Our first full day here at Mashpi actually started before breakfast, with a short bird-watching session on the terrace upstairs from our room. I was reminded of how a wave of bird song, to greet the dawn, is continuously sweeping around the globe. It was a very sweet way to start the day.
After a delicious breakfast, our morning outing was to take the Dragonfly Tram ride over the Cloud Forest. It’s named this because dragonflies have a 360 degree view and soar through the air, just like the tram. It was incredible to travel so high over the forest canopy, to see all the textures of the different vegetation and all the different colors. We saw butterflies and a few birds, including, spectacularly, a pair of Crested Owls. The featured image at the top of this post was taken looking straight down at the tree tops. At the end of the tram ride, we took a short walk to a beautiful waterfall in the Laguna River, where the rock walls are sedimentary stone shoved up when the Andes were formed.
After a leisurely lunch and time to chill, we walked to the Life Center where they are doing butterfly research. This building has a butterfly enclosure with a variety of local butterflies as well as a separate room where they raise the caterpillars and let the chrysalises develop into adults. The Owl Butterflies there are particularly striking. They are called that because of the spots on their wings that look like owl eyes. The one in this picture is freshly eclosed with bright colors and clear markings.
Upon returning to the main lodge, Mick got ready for dinner and I got ready to take a one-hour night walk (he didn’t go with me). There were just three of us with our guide Juan Carlo. He did a great job of helping us see a variety of grasshoppers, a stick insect, small frogs, spiders, a juvenile viper (yes! as in poisonous snake!), some kinkajous, another Crested Owl, and a bioluminescent stick. The stick was particularly interesting because it had just one tiny mushroom growing on it, but the mycelium network from that one mushroom was interacting with the whole thing to make it glow in the dark.