The End of an Era

After over 6 years of intensive research and community development work in and around the Yachana Reserve, GVI Amazon is coming to a close. We have finished our final research project (look forward to our Road Effects paper, coming soon!) and are handing over the project to our partner, The Yachana Foundation. They will continue to maintain and monitor the reserve, using it as an hands-on science education center for students -- we're very excited to see what fabulous things this next generation of scientists find! For more detail on GVI Amazon's closure, and our accomplishments over the years, please read on...
GVI Amazon Closure Statement

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Birdman of Amazon (atraz)

On an eerie morning as billowing mist rolled up from the River Napo a crack team of three eager volunteers, headed up by GVI’s birdman, Simon (the antpitta) Mitchell, set off along the ridge trail armed with just a pair of binos, a camera and 1.5 litres of water each and the standard map, compass and whistle,Today is going to be a good day,” said Simon as we trudged towards the road. On reaching the road we were met with the magnificent sight of a Greater Yellow-headed Vulture (Cathartes melambrotus) warming up his wings at the top of an emergent tree in the early morning sun. The excitement built as flocks of parrots swept overhead and the sound of toucans was heard in the distance.

Creeping down the road we seemed to be surrounded on all sides by birds so we hardly knew where to point our binos. A humming bird flashed fleetingly in front of us doing an elaborate display. It later turned out to be a new species for the reserve, the White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga mellivora). This new find was shortly followed by the sight of Purple-throated Fruitcrows (Querula purpurata) perched high in the trees. Bright black with a shock of deep burgundy feathers on their throats that caught the sun perfectly, these birds almost appeared to have suffered some sort of horrific injury.

Further down the road we ended up flat on our backs with pebbles sticking into skulls in our efforts to spot a particularly elusive bird. And then came the tanagers, small and extremely variable in their markings and colourings. We spotted six species in a single tree, something almost unheard of on the reserve. Four and a half hours after we left camp we returned, extremely hungry and with aching necks but satisfied after seeing over twenty different species of bird. I also came back with a new enthusiasm for birding and a certain sort of respect for those with the patience, the eyes and the strong neck muscles required to be a great twitcher.

Annastasia Porteous, GVI Amazon volunteer, April-May 2010