I’ve been mostly guiding non-birding guests of the lodge this past week. It’s a mixed blessing.
On one hand it’s frustrating, since non-birders are not going to be interested in teasing out the tiny rufous things twitching in the mixed canopy flocks. I still haven’t seen a few of those things here yet, such as Rufous-tailed Xenops and Striped Treehunter. It also means I must keep walking past any mystery vocalizations, as recording, playing back, and hoping for a response isn’t most people’s idea of fun.
On the other hand, the non-birders we call “ecotourists” are usually very easy to entertain – there are millions of non-bird things in the forest for endless hours of fascination – stingless bee hives, old vines, giant strangler figs, fragrant Cacaui trees, proboscis bats, and Neotropical River Otters, for example.
All visitors to Cristalino get a chance to spend a couple morning hours on one of the two 50-meter canopy towers. And every day is different. This week’s excitement (for me) was this male Crested Becard, seldom seen here. This particular morning I was unfortunately with three young women who were extraordinarily disinterested in nature, ecology, and, in particular, birds. It would take something a little more flashy to get their attention.
After they left, I had the good fortune of guiding the president of Conservation International, Russ Mittermeier. He likes birds, but even more was fanatical about seeing monkeys. In three days we saw six and heard the seventh out of the seven species that occur here. Here a sampling:
Russ’s final analysis was that Cristalino is the best place in the Brazilian Amazon to see primates.
Photo at top: Even a gorgeous male Spangled Cotinga at the tower was not quite enough to get certain non-birders interested in looking through the scope.
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