I’ve come to the realization that I’m in trouble. In about 10 days we’ll climb in a plane, well, several planes actually, to fly back to France, our other home, and you can easily imagine, how my to-do list is growing at an alarming rate, while I’m also trying to finish the story about the waterfall gardens. During our más o menos five-hour excursion, I took almost 600 pictures. That’s not much, professionally speaking, nevertheless it takes a long time to go through them, pick out some potentially useful shots and edit them. All of this long-winded intro is simply in aid of explaining that you’ll have to hang on with bated breath while I spoon feed you small portions of our trip, whenever possible. And none of my usual mental side-trips either!
When we arrived at the Peace Lodge, which is the starting point of the ‘La Paz Waterfall Gardens’ tour, the parking lot was practically empty, no other tourists in sight! We had the luxury of starting our tour into the Gardens as if entering a private estate. We left our pre-paid discount tickets at the reception desk, received a hospital-type wristband plus a map each in exchange, followed by a few instructions, you know, no running with scissors, no playing with wildlife, sensible stuff like that, after which we were ready to go.
Barry was ready to go anyway, I had to go before going, as it usually is with us old ladies. The ladies’ room was gorgeous, well worth the trip already.
With this last warning, it was finally time to start our tour!
But before one ever gets to see any cloud forest or waterfalls, a zoo awaits, where local wildlife lives that has been in trouble through injury or has been confiscated from poachers. Coming from the lodge, a large aviary is the first place you encounter. It resembles this Australian Ferntree quite a bit, I think.
One enters a small foyer to the aviary through this chain mail curtain of heavy plastic. Should a bird manage to fly through a door left open, this curtain will discourage any escape artist, without hurting it.
There are several more aviaries within the aviary and the next one we entered is the main tourist attraction. It houses the toucans!
The chestnut-mandibled toucans are a little larger than our local keel-billed toucans. They’re more easily hand trained while the keel-billed toucans are notoriously shy. These toucans are so popular that even other birds look in through the fencing
The more detailed pictures show the naked orbital skin, a featherless area around the eye. One can also see the serrated edges of the upper mandible, with which it’s so much easier to rip chunks out of fruit and lizards.
I love the toucans’ big blue feet. Two toes forward, two toes backward, to better grip the branches.
I imagine, this is a younger bird, possibly a female, which is very difficult to tell in toucans. Her keeper said sometimes they have to do DNA testing, to be certain. She readily climbed from her keeper’s arm onto Barry’s.
Some more bare orbital skin.
Then it was my turn to talk to the birdie. After asking, if it was alright, I poked my finger through a deep layer of feathers and scratched her belly for a little while. I think, she enjoyed the attention.
Both of us marveled at the gentle touch of those huge feet. We hardly felt their grip. But it was time to move on and visit other parts of the aviary, which is kept very jungle-like and you have to put some effort in discovering different birds in their almost natural habitat.
Like this Greyish Saltator (Saltator coerulescens), which was barely visible on the wet stones. Or the Black Guan (Chamaepetes unicolor) in the following picture, so perfectly hidden in the tree.
The parrots have their own aviary and these tree Scarlet macaws (Ara macao) were a special treat, before leaving the bird sanctuary!
What shall be next? Snakes? Cats? No, butterflies. We shall see a whole lot of butterflies next.
PS: This is the original photo of the Black Guan in the woods. Barry spotted it and pointed it out to me. Because of the foliage I had to manually focus, which is a jittery affair without a tripod. I tried to focus on its red eye – with only partial success, but it was fun!!
PPS: Color me forgetful, but hummingbirds are still birds, right? At La Paz, they have their own area with many sugar feeders and roofed viewing stations. This is just an area, open to all interested hummingbirds in the region.
For your average hummingbird, it’s all about motion, very rapid motion. Like Mr. Mohawk here, with his tongue sticking out.
And sometimes even a hyperactive birdie just needs to look cool …