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The tropical king bird's morning song is as lovely as the royal poinciana's blossoms.

The tropical king bird’s morning serenade is as lovely as the royal poinciana’s blossoms.

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Tropical Kingbird – Jama (Manabi Province) Ecuador

 

Casa Loca’s windows are made of solid wood, and I enjoy opening those weathered panels at first light to embrace the awakening day.   I usually open the kitchen window first to confirm that the daylight serenade was indeed given by the lovely kingbird.  The wrens and seedeaters dart and forage in the dense foliage along the fence, while Amazilia hummingbirds search for the life-sustaining nectar of the opening flowers.  Kingfishers awaken the riverside with nonstop chattering about the first catch of the morning.

Female Variable Seedeater

Female Seedeater

Variable Seedeater forages throughout the day

Variable Seedeater forages throughout the day

Look!  There's a huge hummingbird checking out the Playamart treasures!

(from 2013) – Look! There’s a huge hummingbird checking out the Playamart treasures!

P1010059 KINGFISHER Cropped P6030071 GREEN KINGFISHER DOS

"I think that middle guy in the boat has been hooked before... what do you think_?"

The petite green kingfisher asks the heron, “I think it’s going to be a calm day… what do you think_?”

Most mornings provide a feast of calming views as I open the windows and gaze outside.  Every so often the view jolts me into a higher state of attention.

First Light - Quite Lovely ... or not?

First Light – Quite Lovely … or not?

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The presence of thousands of birds announces, “Urgent! Urgent! Something’s wrong with this picture!”  On this sixth dawn of the new year, I scanned to see if my friend’s truck was home (yes) so I knew he had spotted the same view and had sounded the alarm.  I grabbed my camera and bolted out the door.

How many birds? This shrimp fest is not so pretty to the owner of the ponds.

How many birds? This shrimp fest is not so pretty to the owner of the ponds.

Seagulls, terns, cormorants, ibis, great egrets, snowy egrets, stilts and even frigates joined the feeding frenzy.

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“Chain Reaction” – Shrimp nervously react as birds coasted above the surface of the water.

I walked the muddy perimeter of the pond while Cesar (the owner) and one of his employees attempted to spook the birds from the far side.   Cloudy days and rainy nights contributed to the low-oxygen levels in the ponds that sent the shrimp gasping for air at the surface.  The attentive early birds spotted the easy buffet and the news quickly spread of an all-you-can-eat buffet.   Soon Cesar defended his investment from the canoe while workers whooped and shooed from the edges of the pond.

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“Is there anything I can do to help?” I asked Cesar as he passed in the canoe.  I added, “It’s like watching a house burn – I feel so helpless.” 

My heart ached as I watched the birds gobble their easy prey.

Frigates devour many shrimp.

Frigates devour many shrimp.

“I’ll gladly jump in and start splashing and swimming it it will help,” I volunteered with a smile.

He wasn’t in a smiling mood, though I’m sure he knew that my offer was sincere.

Pumps brought fresh water from nearby Rio Jama through a canal while Cesar and two workers supplied life-giving oxygen with a portable aerator in the canoe.

Rub a dub dub, three men in a – CANOE! One paddled, one held the suction end of the hose under water, and the third sprayed the water to create more oxygen for the shrimp.

 

One worker swam and kicked in the water (top left of image)  while others worked from the canoe.

One worker swam and kicked in the water while others worked from the canoe.

After an hour the emergency appeared to have passed, and the balance of oxygen sent the shrimp back to the safety of the bottom of the ponds.  Later in the day, Cesar was all smiles as if the event had never happened.  These beautiful people rarely give a sad smile…

Yes, they had a bad day, but we can learn from their example;  acknowledge what went wrong, what worked and what did not.  Adjust, learn from the experience, smile and move forward.   Life goes on.

(2013) Cesar - Shrimp Harvest - Buyer and seller keep separate records.

(2013) Cesar – Shrimp Harvest – Buyer and seller keep separate records.

The ponds are off limits before the harvest.  After the harvest, the feathered feast begins with no stress!

The ponds are off limits before the harvest. After the harvest, the feathered feast begins with no conflicts!

(Postscript: Please do not use this post or images without written permission and proper credits.)

This was written in nearby Jama, where I returned last night after saying ‘Goodbye’ to a great tour group of new friends.   The Claro USB modem rolled over and refused to work yesterday.  If I am silent, don’t worry, I’m home with the birds while the modem plays ‘possum!

The seagulls remain on high alert and remember the easy feast.

The seagulls remain on high alert and remember the easy feast.

I now watch the gulls with a new awareness.  "You may eat, but please, not from my friends' ponds!"

I now watch the gulls with a new awareness. “You may eat, but please, not from my friends’ ponds!”

Have a good day, everyone!   Will be back later this week!

Until then,

Z

Seagulls - End of day 'grazing'

Seagulls – End of day ‘grazing’

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