On his first trip to Ecuador and Galapagos as CEO of Galapagos Conservation Trust, Ian Dunn will be writing regular entries on this blog – starting with his time in Quito attending the General Assembly of the Charles Darwin Foundation before traveling to Galapagos…
Having navigated the various queues and secured the required bits of paper in Quito, and then done the same again in Baltra, you finally get into the scrum for the bus to the ferry to cross the channel separating Baltra from Santa Cruz. You immediately feel you are somewhere different; larva is visible everywhere, the lush vegetation of Quito is replaced by a sparse, semi-desert vegetation, and the air is thicker. Whilst on the small ferry, looking across really quite turquoise water to a small area of mangroves, sharp-lined and sleek frigate birds patrolled overhead at the same time as a heavy, disheveled pelican skimmed the waves to one side.
Puerto Ayora is a 42km drive from the ferry point to town, up over the central highlands of Santa Cruz island. The evidence of the south east trade winds causing low cloud and mist over the Scalesia forest is seen in the mosses and lichens clinging to every branch. Puerto Ayora itself is a rather nondescript town with plenty of building going on, the most important of which is the new sewage system going in at present.
I’ll not list the species but the first sighting of giant tortoises in the wild and the evident lack of concern shown from the various lava lizards, pelicans and sealions at the fish market are all noteworthy.
Clipped on the head by a pelican’s wing and spat at by a land iguana are less than usual reports for a Saturday afternoon. First visit to the Charles Darwin Foundation and time with Island Conservation who are in the middle of a critically important rat eradication project as part of a habitat restoration programme.