Figure1: Andean Pygmy-Owl, (Glaucidium jardinii)
By: Juan Carlos Narváez
One of the basic tools that each and every Mashpi guide would never be parted from is the humble telescope. With this we can find birds from a great distance and can show them in minute detail. This great pal always comes accompanied by the book of birds of Ecuador, and together they allow us to show this marvellous world of birds and nature to our guests.
We can also use telescopes to take photos with any kind of digital camera, from the most basic up to the most sophisticated smartphone, transforming the simplest camera phone into a lens to rival the most professional camera.
For example, one of our guides, Wilfrido Basantes, was walking from the Laguna River towards Tower Four of the Dragonfly when he was able to take a photo of an Andean Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium jardini), through a telescope. This bird that lives in cloud forests of the north of South America is an excellent hunter and Wilfrido found it in its favourite pose: lying in wait to creep up on, and devour, a sparrow or tanager.
Another example occurred while we were observing birds from the Life Centre: to our surprise, a squirrel cuckoo in a nearby tree was sitting, giving us the opportunity to appreciate its beauty while it was stretching out and preening its feathers and long tail. Shortly afterwards, a wily tayra came to steal a juicy banana from our feeder.
Figure 2: Left: a squirrel cuckoo (Piaya cayana). Right: A tayra (Eira barbara), enjoying a tasty banana.
Mashpi is a paradise for the senses and with our eyes and the help of a strong telescope we can continue to discover nature at every turn.