Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Galápagos Day 5 (evening) - Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina

As soon as we were back on the boat after this morning's panga ride at Punta Vicente Roca, we weighed anchor and cruised across Bolivar Channel to Isla Fernandina. We quickly picked up a 'passenger' with this female Magnificent Frigatebird riding the air waves above the boat most of the way across the channel, providing some great photographic opportunities from the top deck.

Magnificent Frigatebird, Bolivar Channel, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm, ISO 400, f/11, 1/640
Magnificent Frigatebird, Bolivar Channel, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm, ISO 400, f/11, 1/250
Magnificent Frigatebird, Bolivar Channel, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm, ISO 400, f/11, 1/250
Magnificent Frigatebird, Bolivar Channel, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/800

The whole island of Fernandina is a volcanic cone with its lava flows extending out to the sea (as can be seen in this NASA satellite image).

View of Fernandina, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 @ 50mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/500 (stitched panorama)

The usual 3-course lunch was served as we anchored at Punta Espinoza but a few of us ate quickly so we could take in the photographic opportunities from the deck. White-vented Storm-petrels again danced on the water surface near the boat. They were becoming a common site after meal times and we surmised that they were feeding on the tiny fat globules and food particles coming from the boat as the dishes were being washed.

White-fronted Storm-petrel, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/500

A Green Turtle and Flightless Cormorant surfaced nearby hinting at the promise of things to come.

Green Turtle, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/200
Flightless Cormorant, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/500

Heavy storm clouds approached, creating fantastic light for a black and white landscape.

Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/800

We waited out the storm then spent more than an hour snorkelling along the rocky shore accompanied by turtles, cormorants and sea lions before returning to the boat for a quick shower and change for our walk onshore. The 'dry landing' was a bit misleading because despite stepping out of the pangas onto solid rock, the trail crossed over an inlet almost immediately and with the extreme high tide we were forced to wade through thigh-deep water. The slight inconvenience was soon forgotten as we arrived on the other side to a mess of iguanas. 

Marine Iguana, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 @ 26mm, ISO 400, f/13, 1/20

Yes, 'mess' is the collective noun for iguanas (according to wiktionary) and, in the case of Marine Iguanas, the adjectival collective noun is highly appropriate as they seem to treat each other as much like the rocks as other living things. As we had found at previous locations, they tolerated (more like ignored) humans which allowed for some nice close-ups shots.

Marine Iguana, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 @ 50mm, ISO 400, f/11, 1/100 
Marine Iguana, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 @ 36mm, ISO 400, f/4, 1/800

So, for the next hour, there was a lot of kneeling and lying down to get the best angles and mugshots of these wonderful animals...

Jo and a mess of Marine Iguanas, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 @ 20mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/2000
Jo and Dave + Marine Iguanas, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 170mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/1000

including wide angle shots showing the animals in their environment

Marine Iguana, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 11mm, ISO 400, f/22, 1/200
Marine Iguana, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 @ 24mm, ISO 400, f/16, 1/160

some interesting group shots

Marine Iguana, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 400, f/22, 1/125
Marine Iguana, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 77.5mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/500
Marine Iguana, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 82.5mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/800

and some close-up portraits.

Marine Iguana, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 400, f/16, 1/200
Marine Iguana, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 160mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/800
Marine Iguana, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm, ISO 400, f/4, 1/2500
Marine Iguana, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 107.5mm, ISO 400, f/11, 1/320
Marine Iguana, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 122.5mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/640

The iguanas also act as basking sites for Galápagos Lava Lizards.

Marine Iguana + Galápagos Lava Lizard, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 92.5mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/640
Marine Iguana + Galápagos Lava Lizard, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/800

The rocky shore was not just home to reptiles as we also found our fair share of birds

American Oystercatcher, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm, ISO 400, f/11, 1/400

I am used to photographing oystercatchers in Australia and New Zealand where I usually cannot get closer than 30 metres and end up shooting with 600mm worth of lens. This bird was so intent on hunting crabs that it passed within 4 or 5 metres of me and I had to quickly change to the 70-200mm zoom.

American Oystercatcher, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/11, 1/320

Similarly, these Flightless Cormorants allowed close enough approach to use just the zoom.

Flightless Cormorant, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 140mm, ISO 400, f/11, 1/250
Flightless Cormorant, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 170mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/2000
Flightless Cormorant, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/400

The trail was well enough sign-posted to prevent approaching too close.

Jo photographing Flightless Cormorant
Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 115mm, ISO 400, f/9, 1/640

The avian highlight was this Galápagos Hawk which sat in a tree behind the beach for long enough for me to change lenses and set up the tripod.

Galápagos Hawk, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adapter), ISO 400, f/9, 1/800

A few sea lions were hanging around the beach.

Galápagos Sea Lion, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 @ 50mm, ISO 400, f/11, 1/250
Galápagos Sea Lion, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 @ 39mm, ISO 400, f/11, 1/200

including this mother and pup

Galápagos Sea Lion, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 400, f/10, 1/200

that spent a long time frolicking in a shallow inlet behind the beach.

Galápagos Sea Lion, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/250

The recent lava flows were being colonised by Lava Cactus.

Lava Cactus, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 20mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/320
Lava Cactus, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 13mm, ISO 400, f/11, 1/40

As can be seen from the images above, the light was highly variable. Heavy storm clouds continued to pass across the north-west sky, while the east remained clear with blue sky. These conditions made for some great landscape opportunities whenever I could tear myself away from the wildlife.

Sally Lightfoot Crab, Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 @ 19mm, ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/1000
Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 @ 16mm, ISO 400, f/16, 1/400

Sometimes the light was so contrasty that it just begged for a black and white.

Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 @ 16mm, ISO 800, f/11, 1/400

There was even a nice little half to one metre swell rolling in.

Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/1000

The last shot of the day was just before sunset,

Punta Espinoza, Isla Fernandina, Galápagos
Pentax K-3, Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 @ 18mm, ISO 100, f/32, 1.6 sec

then the clouds covered the western sky and it began getting dark quickly so we scurried off the beach, waded back across the inlet and headed for a well-earned dinner on board.

Tomorrow, back to Isabela

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