|Why did Paul cross the road?|
To see the tortoise on the other side.
My days generally consisted of reading, taking a hike, eating, reading again, napping, and repeating the entire affair. It's great, and I recommend it to everyone.
|Pelican, Blue-footed booby, and pelican, on Isabela|
Photo by Paul Cook
On my days in Isabela, I saw the Wall of Tears, (more on that later), flamingos, and boobies. On Isabela, there are blue footed boobies. (Picture below.) I don't really know much about these boobies, but they're famous for their brilliant, sky blue feet. (See picture below.) (In general, I don't know that much about birds, which wasn't my speciality in university.)
Also, in the brackish water swamps, I found the flamingos. Brackish water is when salt and freshwater come together, to form a concentration of salinity, less than the ocean. You often find endemic, which means native only to that region, species in such areas. (I used to have a collection of brackish water puffer fish that I liked, but in the end, brackish water fish almost always die in captivity because I believe that they need the water to change from fresh to salty from time to time.)
They step in the mud with their feet and lift up the mud after, creating a suction. Then they scoop their heads, upside down in the mud, and siphon off the muddy water through their filter beaks, trapping their food through the filter in their beaks.
As a kid, I was always taught that flamingos were pink because they ate shrimp, which is red in color. Now that I'm older, (24 by some accounts), I realize that this explanation is not complete. Sure, the shrimp may color them. But I eat a lot of shrimp. How come I don't turn red? For certain, it's the keratin in the shrimp, which has a red crystalline structure, that turns it red. But why does the flamingo need to be red? Is it to signal health to it's mate, to show the mate that it eats a lot?
Furthermore, how does the color of the keratin get into the feathers? If you feed a white chicken, nothing but shrimp, does it turn red too? (Maybe, I should try, we have a white chicken at home - come to think of it.) The answer, as you can see, isn't a very good one.
|Flamboyance of Flamingos in a brackish water swamp|
by Paul Cook
I also observed that flamingos have unusual behavior. They like to stand on one leg. They also like to tuck their neck and head into their wings. Why do they do that? (If I was a bird watcher, I think I'd pay more attention to their behavior, but I'm not; I like fish and mammals more.)
Back to what I saw. I did enjoy seeing their brilliant colors, no doubt: something that I believe zoo flamingos can't achieve.
Finally, I hiked to the Wall of Tears - which is a wall made of lava rocks by former prisoners. A brief history.
|Sunset on the path to the Wall of Tears|
Seeing that water and food are hard to come by in the island, a number of these prisoners lived in misery and cruelty. Many died of starvation. (The Wall of Tears is though to be a useless project to keep these prisoners occupied.) In 1958, just 14 years after its opening, and after a rebellion, the prison was shutdown.
There certainly is an eerie feeling at that wall. On your way there, you stop by different mini trails to see beach, swamps, birds, lizards, and tortoises.
On my way, I saw another giant tortoise. If you notice the shape of the back, it has a number of triangular points, rather than being circular and round like the tortoises on Santa Cruz.
I guess that's it for now. Time to do more reading. Time to drink more coffee. Time to enjoy my time off.