Horses, birds and bromeliads – all in a day’s work

This blog startsDianePhone20122013 464 and ends on a horse.  The park guard, Ronald, had asked me to accompany him on a ride around the park, and I jumped at the chance. Our first job on horseback was to find the white mare and the mule that had gone AWOL. A few years ago, almost all the horses were stolen in the night, so missing horses are always a concern. But the mare and mule were found, so it was time to settle in the saddle and start birdwatching. Horses turn out to be great for birdwatching, like a seat in the sky, until they start squirming. Of course Ronald merely glanced at the toucans (both species) before fixing his attention on some little brown birds in the shrubs, whereas I was transfixed like a tourist on the flashy big stuff like oropendulas and trogans. I was excited to find some patches of large Vriesea bromeliads, approaching the densities that there once were at Pitilla before the forest shaded them out. We stopped for coffee at another field station, before leaving the road for a trail that closed in around us until it was like a limbo contest to avoid the overhead vines and branches. Soon we were travelling across hills of regenerating secondary forest punctuated by valley of more mature forest with streams, hanging on to the saddle strap as the horses plunged down muddy slopes. By the time we got back to the station, after 8 hours of riding, pretty much every part of my body was sore!

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