We spent the morning at the Charles Darwin Research Station. A very nice facility. We did some birding and visited Lonesome George, the last of his race of Saddleback Tortoise. The tortoise rearing pens are very interesting. Withstood a sales pitch by the Foundation, including a nicely done video, and visited the various animal pens. They are well done, but then tortoises aren't really likely to make a break for it, or climb fences.
The official line is that the Station provides the science to support the management of the National Park. You have to wonder how well it all works. The Station appears to be doing real science, but when it comes to estimating how many visitors a site can support - and how much revenue there will be for the Islands - you have to wonder if the political appointees of the National Park are entirely scientific. Ah well, perhaps better than our system.
We walked over to Puerto Ayora afterwards, past a couple of dozen tourist shops. We did some shopping, made some purchases and did some light sight-seeing. A very touristy town; much wealthier than the capital. We saw a Waved Albatross, but since it was a statue, we didn't get to count it. The books say the Waved Albatrosses won't be in until late March.
In the afternoon, we rode in a bus, a distinct improvement over a cattle truck, to two different trailheads. First, we visited a stretch of nearly pristine forest, and saw a Dark-billed Cuckoo and, in a wetland at the end of the trail, half a dozen White-cheeked Pintails and a flock of Smooth-billed Anis. There were Domed Tortoises along the trail.
Last, we drove up the shoulder of the Salasaca, the westerly volcano on Santa Cruz, to two pit craters, called Los Gemelos, "The Twins." The craters are old, weathered and deep. There is dense vegetation on the floor of both, and a considerable amount on the sides. We saw Galapagos Doves, many Galapagos Flycatchers, a Vermilion Flycatcher male, and Scalesia forest, with the tops of the trees all at the same height. Strange and exotic. Viewed from above, it looked somewhat like a lawn, with no leaves below the level tops, and then a dense understory, even from a few hundred feet up.
The Samba was anchored in Puerto Ayora Harbor at Angermeyer Point, home of the Samba's owners. Red Bats flew over the boat in the evening, giving us another trip mammal.
Sherry Lewis, Hugh Rose and Nancy riding the bus
(Photo by Gillian Rose)
Copyright © 2002 Jim & Nancy DeWitt
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