Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Ecuador December 30, 2009

December 30, 2009
Sani Lodge

Our cabin, number one by the way, was adjacent to the kitchen and therein lies a problem. The staff starts preparing breakfast at 03:45h; their radio is playing, from time to time they join in an impromptu a cappella chorus, which would likely have little merit at any time, but especially not at that hour of the morning, laughter is heard, pots and pans are banged and clanged; in short, it is difficult to sleep through it. We were certainly awakened by the noise and never did get back to sleep again.
A good variety of items was presented for breakfast at 05:30h. There was scrambled eggs, bacon, ham, yucca, cereal fruit, coffee and juice.
Donning our ill-fitting rubber boots, mine a tad too small, Miriam’s too big (she wore two pairs of socks) we joined Jason and Lindsay to leave with Olger and Juan wielding his machete, for a walk through the forest.
The birding was very agreeable indeed, and it was the keen eyes of Juan, without binoculars, who spotted many of the birds and enabled us to get on them. Olger had a laser pointer which he indiscriminately used in the fashion of Luke Skywalker seeking out the forces from the dark side. Given the ease by which birds eyes can be damaged by these pointers it seems to me they should be banished, however handy they may be.
Three out of the first four birds we saw were antbirds, and we were able to get good looks at all three of them - Silvered Antbird, Dot-backed Antbird and Plumbeous Antbird. Other highlights, among many on this walk were clear views of Screaming Piha, a species often heard but seldom seen, Cream-coloured Woodpecker, White-fronted Nunbird, Black-fronted Nunbird, two Brown Nunlets sitting side by side on a branch and a Golden-collared Toucanet. Jason’s sharp eyes found a Ferruginous Pygmy Owl for us.
It was a long walk, from 06:00h to almost 13:00h and we were provided with a mid morning energy boost of chocolate and a pear.
Everyone but me had an energy boost of a different kind. Olger stripped a branch of its bark revealing ants and their larvae. He told us that they are lemon ants, so named because of their taste, and are edible. Miriam, Jason and Lindsay bravely licked some ants off the stick and all pronounced them tasty and said that the lemon flavour hit the tongue immediately. I declined to participate. I think I will be called a wuss for ever more!
By the time we returned to the lodge our feet were killing us in the boots which we were glad to take off.
Lunch was a soup, spaghetti with a meat sauce, mushrooms in a creamy sauce, a variety of salads, juice and for dessert a chocolate cake with a fruit filling and/or fruit salad.
Miriam did a little laundry and took another cold shower, following which we relaxed until 15:30h when we again headed out in the dugout canoe with Olger, and Juan to do the paddling. It was very pleasant indeed and the first bird we saw was a Tawny-bellied Screech Owl. There were many highlights including Magpie Tanager, Scaly-breasted Woodpecker, a Hoatzin on a nest and an Azure Gallinule.
We heard howler monkeys but failed to see them.
We returned to the lodge in time to freshen up a little before dinner at 19:00h. There was a nice variety at the buffet - soup, steak, chicken, potatoes, rice, cauliflower, salads and cold passion fruit mousse and cake.
At 20:00h we went out for a night walk, once again donning our dreaded rubber boots! We were unable to locate a Masked Owl but saw lots of interesting creatures - a wood frog, a salamander, many spiders including a tarantula found by Juan in a fissure in the bark of a tree, many millipedes, a stick insect and a giant earthworm, quite the most revolting creature I have ever seen!
After about an hour we were back at our cabin to get ready for bed.

All species December 30 - Great Tinamou (heard by Miriam), Rufescent Tiger Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Striated heron, Cocoi Heron, Anhinga, Turkey Vulture, Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, Azure Gallinule, Pale-vented Pigeon, Red-bellied Macaw, Bronze-winged Parrot, Mealy Amazon, Hoatzin, Smooth-billed Ani, Tawny-bellied Screech Owl, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Neotropical Palm Swift, White-whiskered Hermit, Black-throated Hermit, Amazonian White-tailed Trogon, Green-and-Rufous Kingfisher, Ringed Kingfisher, Blue-crowned Motmot, Iveroy-billed Aracari, Many-banded Aracari, Golden-collared Toucanet, White-throated Toucan, Scaly-breasted Woodpecker, Chestnut Woodpecker, Cream-coloured Woodpecker, Lineated Woodpecker, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, White-chinned Jacamar, Purplish Jacamar, Brown Nunlet, Black-fronted Nunbird, White-fronted Nunbird, Blue-crowned Manakin, Wire-tailed Manakin, Black-crowned Tityra, Screaming Piha, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Piratic Flycatcher, Social Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, Undualted Antshrike, Plain-winged Antshrike (heard), Dusky-throated Antshrike, White-flanked Antwren, Black-faced Antbird, Silvered Antbird, Plumbeous Antbird, Dot-backed Antbird, Rufous-capped Antthrush, Black-tailed Leaftosser, Plain Xenops, Plain Brown Woodcreeper, Spix’s Woodcreeper, Ocellated Woodcreeper, Buff-throated Woodcreeper, Violaceous Jay, White-winged Swallow, Black-capped Donacobius, Thrush-like Wren (heard), Southern Nightingale-Wren, Long-billed Gnatwren, Lawrence’s Thrush (heard), Yellow-rumped Cacique, Silver-beaked Tanager, Blue-grey Tanager.

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