The First Tower

Saturday, March 5

Up early again with the wake-up knock, we headed along for breakfast before going on our morning excursion. This time we were going to the Kapok Tower. For this we had to go across the lake and up Orquidea Creek to reach a dock, followed by a short walk to reach the tower. The Kapok Tower is a wooden framework, built around a huge kapok tree. By the time you climbed all the steps to the top, you were nearly at the top of the tree and could look down to the forest canopy.

Squirrel monkey

Kapok Tower

We spent about two hours at the top, observing the birds. Most Amazonian birds which live up in the canopy spend their whole lives there, so the only practical way to see them is to go up and join them in the canopy. We saw toucans and aracaris (which are a small kind of toucan), and Pablo spotted a troop of capuchin monkeys bounding through the trees below. There was also a continual stream of small birds; the Opal-crowned Tanager was the most common but there were many other kinds, including a Scarlet Tanager (a North American bird which only rarely shows up at Sacha in the winter). It was amazing to be looking down to the tops of the surrounding trees, and by the time we left we had compiled a list of two dozen bird species.

Many-banded Aracari

White-throated Toucan

By the time we had to leave, neither of us really wanted to, but there was the schedule to be adhered to. We retraced our steps back to the lodge for our snack, which this time was bread, ham, cheese and tomato. It wasn’t long until lunch. Today besides the usual meat dishes there was breaded tilapia, and also carrot soufflé which had an interesting taste. Rather than going anywhere after lunch, we went back to the cabin to catch up on journal writing and relaxing.

Spangled Cotinga

Scarlet Tanager

Our afternoon journey started at 4 pm. We started out in the canoe and headed across the lake to where we had come in on the first day. From there we walked along the boardwalk observing bird life and plants. After some time we turned to the east, along the Higueron trail. This trail was quite muddy and also slightly overgrown in parts, especially in the flooded igapo forest. However soon it climbed a bit into the terra firme forest, which was drier underfoot. This was made up of primary (undisturbed) forest including a large cluster of heliconia plants, many of which were in bloom. Eventually we circled back to the boardwalk and returned to the canoe.

Purple-throated Fruitcrow

Lobster-claw heliconia

The ride back was calm and peaceful. We did see a Striated Heron, which was good. We arrived back at the lodge just at dusk and went to our cabin to put away cameras and binoculars. Prior to dinner we went down to the bar and had a Coke each. Tino joined us to go over the day’s birds and then the dinner horn was sounded. Once again dinner was excellent.

Ladder-tailed Nightjar

Night moth

Our evening excursion was a boat ride on the lake, using flashlights to see what we could find. First stop was to look at caimans under the dock. There was one small one close to the edge, so we got a good view of him, and a bigger one farther back which we could only see from the reflection of his eyes. Tino also found us a nightjar, sitting quietly at the edge of the dock, and we got a good look at that too. For the most part the boat trip was calm and peaceful. The sky was mostly clear, so we could see a lot of stars. We were also lucky to spot two orange eyes shining from the top of a tree, which turned out to be a Common Potoo. Back at the cabin we got things ready for our trip to the parrot licks and Yasuní National Park, then went to bed.

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