(Portoviejo Ecuador)

My dear WordPress Family,

You must feel that I am as far above the world  as Major Tom.

(His Vincent cover is fantastic)

While the computer and wifi are catching the signal between Jupiter and Mars, I lassoed my scattered thoughts, stories and photographs to bounce off the back side of Mercury – and hopefully their trajectory will reach Earth.  Earth looks pretty scary from up here, and I am told that many species are asking what have the humans done to their paradise.

A surprise Friday protest near the museum about three weeks ago. (Portoviejo Ecuador)

I told my friend Giovanni that these young activists (in the above image) need mentors.  Anger reaches no one in positive ways. He replied and said, ‘I know a lot of those people.’

It makes people react in defensive mode.

This group might be equally willing to pick up trash along the rio while waving those same posters.   A grounded and sensitive leader can help them find an effective voice.

There is hope; a growing number of amazing people are crossing paths, moving forward in quiet ways in behalf of the planet.

There seems to be an uptick of positive young leaders – quietly making a difference.   I witnessed many people – young and old – who burn with the desire to learn and do more.

There have been World Environment and Global Big Day events. The municipality has showered these quiet activists with good publicity and opportunities for events.

One museum show ends.. and a brief one-day show the next week.

Giovanni Ruiz gave scholarships to 200 participants for a weekly climate class. He had just arrived from his ‘Ambiente’ job in Mindo (5-plus hours away) and set up just in time to start the class. Whew!

Giovanni peering skyward at a ceibo tree at ‘Jaboncillo’ archaeological site near Portoviejo.

‘The Tree of Life’ Arbol de la Vida/Esperanza – Various people in the park and municipality departments were shocked that my bird list for Parque las Vegas was around 90 species, and that I had photographed over 40 species of birds in this one forlorn Frutilla tree.

July 5, 2021 – 21 birds dropped in while I worked on the drawing.

Members of the municipality were rapt with interest about the birds. Daniel Arias, a bird guide/eBird moderator, specializes in Urban Birding.

Another meeting later that week. Alexandra Cevallos Castro (far right with mike)  deserves much credit for her networking – calling attention and arranging meetings between interested parties.  The wetland area of the park has reclaimed a healthier setting for the local and migratory birds.  I hope that the Soras return, and two weeks ago the Eastern Kingbirds were spotted near the pond.

Dashing to photograph a bird that had just landed along the rio, I almost buried myself in a grass-covered hole. No breaks or strains, but an olympic-worthy tumble – and I remain baffled that I wasn’t hurt.

World Environment Day -Photo from Giovanni Ruiz

On July 8 – my father’s birthday, Daniel Arias and I combed the ‘Sosote’ flood plain area in search of the rare Cinnamon Teal. The finale for the day was a very rare bird. Daniel stated, ‘There is an Andean Coot over there.’ I knew from seeing one years ago in Jama that the coot was far from it’s normal base.   What better way to honor my father than to witness these rare species.

Cinnamon teal, observed over several months- predictable and obviously happy with their surroundings:

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The pair of Andean Coots allowed me to observe their many moods while they nested and protected that nest.  After the new ones hatched, they became less protective, and all five hatchlings disappeared one by one – over the next few weeks.  😦

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For the next two months, I drove often to observe the newest generation and record their stages of growth.
They seemed to have claimed Manabi as a place to call home!

A solo show at Museo Portoviejo was nudged from mid October to the 28th – and upgraded to one that includes two friends who share that same profound love of nature.  I sensed it was of greater importance to showcase nature – and our collective concerns.   I asked permission to change the normal dress code for this event –  to dress like you would be going to the forest/bosque or farm.    It will be fun to see how many people wear that type of attire!

Carlos Wellington learns about Augmented Reality from Giovanni.

Giovanni treasures time at Jardin Botanico on the edge of Portoviejo.

What caught their collective interest? The answer is at the end of this post.

Daniel will showcase photographs of aves, and he thrives on sharing his knowledge of birds with anyone who is interested.

Daniel shares information about aves.

Daniel at Parque las Vegas

Near Rocafuerte, where the coots occupied a corner of a tiny pond – until the water dried up and forced them to find another spot.

Yes, we asked permission before walking on private property. Just below were more Cinnamon Teal!

Giovanni has helped me with many parts of this upcoming show, and even I am not sure what surprises he has planned for his part.   WE are all grateful for the support given us not only by the Museum Portoviejo, but also the many people of this area who are thrilled to witness the ‘awakening’ of the locals who thirst for more information.

There have been impromptu drawing classes;  my friend Andres shocked a small group of us when he asked me to hold that pose – and created a painting with a small set of tempera paints.

Dady managed to surprise him as well – with a birthday cake – a finale for the drawing session!

Claudia won the ‘free drawing lesson’ at the World Environment Day event. We have had several more meetings, and she says that the drawing is very calming for her.

Events events, and no one ever displays frustrations about masks.  Most everyone has lost loved ones to Covid, and last week Carlos Wellington said he had lost over 30 friends and associates.

A private one-day show for a special meeting for the Alliance Francaise.

Positive & gorgeous staff and students…

Ten of us participated in the October Big Day – and we probably all agree that one has to be more than a little bit crazy to stay 100 percent focused on birds – and stats – for the entire day.

8:30 a.m. after two hours of birding at Casa Poza Honda.

This was about one third of the group of Neotropical Cormorants – 650 in this one image!

Deforestation continues, and seeing this wrenched my heart. When I first moved there, this was a beautiful swath of green with mature trees. Why was it cut?? To plant Balsa trees, I was told – and the balsas are sent to Asia to be made into wind turbines. Egads.

A great treasure of a bird, mingling with Collared Plovers and Spotted Sandpipers. Pied Plover/Lapwing.

My October Global Big Day started at 4:15 when the Howler Monkeys announced the arrival of a new day.  At 4:28, the first bird contributed its audio to a soundtrack that gained a new species about every 7 minutes — then all went silent for half an hour – and then a full-throttle start with the sunrise!   Midnight found me sorting through photos from the day – and extracting the audio from the videos of the final birds of the night – the Peruvian Pygmy Owl and the Peruvian Screech Owl.  My list, shared with my friends on the Poza Honda end of the day’s census, was 111 species.  I’m not sure how many the other half of the group were able to find on the southern end, or what the combined tally was for the day.

111 is nice number for the day, which represents many special moments.


The owls were quite vocal near midnight.

Squirrel Cuckoo

Gonzalo and Sabrina - two talented birders/naturalists from the Quito area.

Jardin Botanico – October Big Day – ten of us covered an area from the start of Rio Portoviejo at Poza Honda to the boca. We met in the early afternoon –  half way at Jardin Botanico in Portoviejo.

So what caught everyone’s attention?

The stunning Red-billed Scythebill!

And the Whooping Motmot asks, “Don’t you think I’m worthy of a portrait?”

Back to reality, I was happy that another talented young friend (Santiago) had finished making seven ‘mesitas’ that will display part of the ‘Meditations in Pencil’ part of the show.  Santiago’s degree is in forestry, but he is unemployed at the moment – and has been very helpful.

Many tasks remain ‘pending’ between now and the opening of the show, so between these outings I am working day and night.   Usually all-night sessions are balanced with sleeping all day – and I am never quite sure on awakening what day is it – and if it is six in the morning or six in the evening!

Detail from Meditations in Pencil – Scarlet-rumped Cacique/nesting


The show opens at 3 pm on Thursday October 28 – Museum Portoviejo.  After the inauguration, I hope to be back on this fragile planet we call Earth.

Sending love to you all!