Birding Without Borders

Day 69: Damp Days

The rainy season lives up to its name.

March 10, 2015, Shiripuno Lodge, Ecuador — Everything I have is damp and heavy. It’s so humid that paper crumbles when you touch it and my T-shirt feels like a recently wrung-out sponge. Mold is growing on my backpack and on my pants. A steady drizzle began just after dawn today and lasted until mid-afternoon without letting up; they say this much rain is unusual for the time of year. The narrow Shiripuno River has risen eight feet(!) in the past couple of days, flooding much of the trail system here.

Our group nevertheless went in search of army ant swarms (which attract several unique species of antbirds) this morning. We sloshed around some muddy trails for a while with umbrellas, not seeing much, and returned to the lodge early for lunch and a siesta. Some brightly colored butterflies stuck close to the lodge—maybe they wanted an escape from the rain, too. 

Birding under umbrellas in the forest at Shiripuno Lodge, Ecuador. Photo: Noah Strycker

Finally, at about 3:00 p.m., the clouds dried out, and eight of us—Forrest, Jarol, Tim, Roger, Roy, Frank, Marilyn, and I—ventured back out to see what we could find in the remaining daylight. A few deep-forest birds were spotted skulking in the undergrowth, and we ended up about 2 kilometers from the station as darkness approached. It was decided to take a different trail back as a shortcut—always a risky idea! This ended up being flooded in the very last stretch, so, 50 meters from home, we turned around and retraced the entire loop, arriving in the dark and late for dinner. Better than the alternative, though: Yesterday, in the same situation, another group tried wading the flooded section and ended up swimming through neck-deep water with their cameras held above their heads.

Just before bedtime, Forrest identified a Nocturnal Curassow, a near-mythical, nearly impossible-to-see bird of pristine Amazonian rainforest, calling from the forest somewhere in the distance. It was too far away to consider chasing on foot (Jarol, the station manager, estimated the bird at about 3 kilometers away, past the flooded area), so will go down as a heard-only, but the curassow was a nice addition after a long, wet day.

New birds today: 10

Year list: 1553

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