Birding high atop the canopy at Sacha Lodge
I was a little out of breath after climbing the metal stairs to the top of the 94-foot high tower. It was then when our guide Marcelo turned to us and asked, “You don’t have vertigo, do you?”
I laughed. “Now you ask us that?”
It was a beautiful morning in the northern-most part of the Amazon basin in Ecuador. We were at the famed Sacha Lodge Canopy Walkway that spans across 940 feet. Yes, it’s not for the skiddish, but it is sturdy and offers spectacular views of many birds we wouldn’t be able to see from the ground. (See my other post on my other blog about our arrival to Sacha Lodge.)
I love canopy towers and not for the reason you think. Sure there are birds to see up there, but I actually enjoy taking stairs high up in the sky on vacation because I feel like I’m getting the workout I wouldn’t otherwise get. I also try to count in Spanish the number of steps as I go up, but once I hit “Dias” I have to revert back to English.
Morning workout: Check!
Basic counting to ten in Spanish: Check!
(ps: Need to pull out the Rosetta Stone CDs I bought last month.)
Cardiovascular workout and my awesome grasp of the Spanish language aside, we did see some pretty marvelous birds atop the canopy. It’s actually a great way to bird and my second-favorite. (My very favorite way is to bird while canoeing.) When you climb towers you get to spend a couple of hours or more pretty much in one spot. Just set up the scope, pull out your binoculars and wait. The birds just come in and sometimes so fast you don’t know what to look at first. I could be focused on a great tanager and miss the toucan. That’s why it’s always best to have other birders around to holler out when a new birds flies in.
We had Marcelo Andy, our guide for our four days at Sacha Lodge, and his “assistant,” Wilmer. They were expert spotters and combined with Steve and I we had four sets of eyes fixed on seeing what would come our way. When we had left for the morning is was pleasant. Not exactly cool, but I didn’t feel the heat of the jungle like I thought I would. These are good conditions for birding. It was quiet except for the sounds of the Oropendola, which reminded me of water dripping in a sink in an empty room that echoes. We’d hear or see big branches moving in the distance and I’d always hope for a good view of a toucan, but mostly it was monkeys hightailing it across the canopy as though it were a highway. And where there are monkeys you can most definitely see the Double-toothed Kite, which is chasing the insects the monkeys stir up while jumping branch to branch. Birds are really clever.
On our way back to the Sacha Lodge I started to feel the heat, even under the shade of the lush tropical leaves. We’re always birding, of course. It doesn’t matter that your feet are tired or that it’s hot or that you need to get back to the lodge to use the bathroom. All of that doesn’t matter when you happen upon a pair of Crested Owls. There they were, out in the open.
I have an immense attraction to owls, for some reason. I always feel it a treat to see them in daytime, even those that are diurnal. But I think it’s mostly their big wide eyes that appeal to me. They’re looking at me while I’m looking at them. Oh, and also the fact that they typically remain still and if the lighting and surroundings are just right I just may get a decent photograph (neither of which were the case as you can see below).
A productive day, indeed! As we made our way back to the lodge, aside from realizing how bad I smelled (never have I smelled this bad), I couldn’t wait to see what the next day would bring. There are over six hundred species of birds that have been identified on the 5000 acre (2000 hectare) property under the care of Sacha Lodge since it has been open to the public in 1992.
Here are some shots of some of the many birds we saw. Click on any one of them and it will enlarge it for better viewing.
For more information on Sacha Lodge, visit their website. They are listed in the book, 1000 Places to See Before You Die.
Other posts about this trip
- Birds of Ecuador: The showstoppers!
- NO ONE misses the Birds of Paz de las Aves in Ecuador. Well, except me.
- BIrding Antisana feels a lot like Scotland. Yes, really.
- Tips for birders joining an organized tour
- Pressures of Ecuador
- See, taste and experience Otavalo Market (from my other blog, Baby Aspirin Years)
- Picturing Quito (from my other blog, Baby Aspirin Years)
- Angry Hummingbirds
- Come hell or high water: In search of the Torrent Duck
- We’re at bird camp
- It’s elementary my dear Hoatzin
- I held a hummingbird in my hand today
- The tree tomato welcomed me to Ecuador (from my other blog, Baby Aspirin Years)
- The Amazon and Sacha Lodge: Getting there is half the fun (from my other blog, Baby Aspirin Years)