Sunday, March 19, 2017

Was this the Super Bowl of birding?

A day of many moving parts.  It began with a 3:30 am wake-up, a 4:00 am breakfast and 4:30 am departure for the small town of Yeviza. Valuable time lost when the Canopy Camp gate was locked and Domi had to run back for the key.

Arrival in the maritime town of Yeviza still in the dark, passport verifications, a bathroom stop in a stall without electricity, waiting a bit longer just because the port manager said so, and then loading up into two dugout canoes to head down a wider, larger part of the Chucunaque River.  In darkness only a skillful boatman could maneuver his boat down this river.  A right turn into Turquoise River to complete the 45 minute ride at the village of El Real.  At the disembarking dock we loaded into trucks for our final destination to Rancho Frio in Darién National Park.

The pleasure of watching dawn come while we were on this river is indescribable.

Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis) dotted their roosting trees like Christmas lights.  The sound of the boat's motor racing by seemed to encourage them to lift off and fly away over and along the river.

This is where I saw Cocoi Heron well for the first time.

Still dusky, but daylight fast arriving, the boatman called out a perched bird to Domi who stood up excitedly and asked the boatman to turn around. Crested Eagle (Morphnus guianensis)!  "Oh, this is a good sign," Domi said.

Above:  Irene's and my ride down the bumpy road from El Real.  The little truck had essentially zero suspension.  I was happy we did not have a flat.

Domi with our local guides.  They are trained and hired by Canopy Camp tours to help with birding groups.  They make money and thereby gain some financial benefit from having National Parque Darién so near their village.

Small, sinewy and strong, this fellow carried our cooler loaded with drinks and ice up the 2.5 mile trail on his shoulders.  

We went up the trail in two separate groups - the first group raced the 2.5 miles to the park buildings and destination trail.  Each group was limited to 20 minutes.  The idea was that the second group would be arriving just as the first group finished their viewing.  It was a good strategy. 

Welcome to our destination.

This was pre-game.  Congruent with a day of many moving parts:  To be continued ...

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