Sunday, March 7, 2010

San Isidro

Morning Mist

Birds, birds, birds. Today was all about birds, and I certainly understand how one can get interested in birdwatching. Debra and I woke up early to join Milton, our guide for the day, outside before the sun came up. We hoped to see the sunrise, but there was too much fog and mist and we weren't quite certain where the east was anyway. The light was all wrong for photographs, but we saw russet-backed oropendolas building a nest in a huge palm tree, Inca jays screeching at each other, a male and female trogon sitting near each other and not at all timid or shy, and many more birds that I could not keep up with. A husband and wife from Laramie Wyoming joined us with their guide to point out subtropical caciques, woodcreepers, and flycatchers and more. The husband Drew was in a wheelchair with MS, but had a mountain guiding business most of his life. He had a list of over 100o birds he has seen, having taken up birdwatching when he could no longer dive or participate in other activities. He was inspiring, as were his helpers and guide who led him in his mechanized wheelchair along the gravel paths. One of the lodge workers used worms to lure out two species of antipitas, who scurried out of the brush, grabbed a worm and dashed away. I was surprised to see that I had seen and photographed a similar bird in Papallacta, not having any idea what bird it was.

Maya joined us, but read her Harry Potter book (for the 14th time) while we oohed and aahed at the birds we saw. She became a little more interested when we visited the hummingbird feeders, where many species of hummingbirds flitted about. Of course Maya read some more while we watched and photographed and tried fruitlessly to sort out which species we were seeing. If we were true birders we would be compiling lists, but I find that I am unable to identify species even with the Ecuadorian bird book I have.

Birdwatching Style

Mammal Sighting

Inca Jay

Another Rufus Collared Sparrow

Rain poured on us when we decided to walk the three kilometres to Yanayacu, where we met with Mel, who is excited about the bird research on the plain tailed wrens, and Sarah, who is planning to go to Galapagos next week. Not much was happening at the research station (at least not for the nonscientists). A French and a Russian couple with their eight month old son were studying transparent poisonous butterflies, so we learned a little about the butterflies; how the pattern on their wings warns birds that they are toxic. Debra and I decided to walk back to San Isidro, and of course while we were visiting Yanayacu and staying under the porch the sun was shining brightly, but halfway through our walk we were drenched again.

The weather changes constantly in the cloud forest. It rains furiously and then the sun shines intensely and then it rains again. Rain, clouds, mist, fog, drops, drenching, and occasional sunshine are the norm. The forest is wet and dripping most of the time, and the paths are muddy and slippery. I am always surprised there is so much bamboo. At first I had no idea that bamboo existed in South America, and now find it so plentiful and so full of wildlife. The plain tailed wren that Eric studies live in the bamboo forest.

We were very happy to be at San Isidro, where we were well fed and well taken care of. We were worried that we would see nothing, but there were many birds all over the property. Had I been better at identifying them, I would have a great list of 'life birds' to start with.

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