An ascent to El Puntudo allows you to see endemic wonders such as the pachay, but also the occasional introduced species

Paula Tagle
June 6, 2021 – 06h00

Pachay (Laterallus spilonota), endemic bird of the Galapagos Islands. Photo: Paula Tagle.

A dense and cool mist surrounds us that prevents us from seeing what is happening five meters from our feet; and yet, there is no reason to fear: it is Galapagos! Suddenly, Anahí exclaims: “A black rat, under the myconia!” We are in fact in an ocean of myconia, a shrub with reddish leaves that grows over six hundred meters on Santa Cruz Island.

The rat cry returns us to the harsh reality of the species introduced in an archipelago that is no longer isolated from human impact.

We have climbed three kilometers of mud, puddles and greenery. Together, our six expedition members determined to crown El Puntudo. And since generational barriers are not felt in Galapagos, if they exist at all, our ages range from eighteen to sixty. Although we do not walk at the same pace, our interests are identical: adventure, bird watching, plant observation, geology, photography, friendship.

Anahí is our guide. She climbs El Puntudo regularly, sometimes alone, and leads us down confusing paths which we dare to question, because almost all of us are also guides. But she is the local one, the one who came with her school to this place and not so long ago.

Joshua, photography instructor, recommends pointing the cameras to capture the intruder and report it. It is not the only species introduced in the area: cascarillas and blackberries still exist, which interfere with the lives of native and endemic species. The National Park has managed to eradicate more than 50 hectares of cascarilla, or husk but, however, it persists, just like the terrible rodents.

Cindy has been left behind, delighted in a little bit of the way: “Come see these aquatic beetles, they have legs like paddles.” José, the youngest of the group, approaches him; He prefers to photograph suspected coleopterans than the dreaded rodent.

I have no interest in seeing a rat and getting out of my spell. I am about 30 years old in the Galapagos, and even though I hiked this trail a couple of times, I never reached the top. I’m afraid my knee will get cold for the last stretch, an almost vertical climb, where you have to use feet, arms and teeth (maybe I’m exaggerating a bit).

Suddenly, Gilda exclaims: “He’s not a rat, he’s a pachay, he’s a pachay pigeon!” .

Cindy forgets the water bugs and runs along with José to meet us. Now yes, I prepare my camera. We are all waiting.

One pass, two pass, perhaps three small chicks; completely black, fast, hiding among the myconians. To think that this plant [the myconia] belongs to one of the most abundant families in America, and that in Galapagos it only exists in the upper parts of Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal, and is in danger of extinction.

The pachay, also endemic, runs the same risk due to the loss of its habitat, and of course, because of the blessed rats!

I manage to photograph the mother pachay who chases her rowdy little ones. It is a rare bird, unable to fly.

There are still the last few meters to El Puntudo; the real challenge, in my case, is the descent – almost embarrassing, sitting on the rocks, slipping.

We didn’t get the reward of a clear sky with views of the island and its surroundings, and yet we couldn’t have been more satisfied. There are still pachays in the enchanted forest of Miconias and, in addition, we mounted El Puntudo!

Read the original coverage from El Universo at https://www.eluniverso.com/larevista/columnistas-larevista/un-ascenso-a-el-puntudo-permite-ver-maravillas-endemicas-como-el-pachay-pero-tambien-una-que-otra-especie-introducida-nota/


Informing and sharing news on marine life, flora, fauna and conservation in the Galápagos Islands since 2017
© SOS Galápagos, 2021

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