So it’s just been a short bit that I’ve been here at Tranquilo Bay Eco-Adventure Lodge where I’m into my second week as the third resident naturalist guide. My first week was a rainy one, but the forest is lush and bubbling with both local and migratory birds. While we’re heading to the end of migration at this point (I managed to miss a good deal of it while thoroughly enjoying myself spending time with family and friends), I still ended up getting in some good ones both before and after my trip. I think the most plentiful were the bay-breasted warblers, which filled our melastoma bushes, eating their berries with abandon. The melastoma is a wildly important food source for the birds on their lengthy migration. This bush in particular is fantastic because it fruits multiple times throughout the season, providing enough food to satisfy both the early, mid and late migrants.
We’ve also had plenty of Prothonotary Warblers, Summer Tanagers, Northern Waterthrushes, some Red-breasted Grosbeak and a few Catbirds. The prothonotaries seem a dime a dozen lately and we’ll be enjoying them for the duration of the northern winter as well as the waterthrushes and summer tanagers (one of which I can hear chuckling from the forest right now as I write on the wrap-around deck of the main lodge!).
In addition to enjoying the throngs of migrants, I’ve enjoyed settling comfortably into my new home, getting to know the employees who are the local indigenous N’gobe Bugle from nearby Isla Popa. Everyone is so kind, they all have great sense of humors and laugh a lot. They’re also patient with my bad grammar and slow Spanish and they’re teaching me words in their indigenous language (they’re all bilingual!) and it’s fun to learn from Jesenia and Ofelina at the bar and then go speak to Luis, Omeira, Yolanda or Faustina in the kitchen (or vice versa) in their own language and see their surprise! I’m also helping them with English and plan to work further on that with them in the future.
We’ve had a birding group and now a big family and I’ve gone along on a few of the excursions thusfar, from the chocolate farm to the nearby Zapatillas islands and out and about snorkeling in various locations. The family was here for Thanksgiving and we all gathered in the dining room to enjoy a fantastic feast cooked up by jefa Renee along with decadent pies by her daughter Boty. It certainly doesn’t feel like the holidays, but it sure did taste like ’em!
As we enjoy a quick couple of guest-free days before the high season kicks into high gear, we took advantage of the beautiful day yesterday and Ramon y yo, along with Scott, Patrick, Boty and Tres joined some neighbor friends for an day-long caving excursion. The cave is replete with stalactites, stalagmites, shrimp, spiders, whip scorpions, and oh the bats! Hanging in every nook and cranny above, you can hear their sonar squeaks and feel the wind off their wingbeats as they narrowly miss your face. While most of the hike through the winding tunnel is through ankle or knee deep water, there are occasions where you have to full-out swim, dog-paddling your way along with your headlamp shining through the deepest depths of darkness. We had a ball!
Tomorrow we get our next birding group..the high season is on the horizon!