Category: Ecuador, 2015

Birding in the Rain

june 19.  Up at 5:30. No electricity and therefore no hot water. We later find out that a landslide has wiped out electricity and it’s unclear when it will be restored. We start out on a walk, but soon it begins to rain, so we decide to turn back. I guess it’s supposed to rain in the cloud forest.

At 7:30 we take a short hike to a place near the lodge where we see a really neat and rare bird, the White-bellied Antpitta, which doesn’t really fly, walks on the ground. The lodge has habituated them (which took eight months) by feeding them earthworms in a small clearing area. Fortunately, the rain subsides for this venture.

We have breakfast, then set out for a walk. Again, though, it begins to rain, so we head back to the lodge. This turns out to be quite fortunate, because not only do we avoid the rain, but we see a wide range of great birds from the deck around the lodge, including the Blue-winged Mountain Tanager, Subtropical Cacique, Russet-backed Oropendola, Pale-edged Flycatcher, Rufous-collared Sparrows, Blue-and-White Swallow, Pearled Treerunner, Crimson-Mantled Woodpecker, Mountain Wren, Inca Jay and the following Hummingbirds: Fawn-Breasted Brilliant, Gorgeted Woodstar, Collared Inca, Bronzy Inca, Chestnut-Breasted Coronet.

Here are photos of some of them.  I had varied success in photographing them because it turns out that birds are often small, fast-moving and distant, making it difficult to see some of them, let alone photograph them. 

              After a very good lunch at the lodge, an eggplant appetizer and a cocoanut soup with tilapia and rice, I nap and Carol and Josue go for a walk. As they’re not there when I awake, I walk for about 45 minutes and see some birds before it starts to rain again. We have no electricity and will not have any tonight. Mudslides are making our route tomorrow a bit iffy, but there’s nothing we can do about it–así as la vida–so we find a deck of cards and Carol, Josue and I play gin rummy by candlelight, listening to folk and country songs from my iPod, played through a small speaker that Josue has with him. This works out well (I win). No doubt this will be a memorable part of our trip. Hardships, in moderation, are often travel highlights.
Really good typical Ecuadorian dinner, by candlelight, augmented by a cinnamon-based tea with liquor provided by owner, Alejandro, who is a staunch conservationist and very personable fellow. He was very concerned that a family of five, with three young kids, who had won a prize of a couple nights at San Isidro and who were going to celebrate the wife’s birthday had not made it or been heard from. He was hoping that they’d sensibly encountered the mudslides and decided to return to Quito.
From Alejandro we learn that we were not unlucky with the weather. There are two seasons, he explains, the rainy season when it rains all day, every day, and the dry season when it merely rains every day. We are in the dry season. I have not mentioned that the weather is very chilly, so we are layering clothes. I’d say it’s been in the fifties during the day and forties at night. The cabins have no heat, though last night we were given hot water bottles (which reminds me of Africa, where we would get them often).
After dinner, Carol, Josue and I play traditional Ecuadorian card games–Crazy Eights and Casino–while listening to the likes of Lyle Lovett, Paul Simon and Joan Baez on my iPhone. For light, we use candles and the headlamp with elastic band that i’s purchased from REI after seeing two fellow travelers using them on our Namibia trip. Good buy. Around 8:30, the family of five arrives, to everyone’s relief, and after their dinner, the mom is serenaded with happy birthday.
My headlamp and I act as a flashlight for Carol on our way back to our cabin, where we retire early, but do not sleep very well because of the constant drumming of rain on our roof.

1 comment to Birding in the Rain

  • susie Kiphart

    Sorry to those who might have different sensibilities. But I cannot possibly get why these birds would be this varied and beautiful if the Great Weaver God did not create it all this way –and of course want us to love the earth and have “dominion” —take good care of it. I have heard it said that if we do not grow to notice and love it then we can’t have the motivation to take care of it. Thanks for helping us notice!!! AND…Happy Anniversary!!!

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>