After the wonderful snorkeling in the AM off Champion Island, the Endeavor lifted anchor at lunch and took a short cruise to anchor just off of Cormorant Point (Punta Cormorant) for an afternoon of beach walking and hiking on Island Floreana.
Floreana is a middle-aged island in the archipelago. Thus, it actually has honest-to-goodness beaches while still having volcanic cones and a handful of fairly raw, mostly lifeless, lava flows.
Access to any part of any of the Galapagos islands outside of the handful of human enclaves is extremely restricted in what is, effectively, a gigantic natural park.
Floreana offers one of the few beaches upon which we could wander freely. And so we did prior to taking a walk across Cormorant Point to a second beach that was also the nesting grounds of green turtles.
Upon landing, Roger immediately found something interesting. In this case, a sun-bleached pencil urchin.
On this particular Lindblad cruise, there were actually quite a number of kids.
The free beach time was also an opportunity for the kids to swim about and generally get in some quality beach play.
The waters were warm and, on this beach, quite clear.
Not surprisingly, the kids weren’t the only ones to show up on such a beautiful beach. The ever present sea lions were out and about, too. While the kids were in the water, you would often catch a glimpse of a sea lion or two swimming about near or, even, between various swimmers!
The beach had its share of creatures beyond sea lions, too.
This brown pelican — rather grand brown pelican — was hanging out on one end of the beach.
Combining the lack of fear of humans with the low afternoon light, it made for a very patient and stunning photography model!
I ended up taking about 100 frames of this one bird, varying parameters, angle and framing.
Between the patience of the bird and me being able to take the time to do a proper photographic study of this magnificent creature, I ended up with enough “keepers” to devote a post to this one subject!
What an absolutely incredible creature!
Along the beach we ran into this little Yellow Warbler.
It was quite fascinated in us.
At one point, the little bird actually went after one of our fellow passenger’s flip flops! No matter which way she turned or hopped, the bird followed right along!
“Lack of fear” does not mean “moves slowly”.
As with many song birds, the yellow warbler was quick to move on to the next point of interest.
Proving once again that “keep the camera in burst-shot mode” is quite effective, I caught a shot of the bird taking off for the next point of interest. With bits of sand popping up into the air, even.
After spending time on the beach, we set off for a hike across the point to another beach.
The path went along a rather large natural brackish swamp upon which greater flamingos nest and raise their young.
This is a juvenile greater flamingo that is hunting for shrimp in the shallows.
Note that bird is completely in pink color.
The pink comes from their diet of shrimp. After many months of eating shrimp, the flamingos will gain their distinctive pink color (much like the marine iguanas who pick up their color from the algae they eat).
The flamingos even sleep in the stereotypical fashion; one leg raised and head tucked in. This preserves heat by both minimizing exposure of the relatively uninsulated neck region and limiting body heat lost to the cold water.
And, yes, the greater flamingos really do turn bright pink!
These were adult birds feeding in the brackish swamp about 2,500 feet from the trail we were on.
Like a number of birds in the islands, the flamingos lay their eggs out in the open. For flamingos, they lay in relatively open areas right near the water.
As they weren’t viable, these eggs were abandoned.
Roger, no surprise, found tons and tons of critters that rest of us missed.
In this case, Roger found a couple of the Galapagos Painted Locust that were in the midst of mating.
Stunning colors amplified by the late afternoon sun…
While we rarely had rain, the abrupt rise of the volcanic mountain range in the otherwise entirely flat ocean does lead to random cloudy turmoil over the islands.
And that leads to the occasional rain squall.
Which, given a low sun, leads to the occasional rainbow!
A fitting end to our hike as we headed back across the point to re-board the boat.
Of course, there are a ton more photos in the full set for this day.