bird however was virtually impossible to photo. They are fast, I would even call them acrobats of the air, and the amount of time needed to get the shots I did manage to get almost caused my arms to fall off… what the lens is HEAVY and I spent 20 minutes tracking these guys in flight.

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RED BILLED TROPICBIRD WITH ITS BRIGHT RED BILL AND LONG FLOWING TAIL WAS A STRIKING SIGHT

Still the two shots I did manage to get were good, not great like I wanted (if it was my choice we would have sat there all day) but that is the nature of the trip we took. I was a little worried about timing since this was not a photography tour and I was right, often we were hurried along before I was ready to move and Mr. Rogue and I were constantly hustling through our shots. Even hurrying we usually ended up at the tail end of the group struggling to move from one amazing subject to another. This place truly was a photographer’s paradise.

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THE RED BILLED TROPICBIRD WAS BEAUTIFUL TO WATCH AND VERY HARD TO PHOTO

The Brown Noody was the next bird to catch my attention and it took me a few days to get their behavior photographed. A medium tern this strong swift flyer lives all over the world.

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BROWN NOODY

They primarily feed by plunge diving offshore for small fish however these birds have also developed a behavior known as kleptoparasitism, which literally means parasitism by theft.

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BROWN PELICAN DOES ALL THE HARD WORK FINDING AND CATCHING THE FOOD

The Brown Noody has learned to harass the brown pelicans to give up their freshly caught fish. Brown Noodies are completely capable of catching their own meals but are lazy and are seen on many of the brown pelicans. The noodies will even go so far as defend their selected pelican from other noodies. It was some bizarre behavior and we kept seeing it again and again.

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THESE BROWN NOODIES ARE JUST PLAIN THIEVES

On this particular hike on Espanola we passed the famous blowhole. It is a pretty spectacular sight next to the jagged cliffs.

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The waves crash on the cliffs and water gets forced through an old lava tube, the water then bursts from the opening in the surface of the rock shelf with a blast of water like a geyser up to 100 feet into the air.

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MR. ROGUE AND I AT THE ESPANOLA BLOWHOLE

2 comments:

paul peggy zeus said...

You two look like you had a wonderful time.

lilmansworld said...

did anyone get pooped on?

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