The work round against having to keep navigating the carousel is to open observations in another tag.
I have been trying to load up several observations in separate tags so I can then rapidly move from one to the next. This doesn't work. Thinking and observing further, it doesn't start rendering the observation until the tag is the currently active tag, In Chrome at least this adds a delay until you bring that tag up to the top. When you do that it's so slow that I'm tempted to go do something in another tag, but that just makes things worse.
As for pictures not opening in List View until you scroll down, the same happens with Google Image Search; I presume that the intent is to save bandwidth and server resources by not serving images that the user might never see. (I've seen the List View with and without pictures, but haven't worked out why; I think I prefer it without pictures to save screen real estate - if I want the pictures I can use the gallery instead.)