So after my first afternoon in the Amazon I was already and raring to go for my next outing and to see the rainforest proper. It was arranged that I would be heading for the canopy walkway the next morning and so I packed my camera bag ready to go. The main issue being that I didn’t know what I might need, so I took everything … all 16 kg of it! So as you can imagine it was pretty heavy, and with daytime temperatures in the 30s and humidity levels usually well over 95% it was going to be a hard day.
I woke up the next morning, heaved the bag onto my back and headed off into the forest with our English speaking guide, Oscar. We stopped every now and then to see things of interest and then we stopped close by to a particular tree and Oscar set up the scope. He spent a bit of time focusing the scope onto a small hole about 60-70 feet up a huge tree. There in the hole were three Night Monkeys, these small primates always return to the same hole to rest during the day so he knew exactly where they would be. After a pretty crappy photo (due to it being very early in the morning and way up a tree) we moved on to the canopy walkway. Wow, wow and wow! What and amazing experience to be above the forest at such a height, seeing the birds and the mammals and just the trees in all their glory.
There we saw bird species of which all were new to me, things ranging from tiny flycatchers to the Black Vulture soaring above us. We saw three species of monkey; Red Howler Monkey, Black-mantled Tamarin and Red Titi Monkey. So anyway, enough blabbering, here are the pictures from that morning and some from the afternoon.
After a long hard morning, but definitely one to remember, we had a lovely relaxing lunch and some noisy visitors in the form of Speckled Chacalacas right outside my room as you can see above. The afternoon activity was a photographic boat ride around the black lake, the primary focus was meant to be the prehistoric looking Hotazin. This ancient species of bird has remained unchanged for thousands of years and are extremely successful. However on this occasion all the wildlife seemed a little shy and refused to show themselves particularly well. This is when as a photographer you have to try and be a little more imaginative. The herons in the foliage I particularly like for their more artisitc approach of "Animals in their Environment".
The lake and the lodge both made good photographic subjects too. The lodge looked particularly beautiful at night with its warm lighting glowing among the dark forest. The tree frog species you can see, right at the end of the selection of images, came and found us. Whilst sat at the bar in the evening he appeared on the icecream freezer, seemingly enjoying the cold metal and escaping the constant heat even if only for a short while.
So my first full day in the Amazon was certainly educational, introducing me to a variety of main species you can encounter, it wasn't a particulaly good day for close views of mammals but the wealth of bird life was obvious to see. The only down side from a personal point of view was that I wasn't really provided with any great photographic opportunities but you have to take what you can get. The rainforest isn't a forgiving place and you have to work really hard to get good images. Perhaps if this was a pure photographic tour it would have been a very different matter. But full credit must go
Part 3 has a new favourite mammal and a splash more colour ... so keep reading!
So a few weeks ago I was presented with a superb opportunity, “Would you be interested in joining the Naturetrek Wildlife Festival in Ecuador at the world famous Sacha Lodge in the Amazon Basin? On one condition, that you act as a photographic leader and run some photographic workshops?” I was asked. As I am sure you can all imagine it was a tough choice, before I knew it (2 weeks later) I was on a plane flying from Heathrow to Quito. Quito is a historic, Spanish colonial city which is now the Capital of this relatively small nation. The city was really just a stepping stone towards the Amazon basin but I did a small amount of high altitude birding the day before my flight into, what was for me, the unknown.
So after a day to try and adjust to the altitude, Quito is in the Andes and higher than most European mountains, it was time to board an internal flight to the city of Coca. This city was a small community only 20 years ago but the discovery of oil has brought with it an industrial boom to the Amazonian region. This of course has greatly improved the wealth for the
Ecuadorian government but it seems the environmental problems could be severe. Anyway, back to the adventure and the treasures that lay in store.
We transferred down the Rio Napo from Coca, heading eastwards along the swollen river on a, high speed, motorised canoe. We were dodging submerged trees for the journey’s entirety but that just added to the excitement. After a couple of hours watching the river world go by, we arrived at the landing point for the lodge. Here we had to alight and start a kilometre long walk through the rainforest to a black lake, on which the lodge is situated. As we made our way along the path and the boardwalks we heard some crashing in the tree-tops. To our amazement, after only being in the forest for half an hour, we had our first two species of primate … a huge family group of Squirrel Monkeys and a slightly more secretive family of Capuchins. It was the Squirrel Monkeys that were the stars of the show, they whole group crossed the path we were on using the overhanging trees and at times were only a few metres away. They sat and posed nicely and what really amazed me, was that they looked straight through us. We weren’t even worth paying attention to, as a large group of people we were just a series of obstacles that could be easily avoided by staying up in the trees.
Anyway enough of my rambling enjoy the photos!!!!