Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Journey to Ecuador: Day 8

6:30 a.m.:

 Raining again. Ugh. A few of us gather under the portico shivering in the cold. Our cameras are on tripods, power off, and silent. Photo ops are few, if you don’t count the birds we’ve already shot dozens of times. Some thankful soul went in the dining room and found a pot of coffee  for which we were all grateful. And so we stood around in our coats, watching our breath,  waiting for some decent light, and something new to appear.

There was one particular shot I wanted. A Swordbilled hummer feeding on a flower. Up until now, most photos of hummingbirds had been with them perched on a stick or at the man-made feeder. But the Swordbill, as the name implies, has a particularly long bill, the only hummingbird with a bill longer than its body. The tongue is even longer than the bill. The bird itself is about 51/2 inches long making it one of the largest hummers we will see. His bill is particularly adapt, as you might expect, at getting nectar from long and deep blossoms that the other hummers are physically unable to reach.

There was one such flower, red and yellow, visible from our chilly position, where others had observed the Swordbill doing his magic. One or two lucky souls already had the shot but my memory card was barren of Swordbills on flowers. The bird didn't feed there often,once or twice a day, being the norm. Tom sat on the spot for hours and didn’t get the shot. At last the rain gods smiled upon me as I patiently sat there with my lens pre-focused on the flower when the bird did his thing. Made my day.

Pancakes for breakfast, a first. Cereal and milk, reminded me of home. At 11:30 it was time to pack ‘em up and move em out. The scenic drive to our next lodge was beautiful. The road followed a raging rapids cutting between deeply divided mountains. At one point Carlos pulled over to let us get a good look at three distinctly different waterfalls cascading hundreds of feet down the mountainside.
After a brief stop at an internet café where Tom took care of some business, we arrived at our last and final birding lodge. Our cabin here is very nice, lots more room than the last. We even have a tiny front porch with our own hummingbird feeder out back, although we have yet to see a bird use it. Colin got the first bird of the day, a dazzling Inca Jay, very similar to the green jays of south Texas and Mexico. The game plan here, according to Tom, is do the hummers in the afternoon, and then devote the morning hours to the larger birds who frequent the lights where moths come in during the night.

Rather than the usual sticks and jumble of vegetation, this lodge has some actual flower stems where the birds sometimes perch, making for a much more pleasing photo. While some of the group seems content to capture as many species as possible and not worry about the setting, I prefer the more photogenic backgrounds, clean and colorful if possible. A little wing action doesn’t hurt either. If nothing else, there is a great view from the parking lot.

Much warmer here, back to tee shirts. Two rooms to a bungalow. Alejandra is our host and gives us a little welcome to the lodge speech. He tells us there is Wi-Fi here but it seldom works. How about never works?

The rain ended at noon. Weather is perfect. No wind! Not even 1 mph. Tomorrow looks promising.


  1. That Colin fellow you traveled with seems like a really nice guy.

  2. Rain, rain and more rain and then cold as well? Good I didn't go. I would have been a wimpering whiney baby. I hate being wet and cold, especially without whiskey.

  3. The Grasshopper tells it like it is.


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