Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Galápagos Day 12 (afternoon) - Punta Cormorant, Isla Floreana

Following this morning's panga ride and walk at Post Office Bay, we went snorkelling at Devil's Crown (Corona del Diablo), a volcanic crater, just off shore from the site of our afternoon walk, Punta Cormorant.


Punta Cormorant is named not for the birds, of which there are none here (Flightless Cormorants only occur on the far west islands of Isabela and Fernandina) but for a US naval ship. The point is formed by a small volcanic cone with a dark green olivine sand beach on the western side and a golden sand beach to the south/east. The volcanic cone encloses off a large lagoon, on which there are frequently American Flamingos, so that was our first stop.

American Flamingo, Punta Cormorant, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 400, f/8, 1/200
American Flamingo, Punta Cormorant, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 400, f/8, 1/320

There were also several Least Sandpipers feeding in the shallows so I put on the 1.4 extender to 'get a little closer'.

Least Sandpiper, Punta Cormorant, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x1.4 adapter), ISO 400, f/9, 1/250
Least Sandpiper, Punta Cormorant, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x1.4 adapter), ISO 400, f/4, 1/1000
Least Sandpiper, Punta Cormorant, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x1.4 adapter), ISO 400, f/4, 1/800

A juvenile flamingo was wading through the shallows at the other end of the lagoon - a long way away but the backlighting shows off its fuzzy plumage.

American Flamingo (juvenile), Punta Cormorant, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x1.4 adapter), ISO 400, f/4, 1/3200

Meanwhile the adults , much closer, continued preening and feeding. They were moving around so I bumped the ISO up to 800 to give me enough speed to freeze the birds while maintaining a small enough aperture to enough give me the required depth of field to keep the birds and their reflections in focus.

American Flamingo, Punta Cormorant, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x1.4 adapter), ISO 800, f/11, 1/2000
American Flamingo, Punta Cormorant, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x1.4 adapter), ISO 800, f/11, 1/1000
American Flamingo, Punta Cormorant, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x1.4 adapter), ISO 800, f/11, 1/800
American Flamingo, Punta Cormorant, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x1.4 adapter), ISO 800, f/11, 1/1000

The walk across to the beach on the eastern side of the point climbs up the slope of the volcanic cone providing a great view of the lagoon

Lagoon, Punta Cormorant, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/6400

and the vegetation growing on the steep slopes of the volcanic cone. This is typical of the vegetation on the lowland volcanic areas. Only recently colonised, there is very low plant diversity and almost no middle layers - there's only ground cover and large shrubs/small trees.

Slope of volcanic cone, Punta Cormorant, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 170mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/800

There was also some insect activity on the trail.

Large Painted Locust, Punta Cormorant, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 400, f/8, 1/500

On reaching the beach on the other side of the point, several people went looking for turtle hatchlings (unsuccessfully) while a few of us tried to capture the frigate birds flying in front of the rising gibbous moon.

Magnificent Frigatebird, Punta Cormorant, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x1.4 adapter), ISO 400, f/6.3, 1/1000
Magnificent Frigatebird, Punta Cormorant, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x1.4 adapter), ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/500

As we were leaving the beach, a juvenile Yellow Warbler was spotted having a sand bath in a small depression right beside the trail.

Yellow Warbler (juvenile), Punta Cormorant, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x1.4 adapter), ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/500

On reaching the western beach, we boarded the pangas and Jo managed a couple of shots of the sunset.

Boarding panga, Punta Cormorant, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Photo courtesy of Joanne Smissen
Blue-footed Booby at sunset, Punta Cormorant, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Photo courtesy of Joanne Smissen

Tomorrow - Punta Suarez on Española to see the Waved Albatross.

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