Friday, March 4
It had been raining heavily all night, so our early-morning wake-up knock was delayed until 6 am. We had breakfast at 6:30 am, after which our first trip of the day started at the “Choza” (a little hut by the butterfly house) and followed the Lagarto trail to Lagartococha. The trip was led by Tino and our local guide, whose name was Pablo. Along the trail we stopped to look at various plants, insects, and birds, and Pablo gave little talks in Spanish (translated by Tino) about various plants and their aboriginal uses.
Once we reached Lagartococha we were loaded into a canoe and were paddled around the channels to observe plant and bird life. It was very peaceful and luckily not raining and not too hot. From the canoe we saw a Cream-colored Woodpecker, which was interesting as “cream” is a very unusual colour for a woodpecker. But it really was a cream colour. And then on the trail through the forest we flushed a large brown bird, which turned out to be a Crested Owl. Pablo tracked it down in the place where it had landed, and we all had good views of it sitting on a branch.
Back at the lodge there was a snack awaiting us, and then we had free time until lunch, which was at 1 pm. The food at all meals is varied and abundant, so we don’t expect to lose any weight while we are here. After lunch we had more free time until our next excursion at 4 pm. We spent some of that time writing journal entries and reviewing photos on the computer, and then decided to go up to have a look at the butterfly house. But we never did go into it, as we saw a troop of Squirrel Monkeys leaping through the forest canopy. We watched them for quite a while as they made their way closer and closer to us. Some of them were moms carrying babies on their backs so it was quite entertaining watching them leap from tree to tree.
By now it was getting close to our meeting time, so we went back to our cabin to collect rain ponchos and don rubber boots. The afternoon excursion started with a canoe ride along the shore of the lake to the entrance of Anaconda Creek. Once again we saw several species of birds and insects but no snakes. Our trip up the creek took about 45 minutes, after which we reached a dock. From here we followed the Pantano trail back to the lodge. Luckily we had our rain capes, because the heavens opened and the rain poured down. Despite the rain, Pablo did show us more plants and their uses, and we also saw a couple of nests of leaf-cutter ants at work, which was interesting.
Back at the Choza we had our boots washed off and headed back to await the dinner call. It wasn’t much of a wait, especially as we met up with Tino to go over the day’s bird list. Dinner was again excellent. Our late evening excursion was to be a forest walk to observe the night life. Meeting at 8:30 pm with boots on, poncho at the ready, and flashlights with working batteries, we headed into the forest. We went very slowly because we were continually stopping to observe wildlife such as frogs, toads, crickets, cicadas, and spiders. We also saw a whip-scorpion, a walking-stick insect, and a tarantula. The walk took about an hour and despite not finding any snakes (perhaps fortunately) it was very interesting. Back at our cabin we put the cameras and binoculars into the dry-box and went to bed.