P2010305 june 30 whooping motmots in achiote tree small file

Whooping Motmots – Two of three that visit at the end of the day….

“I can write best in the silence and solitude of the night, when everyone has retired.”- Zane Gray

Poza Honda – Manabi Province – Ecuador

Thank you all for your great response to the recent painting of the Green Kingfisher;  it was painted over a series of nights, and the final session lasted until 5 in the morning!   True to most any ‘laborer’ who signs out after a day’s work, I have no problems falling into a deep restorative sleep after those painting sessions.

Mornings are almost always silent, aside from the random sounds from my neighbors the birds.  The Whooping Motmots get their name from a very-low ‘Whoop-whoop-whoop’ sound that might frighten skittish people walking through the woods in the twilight!  They are most vocal in the first hours of the morning, and at the end of the day.

P2010538 whooping motmot sunset

End of Day – all is calm.   Whooping Motmot

When the habitat is almost void of other sounds, one can hear the Motmot’s ‘other’ ultra-quiet whisperings.  Barely-audible to my range of hearing, they utter, “Cluck. Cluck. Cluck.”

Only a few yards from one of the birds, the camera video records the subtle movements but the extracted audio is barely perceived.
P2020024 july 2 5'30 til 6 whooping motmot

P1470811 sept 17 gartered trogon 7 19 am

Gartered Trogon

The Trogons add their own unique sound to this quiet area of the bosque; it’s hard to draw or paint in the daytime when this sound echoes outside my window:

P1720239 trogon yoga

When the Gartered Trogon does a series of yoga stretches, I marvel at my good fortune to have this right out my window!

The Peruvian Pygmy Owl announces to the area, “I might be little, but I’m fearless!”    Its presence is always a comfort!

P2000401 closer image pygmy owl

P2000394 arrow points to the owl

There’s the pygmy owl!

The area has many vocalists, and each one contributes to the symphony of the area.


Great Antshrike – female on the left/male to the right

The Great Antshrikes announced their presence long before I knew who made that unique sound. Here’s their call:

The Brown Wood Rails provide a very-unique sound tract, though recently I think I’ve detected their own subtle conversations.

P2010728 wood rail in carambola tree july 2 10 am

Yesterday the Brown Wood Rail was in the Starfruit tree outside the kitchen window!

I’ve yet to catch their subtle communications via the camera, but here’s a reminder of their loud-and- raucous chatter:

The Rufous-headed Chachalacas win the prize for the loudest and longest chorus;  someone suggested that the best way to identify the Slaty Becard was by its voice, and I laughed and said, ‘The other birds are too loud to hear the little Becard squeaks!”

P1680577 Rufous-headed Chachalaca that's enough 2

Recently new VIP species have permitted a few glimpses; these sightings support the need to protect this ‘Protected Forest’ which is being altered way too close to my own home.

P2010804 limpkin after taking splash bath

The Limpkin emerges from the water after taking a splish-splash bath!

P1980769 one adult and two chicks LIMPKIN

There are two adults and three young chicks!

P1980733 2 adult limpkins 3 young ones

Can you see the 3 chicks?

Yesterday a new bird stepped onto the VIP stage. I remain unsure, but most likely this is a Rufescent Tiger-Heron.  My reference books show it as ‘uncommon to rare’ in this area.  I look forward to hearing what eBird says about that new update!

P2010791 rufescent tiger-heron poza honda near lake july 2 1 52 pm

Rufescent Tiger Heron

P2010858 rufescent tiger heron poza honda 2 23 pm

Deforestation continues way too close to home; last month the ‘neighbors’ authorized someone to cut bamboo and trees from their property along the reservoir.   On random days, they showed up and began felling trees which sounded as if they were in my house.  This hit-and-miss lasted for three weeks; I privately mourned the altered landscape, and also grew more protective about those VIP species that use that as their home.

P2010821 location of tiger-heron, limpkin y raptor

I inquired at the local municipality. “(Buenas tardes/how are you?” – and then explained my dilemma. “Who is the neighbor, where are the lines, and if this is a protected forest, who authorized this section to be cut?” I also asked what is a fair price for bosque and for pasture,  then expressed concern about the ongoing use of 2,4-D pesticides for the pastures in the area.  I explained that perhaps some friends and I could buy to protect what is left and replant what’s been destroyed…..

Most of the feedback came in the form of shrugs, and I was told that beyond the property where I rent, it’s a protected forest, and no one owns a title – it’s under the umbrella of the Dpt. of Ambiente. Everyone was nice, everyone understood my concerns, but it seems as if the laws are not enforced.

This has been a struggle, as if one only shrugs, and says, ‘It will stop soon; the trees will grow back,’ then all is fine once it’s quiet again. Until it starts again. And again.

mirador puffbird curve before after thumbs as of june 20 2018

Top image – tree to the left once housed a bee nest… Many birds decorated the crowns of those trees… Bottom image – most people will never note the missing trees; the trees, the wildlife and I will remember.

P1700255 very big bee nest

Perhaps the bees were able to express their disgust.

This morning it started again. They have been cutting for a month – on each side of the habitat of the Limpkin family as well as the Tiger-Heron.

P1980417 june 19 looking up neighbors bamboo

And the music?  I certainly am unable to create soothing art with this background music:

One morning, after a few hours’ sleep, that lovely sound started my day way too early!

Soybeans near Clarksdale

Soybeans near Clarksdale, Mississippi

Long long ago in Mississippi, a neighbor planned to ‘selective harvest’ the hardwoods in a strip that bordered our own property. He asked my (former) husband if he wanted to cut his while the crew was there. My husband told me the story, and he said, ‘I told him that my wife would leave me if I cut those trees.’
A few weeks later our families were having a weekend retreat at our cabin, and after everyone went to sleep, I tipped into the kitchen to do some prep work for the morning’s breakfast. Our friend emerged from their bedroom, and he looked at me and said, “Leeeeee-sah.  They are going to die anyway.”   I thought of the extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker, and how the extinction was most likely caused by destruction of its habitat.  Those big old dead trees serve a purpose!

P1740945 gye woodpecker cropped

The Guayaquil Woodpecker, listed as Near Threatened, looks a little like the extinct Ivory Bill.

There was unspoken conflict between us, and I walked to the bookshelves, pulled out the Writings of Henry David Thoreau and read this section:

“If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen. As if a town had no interest in its forests but to cut them down.” Life without Principle – Henry David Thoreau

“Rob,” I said, “Where are YOUR children going to take THEIR children to see a really-big tree?”
Being good friends, the conversation ended there, and we’d both voiced our views, and we reached a stalemate. When I see ‘really big trees’ felled, I still think of that conversation, and I wonder why most everywhere I live, the ongoing destruction continues.

Mangrove destruction 000a excavator

How can Mother Nature fight back?

Remember the Mangroves at the river mouth? They planned to move ‘upriver’ from the house, and I protested loudly – to the owners of the machines and to the drivers and to the mayor. The destruction stopped about the time I threatened to tie myself to a tree and cause an international incident; coincidence? Who knows, but it was time for them to stop.

One biologist with impressive credentials recently told me that Manabi Province is presently undergoing the heaviest deforestation in the entire country – and perhaps in all of South America.

I’m presenting these ongoing concerns to a larger audience in hopes that solutions are found to slow down or even halt this destruction. Any suggestions, or should I keep painting and stay silent?

P2010962 the tree remembers the axe forgets

“Now all my teachers are dead except silence.“W.S. Merwin

Several years ago Linda Lenin passed this video link to me, and it’s still one of my favorites. We need more people with equal concern.

*Thanks, Linda, for passing along that lovely link – however, listening to it always makes me cry.

P1980396 june 19 tree stump y bamboo

“The axe forgets; the tree remembers” – African proverb