Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Asa Wright Nature Center (continued)

.The park like surroundings of the center are planted with flowers, bushes and trees that attract birds of all kinds. Some are indiginous, others brought here years ago to adorn the estate's gardens. Bamboo for example was originally planted to stabilize roads and hillsides but now has become an invasive species and found all over the islands. Miles of trails intersect in every direction, some easy and broad, others steep and rugged.

We managed to cover almost all of them. There are several intersections with a lovely stream. One section, with a waterfall, has been dammed up and rimmed with a stone wall to make a swimming hole. There's even a changing room!

It is so hard to chose pictures to publish here. We took over a hundred ourselves and our friends hundreds more. We all share our photos, passing around discs to copy. The flowers shown are an orchid, a protea, heliconia and in the last a powder puff plant with a hungry hummingbird.

We started the morning at 6 AM out on the veranda watching the birds, then a short pre breakfast hike (that's Honoree playing Jane on the vine!), and another after breakfast - both with guides. We were luckily included in a trip to see the oil birds in the afternoon - this only happens once a week. There are very few colonies of these birds and this is one of the most accessable. The other locations are in Venezuela. They nest in caves or gorges and are nocturnal. The hike into the steeply sided gorges was beautiful. These birds were boiled down to produce oil many years ago and had dwindled in numbers. They are now protected and are making a good recovery.
After a late afternoon swim to cool off we had tea on the veranda. At 6 PM rum punches are served, a tradition Asa Wright herself started, followed by a wonderful dinner. After that we took another walk with our guide to see night birds. What a fantastic day!
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