Ecuador: Amazonia at Napo Wildlife Center Aug 07—14, 2005

Posted by Paul Greenfield

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Paul Greenfield

Paul Greenfield grew up near New York City and became interested in birds as a child. He received his B.F.A. from Temple University where he was an art major at the Tyler S...

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A trip to the Napo Wildlife Center (NWC) is a total experience?floating down blackwater streams, walking forest trails through dense and lush undergrowth, bearing down under a tropical rainstorm, surveying the forest canopy from a treetop platform built over 100 feet above the ground?and trying to make sense out of the most complex faunal community on earth becomes a most exhilarating challenge. Our August trip had many memorable moments and species to remember, right from the ?get-go.? Just a few minutes after beginning our expedition, floating along Añanguyacu that first afternoon, we came upon an Oilbird on its day roost, rocking gently from side to side right in front of us. We were all mesmerized! That and the 92 other species we recorded during this initial entrance into the world of NWC was just a sample of more wonderful things to come.

Even the more ?common? species of this wonderfully rich Amazonian forest are memorable: crazy-looking Hoatzins, hissing and clambering clumsily about; adorable White-eared Jacamars; the animated Black-capped Donacobius with its insistent scolding and spirited duets; and ?gangs? of Greater Anis with their green and blue glossy sheen and glaring pale eyes. But it was the tremendous variety of experiences and wonderful bird species that we came upon at almost every turn that seemed to be the most exciting. Finally getting scope views of a calling Great Jacamar perching stealthily in the subcanopy, or our fine views of Brown Nunlet and White-chested Puffbird along the same trail, must be favorite memories for all in our group. Peering patiently through a dense mesh of understory vegetation at an army ant swarm was most exciting, as we quietly witnessed Bicolored, Sooty, Scale-backed, Lunulated, and spectacular White-plumed antbirds slipping in and out of our various viewpoints—even getting scope views of most of them! To top that off, a juvenile (?) Buckley’s Forest-Falcon swooped in twice in an attempt to snatch up one of these unsuspecting ant followers. Our ?up-close and personal? look at a Zigzag Heron was a thrill for all of us, too.

Our encounter with the rarely seen Gray-bellied Hawk on its perch along the Añanguyacu, and scoped views of two rare hummingbirds?Festive Coquette and Rufous-throated Sapphire?below us in the flowers of a canopy tree seen from the forest canopy tower, along with the rather uncommon Black-bellied Thorntail, were among our most unusual records. Floating up upon a Salvin?s Curassow resting on the bank of the Añanguyacu, and drifting by a sleeping three-and-a-half-meter-long Black Caiman were moments that will not be forgotten. Each day and each different area brought new species and experiences. All in all, it was a great trip, and it would not have been so if not for Jiovanny Rivadeneira, whose intimate knowledge of this spectacular area is absolutely unsurpassed! It is always a pleasure and an honor to share this wonderful area with him.

View Peter English’s Napo Wildlife Center photo gallery.