Day 6, October 17, 2006 Oct 12—24, 2006
Posted by Peter English
This morning held a number of wonderful surprises for us. The most gratifying was that the groups who had difficulty finding the new species of spinetail yesterday were treated to fantastic looks today. The photos of it taken by the clients today (one of which is included here), combined with the elusive nature of this species, attest to the quality of the views. It was also satisfying to have Victor get another lifer on this trip, as he was among those who had difficulty finding the spinetail yesterday.
New species of spinetail — Photo: Jim Brown
While some of the groups returned to the river islands, the other groups visited an area of forest that was not birded on our 2004 Jungle Rivers Cruise. This area was found yesterday and we decided to send everyone there. It turned out to be fantastic. The initial plan was for groups to spread out along a relatively wide trail and bird the forest that looked so promising. As it turned out, the clearing where we landed in our zodiacs was so full of birds and wildlife that some groups never got enough of a break in the constant string of new species to even leave the clearing! Species found here included Cinereous Becard, Golden-spangled and White-bellied piculets, Little Woodpecker, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Black-crested Antshrike, Green-rumped Parrotlet, Russet-throated Puffbird, and a whole host of other species.
At the back of the clearing was a wetland that was also very productive, with Sungrebe, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Festive Parrots, South American Snipe, Wattled Jacana, and several shorebird species.
Birders looking at Rufescent Tiger-Heron across the wetlands at the back of the clearing — Photo: Peter English
The all-aboard call was at 10:30 in the morning so that we could set sail for Guyana, so the afternoon was spent relaxing, finishing up trip lists, and listening to several very interesting talks. Paul Greenfield gave a wonderful overview of birding opportunities in Ecuador entitled "Ecuador: Epicenter of World Birding." Raul Arias, a conservationist from Panama and a participant with his wife Denise on this cruise, gave a talk on the birding opportunities in central Panama. This is a topic that Raul knows well, as he is the owner of the famous Panama Canopy Tower and its recently added sister facility, the Canopy Lodge. Finally, in the evening Peter English hosted a showing of the film Para Los Futuros: For Those to Come: The Napo Wildlife Center. This is a documentary on the community-based ecotourism lodge in Ecuador that was shown on PBS in the spring, and tells the story of the lodge from idea to successful community-owned lodge. VENT takes several groups to this lodge each year.
Highlights of the day included:
— Seeing the new species of spinetail (again!), and seeing it even better the second time.
— A pair of South American river otters swimming toward the group from the wetlands behind the clearing and then coming out of the water and running past the group into the forest.
— Several raptor sightings including a very low Peregrine Falcon, Long-winged Harrier, Snail and Slender-billed kites, and many Crested and Yellow-headed caracaras.
Long-winged Harrier soaring over the groups — Photo: Peter English
— Just off the coast of Venezuela, we encountered several immature Red-footed Boobies—very likely a new species for this area of Venezuela. We also saw several Brown Boobies and a number of Magnificent Frigatebirds.
Tomorrow will be spent moving up the Essequibo River and into Guyana.