“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.
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.
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:
The Peruvian Pygmy Owl announces to the area, “I might be little, but I’m fearless!” Its presence is always a comfort!
The area has many vocalists, and each one contributes to the symphony of the area.
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.
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!”
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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?
“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.
“The axe forgets; the tree remembers” – African proverb