Friday, June 6, 2008
Sunrise at Juma
Bill and I got up at about 5 AM to watch the sunrise. Supposedly someone was going to be at the reception desk all night, and they were going to give us a canoe (a real canoe this time) to take out on the water, but nobody was anywhere to be found. So we watched the sunrise from the dock instead, and that was fine. It was an understated sunrise; just a little red on the horizon that soon disappeared, a gradual lightening, and then it was morning. The wildlife at sunrise was incredible, though. We heard the sound of howler monkeys off in the distance before the sunrise even started, a breathy growling rumble, like a cross between a giant gargling mouthwash and high winds in treetops; that sound came and went for the next hour. All sorts of fantastic bird calls echoed around us; the most remarkable one sounded sort of like a Dr. Seuss machine starting up, beginning with clicks and thumps and rooster-like squawks that built rhythmically into a steady chugging gurgle like a motor running underwater. The many sounds of frogs gradually gave way to the bird calls as the sky lightened. At one point we heard a remarkable call very loudly and clearly from the far shore, and I managed to locate its source: what looked like a toucan, perched at the very top of a very tall dead tree. It was so far away that the time lag between seeing its bill open and hearing the sound was perhaps a half second, but it repeated the call enough times to be quite sure that it was the source. The fish were rising on the lake in staggering profusion; it looked like a light rain was falling! I spotted a night heron quite clearly, and several of what I think are perhaps orioles (bright yellow and black, perhaps the size of a large crow), and little brown and white birds that like to hop upwards along posts or tree trunks. A parrot was at the top of a tree nearby, but it may have been Laurie, the resident parrot that visited at lunch yesterday. A kingfisher just landed on a branch outside my window, and then swooped off with a crackling squawk to drive away another male that had come too close. The birdwatching is just stunning here; it's a shame I'm so bad at it! I've seen a great many birds that I can't identify at all. Bill and Vida apparently have a bird book they brought; I think I will study that today and see if I can't come up to speed on things a bit more. Breakfast is at seven, twenty minutes from now; I think I will walk over slowly and do a bit more birdwatching!