PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: They are known collectively as Darwin's finches, twelve or thirteen species of finch unique to the Galapagos Archipelago. When Darwin got to Galapagos, his eyes were on rock, and he quickly understood the archipeligo was geologically recent. The essential truth that Darwin perceived through his examination of species in Galapagos was that the "new" species of Galapagos were not new and distinct like the archipelago nor related to species of similar climates, but mostly, "cousin" species of others on the South American Continent. What surprised him most was to find diversification distinguishing individual islands of the chain. In the finches he found especially fertile diversification; one species of finch had adapted through vigorous genetic changes in the shapes of its beaks in order to fill multiple, open, environmental niches in an empty land.
When I was in Galapagos these friendly little birds hardly seemed worth photographing next to the boobies, frigate birds, pelicans, cormorants and penguins. Like Darwin, I mostly ignored them when I was there. Now that I'm back I find I am drawn less to my photos of the swoopings of frigate birds than by several images of small birds in their micro environments, studies in the mixing of colors and textures of earth and shadow.