Weekly Photo Challenge: Treat

From Fernandina.

This flightless cormorant is bringing home a treat for his mate; the seaweed is not food, but material for the nest she’s making.  As their name implies, these cormorants can’t fly and have rather stumpy little vestigial wings.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Treat

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Boundaries

From Fernandina.

Just because some boundaries are invisible doesn’t make them any less real.  This sign asks Galápagos visitors to stop and not go any further so as not to disturb the nesting site of these flightless cormorants (Phalacrocorax harrisi).

These birds are unique to the Galápagos and are classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN.  This is still plenty close enough to get a great view of these fascinating birds and the chicks in their seaweed nests.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Boundaries

Weekly Photo Challenge: Orange

From mainland Ecuador and the Galápagos islands.

Ecuador is such a colorful place!  Clockwise from top left:

  • Sally Lightfoot crabs are a common sight on the seaside rocks of the Galápagos islands.
  • I found many flowers in the highlands around Quito.
  • The minerals in the volcanic rocks of Bartolomé give them this cool (or should I say warm?) color.
  • Close-up in the butterfly house at La Selva lodge in the lowland rainforest.
  • I spotted these hoatzins from my cabin at La Selva; playing Amazon Trail as a kid truly prepared me for life as a biologist! 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Orange

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reward

??????????From Fernandina.

The flightless cormorant is just one more example of the fascinating wildlife native to the Galápagos.  Their courtship starts in the water, then moves to land; it’s an interesting trade-off of rewards for each participant.  Females build nests with gifts of seaweed and other flotsam brought them by the males.  His “reward” is that 2-3 months after their eggs hatch, females typically abandon the nest to find a new mate, leaving him to finish the chick rearing.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reward

Weekly Photo Challenge: Warmth

??????????From Fernandina.

Can you see the marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus)?  They blend in so well with the sea-side rocks.  They are cold-blooded, so during the day they huddle in groups and bask in the equatorial sunlight to raise their body temperatures.  The Internet tells me a group of iguanas is called a “mess,” and this mess on Fernandina is the very picture of warmth.

The volcanic rock is fairly bare, but behind the iguanas are mangroves, which are very common on Galápagos coastlines, being mobile (mangrove seeds are buoyant) and also well able to tolerate salt water.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Warmth