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Mushroom Identification Tour (in English)

This hike is for people who want to know more about identification and foraging mushrooms. At the end of September, we’ll organize the guided tour to the west of Ottawa in the place, where mushroom foraging is allowed. The exact place will be defined in few days, depending on the evaluation of mushroom availability in the place. The guided hike will take place on September 26 at 9:00 am. Please, watch our announcement regarding the exact place of the gathering. The number of participants will be limited to 15 people: the optimal size of the group to provide explanation and help in identification.

Place and subject of the excursion:

This is an excursion for those wishing to learn how to identify and collect late mushrooms. This year, the summer raining was late. So, many mushrooms just start to appear. The tasks of this excursion include the search and identification of various kinds of and the ability to distinguish edible mushrooms from inedible ones by their characteristic features. We also learn about places where mushroom collecting is allowed and the general rules of behavior in the forest that do not disturb the natural integrity. The days at this time of year are already pretty chilly, and nature is full of autumn colors, so don’t forget your cameras for shooting mushrooms and landscapes. We will arrange this excursion west of Ottawa. The exact meeting point will be posted later in two days, after checking that the mushrooms have already appeared. Follow our announcements. The excursion program includes an acquaintance with the kingdom of fungi: determination of the main groups of mushrooms by their main characteristics – sac fungi, puffballs (hedgehogs), tooth fungi, coral fungi, jelly fungi, bracket fungi,  boletus species, and gill mushrooms. At this time, there is already a chance to find representatives of almost every group of these fungi. In addition, we will get aware of the main types of edible, inedible, and poisonous mushrooms that are found in the Ottawa area and around. Mushroom picking is allowed in the place where we meet, so prepare your own baskets. We ask the participants of the trip to arrange transport, as the parking space near the forest is limited, and it would be better if we arrive in 4-5 cars. Carpooling is possible for those who wish.

We’ll meet at the Parking E3 of the Marlborough Forest. It is located on Roger Stevens Drive:

https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1FHFK_enCA936CA939&tbs=lf:1,lf_ui:1&tbm=lcl&sxsrf=AOaemvIiStguTWSdm4GcA__DH2c2JiaqLg:1632350492256&q=marlborough+forest+parking&rflfq=1&num=10&ved=2ahUKEwik8_S505PzAhUTGVkFHRvfAsgQtgN6BAgJEAc#rlfi=hd:;si:3422931496272292894;mv:[[45.0995068,-75.8047807],[45.0639079,-75.8566484]]

Dress:

According to the weather, but it is usually humid in the forest at this time in the morning, so sturdy waterproof shoes and tight jeans will be appropriate for the hike. Choose clothes for the weather, so that you can walk comfortably. A small snack at the end of the route will not hurt. Take your sandwiches and water with you.

Mushroom identification guided tour (in Russian)

This hike is for people who want to know more about identification and foraging mushrooms. At the end of September, we’ll organize the hike to the east of Ottawa in the place, where mushroom foraging is allowed. The exact place will be defined later, depending on the evaluation of mushroom availability in the place. The guided hike will take place on September 25 at 9:00 am. Please, watch our announcement regarding the exact place of the gathering. The number of participants will be limited to 15 people: the optimal size of the group to provide explanation and help in identification.

Место проведения и предмет экскурсии:

Это экскурсия для желающих научиться определять и собирать поздние грибы. В это время уже начинают появляться опята, поэтому в задачи этой экскурсии входит поиск и определение опят и умение отличать съедобные грибы от несъедобных по характерным признакам. Дни в это время года уже довольно прохладны, а природа полна осенних красок, так что не забывайте свои камеры для съемки грибов и ландшафтов. Мы организуем эту экскурсию на восток от Оттавы, но в пределах района Оттавы, обозначенного городом. Точное место встречи будет помещено позднее – перед самой экскурсией, после проверки, что грибы уже появились. Следите за нашими объявлениями. В программу экскурсии входит знакомство с царством грибов: определение основных групп грибов по их основным признакам – грибы сумчатые, коралловые, “дрожалковые” (jelly fungi), дождевики и их родственники, трутовики, ежовики, трубчатые и пластинчатые грибы. В это время уже есть шанс найти представителей практически каждой группы этих грибов. Кроме того, мы познакомимся с основными видами съедобных, несъедобных и ядовитых грибов, которые встречаются в районе Оттавы.  В месте, где мы соберемся, сбор грибов разрешен, так что приготовьте свои корзиночки. Просьба к участникам поездки договариваться о транспорте, так как место на парковке у леса ограничено, и лучше будет, если мы приедем на 4-5 автомобилях. Возможен карпулинг для желающих.

Место встречи в субботу Larose Forest – P1 (Parking 1):

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Larose+Forest+P1/@45.3762445,-75.2421996,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x19b68528561f6a4a!8m2!3d45.3762445!4d-75.2421996

Форма одежды:

По погоде, но обычно в это время с утра в лесу влажно, так что прочная непромокаемая обувь и плотные джинсы будут уместны для похода. В это время комарики еще ощутимы, не забывайте спрей от насекомых, а также солнцезащитный крем. Выбирайте одежду по погоде, чтобы вам удобно было ходить. Небольшой перекус в конце маршрута не помешает. Берите с собой бутерброды и воду

Camping at Dumoine River in September

September is an amazing time in the area of the Dumoine River. Bright fall colors decorate the environment and highlight the beauty of running waters, rapids, and waterfalls. This really wild and pristine area is attractive for travelers with adventurous minds. Immersed in the wilderness, we gather around the campfire at the end of the day to share stories and impressions.

We will start our visit by hiking along an education trail running along Grande Chute – a stunning series of waterfalls, rapids, canyons, and coves that extends for over 500 meters – you will have plenty of opportunities to take in the scenery from a series of look-out spots.

The trail then proceeds along through old pine and mixed forests before coming out to Robinson Lake. While the Grande Chute trail represents a hike of about 3 km (each way from our campsite), several other sections of the trail are available, including one taking us to the historic Red Pine Rapids where we will borrow a portage trail that has been in constant use for over 5000 years! We’ll also have a chance to see beavers and moose from the wooden platform, established for nature observation at the Stevens Swamp.

The middle of September is an amazing time to enjoy the saturated fall colors and beauty of the Dumoine River, preparing for the long silent winter season. This is also a good time for mushroom exploring and foraging. We found around 200 species of fungi in the area in previous years! And the most abundant mushroom harvesting was in September!

Please, be advised that this is a real wilderness area. There is no cell signal, no electricity, no running water (no showers), and that we will be using an outhouse.

Место проведения и занятия во время поездки:

Мы устроим наш лагерь в лесу на реке Дюмуэн недалеко от Grande Chute, у кордона. Здесь раскинулась большая поляна, окруженная лесом, полным удивительных грибов в это время. На поляне достаточно места для 7-8 палаток. В центре поляны – место для костра, окруженное внушительными камнями – здесь можно готовить барбекю, что-то печь и собираться вечером для беседы. Все удобства – на улице, но они поддерживаются в чистоте и порядке. В самом домике – и на обширной веранде расположено несколько столов, где можно собираться во время завтрака, обеда и ужина. Также здесь есть плита для готовки. Таким образом, бытовые проблемы на месте решены.

Неподалеку от места кэмпинга расположен выход на берег реки Дюмуэн с каноэ и у нас будет возможность изучить окрестности реки не только с берега, но и с воды. Мы совершим водные экскурсии в несколько мест с заездом на острова и к порожистой части реки с видами на небольшие водопады и быстрины в районе, который называется “водопад у Красных сосен”. Кроме этого, мы организуем несколько пеших экскурсии вдоль реки Дюмуэн, на небольшое болото с бобрами, куда частенько приходят попить воду лоси. Мы исследуем места, где в это время может быть обильный урожай грибов и постараемся собрать корзиночки съедобных грибов для готовки или сушки.

В лесу в это время можно увидеть еще многие пролетные виды птиц тайги и северных лесов, а также местные “лесных курочек” или воротничковых рябчиков, которые часто любят прогуливаться вдоль тропинок и по дороге. В лесу вокруг кэмпинга обитают также многие хищники, здесь довольно обычны койоты и волки. Мы исследуем их присутствие по следам на дорожках, а также в один из вечеров пойдем к озеру Робертсон, чтобы проверить присутствие этих видов, проиграв их голоса на планшете. В это время они обычно уже откликаются на зов.

Что входит в стоимость?

Мы берем на себя расходы по регистрации всех участников и оплаты въезда на территорию ZEC Dumoine, как и пребывания на кэмпсайте для всех участников. Кэмпсайт и домик, арендуемый моим коллегой, также будут в нашем распоряжении. Мы организуем походы по тропам, сбор грибов и поездки на каноэ, а также утренние выходы для обзора ландшафтов и видов, места для наблюдения и съемки. Также мы обеспечиваем питание. Пожалуйста, сообщите заранее, если Вы вегетарианец или веган, а также, если у Вас есть аллергия на какие-то продукты. Рацион на время пребывания в лагере будет обсужден в чате. Помимо этого, у нас есть дополнительные палатки и спальные мешки.

Что брать с собой?

Мы организуем небольшой лагерь. Вам понадобятся палатки, спальные мешки и матрасики, а также все остальное, что может пригодиться для комфортной походной жизни. Кроме того, желательно при себе иметь свои кружки и ложки. Остальная посуда в домике имеется. Одежда должна быть удобной для походов, не забывайте теплую одежду – в это время может быть уже очень прохладно и утром, и вечером. Обувь – легкая и надежная для ходьбы по тропинкам, в это время лучше иметь при себе уже пару надежных туристических ботинок. Не забывайте спрей от насекомых. Палочки для ходьбы также не помешают. Желательно иметь при себе фонарики для вечерних и ночных прогулок.

Bird migration (birds of wetlands)

By the middle of September, the migration of long-distant migrants is almost over, but in this time many bird species that fly far to the north still continue their way from breeding grounds in tundras and northern taiga to southern regions. At this time we still have the opportunity to spot many interesting migratory bird species in the Ottawa area. Many northern “sparrow” species will appear at this time. Migrating birds usually follow specific routes called migratory corridors. There are several such places in Ottawa. We are going to the Ottawa East – to Petrie Island area – for bird observation. During our excursion, it will be possible to spot many interesting species. We hope that the rare Rusty Blackbird may already appear in the area. We also will have a chance to observe many waterfowls and some waders that stop this time in and around wetlands.

К середине сентября миграция дальних мигрантов практически завершается, но к этому времени многие виды птиц, летящие далеко на север, продолжают свой путь из мест в тундрах и северной тайге в южные районы. В это время у нас все еще есть возможность увидеть много интересных видов перелетных птиц в районе Оттавы. К середине сентября в местах пролета появятся многие северные виды «воробьев». Мигрирующие птицы обычно следуют определенным маршрутам, называемым миграционными коридорами. Таких мест в Оттаве несколько. Мы поедем на восток Оттавы – в район острова Петри – для наблюдения за птицами. Во время экскурсии можно будет увидеть много интересных видов. Мы надеемся, что редкий ржавчатый трупиал уже может появиться в зарослях тростников у озер. Кроме того, у нас также будет возможность понаблюдать за многими водоплавающими птицами и некоторыми куликами, которые во время пролета останавливаются на озерах, у реки и других водно-болотных угодьях.

Место проведения и предмет экскурсии:

Мы начнем нашу экскурсию на острове Petrie Island  в восточной части города, но позже переместимся еще в одно место вниз по реке Оттава, чтобы полнее охватить местообитания, где также можно увидеть как воробьиных, так и неворобьиных птиц – водоплавающих и куликов. Мы будем учиться отличать взрослых воробьиных птиц от молодых, а также мы будем учиться определять виды в осенний период при помощи аппликации на сотовом телефоне и планшете по внешнему виду. Кроме этого, мы узнаем много интересного о видах, которые гнездятся вокруг нас или же появляются здесь лишь на короткий период – на пути из тундры и тайги в южные районы. Также Вы сможете познакомиться с книгой “Птицы вокруг нас” – о птицах Онтарио – на русском. К этому времени должна быть также напечатана вторая часть книги, которую Вы можете заказать и купить через наш вебсайт.

Форма одежды и оборудование:

Удобная одежда и обувь. Спрей от комаров уже не нужен, а вот крем от солнца может пригодиться. Не забывайте бинокли и камеры. Мы возьмем подзорную трубу для наблюдения за птицами, но в это время птиц легче всего увидеть именно при помощи бинокля. Можно также взять подкормку для птиц, для местных видов, у которых уже начинает проявляться эффект попрошайничества при виде людей с биноклями.

Mushroom identification hike (in Russian)

This hike is for people who want to know more about identification and foraging mushrooms. This time we’ll organize the hike to the west of Ottawa in the place, where mushroom foraging is allowed. The exact place will be defined later, depending on the evaluation of mushroom availability in the place this year. The guided hike will take place on September 11 at 9:00 am. Please, watch our announcement regarding the exact place of the gathering. The number of participants will be limited to 15 people: the optimal size of the group to provide explanation and help in identification.

Место проведения и предмет экскурсии:

Это экскурсия для желающих научиться определять и собирать грибы. Обычно, в районе Оттавы нормальный урожай грибов можно собрать тогда, когда жара начинает уже спадать, ночи холодные, а по утрам стелются росистые туманы. Мы организуем эту экскурсию на запад от Оттавы, но в пределах района Оттавы, обозначенного городом. Точное место встречи будет помещено позднее – перед самой экскурсией, после проверки, что грибы уже появились. Следите за нашими объявлениями. В программу экскурсии входит знакомство с царством грибов: определение основных групп грибов по их основным признакам – грибы сумчатые, коралловые, “дрожалковые” (jelly fungi), дождевики и их родственники, трутовики, ежовики, трубчатые и пластинчатые грибы. В это время уже есть шанс найти представителей практически каждой группы этих грибов. Кроме того, мы познакомимся с основными видами съедобных, несъедобных и ядовитых грибов, которые встречаются в районе Оттавы.  В месте, где мы соберемся, сбор грибов разрешен, так что приготовьте свои корзиночки. Просьба к участникам поездки договариваться о транспорте, так как место на парковке у леса ограничено, и лучше будет, если мы приедем на 4-5 автомобилях. Возможен карпулинг для желающих.

Форма одежды:

По погоде, но обычно в это время с утра в лесу влажно, так что прочная непромокаемая обувь и плотные джинсы будут уместны для похода. В это время комарики еще ощутимы, не забывайте спрей от насекомых, а также солнцезащитный крем. Выбирайте одежду по погоде, чтобы вам удобно было ходить. Небольшой перекус в конце маршрута не помешает. Берите с собой бутерброды и воду.

Amazon Region and Napo River: Travel in Ecuador

Before sunset.

In the summer of 2019, I visited Ecuador with my daughter. Elina went there for 2 months of studies to improve her knowledge of Spanish. I joined her when she completed her practice, and we planned together to explore this amazing country. We have selected a visit to three of the four natural-geographical zones in Ecuador: Amazon (eastern part of Ecuador), mountains, and coast. We did not plan only to visit the Galapagos this time.

Ecuador or the Republic of Ecuador is one of the countries, having the richest fauna and flora with an estimated highest level of biodiversity in the world per square kilometer. This is also one of the countries with the highest rates of endemism in the world. In addition, Ecuador is a country of unique culture and a long history of human civilization. The ancient history covers a huge period and goes back almost 17 thousand years ago. Modern history – from the 19th century to the present day – can be characterized as a period of struggle for independence, the formation of statehood, and the process of evolutionary development of society. Taking into account the value and uniqueness of biological diversity for the development of the country, the new Constitution of Ecuador (2008) contains an article that legitimately recognizes the Rights of Nature or the Rights of Ecosystems.

Amazonia (Amazon Region) in Ecuador stretches from the eastern slopes of the Andes to the lowland tropical forests of the Amazon Basin, occupying an area of ​​about 130 thousand square kilometers. It is impossible to survey in detail this vast territory even during a long visit. We planned to stay in Amazonia only for two days, knowing that we can look only at very small pieces of jungles. Our choice focused on the town of Puerto Misahualli, still surrounded by the jungle, through which the Napo River flows. Yasuni National Park is located not far from the town; it is known for its rich biological diversity. A small Napo Wildlife Center was established in this park, to save wild animals and rehabilitate them back into the wild. The area near the river is surrounded by jungles with swamps and other wetlands, in which hoatzins, one of the most amazing birds with ancient morphological traits, still occur. In the area of ​​the park and in the tropical forests around there are settlements of local indigenous peoples – the Kichwa-Anangu tribes; they are completely dependent on forest products, gathering herbs, and hunting wild animals.

Just before my arrival, heavy rains fell, which washed out the roads and even demolished one of the bridges on the way from Quito to Amazonia. Therefore, our bus took another safer road, which was much longer. As a result, we arrived at the final point of our journey very late. But the owner of a small hostel located in the jungle met us in the central square of Puerto Misahuali in the middle of the night. Another 15 minutes took the road to the hostel, and then we went up to the lodge along a narrow path illuminated by a flashlight beam. We stayed in a lodge that was still under construction. Its owner, Scott, has kindly provided us with the only guest room with access to the common dining room. The cottage is equipped with a comfortable shower and toilet. The house is supplied with electricity, but there is no internet connection yet. A small balcony adjacent to the dining room offers beautiful views of the river and the lush green jungles around. Scott began to build the guest-houses and make landscaping in the area around his house. Two of his assistants from Puerto Misahuali completed the construction of cottages for tourists, a small restaurant, and sanitary units. Volunteers from other countries helped with the design of the buildings and the new territory. All buildings are connected by a network of branching paths with picturesque bridges over water streams and small ponds that create habitats for amphibians and aquatic invertebrates. The buildings are located in a charming landscape surrounded by tall trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. Bird feeders and bananas for monkeys attract forest dwellers, who can often be seen near the cottage.

Coming out of the house in the evening, visitors find themselves surrounded by velvet darkness, over which the pearly canopy of the night sky reveals itself with unusually bright stars and other night luminaries. Darkness is occasionally cut by zigzag flying fireflies. The darkness is filled with the noises of the night – the sounds of the jungle. First of all, it is a many-voiced choir of amphibians – frogs and toads, which begin their singing at dusk. From the voices, it can be assumed that about a dozen different species inhabit the local ponds. However, it was never possible to see them during the day. All amphibians are invisible, hiding in the depth of the ponds and in plants, growing on trees. By the presence of bromeliad plants in the trees, one can expect to find here bright tree frogs. Grassy bromeliads – evergreen epiphytic plants – can often be seen on trees. Tree frogs are associated with some of them. They settle on bromeliad clumps, sometimes very high on a tree. It is not easy to see frogs on trees or in bromeliads; although during the breeding season they can descend lower on trunks and become more observable. Reproduction takes place in the wet period. Some species lay their eggs right in the wet sinuses of the leaves, where the development of tadpoles takes place, which then turns into adult frogs. However, a considerable number of species also live in terrestrial reservoirs, as can be judged by night voices. In addition to frogs and toads, cicadas, owls, nightjars, night-herons, and other nocturnal birds join the night choir. In general, it is quite difficult to distinguish individual species in the polyphony of multiple jingles, but sometimes, when a bird flies closer, its voice begins to stand out among other nocturnal sounds. Bats also appear with darkness, slipping noiselessly among the crowns of tall trees. Some individuals quickly jump out of the dark and rush over a narrow strip of light rising above the house’s balcony in the hope of grabbing a gnawing insect or spider. Surprisingly, during our stay in the cottage, we did not see or hear mosquitoes or other bloodsucking insects. It is likely that the rainy period has just begun and they did not appear yet.

A clear starry sky, a chorus of nightly voices, flashing fireflies — everything promised a clear morning the next day and we prepared to get up early to watch the dawn and the birds arriving at the feeders near the open balcony of the house. But after midnight, the first drops of rain drummed on the roof, and in the morning we were awakened by the even sound of tropical rain. It then amplified, then calmed down by the oncoming waves, but did not stop. After morning dawn, only rolling streams loomed in the window, through which blurred silhouettes of trees and a gray river appeared in an obscure fog. Some kind of revival was heard in the crowns of the trees: birds from the Icterid (Icteridae, Passeriformes) family woke up there; it was a russet-backed oropendola (Psarocolius angustifrons). These birds are somewhat similar to the bright-colored American orioles; they even build similar nests, which hang from the tree branches, but rather large, resembling oblong baskets. Nests are closed at the top and with an opening entrance at the bottom. Despite the rain, the awakened oropendolas began to actively discuss the events of the new day, flying from tree to tree in pairs and small groups. Some of them have already built their dangling nests, and sometimes they flew inside to fix the inner trim. Others still constructed these nests and brought thin and long blades of grass to weave them into the walls of the nest. When the rain slightly calmed out, the yellow-rumped cacique (Cacicus cela) appeared (it is also a bird from the Icterid family). As soon as the rain subsided a little, both species began to rally out their relations, opening wings and showing bright spots on the tail and wings. Caciques and oropendolas are widespread in the Amazon region. They occupy in the jungle tropical forests the upper layer of tall trees. Both species show themselves by their noisy, loud voices and contrasting colors. Caciques have also very bright clear-blue eyes, contrasting with the overall black color of the plumage. In addition to these numerous two species, some other interesting birds flew up to the lodge, but we could not identify them behind a dense wall of rain. Several flocks of parrots flew over, small passerines emerged from the wet foliage and immediately hid again from time to time. The hummingbirds were not seen at all, apparently, they sat huddled in the thick shrubs and waited for better weather. Meanwhile, when Elina woke up, she made tea and was preparing to pour it into cups, when she suddenly found in one of them a large shaggy spider, somewhat resembling a tarantula. It is likely that the spider got into the mug to escape the rain. The spider did not want to leave its shelter, so we pick it out from the mug with a small sprig. Once on the balcony, the spider quickly ran down, hiding from the rain under the veranda.

In the late morning, the rain ended, but the heavy drops were still falling down from the wet trees. In the debris, located near the house, we heard a noise and spotted small monkeys with white faces jumping from branch to branch. The brown-mantled tamarins (Saguinus fuscicollis) came to check out the banana feeders. The monkeys were very careful, immediately soared up the tree trunk and hid among the high branches after insignificant stirring. However, they carefully examined all the trees in the area around the cottage, moving in small groups from tree to tree.

After observations of monkeys, we went to Puerto Mishahualli to meet with local guide Carlos and visit interesting areas around. The bright sun after the rain woke up nature: sparkling hummingbirds and small sparrow birds fluttered over the flowering shrubs; scavengers and other predators began circling in the sky. We met with Carlos near the central square, where other tourists were already waiting for a trip down the river. The monkeys – White-fronted Capuchins (Cebus albifrons) – were also nearby, occasionally descending from the trees and exploring the area in search of edible food remains.

Carlos enthusiastically began to tell us about birds and other animals living in jungles around the town. From time to time he interrupted his story that to show us a bird flying nearby. After several minutes of conversation, he offered us several possible trips, and he was ready to go to the jungle immediately!  Frankly, leaving the lodge, we did not plan to go somewhere, as we intended to explore the surroundings and walk along the paths around the town, where there were really many attractive shrubs with birds and insects flying everywhere. However, the single magic word “hoatzin” affected us like real live bait on fish.  Carlos said that the hoatzins live nearby Puerto Misahuali in the marshes, where people can always see them…

In my memory immediately appeared the pages from the ornithology textbooks and the description of this amazing bird. The Hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin) (the name “Hoatzin” came from the Aztec language) is the only species from the Opisthocomidae family and Opisthocomiformes order. It is the only bird on the Earth whose chicks have free fingers with claws on the wings. Adult birds lose these claws. This bird shows that an evolutionary connection between birds and reptiles is possible. Modern scientists suggest that the claws on the wings of the Hoatzins can be an adaptation to life in the dense tropical forest because other morphological traits do not indicate similarity with reptiles and are typical for all bird species. However, genetic studies conducted in 2015 showed that these birds appeared about 64 million years ago, in the time when the last dinosaurs became extinct. And, who knows, it is possible that Hoatzins or their ancestors, in their origin, are connected somehow with feathered dinosaurs. Hoatzins feed on vegetarian food, mostly leaves, but they can also eat flowers and fruits. This is the only species among birds, which is distinguished from others by the fact that the hoatzins digest plant food in a large crop, where bacterial fermentation of plants occurs in the same way as in the rumen of ruminant animals. This feature makes the Hoatzin “dung or stinky birds”, which have an unpleasant smell. The meat of the hoatzins also has a sharp, rotten smell, due to which birds are not eaten even by people from local tribes. Perhaps, this fact served to the preservation of these large birds — the size of a medium goose — in equatorial forests. Their habitats – riverside shrubs and swamps – also remain relatively intact, protecting this amazing endemic of the equatorial forests of the Amazonia. Therefore, to be in a place where you can see the hoatzin and not take this opportunity was completely unacceptable for me as an ornithologist and passionate birdwatcher. Elina also was interested to see the Amazon forest and its dwellers. At the same time, Carlos continued to list all new and new species to see, as well as interesting places to visit, more and more winning over us to him with his avid enthusiasm. Visiting places that Carlos called was interesting for both of us, so we almost immediately decided that we would use the offers. After short debates, we selected the boat excursion on the same day and jungle hike to a small forest reserve the next morning.

Hoatzins in the Amazon forest near Puerto Misahuali.

After a half-hour, we were on a small motorized vessel, well-equipped to serve tourists, driving along the Napo River. Carlos prepared rubber boots for both of us to hike through the jungle. Tropical landscapes with amazing trees pass by, but practically everywhere along the river, residential houses are built or are in the process of construction, occupied either by the local villagers or equipped as cottages to accommodate tourists. In some places on the river, we could see local artisan companies or families of gold diggers who washed the sand. The Napo River is known for its gold-bearing outlets, therefore many local inhabitants associate their income with gold mining. Stealthy white-winged swallows (Tachycineta albiventer) sailed by over the river very low, almost touching the water. A couple of other swallow species also flew near the water, but not so low. Not many birds were seen in this late morning time. We spotted two species of kingfishers – the Ringed (Megaceryle torquata) and the Amazon (Chloroceryle amazona), but both escaped so rapidly that we could not see their bright plumage in the details. The snowy egret fluttered from the shore; there in the shade – under the branches of the coastal plants, we could see its hidden nestling chick, which had already begun to fledge, but still kept the juvenile greyish plumage. We left Puerto Misahualli around 11 o’clock in the morning, for birds it was already the time of a day’s rest, so it was not surprising that we saw so little a number of birds along the river. We stopped on a sandy spit, from which the footpath went into the jungle. “Hoatzins …” – explained Carlos, we shook our heads knowingly and followed him under the canopy of the dark forest. Carlos slightly cleared the narrow path with his machete in places where lush vegetation locked the passage after the recent rains, but it was noticeable that the path was used and the road did not seem hard. The rainforest greeted us with relative silence, darkness and dampness. The silence of jungles was interrupted by the chanting of cicadas and the dialogues of ubiquitous caciques and oropendolas in the crowns of tall trees. Among other birds, Carlos heard only the great tinamou (Tinamus major), a secretive species, hidden in the darkness of wet rainforest. Two species of woodpeckers and a barbet, encountered on our way, flew away immediately, as soon as we approached closer.

The tropical equatorial forest is interesting not only by observation of birds. Many trees here are perfectly adapted to the conditions of life in a dark and humid environment. Probably, it should be said, first of all, about the walking palm or the cashapona (Socratea exorrhiza), – the unique tree, which has unusual stilt roots. According to local legends, these roots allow the palm to move from the place of growth to the side if something hinders the growth. But this statement was questioned by scientists, whose assumptions boil down to the fact that stilt roots make this palm more stable, as it grows to a height of 25 meters with a trunk diameter of only 12-16 centimeters. The second assumption is quite acceptable, given the swampy nature of the terrain and the absence of solid soil in the places where these palm trees grow.

Another interesting tree we saw on our way was the wild cacao or cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao). The word “cocoa” itself is also of Aztec origin. The cocoa tree is now widely distributed and cultivated outside of South America. But this species originated in the subequatorial regions of South America, most likely in the plains of the Amazonia, where this species still grows in the jungle in natural conditions. We saw later cocoa trees in mountainous areas also, but they were planted there, mainly for decorative purposes. The main cocoa plantations are located in humid plains, near Amazonia. Bromeliads were the most diverse among other plants. They grow in the tropical forest of the Amazonia as independent shrubs, as well as epiphytes on tree trunks or grassy plants inhabiting tree trunks and settling sometimes very high in treetops. Several species of orchids also were spotted, but in this season they had already finished flowering.

Among insects in the tropical forest, termites, ants, and cicadas are the most numerous. Termites and ants in the moist and swampy jungle arrange their homes in the trees. Termite houses do not look like massive hills, and resemble, most likely, wasp nests, although many of them have quite impressive dimensions. We were not focused on insect-watching but spotted several interesting species such as ants – leafcutters, giant ants, walking sticks, and bright dragonflies. Carlos warned us to be more careful with giant ants, as the bite of this species is painful and can lead to unpleasant consequences. Also in the dark wet forest, we saw several different types of mushrooms that were visible on the trunks of dead and dying trees.

Imperceptibly, the path led us to a swamp inhabited by hoatzins. A pair of birds sat close to the path. Hoatzins were in no hurry to fly away, assessing the degree of danger, which can be associated with our visit. Then, reluctantly, they flew far away that to hide on another side of the wetland. But after a while, this pair came back and settled down to rest in the middle of the swamp, so that we could observe them from a safe (for the hoatzins) distance. In total, in this swamp, according to Carlos, no less than 12-15 birds can be found. We could believe this because saw several more birds flying at a distance. Besides, we noticed on trees within this wetland several more parrots, a ringed kingfisher, a lesser kiskadee (Philohydor lictor) from Passerines as well as a greater ani (Crotophaga major) from the Cuckoo family. After watching the hoatzins, we went back to the river and continued our journey.

Further our way lay down the Napo River to the Wildlife Center of the same name. This center adjoins Yasuni National Park. We walked up the path, distorted by the night rain, to the visitor center, where we met another group, who had just returned from the excursion, and our guide descended towards us. It turned out that our guide, a student from the Netherlands, had practices in the center, studying the behavior of monkeys and, like many other students, volunteering in the nursery, helping to feed and care for animals, and also conduct excursions for visitors. The center was established for the rehabilitation and release of animals affected by contact with people back to the natural environment. Wounded and confiscated animals taken from poachers and smugglers are brought there. The staff of the center provides veterinarian help and food to the animals. When there is a chance to return animals back to the wilderness, they are placed in rehabilitation enclosures, from where they can be released into the Yasuni National Park after recovery. Those that injuries do not allow them to survive in the wild remain in the nursery for their life. Some of the released mammals and birds continue to keep close to the center, regularly visiting their feeding places. Wild animals, especially monkeys and many bird species, also regularly visit the center, as the nursery is located near the national park with a rich species diversity, and the animals living around us have the chance to get food in the center.

Visiting rules oblige all visitors to respect animal rights. Visitors to the nursery go along certain paths; if they meet on these paths the local inhabitants – monkeys, turtles, crocodiles, snakes, then the first rule prescribes to give way to animals, and only then to pass to people. Our guide warned that among the recently released inhabitants of the nursery there are monkeys who do not tolerate lenses and cameras turned at them. As a rule, these monkeys had a negative experience with people. Local tribes hunt them for food. The lens turned at the monkey may be considered as the last weapon, and there were already cases when angry monkeys snatched cameras from visitors and broke them. The second rule is to observe animals, as if they were in their natural environment, without attracting them closer or communicating with them. This rule is consistent with the practice of releasing animals back into the wilderness.

Several species of monkeys, tapirs, peccary, jaguars, ocelots, turtles, crocodiles, macaw and amazon parrots, toucans have been rehabilitated in the Wildlife Center. The parrots are permanently brought to the Center after they are confiscated from the bird traders, so the Center’s capacity is not always enough to accommodate all the incoming birds. But the saddest thing is that some birds, when after rehabilitation they are released in the wild, are caught by people again and sold on the same market. Therefore, one of the tasks of the Center’s staff and volunteers is to develop birds’ fear of people, as well as working with people – communicating with local tribes to develop sustainable ways to use natural resources and wild animals.

Humboldt’s squirrel monkey (Saimiri cassiquiarensis) groups often visit the Center looking for food given to animals in rehabilitation facilities. We spotted several groups of this monkey during our visit. We did not see many animals from the Center, as they slept (tapir, jaguar, and ocelot), but we were quite pleased with what we saw and heard. We looked and listened to interesting stories about the behavior of monkeys. Our guide showed us a golden-mantled tamarin (Saguinus tripartitus), a black-headed spider monkey (Ateles fusciceps), and a brown-woolly monkey (Lagothrix lagothricha). We felt that she (our guide) likes her subject of study and is passionate about the conservation of tropical animals. The local population – the Kichwa tribes – hunt on woolly monkeys; therefore, these monkeys consider people as a dangerous enemy. Wounded monkeys, who have already had the experience of negative interaction with people, most often got into the Center. In the same way, many other animals enter the nursery. Therefore, the staff of the national park and Wildlife Center works with local tribes, helping them solve the problems of poverty, survival, and development in modern times, and reduce the pressure on the wild natural environment, providing opportunities to work in the park. Local people from tribes also can sell their crafts such as hand-made dishes, baskets, and other souvenirs to tourists in the villages and the visitor center. Some money from sales goes to their producers, and some replenish the budget of the Wildlife Center. Prices in a small souvenir shop are established for foreign tourists, so the local tribes are quite satisfied with the income, which they can get from their production. However, the Wildlife Center does not have enough money and donations for all operations relevant to animal recovery and release, and the financial support to the Center is always welcomed. Part of the funds received from donors and eco-tourism goes to the education of youth from local communities. Boys and girls from local tribes get a chance not only to learn how to write and read, but also study foreign languages ​​and get training to become guides in the ecotourism industry.

The next day, early morning we were already standing on the bridge, watching the amazing lilac light above the river, shrouded in clouds of fog, and the scarlet dawn over a thousand-year tree near the road. We had to go to the small Reserva El Para, located relatively close to the lodge. Carlos promised us to show a clay ravine where parrots are going to replenish mineral reserves. We arrived at the entrance to the reserve, where a local ranger, armed with a machete for a hike, was waiting for us. Together we went along a narrow path along a small stream. The path was overgrown or collapsed due to recent rains in some places. We were moved slowly, as the path was constantly going up and the road was blocked by fallen trees, landslides that fell on the slopes, or just something else. Flocks of parrots rushed high in the sky, both in the direction we went and back. The forest, surprisingly, was silent, even cicadas did not sing. We did not spot any mammals during our way. Only flycatchers and woodpeckers came across the road, but they were all far away and it was impossible to see them well. When we reached the site two hours later, it turned out that the ravine “swam” and collapsed slightly after the rains. The parrot gathering place was empty; the flocks of parrots flew over us, settling in tall trees around, but none of them was going down. After watching the parrots in the distance, we realized that we could not expect more and quietly went back down selecting another smoother path. The dark damp rainforest perfectly kept its secrets. In one of the places we saw signs of vital activity of the sloth, but the animal itself was well hidden somewhere in the crowns of tall trees. From time to time we stopped to look at interesting plants or mushrooms, insects or spiders. The flocks of parrots continued to fly high in the sky from the place, which we just visited. Several birds of prey circled in the sky. In general, the way back took about an hour. We only saw birds near the entrance to the reserve and in open areas along the road on the way back to Puerto Misahualli. The most abundant along the road was a species of birds from the cuckoo family — the Smooth-billed ani (Crotophaga ani). These birds, like many other American cuckoos, build their own nests and raise chicks themselves. Ani is a very communicable bird; they, instead of scattering in different directions, all flew in one bush, from where they curiously watched people. Many birds (ani) gathered in bushes around pastures, where cows were grazing. This is not surprising, since ani prefers to eat insect larva, and it is likely that large hoofed animals provide them with good food. Flocks of ani uncounted from 3 to 12 birds together.

Carlos drove us back to the town, and then we decided to walk from there to our lodge that to watch the birds along the road and we were not mistaken in our expectations! During the hour’s walk, we saw and could take some pictures of many interesting species than during our few hours of wandering in a dark tropical forest. Several species of hummingbirds, doves, flycatchers, caciques and oropendola, swallows and swifts, ani, and many other tropical species inhabit open landscapes. The birds did not hide there but continued to do their usual activities, just precautionary flying away from the strangers… When we left Puerto Misahualli later that day, we understood that 2-day stay was too short to view the magnificent biodiversity of the Amazonia. Among the places that must be visited is the Yasuni National Park, which is adjacent to a Napo Wildlife Center.

Bird migration in Ottawa Valley (in English and Russian)


In the spring, the surrounding forests, meadows, and wetlands around Ottawa and Ottawa Greenbelt are filled with the rustling of wings, singing, and parenting concerns of a wide variety of migratory birds, many of which have traveled outstanding distances from Central and South America to reach their nesting sites in Canada. Such species are called long-distant migrants. Many North-American Warblers from Parulidae Family belong to long-distant migrants. Already in late July – early August, with the end of the nesting period, these birds begin to gather in small flocks often from different species and move forward to their wintering grounds in tropical countries. During this time, many of them can be seen in parks and around rivers and lakes in the Ottawa area. Migrating birds usually follow specific routes called migratory corridors. There are several such places in Ottawa. The bird migration has already started this year but has not yet reached its peak. During an excursion to one of these places in a few hours, it is possible to spot about a dozen species and from several dozen to hundreds of individuals flitting from branch to branch in search of available food such as insects and other invertebrates. However, many passerine birds at this time are not averse to eating ripe berries that abundantly dot the bushes. Many birds have not yet molted and during this period it is difficult to identify some of them and distinguish them from other similar species.

Весной окрестные леса, луга и водоемы вокруг Оттавы и в зеленой зоне самого города наполняются шелестом крыльев, пением и родительскими хлопотами большого разнообразия пролетных птиц, многие из которых преодолели большие расстояния, чтобы добраться до своих гнездовых мест в Канаде из Центральной и Южной Америки. Такие виды называют дальними мигрантами. К ним относятся многие лесные певуны, ласточки и трупиалы. Но уже в конце июля – начале августа с завершением периода гнездования, эти птицы начинают собираться назад – к местам своей зимовки в теплых странах. В это время многих из них можно заметить в парках и вокруг рек и озер в районе Оттавы. Пролетные птицы обычно перемещаются по определенным маршрутам, которые называются перелетными коридорами. В Оттаве есть несколько таких мест. Пролет в этом году уже начался, но еще не достиг своего пика. При экскурсии в одно из таких мест за несколько часов можно увидеть около десятка видов и от нескольких десятков до сотни особей, перепархивающих с ветки на ветки в поисках корма – насекомых. Однако, многие воробьиные птицы в это время не прочь полакомиться и созревшими ягодками, обильно усевающим кустарники. Многие птицы еще не перелиняли и в этот период их трудно определить и отличить от других сходных видов.

Место проведения и предмет экскурсии:

Мы начнем нашу экскурсию на озере Mud Lake в центре города , но потом переместимся еще в пару мест, чтобы полнее охватить места, где наблюдается наибольшее обилие и разнообразие птиц в этот период. Мы будем учиться отличать взрослых воробьиных птиц от молодых, а также мы будем учиться определять виды в осенний период при помощи аппликации на сотовом телефоне и планшете по внешнему виду. Кроме этого, мы узнаем много интересного о видах, которые гнездятся вокруг нас или же появляются здесь лишь на короткий период – на пути из тундры и тайги в тропические леса. Также Вы сможете познакомиться с книгой “Птицы вокруг нас” – о птицах Онтарио – на русском. Сейчас уже печатается вторая часть, которую Вы можете заказать.

Форма одежды и оборудование:

Удобная одежда и обувь. Спрей от комаров уже не нужен, а вот крем от солнца может пригодиться. Не забывайте бинокли и камеры. Мы возьмем подзорную трубу для наблюдения за птицами, но в это время птиц легче всего увидеть именно при помощи бинокля. Можно также взять подкормку для птиц, для местных видов, у которых уже начинает проявляться эффект попрошайничества при виде людей с биноклями.


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Frontenac Provincial Park Day Visit


Located in approximately 2-hours of driving from Ottawa, the Frontenac Provincial Park is one of the amazing places to visit to explore nature on the southern edge of the Canadian Shield. The Park is part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Region, designated as Canada’s 12th biosphere region by the UNESCO “Man and the Biosphere” programme in November 2002. The Park is a great place for hiking at any time of the year. At the end of August, we’ll have a chance to see some interesting wildlife species, scenic landscapes and many blooming plants. This time we’ll have an opportunity to select one from two trails for hiking (depending on the ability and selection of the most appropriate trail by the participants). Let’s decide together, which of these trails will be more interesting for our visit: Arkon Lake Loop (11 km loop trail) or Bufflehead Trail (8 km loop). Both trails are moderate complexity. We’ll not walk too fast stopping that to explore the area, to take some pictures and survey the natural things. We need to register for the visit to the Park, therefore it is important to know how many people will join this guided tour at least a week before travel.

Please, also vote for the preferable hike:

  1. Arkon Lake Loop (4-5 hours): a mature deciduous forest with many beaver ponds and a ring bog complex;
  2. Bufflehead Trail (3-4 hours):  bisects the Arkon Lake Loop and starts at the Arab Lake parking lot. It also crosses beaver ponds and scenic ridges.

Место проведения и предмет экскурсии:

Провинциальный парк Фронтенак, расположен примерно в 2 часах езды от Оттавы. Он представляет собой одно из удивительных мест для знакомства с природой на южной окраине Канадского щита. Парк является частью биосферного заповедника ЮНЕСКО и биосферного региона Фронтенак-Арч, который в ноябре 2002 года был обозначен в качестве 12-го биосферного региона Канады программой ЮНЕСКО «Человек и биосфера». Парк является прекрасным местом для пеших прогулок в любое время года. В конце августа у нас будет возможность увидеть несколько интересных видов диких животных, живописные пейзажи и множество цветущих растений. На этот раз у нас будет возможность выбрать один из двух маршрутов для пеших прогулок (в зависимости от возможностей и выбора участниками наиболее подходящего маршрута). Давайте вместе решим, какая из этих троп будет более интересна для нашего посещения: тропа вокруг озера Аркон (протяженностью около 11 км) или тропа Баффлхед (протяженность около 8 км). Обе тропы оценены как маршруты средней сложности. Мы не будем идти слишком быстро, останавливаясь, чтобы исследовать местность, найти и посмотреть что-то интересное, а также, чтобы името возможность насладиться красотой дикой природы и сделать снимки сценических ландшафтов. Для посещения этого парка необходимо зарегистрироваться заранее, принимая во внимание большой наплыв туристов. Поэтому нам важно знать, сколько человек присоединится к этой экскурсии, по крайней мере, за неделю до поездки.

Проголосуйте также за предпочтительный поход:

  1. Тропа вокруг озера Аркон (4-5 часов): спелый лиственный лес с множеством бобровых прудов и комплексом кольцевых болот;
  2. Тропа Баффлхед (3-4 часа): пересекает петлю озера Аркон и начинается от парковки Арабского озера. Он также пересекает бобровые пруды и живописные гряды.

Форма одежды:

По погоде – удобная одежда и обувь: легкая рубашка с длинным рукавом для защиты от комаров или футболка, если комаров не боитесь. Обувь – легкая и надежная для ходьбы по тропинкам. Не забывайте спрей от насекомых. Эта поездка на целый день Палочка для ходьбы также не помешает. Маршрут должен быть интересным не только для взрослых, но и для подростков. Поездка почти на целый день, запас бутербродов не помешает.

 

High Lonesome Reserve at the end of summer


High Lonesome Nature Reserve is located in the Pakenham Hills. This area was donated to the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust (MMLT) by the family of the late Barry Spicer in April 2012. A network of trails through the forests, over the hills and streams, by the ponds, and through the meadows has been developed and cared for by the donor’s brother Ken Spicer. Ken has documented many of the natural riches found there, shared them with the MMLT, and encouraged the Land Trust to complete the work he began. MMLT has committed to conserving High Lonesome as a nature reserve in perpetuity. This area is maintained by MMLT for the community. The reserve is one of the attractive places for nature watch in any season of the year.

Место проведения и предмет экскурсии:

Это экскурсия для любителей наблюдения дикой природы. Мы уже посещали заказник весной и в начале лета и каждый раз там было что-то новое. Однажды, в конце лета я наблюдала именно там, как крошечные древесные квакши ловят наскомых, устроившись на листьях молочаев. С тех пор стараюсь каждый год посещать это место в августе. Но заказник привлекателен не только лягушками, но еще многими видами грибов и растений, птиц и млекопитающих. Заказник открыт для всех любителей дикой природы. Небольшие донаты на поддержание троп и образовательные программы собираются местной организацией – MMLT. Эта экскурсия примерно на полдня. Мы пройдем по тропинкам, останавливаясь для наблюдений, разговоров и фотографии. По завершении экскурсии мы сможем отдохнуть на скамьях у образовательного центра заказника, где всегда бывает много птиц и мелких млекопитающих, снующих поблизости в поисках угощения. Не забывайте свои камеры! А вдруг снова повезет с древесными лягушками, притаившимися на кустиках высоких травянистых растений! Возможен карпулинг для желающих.

Форма одежды:

Тропинки в заказнике позволяют в это время года ходить в легкой обуви. Насекомых в конце лета – немного, но неплохо при себе иметь крем или спрей от комаров, а также солнцезащитный крем. Выбирайте одежду по погоде, чтобы вам удобно было ходить. Небольшой перекус в конце маршрута не помешает. Берите с собой бутерброды и воду.


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Silver Lake Provincial Park (day visit)


Silver Lake Provincial Park is located on Highway 7 at the eastern tip of Silver Lake in South Sherbrooke Township, Lanark County. It is a relatively small park of 43 ha and is 28 km west of Perth, the largest nearby town. The Park is a great place for hiking, swimming, canoeing, and fishing. Bird migration is already started and we’ll have an opportunity to see local and migratory birds around the lake. We also look at the colossal dams, constructed by beavers. All participants will have an opportunity for swimming in the lake after the guided hike.

Место проведения и предмет экскурсии:

Эта экскурсия в один из провинциальных парков Онтарио. Летние страсти в природе уже поутихли, но август – пора активного пролета самых различных мигрирующих видов птиц. Трудно заранее предположить, какие виды мы сможем увидеть, но надеемся, что на участках болота и вдоль озера могут быть пролетные кулики, поганки и другие околоводные и водоплавающие птицы. А в лесу могут быть как местные, так и пролетные воробьиные. Кроме того, на озере интересны многоступенчатые бобровые плотины. Надеемся, что их мы тоже сможем увидеть. В общем, это поездка для любителей сочетать отдых и исследование нового места. В выходные дни парки берут плату за посещение с каждого автомобиля. Поэтому будет хорошо, если на каждом автомобиле будет по несколько человек. И для природы – благо. Не забываем об устойчивом использовании ресурсов.

Форма одежды:

По погоде – удобная одежда и обувь: легкая рубашка с длинным рукавом для защиты от комаров или футболка, если комаров не боитесь. Обувь – легкая и надежная для ходьбы по тропинкам. Не забывайте спрей от насекомых. Палочка для ходьбы также не помешает. В парке можно будет искупаться, поэтому понадобятся полотенце, плавки и купальники.  Обычно, после купания хочется подкрепиться, поэтому не забывайте воду и перекусы. Поездка почти на целый день, запас бутербродов не помешает.


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