As I write these notes, it is already Monday 22 March. The tour to Baja – Isla Cedros and southern California is over and we have enjoyed very full days, making it difficult to find time to write up these Diary pages. To catch up, I’ll just post brief summaries and add to them once I get home. Pictures will depend on time and internet facilities availability.
Those of you who have been on cactus day trips to islands in Baja California and Chile will know the routine: early breakfast, then a walk to the harbour to wait for the fishermen, whose pangas (small open boats with outboard motor) would hopefully take us to the target for the day, weather permitting. Sometimes it is a question of balance – it may be the only chance to go the the island as time budgets are set for us to move on to other locations and on the other hand, health & safety demands that the captain only takes us out when he knows that he and his passengers will be safe. Sometimes conditions around the lee of the island can be different from what you see at the harbour. Weather can sometimes change very quickly and the bats are vulnerable to wind, so the captain has the last word without tempting him to take irresponsible actions.
Today, all systems were go, but with the warning that we’d get wet. Most of us had weather proof gear, more for the cameras than for ourselves. I have a wonderful picture of one of our party with a plastic shopping bag over his head. After some two hours bumping from one wave to the next we were soaked and glad to arrive on Isla Navidad. Just like all these islands, these are nature reserves, here to protect a rare bird, the Black Vented Sheerwater, that builds its nests, tunnels, in the soft ground. So we were asked to stay on the track at all times and were taken to two locations by pick up truck, with several stops on the way, but with some frustration as we were seeing the endemic Mammilaria hutchinsoniana in flower, some two meters from the path. Only long tele zoom lenses could capture the detail. Eventually a compromise was reached so that a few people at the time could visit some of the plants spotted in flower and take pictures from close up. The other target for our cameras was Ferocactus fordii. Unlike F. chrysacanthion on Isla Cedros, F. fordii was in flower.
We were shown three cardon, but these were not Pachycereus pringlei as suggested in the plant list for the island, but P. pecten-arboriginum, which is common in BCS where it takes over from P. pringlei. Technically, Isla Navidad is in the state of Baja California Sur, but it was the spination of the few stems that I was able to photograph at close quarters that persuaded me that it was P.p-a rather than P. pringlei.
I recorded two stops, S1762 and S1763 to file the images taken.