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Parque las Vegas/Portoviejo/Manabi Province/Ecuador

Feb. 2, 2022   02/02/2022 – a lovely number!

New Moon.  New Month.  New Chinese Year of the Tiger.

Bravery.  Wisdom.  Strength.

All of these traits are important to moving forward, being stronger, having the courage to believe in yourself – and your own unique destiny.  Trying to stay neutral and centered – being on the offensive so that you’re not in the defensive.

This drab little bird appeared in mid December. Migratory? Juvenile – ? – small yellowish bird. Where are its travel mates? More on this lone bird later…

The year of the Tiger; here’s a small tigress in search of birds

Sometimes we can be brave, wise and strong –  and still be caught off guard. Like a tiger pouncing from a concealed location, our planet continues to express distress.  Maybe it’s not premeditated – our earth’s wrath, but an involuntary reaction to its own pain.   The headlines from Quito illustrate that point:

The month started with disasters that stretched around the world.

With so much misery, and two years with a virus that seems to stay one step ahead of mankind, it’s sometimes hard to share sunny stories – yet without hope for positive, we would all wither.

The Vermillion Flycatcher has returned! Yay! What must it be like to be blessed with colors like this?!

Parque las Vegas celebrates its four year anniversary.  A token phoenix that emerged from 2016’s 7.8 earthquake, the park now offers a solace for healing and reflection.

Today it also gives us an extra bonus for observing World Wetlands Day.  The area along Rio Portoviejo and the little pond give the visitors an easy glimpse into natural wetland habitats – and the birds are thriving!

Male Green Kingfisher

There’s that little bird again! It almost always shows up after 5 and loves what must seem like a jungle of cattails.  It is slowly evolving-changing colors – note the subtle streaks on its chest below:

Thanks to Daniel Arias (eBird/Urban Ornis) for pointing out those streaks!

One or two Striated Herons lurk in the shadows most every day.

Many birders ask me to please let them know if this rare Green Heron ever returns to the park. (Photo from Jan 10/2021)  I continue to watch, but there are plenty of ‘common’ species providing nice eye candy.

A large Saman tree anchors the ‘far’ side of the footbridge. Someone is building a new nest… Can you guess who/what it is?

Two loud raucous Yellow-rumped Caciques will be raising a family – in easy view from the bridge!

They have their own watcher or three:

Yes, we should take a moment to appreciate our wetlands, even little postage-stamped sized ponds can provide easy refuge to many species.

Recently another symbol of hope stepped into the scene while I admired the species from the bridge.  Arturo, a student of ambiente at the nearby university sidled up to me and asked, “Is it bad to feed rice to the birds?

His question led to a rewarding conversation, and he told me that he’d seen me from the family’s upstairs window, which overlooked the park.  Then he described a bird that visits, which we concluded was that stunning yellow and black cacique pictured above.   I think that they plan to put a banana feeder outside their window – a great upgrade from giving rice to the finches and gallinules!   They might even ‘draw’ the nearby Whooping Motmot that lives in the neighborhood, but is not often seen.  This image from Poza Honda inspired him:

What would we do without a connection with nature?  We’d probably destroy the entire planet!  Emotions can be passed along a current of invisible energy that flows from person to person through subtle and sometimes obvious ways.

A greeting like this will always enhance the quality of one’s day.

In honor of World Wetlands Day – and in honor of PortoParque’s compassion for the wildlife that shares this park, I share some photos from my many visits to the park – a salvation for this child of nature.

What stunning eyes you have, Neotropic Cormorant!

Previous lumped under ‘Tropical Gnatcatcher,’ this adorable species now claims its own name, “White-browed Gnatcatcher.”

(The male White-browed Gnatcatcher has a darker crown.) They love th fruits of the ‘Frutilla’ tree.

There’s that yellow bird again!

The Eastern Kingbirds are back – and this one was swooping with the look-alike Blue and White Swallows!

To the joy of many, we watched the wetland areas recover from last year’s makeover, and there is abundant habitat for many species.   The petite Yellow Warbler, a new species for the park, appears each day around 5 in the afternoon and flits between the grass, lower limbs and the cattails.  How did this one lone bird find the park?  Did it get lost from its group?  Are others nearby, just not an extrovert like this one which stays in perpetual motion?

Six weeks after it first appeared, it’s yellow colors are emerging, and the streaks in its breast are more easily seen. Keb’s ‘City Boy’ continues to resonate while my base remains here in the city and close to the museum.  Parque las Vegas provides an easy access to nature and almost total removal from the caustic sounds of the city.  Without the park and its wetlands, this would be a more challenging chapter of my life.

I’ll leave you with a peek along the river, where one lone Sora appeared in January.  With so much cover, it’s hard to locate that VIP visitor from the northern hemisphere.

Across from this shady setting is a little grassy island where the Masked Water Tyrants have raised the newest generation

Oh, but beware of the predators that swim strong currents to reach the occupants of that nest.

Beware! Beware!

Pacific Parrotlets add sweet music and lovely colors – they are happy to have seeds at ground level – and near easy cover – what a photo op for anyone with a camera!

The trees are reclaiming their natural shape – and the birds are loving the new nesting options! Thank you PortoParques!

Groove-billed Anis – another easy photo op.

Pale-legged (Pacific) Hornero – always prowling for worms and insects.

Rains and high water destroyed their nest, but the Masked Water Tyrants relocated to a thick area of protection near the water.

One lone ‘Frijol de Palo’ provides food for many species. Yay – another easy photo op!

The Golden Grosbeak also loves those frijoles!

Wetlands add variety to our landscape – and at times we find poses that make us smile!

Sending you all my love – of course there is a lot to share – hopefully more soon!  I’d best get over to the park and show my appreciation for World Wetlands Day!