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Published: January 21st 2010
Our first steps in South America were in Quito, and not knowing exactly what standard to meet, we were positively suprised, civilised taxi drivers, no garbage in the town, and no beggars. I guess me and M both had something similar to Africa in mind. We went to our hotel and then had breakfast, upon which we had to take a nap, because of the six hour time difference. The afternoon was spent looking at the old town. Due to the lack of safety precautions at the basilisk church it impressed us the most. For dinner we tried some equadorian specialities - guinea pig and cow tripe. The guinea pig was served in an aestetic half guinea pig plate, exposing claws, jaws etc... it was better than expected, somewhat like a chicken but more fatty. And crispy skin!
First days in Galapagos
Due to delays of the reserach permit we got some days off before starting our five week fieldwork on Galapagos. Apart from a couple of excursions on Santa Cruz (where we live and work) we went to Isla Isabela, the biggest of all the islands. Isabela has a alot to offer, with a much smaller
city it gives the whole atmosphere a more relaxed realm than what we experienced in the main city Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz.
We undertook a snorkelling safari at Tintoreas where our aim was to see sharks, penguins and sea lions, but we saw an interesting underwater lava landscape with turtles and rays, and above water the lava rocks belended well with the ocean iguanas. First time in my life I have seen the turtles under water, when self under water... Magical to see how they fly in slow motion under water.
Volcano crater Sierra Negra is the second biggest in the world, with only the Ngorongoro crater in Tanzania bigger. In the misty morning we walked up, in loaned boots, because of of the el nino rains it was pretty slippery going up the crater. As we reached the brim of the crater, the clouds opened up for a glimpse, and we got a quick view of the full crater. Only the crater walls were green with vegetation, the middle of the crater was flat, and brown or black depending on the age of the lava. In the far horison, beyond the cactus arid landscape with streaks of green, we could see the torcoise waters of Elizabeth bay. Our guide took us past lava tunnels, chambers, smaller craters, young and old. So many different colours of lava... all from yellow, and white crystalls, to black, new lava from the eruption in 2005, and before that a bit browner from 1979. On the way down we saw the Vermillion flycatcher, a bright red and black, beautiful little bird.
Comparing reproduction success between the small tree finch and the warbler finch, in the Scalesia zone and the farmland zone. One of the critical factors affecting the reproduction success is the presence of a parasite, Philornis downsi, a fly from Togo/Trinidad (?), that is present in almost all nest, seriously affecting the reprocuction of these species, and posibly others as well. That is the short version of what we do, you´ll get the long version next blog entry.
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