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Ok, I promised that once I had caught up on reading the latest posts from the blogs I follow, I would give you a ‘Whale of A Day’ – this isn’t it!

I will give you one whale photo just to whet your appetite, not that I’m suggesting you start eating whale meat.

Just the tip of the iceberg

Just the tip of the iceberg.  A 45 foot whale I photographed on our whale watching adventure last week.

I will post about our day with the whales soon.  But I need to talk about today first.  I have no photographs to help preserve today, just fallible memory and this opportunity to write about it while it is still fairly fresh.

Our balcony in Puerto Vallarta, overlooks Banderas Bay, the second largest bay in North America, if you go in for these types of competitions.  It is an extraordinary ocean feature, attracting humpback whales, green sea-turtles, Manta Rays and a number of types of dolphins – and along its coastline a large migration of snow-birds! [editors note: snow-birds is the affectionate name given to retirees from the north who spend their winters in the warmer climates of Mexico and the southern US, mimicking the behaviour of migratory birds.  Different sub-species of snow-birds seem to favour different southern ecosystems.  Some seem drawn to seacoasts and restaurants others to the inland manufactured greens of the fairways.  The latter can be seen carting large bags of clubs as they make their journeys southward.]

Directly opposite our balcony is a red flowering tree – which we call the Iguana Tree because of the dozens of Green Iguanas we see lounging on its branches and dining on its leaves and flowers. I thought I had identified this tree, but the results are inconclusive – more research needed. NOTE: UPDATE the tree is now confirmed as africal tulips or Spathodea campanulata.

We get some bird action too, but nothing too startling. We see Great-tailed Grackles, numerous Great Kiskadees, and a pair of yet to be identified parakeets that come just before sunset and are always in silhouette.

But this morning was different.  We were sitting having breakfast on the balcony (a little after sunrise) when the tree became alive with visitors.  First the iguanas were uncommonly active, moving around and evidently finding breakfast delights.  A large squirrel showed up and demonstrated olympic quality gymnastics on some rather precarious looking dead branches.  We hadn’t seen a squirrel on the tree in the past five weeks.  Then the Great Kiskadees came in numbers, only to be outdone and out-bird-noeuvred by the Great-tailed Grackles.  Rather territorial these grackles.  Then I spotted a woodpecker, and saw the orange patch on the back of its neck/head (nape if you want to get technical), it was a Golden-fronted Woodpecker – one for the tick! There were many other visitors; warblers and flycatchers – which we weren’t able to identify during their short time at the Iguana Tree Buffet. We have no idea what has suddenly hatched or blossomed, but whatever it is, is obviously desirable to a wide range of species.  What a great start to the day. 

I won’t bore you with our mundane day, it was just a typical relaxing enjoyable day in the tropics. Oh yes, I should say I spent several hours reading and commenting on posts I had missed.  But I am sure there are a few more that I have yet to find.  It was coincidental that I read a post from Marylin Warner about Sunrise and Sunset, asking which do you like best?  I’ll get to the coincidence soon.

After dinner, on the balcony, where else?  I wonder if we could just rent a balcony somewhere – a balcony with en suite and kitchen would be perfect.  Where was I, oh yes on the balcony after dinner.  We had watched a boozecruise-ship leaving port, heading into the sunset.  Then about half an hour before sunset I saw three whales come sailing in.  Actually they were surfacing, spouting and plunging along some way off shore.  Through the binoculars it looked to me like a baby, mother and male escort (they don’t get paid).  It was the flumes I noticed first, spouting high into the air and being carried a great distance by the offshore breezes. First the baby would breach and spout, then the adults would follow right behind leaving great splashes in the water as they plunged back into the depths.

We watched them for quite a while as they headed south.  Then suddenly they were way to the right headed back north.  They seemed to be frolicking.  I expect the mother was teaching the baby something, but what, I don’t know.  Then they were headed back in their original direction.  As suddenly as they had appeared they were gone.  It always fascinates me how such huge animals can just disappear into the ocean as though they were never there, except for a large smooth patch of water where they had submerged.  These animals are 40 to 50 feet long and weigh in around 79,000 lbs.(and did you think you had a weight problem?)  How can these leviathans be so graceful and disappear so easily?

I sat and wondered about the day.  I thought of the size of these great animals and the vastness of the ocean in which they live.  I can’t even see to the end of the Bay of Banderas and the Pacific just goes on and on.

After sunrise was the tree of life, before sunset was the abundance of the ocean and the frolicking of the leviathans what an extraordinary day.