Puerto Hondo: July 16, 2008

Located across the highway from Cerro Blanco, just outside of Guayaquil, Puerto Hondo is a great place for quick and easy canoe trips into a narrow strip of mangroves. We stopped there on our way back from Salinas and were surprised by the high level of tourist infrastructure, including a lookout with a new three-story viewing tower. Despite arriving unannounced on a weekday, within half an hour we were paddling around with a decent guide who knew how and where to spot the birds.

Low tide tends to draw more wading birds out into the open, and as it was a rising tide, we were denied views of some of the specialties, including the Rufous-Necked Woodquail and Roseate Spoonbill. Still, we were amazed by the beauty of the mangroves and happy to see a variety of herons, including the Little Blue Heron, Black-Crowned and Yellow-Crowned Night-Herons, and Boat-Billed Heron, among others.

It's also worth mentioning that the iguana scene in the mangroves is simply out of control, as magnificent specimens were draped all over the trees in variety of laconic poses. Hard to imagine that such an abundance of life can occur where just behind the curtain of trees lurks a great expanse of shrimp farms.

Notable birds seen: Masked Water-Tyrant, Striated Heron, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Boat-Billed Heron, Little Blue Heron, Mangrove Warbler, White Ibis, Green Kingfisher, Neotropic Cormorant.

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