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8/23/05 (Tuesday)

We are up and have eaten breakfast.  Here at the guest house the kitchen is totally stocked and we are free to do whatever we want for our meals.  We made some scrambled eggs and had some peach yogurt and some hot tea.  Breakfast was good.  In a couple hours we will head over to the hospital to meet up with Jane and then head to the cloud forest to see the hummers.  If you go on the Internet and look up Tony Nunnery, you will see multiple pages involved with his work.  You might find a picture of his home where we will be going.  We will be going to his home and sit on the back porch and watch the hummers at the feeders.  The last time we were here his wife, Barbara, asked me all about pregnancy and whether she would be at risk trying to conceive living so far out away from civilization.  They are very nice people and enjoy opening up their home to any visitor.

We travelled north and west of Quito about an hour and a half to the home of Tony Nunnery.  There we were able to identify 24 species of hummingbirds in their back yard.  Tony and his wife Barb were both there and Tony spent the afternoon sitting with us on the porch telling us all about each species of hummingbirds we saw.  They were all over the place.  He said his record for the most number of species in one day is 26.  He said he and his wife Barb have identified 28 different species of birds from their back porch.  This includes all birds.  They have identified 38 different species of hummers at their feeders and have identified 5 more species of hummers out in the forest that surrounds them.  This is the highest concentration of hummingbirds in the world.  We were enthralled with all the activity.  At any one time the bushes and trees along with the feeders were just alive with motion from all the birds.  We probably saw way over 100 hummers at any one time without a doubt.  They would come right up to you and buzz around at our feet as they were working the feeders off the porch.  Many times we would see the feeders full with others hovering and waiting.  They were eating so fast that the air would bubble up into the reservoir of the feeders.  Tony went out one time to fill them while we were there.  They have to fill them several times a day.  He has probably between 20 to 30 feeders in his back yard and they all were busy all the time.  At one time a hawk or some bird of prey came in close and the hummers gave a warning chirp and suddenly there were no hummers at all.  They were in the trees and bushes and you could see them but they remained totally still and motionless.  They stayed that way for several minutes until the danger was over and then out they came and were back to the busy activity all over the feeders and the flowers in the bushes.  It was truly a fascinating thing to watch.  We were there for about 3 hours and enjoyed every minute of it.  Phyl especially enjoyed watching all the hummers.  Makes her two hummers seem ho-hum.  In talking with Tony about the hummers we have at our feeder at home he got out a book that showed pictures of them.  What we have is a male and female.  Tony brought out this spotter telescope and would focus in on a feeder.  I could then put my camera up to the lens and take a really good close up picture of the hummers.  I got several pictures that way.  That was really neat.

Viewing a hummer through the spotter scope

Viewing a hummer through the spotter scope

The spotter scope allowed great close up viewing.

The spotter scope allowed great close up viewing.

 

 

Another beautiful hummingbird

Another beautiful hummingbird

 

 

Incredible color

Incredible color

Group lunch

Group lunch

Brilliant white throat

Brilliant white throat

The spotter scope brought the birds up close.

The spotter scope brought the birds up close.

Booted racquet tail

Booted racquet tail

Phyl and Jane watching the birds.  The spotter scope awaits my eye.

Phyl and Jane watching the birds. The spotter scope awaits my eye.

Phyl, Tony and Barbara

Phyl, Tony and Barbara

The trip to the Nunnery’s house was exciting in its own right.  You travel along this highway that winds through the Andes mountains.  Then you come to a narrow gravel road that goes up the mountain and winds and curves around steep dropoffs without any guard rail anywhere.  The road is only one lane wide.  If you meet a car someone has to back up to a wider spot to be able to pass.  Well, we ran into construction.  The cell phone company is laying fiber optic wire across the mountain and they are using this little narrow road to run the cable.  That meant we came upon some construction equipment, payloader, bobcat and dump truck plus a crew of workers.  They had a trench dug that took up about half of the width of the road.  A worker flagged us along as we went along this trench.  Jane had to come within three inches of the payloader bucket to pass it.  Her left tires were off the road at the edge of the dropoff.  There were moments when we weren’t sure if the car would stay on the road.  If the tires would have gone off the edge of the road, we would have gone over the side and dropped several hundred feet into the ravine.  It was a scary moment.  Jane kept saying, “Holy Cow!” over and over as we crept along following the flagman.  We finally got past the construction and made it to the Nunnery’s.  Coming back they had filled in the trench and we were able to get back down the mountain without any problem.
 

On the way back to Quito we stopped at the middle of the world and stood astride the red line that marks the equator.  Got a picture of Phyl and I standing on each side of the line, one on the northern hemisphere and the other on the southern hemisphere.  Ben, did you find the red line?  Grandma and I were there and we took a picture just for you!

 

Equator monument

Equator monument

 

 

On the red (orange) line

On the red (orange) line

We are back at the guest house and will soon be heading to bed. 

 
 

 

 

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