Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Galápagos Day 13 (morning) - Punta Suarez, Isla Española

On our first evening, now 12 days ago, our photographic guide, Tui, asked us all what we were most looking forward to seeing. For me it was the Waved Albatross on Punta Suarez, so my time had finally come!

Punta Suarez is the most westerly point on Isla Española. The overnight cruise from Floreana was relatively short but rough - a portent of the weather we were to face this morning - windy and wet! Fortunately, albatross don't mind the rain and the wind provides uplift along the cliffs (great for shots of birds in flight).

The landing site is on a breakwater that protects a small bay on the eastern side of the point and there's a short walk across to the west-facing cliffs, which provide an ideal site for albatross with strong prevailing westerly winds enabling them to take off easily. The trail - a combination of gravel and rock paving - passes through the breeding colony giving tourists easy access to nesting birds

Waved Albatross, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm, ISO 800, f/4, 1/500
Waved Albatross, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 800, f/4, 1/500
Waved Albatross, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/640

and providing a convenient pathway to the clifftop for the albatross themselves.

Waved Albatross, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 130mm, ISO 1250, f/2.8, 1/1000

The mosquitoes seemed to be bothering the albatross (almost as much as they were annoying the tourists). Apparently, in bad mosquito years, the albatross have been known to abandon the breeding colony all together.

Waved Albatross, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 160mm, ISO 1250, f/2.8, 1/3200
Waved Albatross, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 87.5mm, ISO 1600, f/4, 1/2000
Waved Albatross, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 1600, f/4, 1/4000

We witnessed several territorial altercations between albatross

Waved Albatross, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 170mm, ISO 1600, f/4, 1/640
Waved Albatross, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 150mm, ISO 1600, f/4, 1/800
Waved Albatross, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 160mm, ISO 1600, f/4, 1/640

but the spectacular part of the morning was the clifftop from where we could watch and photograph albatross flying past at eye level. I will never get tired of watching birds from clifftops...

...apparently others feel the same, even some of the albatross were sitting at the edge of the cliffs watching the passers-by.

Waved Albatross, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 20mm, ISO 800, f/9, 1/250

Here's a sample of the 400+ shots I took.

Waved Albatross, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 800, f/4, 1/500
Waved Albatross, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 800, f/4, 1/1000
Waved Albatross, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 800, f/4, 1/2500
Waved Albatross, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 800, f/4, 1/1250
Waved Albatross, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 800, f/4, 1/2000
Waved Albatross, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/1600
Waved Albatross, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/500
Waved Albatross, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 800, f/4, 1/1250
Waved Albatross, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 800, f/45.6 1/1600

There is also a small colony of Nazca Boobies on Punta Suarez.

Nazca Booby, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm, ISO 800, f/16, 1/250
Nazca Booby, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/1600
Nazca Booby, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/3200
Nazca Booby, (juvenile) Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/800
Nazca Booby, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 800, f/4, 1/500

Of course, there were Marine Iguanas, which are much more brightly coloured on Española than other islands.

Marine Iguana, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm, ISO 800, f/8 1/125
They provided another avenue of entertainment...

Me photographing Marine Iguana, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Photograph 'courtesy' of Joanne Smissen

...not the most flattering angle but you gotta do what you gotta do...and it did result in these shots.

Marine Iguana, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 11mm, ISO 800, f/9 1/320
Marine Iguana, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 20mm, ISO 800, f/9 1/320

Jo was also intrigued the iguanas, if a little less adventurous then her husband.

Jo photographing Marine Iguana, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galaápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 20mm, ISO 800, f/9 1/320

There were plenty of other iguanas to photograph

Marine Iguana, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/5.6 1/400
Marine Iguana, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/16 1/200

and Jo found one drinking rainwater from run off on the rocks.

Marine Iguana, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Photograph courtesy of Joanne Smissen

As can be seen from the wide-angle shots above, the weather was fairly gloomy but this was made for a black and white shot of the cliffs and clouds.

 Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm, ISO 800, f/8 1/1000

There was also some spectacular wave action and this blowhole attracted our attention for some time while we waited for just the right moment...

Blowhole, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 800, f/16 1/500

There were a few Swallow-tailed Gulls hanging around and this juvenile caught my eye while it was drying out its wings between rain showers.

Swallow-tailed Gull (juvenile), Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/5.6 1/800

As we made our way back to the pick up point the rain came down again (well, that's really an understatement, it bucketed down) and I spotted this Galápagos Hawk perched on a distant rock and couldn't resist trying a shot or two. It took some dexterity to attach the 2x adapter to the lens while keeping the camera, lens and adapter all dry under the plastic poncho (which, again, provided protection to the camera gear rather than me) but I had plenty of time as the bird was too wet to fly and I was too wet to worry about more rain.

Galápagos Hawk, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, (x2 adapter), ISO 800, f/11, 1/640
Galápagos Hawk, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, (x2 adapter), ISO 800, f/11, 1/640

Jo was a fair way behind me on the trail by now and by the time she reached the hawk, the rain had stopped and the hawk was drying out.

Galápagos Hawk, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Photograph courtesy of Joanne Smissen

When we got back to the pick up point, some sea lions had made a bid to take over the breakwater 

Galápagos Sea Lion, Punta Suarez, Isla Española, Galápagos
Photograph courtesy of Joanne Smissen

but we managed to 'run the gauntlet', board the pangas and get back to the boat to dry off, ready for our afternoon at Gardner Bay.

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