A couple of years ago, Mr. DBM and I spent four months galavanting around South America with the trip culminating in a visit to the Galapagos Islands. Now, I have waxed lyrical ad nauseam about these magical and mystical islands here, here, here, here and here. I think there were a couple more posts, but I am sure that you have got the picture by now. I loved this place, I adored this place. It really is the one place to see before you die. At the time, I thought that this was a once in a lifetime trip. Turns out, I was wrong and, back in August, I found myself once again touching down on San Cristobal Island for another visit to this most wondrous of places, my favourite place in the whole world.
So, how come there have been no blogs about this second visit? Dare I say that I have been there, seen that and done the blog (actually seven blogs) before? Would it sound a little preposterous to say that I have little left to say about the place that I haven't already said before? Could I even risk saying, well, once you have seen one giant tortoise, you have seen them all? Now, don't get me wrong, I had a marvellous time on my second visit and I would go back again in a second, but I am finding it hard to come up with something new and improved to write.
Do I still love the boobies? Well, of course I do - who doesn't love a good booby or two?
Do I still think that the marine iguanas are one of the most interesting and delightful creatures in the world, despite their rather nasty snorty behaviour? Absolutely.
Do I still love to lecture people about how it was the mockingbirds and not the finches that really got Darwin excited about the whole evolution thing? How could I not enjoy my feeling of superior intellect and expansive knowledge as I explain the whole situation to some poor schmuck who happened to innocently comment about the finches?
And as for those finches, do I still marvel at all the different species and spend hours poring over the ID books trying to work out whether I have just seen the large or medium tree finch, or perhaps it was a medium ground finch? Absolutely. What kind of biologist would I be if I just went on my merry way saying, "Oh, just another finch then"?
|Really looks like a warbler, doesn't it? But no, this is in fact a warbler finch.|
What about those adorable, lovable and oh so cuddly-looking sealions with their foul breath and other disgusting body odours? Still love 'em, still took endless photos of furry snouts and stupidly long whiskers.
Then there are the tortoises. You gotta love the tortoises, don't you?
|Look out everyone, it is a tortoise on the move!|
So, does that leave me anything new and exciting to write about?
Actually, yes - the most gorgeous and eye-catching of birds, the vermillion flycatcher.
So, there we are, half way up one of the volcanoes on Isabela Island. The trees are dripping with mosses and moisture as the damp air from the ocean rises and condenses on the side of the volcano. A flash of red flicks past the window of the car. STOP THE CAR!!!!! we cry in unison. Dr. G., my bird nerd of a companion, is literally pushing me out of the vehicle, demanding that I get a photo of the flash of colour. I am muttering away about how typical it is - the one day I don't lug my big lens along with me is the one day that I finally get to see a vermillion flycatcher. Meanwhile, the flycatcher has buggered off and I am now muttering away about my lack of a photo. I clamber back into the vehicle. The bird reappears 20 yards down the road.
Anyhoo, my photogenic little friend and I had quite the session and here are the results:
What a beauty!
On a side note, did you know that vermillion is an orange red pigment that was originally obtained from the dried bodies of the Kermes scale insect in a similar manner to the red dye cochineal being obtained from cochineal scale insect? No, neither did I - thanks Wikipedia!