Blue-footed Booby

One very entertaining bird in Galapagos is the Blue-Footed Booby. The bird’s feet are bright blue!

When the male Booby is courting a female he does a cute little dance around her, flaunting his blue feet, raising them one at at time and spreading his wings as he stomps around. He also lets out a high-pitched whistle noise and picks up twigs to place before the female as a kind of gift to her. These guys really know how to get a girls attention.

Almost the World’s Smallest Penguins

When I think of a bird the first thing that comes to mind is flight, but penguins are aquatic birds that don’t fly. Instead, they use their wings as flippers under water.

At Bartolome Island in Galapagos it is common to see these little penguins waddling around the rocks and playing with the snorkelers. These penguins are unusually small (only around 19″ tall) and are much further North than most penguins come. They are endemic to Galapagos. The total population consists of a few thousand birds.

They are only a couple of inches or so taller than the Little Penguin which is around 13-17″ tall and claims the title of being the world’s smallest penguin. Very cute, nonetheless!

One of the really great reasons to visit Galapagos is that you and your camera can get very close to the wildlife. Animals are more curious, than afraid of humans.

Acajatuba Toucan

In another area of the Amazon, along the Rio Negro is the village Acajatuba. A young woman founded this village when she was 16 years old, and she still lives there today. The village is now home to about 35 families. The local handicraft store here had some of the best souvenirs we’ve seen so far. The local bar/restaurant had a huge anaconda skin that was proudly displayed on the wall over the bar. The owner was proud to show us his collection of anaconda ribs and teeth. The village pet was a beautiful white-throated Toucan that proudly posed for photos in the colorful setting.

Read the full trip report from this adventure…

Toxic Nuts of The Amazon and The Birds That Eat Them

No, this isn’t the title of a self-help book for afloul fowl. After a Galapagos dive trip several of us did an excursion to visit the Yasuní National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the Amazon of Ecuador. We stayed at the Napo Wildlife Center, which was like a boot camp for eco-adventure travelers. We were up at 5:00 a.m. to get into our dugout canoe to paddle an hour up a creek to visit several clay licks that were scattered deep in the jungles throughout the Napo area. Parrots and macaws gather at these clay licks daily.

Both parrots and macaws survive by eating nuts from various plants and trees. Some of the trees have developed defenses against having their nuts eaten (wouldn’t you?) by evolving toxins that are supposed to protect the nuts, so any animal that eats the nut will get sick.

These birds have discovered their own antidote by eating clay that contains minerals able to neutralize the toxins. If they could not do this, they would starve to death. So every day these parrots gather here, exactly at the same time to feast on clay.

From a distant blind at Saladero de Loros, that has been set up by the locals, we were able to witness this amazing event without disturbing their daily activity.

Like clockwork the first parakeet flew in.

Slowly more cobalt-winged parakeets joined them.

In a couple of minutes the sound of the chirping birds was almost deafening.

The gathering lasted for about an hour before the birds all left.

In the Napo area there are about a dozen clay licks that have been found and many new species of bird are also being discovered.

Ku De Ta Sunset

On the western shore of the island of Bali is a beautiful beach popular with surfers. It is right in front of the posh Ku De Ta Restaurant. A friend and I were comfy on the over-sized lounge chairs while sipping Margaritas and planning our next trip. As the sun set I captured about a hundred shots of the surfers who stayed until it was so dark we couldn’t see them anymore. Or maybe I just drank too many Margaritas.

Next stop…my favorite place in the world…Ubud! Our bungalow overlooked the layering rice terraces that lined the valley below. As the sun set and we sipped wine we could hear the monkeys screaming from the nearby forest.