Monday, January 13, 2014

Grand Cayman Day 2

Today began with a dawn bird walk and ended up with Wren throwing up and us cashless.  Still, it was an excellent day:
Good morning on Grand Cayman!
I woke early and went on a short birding walk down the lane.  It was 7am (4am Seattle time).  Walking down the lane of mansions and shacks, bouganvilleas tumbled over fences, palm trees stretched overhead and jacaranda pods hung low.  I passed dog walking locals in flip-flops and Cayman house-cleaners leaving vacation homes with buckets and brooms.  High in the trees iguanas sunned themselves while honey-eaters hovered over acacia blossoms and small birds walked palm leaves looking for insects.

There are so many warblers that I failed to conclusively ID even one.  Everything warbles.  They fly in flocks of tweeting rushing things.

Despite my warbler challenges, I saw 7 lifers.  The identified bird list for today (for my Mum):
Green Heron
Cattle egret
Belted kingfisher

Frost and I swam out to the coral bommie off Cemetery Beach while Wren jumped waves.  At first, Frost battled with keeping the fins in the water instead of splashing on the surface.  He said "my body just floats up out of the water with these fins on.  My feet just float!"  After some practice and adjustment he became comfortable and we snorkeled around for almost an hour.  At one point a couple on lilos threw fish food into the water and Frost almost swam into a group of large silver fish which clustered around him.
Wave jumping.  Really, there were waves.

See, a wave!  Round pieces of coral roll up and down in the wash
and litter the beach.

I could barely use my iPhone until this afternoon when I realized I could
turn the brightness way up.  Until then I was screen-blind and just pointed my
camera in the general direction.  This is how many things look to me still.  Its very bright!

Walking home after the beach.  Our house is behind the turquoise roof-thing.
We saw many fish but didn't reach the full range of coral of the barrier reef.  I am glad with did not continue swim out further as it was harder to return against the wind and withdrawing tide.  The water was slightly cloudy, probably due to wave action.  A number of people have mentioned that they are having higher-than usual waves for this area.  Today, the swells were 3-5 feet while many days the seas in the area are calm.  Frost and Wren enjoyed the waves but they had stirred up the sandy bottom which made it harder to see.  

Tomorrow Frost and I are going out on a snorkeling boat to the stingray sandbar and to a few other snorkeling sights.  Wren & Josh were going to come but Wren had a sore and upset tummy tonight and threw up once.  He also has a low fever.  I hope he feels better tomorrow, but is having a quiet day at home with Josh.

Josh is not terribly keen on snorkeling and is being very sweet saying he is going to have 'man time' with Wren.  Those who know me know that I love snorkeling from the beach but am not a big fan of boats on open ocean.  I really dislike big swells.  The wave height tomorrow is supposed to be 2-4 feet so that sounds okay.  

The Lizards of Conch Point
This afternoon we explored West Bay and the Barkers Point area where we stopped and watched kite surfers skimming over the mud-flats.  The road to the natural area is called Conch Point Road. At the point there are drifts of huge conch shells swept into the mangrove roots by the tide.  Some had crabs inside but most were just filled with sand.  I collected a few - pretty ones sell for $25 in town.
Drifts of Conch Shells at the point

Along the road we stopped to watch a large green iguana with a yellow and black striped tail.  As we drove closer for a picture it scuttled into the mangroves and startled a green heron which had been sitting, unseen, less than 6 feet from us.  The heron let out a great cackling shout at the iguana until it noticed me peering with my binoculars.  Here is today's best lizard picture.  We also stopped for lizards crossing the road, saw them in trees, stepped over them etc.  I am looking out for a book called "Reptiles of Grand Cayman."

Before we left, Josh and I both drew a small sum in cash and expected to use our BECU atm cards once we arrived.  Both of us tried to get money and received mysterious messages from the atm.  We googled and learned that the US Credit Union system has no participating banks in the Caymans.  Uh oh.  We can get a cash advance on the credit card by walking into a bank and proving our identity and paying $25 but then we may as well open a Cayman bank account, right.  And we can still buy rum.  And Lynn - yes, flights are around $600 or less... but hurricane season starts in May.  Its also some of the calmest driest weather.
This is the rum, on our deck.  It is 65% over-proof Jamaican rum.
It was tasty.


nautilus said...

what a lovely day. I can share your delight. Hope that Wren gets better soon. How is the soccer competition for Josh love MUM

Shannon said...

Thanks Mum, Wren is much better today and actually DID come on the Stingray Sandbar trip. We held stingrays... and Wren watched from the boat...more later.