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Day 12 – 7-31-2016 (Sunday)

A restful night at the guest house and a very welcome hot shower!  We then met for breakfast at 7:30.  Jane arrived around 8:30 and we departed for a day at the equator monument and also a trip to the cloud forest to visit Tony and Barbara Nunnery and watch hummingbirds.  The equator monument, called Mitad del Mundo – middle of the earth.  We spent the morning getting pictures and browsing the various shops in this park area.  Around 11:30 we left to head to Tony and Barbara’s house.

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On the way to the cloud forest and the hummingbirds, we stopped to have lunch at a roadside restaurant.  This building was just that, a place to eat but nothing more.  It was sitting on the side of the road and on the other side of the building the mountain side dropped off almost straight down for several hundred feet.  The scenic view was spectacular as you looked across a deep valley that was filled with vegetation.  The lunch was truly Ecuadorian.  I had fried trout that was delicious, yucca, rice and lentils.  It was all good but a little heavy on the salt.  During our lunch a man came to our table to tell us about black bears that roam the area.  These bears are smaller than the ones we see in the States.  Their habitat is primarily in the area where we were.  They had set up about 100 cameras that were tripped by the bears and the pictorial record allows them to identify and count them.  They do not try to trap and tag the animals.  He shared a lot of interesting information and showed us pictures of the bears.

Receiving instruction about the black bears of Ecuador

Receiving instruction about the black bears of Ecuador

After lunch we drove on a few kilometers to the road that leads up the mountain to Tony and Barbara’s home.  The road is mud and gravel, one lane wide, and literally on the mountain side with a steep drop off that goes down hundreds of feet.  This drop off is right at the edge of the road and there is no guard rail.  Many places the road way was narrow enough that two cars could not pass one another.  Tony and Barbara’s house is several kilometers up the mountain on this road.  We finally came to a place where there was a small area to park the car off to the side of the road.  We parked there and walked a short distance through some tall grass along a narrow path that was completely hidden from the road.  The path led down the mountain side about 20 to 30 feet to a gate that opened to Tony and Barbara’s home.  They welcomed us warmly.

Waterfall down the mountain side beside the road to the hummingbirds

Waterfall down the mountain side beside the road to the hummingbirds

Tony is a professional birder or bird watcher.  He conducts tours all over the globe with groups of people seeking to see some exotic birds.  Tony is from the US and came to this area of Ecuador several years ago as this region known as the cloud forest is known for many different species of exotic birds as well as hummingbirds.  The cloud forest is so named because the mountain sides are covered with trees and bushes and with the prevailing winds that come from the west the weather comes over the mountains and hovers there keeping the area more cool, damp and cloudy.  This creates an optimal habitat for exotic birds.  He bought some land and build a house on the side of the mountain.  Then he and Barbara called this home, very isolated from any civilization.  In their back yard which had been cleared of trees to be used as pasture, they replanted many of the native trees and bushes to restore the land.  Many of these bushes flower at various times of the year and they noted an abundance of hummingbirds visiting these bushes.  At this point they put out some hummingbird feeders and this began a continual job for them.  Several feeders are placed around in the back yard and hanging from the back porch.  One of them has to be there every day just to keep the feeders filled with sugar water.  Tony was telling us that he goes through 100 pound bags of sugar rather frequently and based on the amount of nectar a hummingbird eats in a day he figures that he feeds about 1500 birds a day at the feeders.  When the bushes are not flowering at all, the traffic increases at the feeders where every feeder is full and other birds are waiting their turn.  He said during that time he estimates about 3000 birds feed at these feeders each day.

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We spent about 3 hours on the back porch talking with Tony and Barbara and enjoying all the birds feeding.  There was continual activity of birds flying around.  Many times they would fly right by your head on their way to a feeder.  It was a delightful afternoon learning about hummingbirds.

I marveled at God’s creativity as I looked at these hummingbirds.  They are diverse in color and size and are very interesting to watch.  Tony has identified 42 different species of hummingbirds in his back yard.  This location in Ecuador has the world’s highest concentration of different species of hummingbirds.  Tony said there are over 300 different species of hummers around the globe but no place has the concentration that is seen here.  The cloud forest supports the rich variety of species.

These birds are an engineering marvel.  They don’t just move their wings up and down like other birds when the fly.  Their wings rotate on the joint in a figure-of-eight motion.  This wing movement allows the bird to hover in one spot, move forward and backward and even fly upside down.  The wings move so fast you can’t see them.  The birds dart here and there moving from flower to feeder.

On a couple posts that Tony placed at the back edge of his yard was a board mounted on top of the posts.  He places bananas on this board and the tanagers are attracted to this fruit.  We saw three different kinds, all brilliantly colored.  Then a couple toucanettes came.   These birds are smaller version of a toucan, the birds with a very large beak.  These birds also go for the bananas.

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For three hours we watched endless activity of birds flying and feeding.  What a fascinating sight!  I wonder why God created these delicate and beautiful birds other than to show He exists and to bring joy and pleasure to us.  To God goes all the glory!

Thank You, Lord, for all this beauty!  You created all this by just thinking and speaking it into existence.  How can I not believe in You?  How can I not trust You in everything?  Lord, forgive me when I fail to trust You fully.  Forgive me for my lack of total commitment to You.  Lord, I love You and I want to love You like You taught Peter.  Thank You for allowing me to walk with You.  Thank You, Lord.  Amen.

By 6:30 we were back in Quito.  After a quick stop at the guest house we went out for a bite to eat.  Then back to the guest house.  After final packing we had everything read for the morning departure to the airport.  Our flight leaves at 7 am so we felt we needed to leave the guest house no later than 3:30 to allow for the hour’s drive to the airport and plenty of time to check in and go through security and customs.  Lights went out around 9 pm hoping for a few hours of sleep.  Before going to bed I finished the day with another glorious hot shower.

Thank You, Lord, for the great day viewing some of Your incredible creativity.  You continually show Yourself to us through all of creation.  I don’t understand how one cannot see Your fingerprints all over this world on which we live.  Though insisting they see and know, they are truly blind and purposefully ignorant of You.  Forgive them Lord and continue drawing them to You.  Thank You, Lord.  Amen.

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