Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Galápagos Day 12 (morning) - Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana

Our adventures today started with an early morning panga ride around the eastern end of Post Office Bay on Isla Floreana.

First to grab our attention were these silhouetted Magnificent Frigatebirds

Magnificent Frigatebird, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @170mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/4000

and a flock of Cattle Egrets coming and going from a tree on the edge of the beach.

Cattle Egret, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @200mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/1600
Cattle Egret, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @200mm, ISO 400, f/6.3, 1/1250

A Great Blue Heron was stalking fish in small rock pools on along the rocky shore

Great Blue Heron, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @200mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/500

and a sea lion on the beach looked like it had been rolled in sand

Galápagos Sea Lion, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @140mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/1000

while a pup slept in the rocks nearby.

Galápagos Sea Lion, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @200mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/100

Blue-footed Boobies and Marine Iguanas sat on the same rocks, catching the early morning sun.

Blue-footed Booby, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @200mm, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/2500
Blue-footed Booby + Marine Iguana, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @130mm, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/1600
Marine Iguana, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @200mm, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/1250
Marine Iguana, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @200mm, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/1600

On the way to the beach we passed a flock of White-vented Storm-petrels feeding on the glossy water surface like tiny dancing butterflies.

White-vented Storm-petrel, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/3200

The panga drivers did an incredible job getting us close to the birds without scaring them off, providing us with a glorious display that lasted about 20 minutes, during which it was really hard to work out where to look as there was so much happening all around us. I fired off 450 shots! Here's a sample:

White-vented Storm-petrel, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/2500
White-vented Storm-petrel, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/2500
White-vented Storm-petrel, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/1600
White-vented Storm-petrel, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/2000
White-vented Storm-petrel, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/2000
White-vented Storm-petrel, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/2000
White-vented Storm-petrel, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/2000
White-vented Storm-petrel, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/1250
White-vented Storm-petrel, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/1250
White-vented Storm-petrel, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/5, 1/3200
White-vented Storm-petrel, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/5, 1/4000
White-vented Storm-petrel, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/5, 1/4000
White-vented Storm-petrel, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/5, 1/2500
White-vented Storm-petrel, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/5, 1/2500

We finally (though not disappointed at the delay) made it onto shore to see the 'Post Office' from which this bay derives its name.

'Post Office Box', Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 20mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/3200

During the 18th century, whalers erected a barrel on this site to facilitate the transfer of mail. Anyone passing by dropped mail for home and picked up mail addressed for their next destination. While the barrel has undergone many replacements over the centuries, the tradition continues. We posted some cards and searched through the collection in the barrel for any we could deliver. Unfortunately, none was from close to home for Jo and me so we left empty handed but many of the others found cards to deliver.

Jo posting a card, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos

We took the trail inland for a few hundred metres to the entrance of a lava tunnel and descended into the gloom below. Those who chose to remain a little dryer waited half way down the tunnel, sitting in the pitch black, listening to the sounds of laughter, splashing and conversation coming from the more adventurous souls disappearing into the darkness and waist-deep water.

That adventure over, we returned to the beach to find a pair of Whimbrels sitting on the nearby rocks.

Whimbrel, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/1250
Whimbrel, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/2000

I know I keep mentioning this but the ability to get close to the wildlife in the Galápagos is astonishing. I can usually not get this 'close' to a Whimbrel in Australia with a 600mm lens, the shot above was with a 70-200mm zoom!

While I was stalking Whimbrels, Jo spotted some turtle tracks up the beach and went to investigate.

Green Turtle tracks, Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Photograph courtesy of Joanne Smissen

As she returned, her footprints started to be washed away by the waves on the shore so I couldn't resist this landscape with just a touch of evidence of human presence.

Post Office Bay, Isla Floreana, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 20mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/2500

This afternoon - Punta Cormorant

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