Tuesday's dawn came fast, but the mist rising off the river and out of the humid woods held the sunlight at bay for several hours--a respite from the tropical heat that was not althogether unwelcome. Cutting through the mist were the calls of birds from every direction.
The mist covered everything, including camera lenses, making the upper deck of our boat look mistier than it really was.
Beautiful tropical splendor everywhere I turned.
As the mist cleared, we embarked on the skiffs and headed to shore for a morning birding outing. The non-birders among our group stayed behind on El Delfin sleeping and enjoying a full breakfast. We eschewed the desayuno for the chance to find some island endemic birds.
The photographers among us had plenty to shoot. This is Chris Knights, a farmer from Norfolk in England, who is also a world-class bird photographer.
There was a Peruvian couple living on the island we landed on. The woman was washing clothes at the river's edge while the man repaired his fishing nets, strung between two pieces of driftwood nearby.
Vultures coasted past, looking for a dead fish, a bit of trash, or anything else to eat. Everywhere you look in the tropics there are vultures--soaring, sitting, hanging their wings out in the sun. They serve an important role here, eating dead flesh before it can become a vector for disease. If I'd kicked the bucket here on this island, there would have been vultures all over me before the shine left my eyes.
We heard a lot of small birds calling and singing. We did not get great looks, but we did see a handful of the island endemics, including white-bellied, red-and-white, and rusty-backed spinetail. This last one is also known as Parker's spinetail, for the late and legendary tropical ornithologist, Ted Parker. Spinetails put the skulk in skulker--I did not get any photos.
This island had a broad sandy beach, perfect for scanning for loafing nightjars, shorebirds, and swallows.
Usiel, a guide from El Delfin, came along. When he spotted a bird, he shot his machete into the sand so he could put two hands on his binocs.
We reboarded the skiffs and ventured to another river island, this one much larger. Upon landing we walked through some planted sandy fields of beans to a nearby marsh which was home to a white-headed marsh-tyrant--a very cool-looking bird.
As we climbed up a short rise we came to a large field of rice growing in a low, marshy area. Flocks of parakeets circled over the rice, steeling for a few seconds, then taking flight again, all the while screeching loudly. I was mesmerized by the swirling flocks. One second they'd be invisible--green birds against green grass and jungle. Then they would turn and their red and yellow colors would flash brightly.
And then it was time to head back to El Delfin for our own breakfast and a bit of downtime.
While we motored back to El Delfin,we passed several large river ferries, carrying passengers and goods. The stern was loaded with many, many bananas. The upper deck was strung with hammocks for folks who want a nap during the journey.
I have a lot more to tell you but need to stop now. It's time to meet the Sandman. Mas mañana le prometo.