Day 5 - Entire day outing to Shanklands Resort, 15 miles down the Essequibo River from our position near Ford Island Oct 25—Nov 08, 2004
Posted by Peter English
Last night after the daily update was filed, Manzoor Nadir, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce for Guyana, met with Victor and Brian O'Shea to discuss how Guyana might attract more ecotourists, especially birders. Mr. Manzoor said that his department had identified birders as one of the markets they wanted to target. Victor replied that VENT planned to offer more tours to Guyana because it offers the opportunity to see many species of birds found only in northeastern South America. Victor encouraged the Minister to try have someone locate a place in Guyana where Crimson Fruitcrows might often be seen. At present there is no place where this spectacular species can be reliably seen. The Crimson Fruitcrow is one of the most spectacular birds in the world. Victor felt the meeting with the Minister was very productive and he was impressed with Mr. Nadir's interest in ecotourism and birding.
But to get to today: it was a full-day outing for everyone on the ship. We all went to Shanklands Resort in the early morning for some spectacular birding. Groups split the morning between watching the clearing overlooking the Essequibo River and birding a wonderful nearby river by Zodiac. One of the big highlights from the clearing was fantastic looks a Red-shouldered Macaws. These small macaws are only found in Northeastern South America, and are found in abundance at Shanklands. Other highlights included perched Orange-winged Parrots, nesting Yellow-crowned Tyrannulets, a variety of tanagers and euphonias, and Black Nunbirds.
Red-shouldered Macaws — Photo: Peter English
In mid-morning about half of the group left for an optional visit to the Kaietur Falls, located 100 miles southwest of the area where we have been birding, in a stunning location where the Guyanan Shield drops down to the lowlands. Here one of the major rivers of Guyana drops almost 800 feet to the valley below, making it the largest single drop of any waterfall in the world. We were also able to watch over 100 miles of virtually unbroken rainforest pass below us as we flew to and from the falls. Seeing this vast expanse of wild forest was one of the highlights of the afternoon.
Kaietur Falls — Photo: Peter English
The group that stayed at Shanklands had a great day of birding the trails throughout the afternoon. Highlights included singing Sungrebe, a number of Helmeted Pygmy-Tyrants both feeding young and building nests, and close-up views of Red-fanned Parrots, one of the most striking and beautiful parrots in South America. They also found a Three-toed Sloth with young moving about in the top of a tree. The group list of the day exceeded 150 species.
Both groups reunited on the ship at sunset and again saw hundreds and hundreds of Orange-winged Parrots flying down the Essequibo to their roost sites. This was the last sunset that we will see in Guyana, but the wildness and beauty of this small South American country will remain with us.
VENT leaders clockwise from center kneeling: Paul Greenfield, Peter English, Carol Walton, Victor Emanuel, David Wolf