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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Santiago (James) and Bartolome (Bartholomew) Islands

August 23rd, 2012 · 2 Comments

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Of all the birds in the Galapagos the one that I most wanted to see was the Galapagos Penguin. No other species of penguin live so far north of Antarctica. But I really didn’t expect to see any penguins in the Galapagos, because it is an endangered species with only about 1,500 individuals remaining.

We saw our penguins when we took a dinghy ride along Santiago Island before breakfast. But the light level was too low for good photos. We did get quite a thrill when a Sea Lion jumped into the dinghy right next to me for a few seconds.

Then, in the afternoon while most of the other tour members went snorkeling off Bartolome Island, I rode into the beach on a dinghy with our guide Morris. En route to the beach I got my best penguins shots.

A Galapagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus) Rests on Bartolome Island (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 180mm, f/8, 1/1000, ISO 800)

A Galapagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus) Rests on Bartolome Island (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 180mm, f/8, 1/1000, ISO 800)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

We made a wet landing, since the island doesn’t have a pier. A wet landing means that we step out of the dinghy into a couple feet of water and wade ashore. The landing and the beach was so sandy and without rocks that we walked barefoot. I walked the length of the beach while Morris rested at one end. Being alone on a South Pacific beach in the first full sun of the trip was wonderfully freeing.

Ashore, the first bird I spotted was one familiar to me. A relative of this Great Blue Heron below has been regularly visiting the lake in front of my apartment this summer. But like all Great Blue Herons in Colorado, it is skittish and flies off when anyone shows an obvious interest in it. On the shore of Bartolome this Great Blue Heron, which is actually an endemic subspecies, let me get so close that I could fill my camera’s frame with it.

Not Even a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) Showed Any Fear of Me as We Walked the Bartolome Beach Together (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 160mm, f/8, 1/1500, ISO 800)

Not Even a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) Showed Any Fear of Me as We Walked the Bartolome Beach Together (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 160mm, f/8, 1/1500, ISO 800)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

As I walked along the beach I heard singing in the bushes on the land side. The songbird was a Yellow Warbler, found only in the Galapagos and the Cocos Islands, which are about 450 miles north.

This Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia) Stopped Singing Temporarily (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO 800)

This Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia) Stopped Singing Temporarily (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO 800)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

While I strolled the beach barefoot and found these beautiful birds, my roommate Keith was using my underwater camera to photograph the wildlife down under the surface of the ocean.

A Blue Sea Star (Phataria unifascialis) Offshore from Bartolome Island (Photo by Keith Costigan with my Panasonic DMC-TS3 at 5mm, f/3.3, 1/400, ISO 400)

A Blue Sea Star (Phataria unifascialis) Offshore from Bartolome Island (Photo by Keith Costigan with my Panasonic DMC-TS3 at 5mm, f/3.3, 1/400, ISO 400)

Click on the picture above to enlarge
A Yellow-tailed Surgeonfish (Prionurus punctatus) Offshore from Bartolome Island (Photo by Keith Costigan with my Panasonic DMC-TS3 at 5mm, f/3.3, 1/800, ISO 400)

A Yellow-tailed Surgeonfish (Prionurus punctatus) Offshore from Bartolome Island (Photo by Keith Costigan with my Panasonic DMC-TS3 at 5mm, f/3.3, 1/800, ISO 400)

Click on the picture above to enlarge


Film Clip by Keith Costigan with my Panasonic DMC-TS3 Camera

The large school of fish in this clip are Yellow-tailed Surgeonfish, the single blue fish with white vertical strip is a King Angel, and then comes a White-tipped Reef Shark.

In the late afternoon we climbed hundreds of steps at La Escalera (the stairs) on Bartolome. There we got great views all around on a sunny and warm albeit windy day at the top of the island. Kevin used a self-timer to take our group shot there. He is at the far left and I am the tall guy in the back row next to him. Sarah is in front of me and, from left to right, are Carol, Jack, Keith, Art, and Joanna. The beach where I had walked barefoot and alone in the morning is the sandy one on the right, adjacent to Pinnacle Rock, the most representative landmark of the Galapagos.

Our Tour Group Reached the Top of Bartolome Island (Photo by Kevin Loughlin, Wildside Nature Tours, Used by Permission)

Our Tour Group Reached the Top of Bartolome Island (Photo by Kevin Loughlin, Wildside Nature Tours, Used by Permission)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Bartolome is one of the smaller islands in the Galapagos with many attractions. With a land area of less than 1/2 square mile, it is dense with beauty.

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Posted in: Galapagos

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Darlene Lyons // Sep 1, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Thanks so much for the GREAT pictures, they are simply beautiful!!! Great Job !

  • 2 Fran Stearns // Sep 2, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Your Great Blue is superb and such fortune to see this rare penguin.

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