Michele here (in the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador). Mike is next to me and we are catching up on the blogs while we wait for the scuba dive shop to open. It is currently closed for the afternoon siesta – something that is taken very seriously in Ecaudor.
On May 19th, we got up at 5:30am for more birdwatching. The photo below shows what our typical bird watching mornings are like.
When we leave the lodge the sun is just about to rise, the river is calm and the birds are just waking up.
Like the previous morning, we saw so many different types of birds and we also saw a sloth moving in its very slow motion style. After we got back we checked off the birds we had not seen before on our bird and animal checklist.
After breakfast we set out to see the famous giant lilly pads that are in a few of the lakes in the Amazon Basin and observe pink and grey dolphins(two different kinds, not one with two different colors) in the Amazon River. The lilly pads were definitely easier to photograph than the pink dolphins that quickly jumped out of the water. To give you some perspective on how big the giant lilly pads are, here is a picture of our guide pointing to them. If you can´t tell, some of them are more than one yard (meter) in diameter.
The lilly pad lake was very hot and steamy. I always felt much hotter when I looked at Moises, our guide, who often wore a sweatshirt while the rest of us were dripping with sweat wearing a t-shirt. After seeing the giant lilly pads, we went to the Amazon River in search of pink dolphins.
We didn´t have to do much to see the pink dolphins. We just turned off the motor and soon they started jumping up in pairs around us. We saw both grey and pink dolphins. The problem with photographing them is that they jump out of the water at random places that you simply can´t predict (and unless you have your camera pointed at that random spot in the huge Amazon River, you can´t get a picture of them). But trust me – we did see pink dolphins swimming in the Amazon and they were spectacular. On our way back from this post breakfast outting we also spotted several large green tree iguanas sunning themselves on top of small banana trees.
Our post lunch outting was designed to spot the difficult-to-see and difficult-to-photograph hoatzin (pronounced Watson) bird. This bird is found in only a few places in the world and it has a strange pre-historic look. We took the motor boat through some of the most incredible (beautiful and strange) swamp area. The palm trees growing out of the plant covered water looked like they were from the dinosaur era. Looking at the photo of the swamp area (shown below) where the hoatzin bird lives, its hard to believe that this is all water. There is no dry land anywhere near where this photo was taken.
We paddled for several hours through swampy areas like this and – like the pink dolphins – Steve, Mike, and I did see hoatzin birds but none of us got a good photo. They don´t let you get very close before they fly away. I did find this photo of the bird on the internet so if you click below, you´ll be able to see this strange creature.
On the way back to the Muyuna Jungle Lodge that evening, we saw the most incredible sunset and commented on what a great day it had been. Here is a photo of the Amazon sunset:
After dinner, I was too tired to go out that night to look for more tarantula species and Steve was set on drinking a beer and reading his book. This meant it was just Mike, Moises and Raul (the boatman).
(Mike fills in)
When Moisis told us the plan for the evening was to go caiman hunting again, i asked him about searching for the Rosy-Haired Tarantula. He told me we could go looking for it but that would require going slightly off the Yanacau river and into the jungle a bit. That sounded just right to me! Deep in the Amazon jungle on a boat at night carefully navigating through the dangling tree tentacles! What real-life experience could be more spooky!?
Well, the trip lived up to my expectations. We started by boating 15 minutes up river to reacquaint ourselves with the pink-toed tarantula. Just nearby was the spot where we left the main ´canal´(as Moises often called it) to hunt for the Rosy-haired tarantula. It really wasn´t so deep into the jungle but there were definitely tentacles hanging all around and i had to keep alert to avoid getting knocked off the boat by a tentacle or a low-hanging limb.
It didn´t take long for Moises to spot our prey on this giant hundred-armed octopus of a tree and i filmed it for a few seconds. Just a couple of feet from the tarantula and on the same tree Moises spotted another spider. I disremember the name of this one but Moises said it was very dangerous and was also capable of jumping. ok, sounds like a find time to head back to the lodge. So, after a few minutes of winding our way back out through the tentacles, we were back in the main canal and headed towards the lodge.
When i got back, i woke Michele up to tell her how exciting the excursion was. It wasn´t so much the tarantula(s), but the environment we were in when we found the Rosy-haired tarantula that was so interesting. I think Michele felt fine about missing the excursion however because she was really tired…