HOW MANY BIRDS?!
Isla Corazon, Rio Chone/Manabi Province, Ecuador
With a potential El Nino Phenomenom percoluting along the equator, many locals along the Pacific coast reach back and share stories of the El Nino of 1997 and ’98. One veteran of that extended season of torrential rains and mudslides is “Don Francisco” from the petite community of Puerto Portobelo on the north-east side of Rio Chone. The mangroves on the upper half of Isla Corazon washed away during the 1997/8 disaster, and silt from landslides and farmlands destroyed more trees and altered river channels. Francisco Reyes, who worked on a farm before the upper half of the island washed away, dedicated his time to replanting and restoring this heart-shaped island.
March 2013 Mangroves washing away in Rio Jama
My friend Stephen visited several weeks ago, and I rode with him to Isla Corazon, where we took the two-hour tour of the island. Known best for having one of the largest colonies of frigate birds along the Pacific coast, Isla Corazon hosts many other bird species. I never tire of visiting Isla Corazon, admiring the bird life and hearing new stories. Each tour is unique, depending on which guide takes you on a special canoe ride and which birds and critters step onto the stage.
From February 2015 – Ecuador Expat Journey tour – Preparing to leave the dock!
(High tide last week) Happy crew heading home so the tourists can enjoy the results of their hard work.
As we watch the work crew go back to shore, our boat pulls beside a flat-bottomed canoe. The transfer is quite fun!
Timing is important, and the small window of time changes daily with the tides. This particular tour was racing the fast-falling tide of a full moon. The trees on the left side of the tunnel are all new-growth and planted by the community; the ones on the right are the older survivors of the flood.
Francisco told me that when he worked on the farm, he wore corrective glasses; after working in the mangroves, he no longer needed the glasses! He says that the mangroves are our planet’s lungs, and he credits the pure air/oxygen for restoring his vision.
We exit the tunnel and view the main channel of Rio Chone. Waiting to greet us are ‘The Birds.”
“Here come the tourists! Get ready to puff out your chests!”
“I’d rather hold a yoga pose…”
A calcophony of squawks from the mangrove treetops…
The male frigates puff out their gular pouches in hopes of impressing their lady friends.
Is this puffed out enough to win a prize?
Ha! “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll win this competition….”
Night Herons hunt at night but often lurk in the shadows in daylight hours!
Great egrets preen their wispy feathers.
(“Don’t you think I’m sexy?”)
Next stop, a gateway into the center of the island!
Don Francisco shares the Island’s history with my friend Stephen…
Don Francisco shows how to plant a mangrove.
(He also pointed to the hiking sign and chuckled, “Chikungunya!”)
“Don Francisco” often shares stories about duendes, troll-like beings that roam the mangroves. Stepping back enough to capture him with the zoom lens of my camera, I recorded Franscisco describing the duendes. At the end, he broke into a song, which I thought was about the duendes, but my friend Stephen said it was a story about his parents when his father was courting his mother!
The duende part is still waiting for an edit, but here’s Francisco singing the song.
The Isla Corazon tour costs fifteen dollars per person and lasts several hours. The price for groups is lower per person.
Deep beneath the canopy you might spot an ibis…
Up close with nature! (Sorry Mary!)
Name that footprint! Francisco said it was from some sort of fox, but Stephen and I were not sure what animal it might be.
End of the day; the guides enjoy an easy ride home!
Thanks for taking the tour! For more information about the magnificent frigate birds, start HERE. For reviews about the tour, enjoy the reviews on Trip Advisor.