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Portoviejo /Manabi/Ecuador –

Another artist spending time near The Friendship Tree of Life. (Acrylic)

The show, Step into My World, is going well.  We discussed having a basket for people to discard their problems before they stepped into the world of art, photography and Augmented Reality.  I never dreamed that visitors would take it so seriously.   Some paused and touched their heads, closed their eyes and then placed their invisible burdens into the basket.   Others paused at the guest book and scribbled -sometimes for five or more minutes – on sheets of paper, folded those sheets and placed them in the basket.   What trust!  Each day I take the folded papers home and – as promised – dispose those private worries.

My staple gun ran out of staples, and I took the empty package to the store to be sure I bought the right replacement.

What a surprise to find that the new ones did not fit the staple gun!  The old package is to the right; the new one on the left.   Do you know the reason?

I had no idea that ‘Heavy Duty’ staples were different from Light-duty ones.   Alas, so far here in Portoviejo I have not been able to find light duty ones.  It’s almost easier to buy a new staple gun!

I think that every single person in an hour’s radius of Portoviejo knows the man in the photo. Antonio Pico, who lives near Ayacucho, stopped in to view the show.

Sometimes one person arrives, other times a cluster of  three or four.   An archaeologist here – an artist there – a friend to stop in and ask, ‘How’s it going?’

Since I would be at the museo most every day, I volunteered to be their first volunteer, after a thought-provoking visit with Alexandra Cevallos and her friends who drove over from Cruzita.   “Is there a ‘Friends of the Museum’ group here?” they asked.

Hmmm.  With budget cuts, the museum could use all the friends it can get!    The directors seemed relieved that I would be upstairs to receive any visitors, which allows them to stay focused on their daily tasks.  They set up a corner desk at the entrance to the show, and when no one is visiting, I work on art.  Today, however I’m working on this post!

Time for a brief ‘serious’ note.  This interactive map should show a timelapse view of tree loss for the past ten years.   It’s set for Ecuador, but it can easily expand to cover the entire world – or maybe it already does that when someone opens the link.  It’s sobering:   GlobalForestWatch.

Gathering nesting material (Andean Coot/Slate-colored Coot)

In July and August I made many half-hour drives to observe a pair of Slate-colored (Andean) Coots raising a family near Portoviejo.  Their presence is abnormal, and with three half-grown young ones, they nested again in a small cattail lined pond.

July 9, 2021

Since little is known about their behavior on the western side of the country (they normally live in the Andes) I visited the site often and parked – with the owner’s permission’- on a small empty lot that overlooked the nesting site.

The adults were extremely brava while sharing the nest building tasks, and were equally brava while sharing incubation sessions.   Their behavior amused me, and I soon learned by their behavior when they were about to chase  any potential threat to their young ones!

This slideshow captures a lot of that behavior:

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July 25 – one by one the hatchlings appeared over a ten-day period.

When the new chicks began to hatch, the adults became less protective, and by the time the youngest one foraged on its own, the adults had basically abandoned all duties of protecting them.  One by one they vanished.

Aug 15 – one baby coot and lots of whistling ducks

A bit too late for my comfort for driving alone – yet the perfect hour for observing the change of shifts at the little pond, I sometimes found it hard to estimate how many birds of each species was present.

How many pintails and cormorants?! Sometimes at home and working on the computer, I place dots and count each bird!

I try not to delete any images until I check each one on the computer. There are often surprise species waiting to be discovered!  Comb Duck!

What’s there with all of those whistling ducks? Yellow-billed Pintails! The Coots must have sent a message to the birds of the Sierra, “Hey! Fly west for your vacation this year!”

The handsome Cinnamon Teal are also populating the area.  Almost always one can find a few or a few dozen –  much like finding a four-leaf clover – a treat for the eyes:

 

Toss in some Roseate Spoonbills, an Anhinga here and there, and one can understand why I commuted to this area so often!

The prize for me was observing and documenting that newest generation of Slate-colored Coots.

The last baby coot – Aug 27 – and then there were none…

The ‘middle’ generation seemed to make it to almost adult size, and as the pond dried into smaller and smaller area, the coots relocated.

I realized that I negated my past year’s eco footprint of almost zero fuel consumption in the truck.  How does one deal with ‘resuming life as normal’ when our planet is no longer normal.   We cannot just shrug and say, ‘Yes, it’s bad,’ and not change our own behaviors.

I decided that for every fill up, I will plant a tree for every gallon used.  I am presently in the red for 70 trees – and when I take an international flight, I’d best prepare to plant a small forest!  The landscape continues to lose trees, and viewing that tree-loss map reminds us in easy-to-grasp visuals.

A blank canvas – one of hundreds of pastures in a fragmented area along Rio Portoviejo and Poza Honda.

There are many pastures, barren of most everything except invasive grasses, and I have a lot of experience at eradicating that pest by hand.  Clearing grasses one chunk at a time and planting native trees – some short lived and others to outlive all of us – will remind me that we all play roles in the planet’s health – even many who are sensitive to nature’s needs.

Images from the past: Barbara helped construct these mountains of grasses – which eventually became rich compost!

I will be updating when planting starts – at the beginning of the rainy season.

Very good news arrived today via a post from EcoMingo…  Mining Vs. Nature – Landmark Case Decided Today…

and a link they provided:  Reuters

As I’ve recently stated about this growing number of positive activists in this area – and also about the support that is slowly rising to support Steven Donziger, the Davids are finding each other, and hopefully will defeat the Goliaths.   Free  Donziger

It surprises me that the ‘big names’ in the press are not giving this daily attention.  Sigh, the Goliaths probably have something to do with that!

(Is is a swallow? ) It seems to be exclaiming, ‘Yippee!  What a difference a year makes!’

Back to good news – the Eastern Kingbirds have probably helped spread the word about Manabi vacation options.   Although they left last year with memories of a declining habitat, they returned to find a very healthy ecosytem at Parque las Vegas. While most Eastern Kingbirds flock to the Amazon area, there are some who prefer to chart their own vacation itineraries. The administrators and jefes for the parks have done an amazing job of restoring the essential habitat, and in time those ‘lost’ species will find their way back.     Will the Soras be next?

What a difference a year makes! The trees have a healthy supply of limbs and seeds and fruit, and the birds were ‘everywhere.’ I as about to ‘stumble upon’ a migratory species’ return.

The Eastern Kingbirds gave me a private show last week – not only eating seeds of the Tierra Espina and sallying for insects – but they were also doing ‘touch-and-go’ flights over the pond, and sometimes splashing like frigates or swallows or kingfishers!  I continue to be Blessed by Birds.

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There’s good news from Cornell about a huge colony of Whimbrels – with interesting video about migratory bird habits.

Whimbrel

When the birds do take a break from their aerial marathons, one can hope that wherever they land, they find ample habitat for shelter and nourishment.

The Green Kingfisher enjoys the return of its healthy habitat.

As always, thank you for your support;  most every day new positive people appear – some in person, some via online connections – but all represent ‘hope- esperanza’ in this fast changing world.