Manabi Province/Ecuador – December 2021 was filled with birding moments. From visitors to the exposition to art classes to the first Christmas Bird Count (Dec 25, 26, 27) for the Chone/Segua area, to random bird moments in various locations, there’s a lot to share. You’ll understand why I’ve been so quiet…
Sr. Ludovico, may we have some quiet music to start this new year?
Parque las Vegas hosts the feathered residents as well as migratory species.
A mystery bird appeared in mid December and continues to mystify this observer. Drab in color, is it an immature Yellow Warbler?
Several trips to Poza Honda provided heart-warming observations of many species celebrating the arrival of the rainy season.
She was so excited one evening, that I thought, ‘OK. I’ll go there tomorrow,’ and she was shocked to see me arrive! A drizzly day made for difficult photo ops, but the Chestnut-Headed Oropendolas seem to claim this area as theirs – though they are out of their normal range.The museum art students produced some great work this month – not bad for beginners:
Drawing and painting from life – feathers, leaves, flowers… most selected feathers:
One day – when the museum was ultra quiet at the end of the day, I was the benefactor of a Christmas serenade that drifted up from the floor below. Starting with Cohen’s Alleluia, Katy practiced with Carlos Wellington for an upcoming series of Christmas concerts in the province. After about the third song, I put down my work and quietly descended the stairs, tip toed into the auditorium, and wordlessly thanked them by placing a quarter on the chair beside them. They burst out laughing.
I wish that Katy’s version could go here, but this precious young lady provides a lovely alternative:
I will forever cherish the beauty of that private concert.
Now we tweak our setting to an area not often mentioned; San Antonio/Chone and its first Christmas Bird Count.
Birders from different sections of Ecuador traveled to Chone to help with the Humedal La Segua’s first Christmas Bird Count. Eight teams covered a 15-mile circle that radiated from the eBird hotspot and included wetlands, shrimp farms, pastures, agricultural areas, rolling hills and river estuaries. Our combined total was 198 species. (Circle ID: 60074)
Dec. 26 – Showtime!
The road less traveled offered a slower pace for the day:
We ambled along to the next hill and were captivated by a family of Burrowing Owls.
Tipping along that same rural highway, we seemed to have found a jackpot of the ABA’s mascot for 2022!
Down even less-traveled roads we found Peruvian Meadowlarks in a field of corn stubble while we took a watermelon break. (Thanks Jorge/Jurg!)
Perched in a calabash tree was a White-tailed Kite.
Asking for directions often results in special memories. A man on a motorcycle escorted us to a private entrance to rolling pastures that flanked a large wetland.
We spent the remainder of our time roaming the pastures and crawling through a maze of tight-stretched barbed-wire fences. A White-throated crake buzzed its alarm only a few feet from where I walked, yet it remained hidden in the thick grasses. Two Ospreys scouted from above. Limpkins shrieked and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks moved between areas of thick cattails while we struggled to count the ever-changing cast of gallinules, jacanas and grebes.
My camera battery stated, ‘Enough!’ and refused to take another image. Our own personal batteries were quite weary as well! After nine hours of birding, we happily returned to the headquarters and swapped stories with the rest of the group. There is surely a group photo floating around social media, but here’s one partial view:
The next day blended a sunrise canoe trip with serious data compilation after breakfast.
A mid afternoon surprise finale prompted us to ‘Come see the Common Potoo!’Across the highway, through a barbed-wire gate, down a path, through a shaded garden, and — I asked Luis and Juan Carlos to imitate the pose of a Common Potoo:
After hours of compiling data, we enjoyed the chuckle.
One more surprise awaited me – an orphaned Howler Monkey:
Recalling my years with Howler Monkeys as my closest neighbors, I replicated the sounds they taught me years ago. Perhaps this little one was homesick for its native language – we weren’t expecting it to have such a dramatic reaction:
Isabella’s photo session makes my heart smile.
Back in Portoviejo, basking in great birding memories, I was blessed with one more end-of-year encounter with the Burrowing Owl:
The Blue-gray Tanagers were not as pleased to see it as I was!
“Verdad” – it’s been a month full of birding memories, which justifies a Feliz AVE Nuevo start to 2022.
Sending love to all of you,