April 15, 2010 a.m.
I decided to remain in the “Mickey Mouse Club” (reading and birding on the upper deck of the yacht) while Avie took the panga out to climb the approximately 360 steps to the top of Barltolome Island. So, I will leave this posting to him.
We had a dry landing, followed by (actually) 370 steps interspersed with long, comfortable and gently sloped new wood walkways.
The main attraction of this trip was the ability to explore this volcano along the walk, with primary vegetation dotting the sides of the mountain – small twelve inch wide plants, Tiquilia being predominant and Chamaesyce less evident. We also saw scattered Lava Cacti.
The volcanic landscape offered up many different colors of lava rock, ash, and silica deposits. We also saw plenty of lava tubes as well as secondary eruptive cones (tuff cones).
I only had one quick look at a single finch, most likely a Small Ground Finch. I also noted a few lizards.
At the top we had spectacular views including a sunken crater, another reminder we were on a volcano, and a landmark called Pinnacle Rock, where we were to take the pangas for some snorkeling when we reached the bottom.
Ok – this is April again. I’m back because I DID take the panga out to join them on the beach by Pinnacle Rock. In spite of all the lava and rock around the Galapagos, when there’s a beach it’s a wonderful stretch of brown or black sand and, at least in April, wonderfully refreshing water after the heat of the hike.
But I get ahead of myself. While I was on the upper deck of the yacht, I was entertained by a flock of Band-rumped Storm Petrels “dancing” on the surface of the water. When I describe it as dancing, that’s really what it looks like.
They fly low over the water and dip their toes through the surface, creating the impression to the fish below that there are insects (or some other such small prey) on the surface. It seemed to be a successful behavior since I saw them catching and eating whatever they drew up to the surface.
I also spent some time chatting with Captain Victor, an extremely approachable and amiable man who, in spite of looking quite young, had spent 18 years in the Merchant Marine before joining Ecoventura.
The landing by Pinnacle Rock’s beach was a wet landing. I came without shoes and without binoculars so, in spite of seeing a few darting finches, was unable to identify any of them.
At first Avie and I just went into the water. Then we got a bit more adventurous and put on our snorkeling gear. We didn’t see much different than our previous ventures with one exception. We saw two Black-tipped Sharks.
I’ve adjusted the contrast on this next photo of one of them for a better look:
And, by the way, if anyone can identify this fish, I’d greatly appreciate it:
There would have been more to see had we ventured further out and more along the rocks. But, what can I say? We’re a bit cowardly in the tide against the rocks department.
We brought Off in case there were any biting flies, but encountered nothing like the beach on our first day.
The bird list (in no particular order):
Band-rumped Storm Petrel