25 November 2012

Patagonian farmacia

Towards evening we stopped somewhere along the roughly two thousand kilometre route between Bariloche and El Calafate. Just before the bus pulled over, a gaucho galloped a band of wild-looking horses along the main street of the little town. We turned onto this side street and parked just past the farmacia. The place felt like the legends of Patagonia.

[8 November 2011, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 14–45 mm at 14 mm, ISO 200, 1/1000 at f11]

All content © 2012 Pete McGregor

19 November 2012

Cerro Torre and FitzRoy

One of my main motivations for coming to South America was to see Cerro Torre. Given the notorious reputation of Patagonian weather, I'd expected to have to wait weeks for a glimpse of this legendary mountain.

This was a view from the bus (through a grimy window) from El Calafate to El Chaltén. Cerro Torre's the highest of the row of peaks on the left — the one that looks like a shard of glass. The highest peak, on the right and partly obscured by cloud, is FitzRoy.

[9 November 2011, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 100–300 mm at 150 mm, ISO 200, 1/3200 at f8]

All content © 2012 Pete McGregor

15 November 2012

American flamingo feeding, Isla Isabela

I first saw flamingos in India, just outside Jamnagar, in early 2007, and in 2011 I saw two species of flamingo in great numbers on the wind-swept, high altitude lakes of the Bolivian altiplano. But it was on Isla Isabela in the Galápagos earlier in the 2011 South American journey that I saw the most brilliantly coloured flamingos. Apparently, diet affects the vividness of the colour, so whatever these American flamingos were feeding on must have had a powerful influence. This was one of the birds that frequented the Poza Salinas, the small saline lake near my hostel on the edge of Puerto Villamil.

[12 September 2011, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 100–300 mm at 228 mm, ISO 400, 1/1600 at f7.1]

All content © 2012 Pete McGregor

13 November 2012

Vallunaraju, Cordillera Blanca

If you visit Huaraz, make sure you get a room with a view of the Cordillera Blanca, then make sure you're there at dusk. The rewards are spectacular.

[6 October 2011, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 100–300 mm at 100 mm, ISO 400, 1/30 at f5.6]

All content © 2012 Pete McGregor

11 November 2012

Lava lizard, Isla Isabela

The best known reptiles of the Galápagos archipelago are the iguanas (particularly the marine iguanas) and the giant tortoises. But others live here too: the secretive Galápagos snake (which I was fortunate enough to see), sea turtles (which I was fortunate enough to snorkel with), and nine species of lizards in the genus Microlophus, which every visitor will be bound to see.  M. albemarlensis inhabits Isla Isabela, where I spent ten days, and Fernandina, inaccessible to those, like me, not on expensive cruises. Female lava lizards can be easily identified by the orange throat and face; males lack this but have a black throat patch.

I never did manage to discover whether the orange specks were seeds of some plant or, more probably, mites.

[10 September 2011, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 14–45 mm at 45 mm, ISO 400, 1/250 at f8]

All content © 2012 Pete McGregor

06 November 2012

Rio Torre & Nothofagus; PN Los Glaciares

The Rio Torre debouches from the terminal lake of the Torre glacier, which, not surprisingly, flows beneath Cerro Torre. I set up camp, then wandered up the river hoping I might see a torrent duck. No luck, but the next evening back in El Chalten, I saw a pair with chicks just 15 minutes or so upstream from the bridge.

The gnarly little shrub is one of the species of southern beech (Nothofagus), but I'm not sure which. New Zealand also has several Nothofagus species, and the forest here was similar enough to make me think of the place to which I'd return in just over a month, but different enough to remind I was in a different country.

[11 November 2011, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 100–300 mm at 234 mm, ISO 100, 1/10 at f16]

All content © 2012 Pete McGregor

04 November 2012

Sycamore dawn

The sycamore at the edge of the terrace seldom looks the same—each day the light's different, the tree has more or fewer leaves, the colours have changed, mist obscures the valley beyond (as it did on this particular morning a month ago) or not, and so on. Sometimes I think this view has become part of me; sometimes I think I've become part of this view. If it's a dream, it's not a bad one.

[4 October 2012, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 100–300 mm at 300 mm, ISO 200, 1/20 at f11]

All content © 2012 Pete McGregor