On Nov 11, 2014, at 9:10 AM, Barry K. MacKay wrote:
It’s a fantastic place, or was when I was there so many decades ago (before many of the current restrictions on movement were in place…which is not to say they are not needed…they are, but I did enjoy great freedom of movement). I subsequently illustrated the first bird guide to the Galapagos (in print for 25 years…the only bird book I ever illustrated that made me royalties, yet done long before I was very good as an artist, even assuming I am now). I can remember so many experiences…standing on the deck of a 21 foot sloop at night as great wheels of phosphorescent marine organisms swirled at my feet, and the Southern Cross glowed sharply amid the incredible display of dense starfields overhead, the Marine Iguanas thermoregulating half in sunlight, half in the shade of a shed at the research station where I stayed, the Land Iguana who came up to me each morning to see if I might drop a bit of banana his way; the endemic Large-billed Flycatcher who braced his feet against my forehead so he could tug at my hair for nesting material; the great Manta Rays leaping in improbable, gigantic grace; the penguins perched on a small red lava rock that was a degree north of the equator; the kilometre after kilometre of incredible rock filigrees soaring so high into the frigatebird-punctured cerulean above on fantastic seacliffs; my decision as I burned shot after shot of film in those pre-digital days, that the Swallow-tailed Gull was surely the most beautiful of all gulls; the Lava Gull who came on board to share our meal; the sealions, so curious and unafraid; the Lava Heron pulling one end of a small, dead moray eel while a scarlet and blue sally-lightfoot crab tugged the other, both ignoring me; the Yellow-crowned Night Heron calmly strolling up a red sand beach where there were great scattered lumps that, in fact, were basking sealions;. My first ever wild flamingos…oh the memories. I recall once separating from the rest of my party…three people only…to go to an empty beach on an uninhabited island and sit on a stone, facing the sea, no sign of human activity anywhere…not even a jet contrail in the sky, and no sound of human origin. Flies were attracted to me as fresh water was too precious for bathing, and some lava lizards attracted to the flies, ignoring me, began to challenge each other, using my anatomy as reference points as to how close one could come to the territory of the other. My feet were braced on a facing rock. Suddenly a Wandering Tattler landed on the same rock, centimeters from my toes. This was a migrant, not a local species, and yet fearlessly calm, as if the magic of the place had assured him that, as seemed to be assumed by the lizards, I was part of the landscape. My first sighting of a Galapagos Mockingbird was the one who tugged at my shoelaces, on the morning I awoke after arriving in the dark, the day before. Identifying the finches can be tricky, even if they are sitting on the palm of your hand like a chickadee in my garden. The cone of Daphne Island, surely a fit backdrop for the wonderful tropicbirds above, the flying fish below. A pilgrimage, indeed, and I’m glad my interest in nature extends beyond just accumulating large numbers of species seen. I did some mainland birding, and wish I could do more. To me it is not an either/or thing, and the rich diversity of tropical jungle is wondrous to behold. So were the bleak, dark shores of Labrador, or the silent tan expanse of Kalhari Desert…the richness of the world inherent to its natural wonders of all kinds.