Isla Corazon: November 2, 2009

Isla Corazon is a heart-shaped island located near the mouth of the Chone River estuary. As it is blanketed in mostly mature mangroves, the island is loaded with birds, most notably thousands of nesting Magnificent Frigatebirds. The fishermen of nearby Puerto Portovelo have reforested part of the island and are actively involved in its conservation, maintaining a boardwalk and observation tower on the island itself and conducting boat tours of the mangroves and the frigatebird colony. Two-hour tours are $9 per person and easy to set up, if you're visiting coastal Manabi Province. From the town of San Vincente, which is just across the bay from the city of Bahia de Caraquez, just drive a few kilometers inland towards Chone, where you'll see a sign promoting Isla Corazon. Tours at high tide allow you to pass through channels in the island by boat while tours at low tide circle the island instead. The latter are much better for birding, as herons and shorebirds can be seen out in the open, feeding in the mudflats.

Unfortunately, I didn't figure this out in time for our visit during a recent holiday weekend, mistakenly choosing to come in the afternoon after the tide had been out all morning. While we did see hundreds of nesting Magnificent Frigatebirds, we saw relatively few other birds as they were either hidden deep within the mangroves or feeding along the exposed banks of the estuary. While the local guides were certainly knowledgeable about the ecosystem and its history, they didn't seem mcuh attuned to the interests and needs of birders, although I understand that at least one of the guides is proficient in bird identification. It didn't matter much to me anyway, as I have seen most of the common birds found in the coastal mangroves here in Ecuador, excepting some of the difficult crakes and rails, of course.

The sun was low in the sky as we concluded our tour of the island, during which we had good looks at the Mangrove Warbler, Striated Heron, and Green Kingfisher. Overhead small groups of Tricolored Herons were flying in to roost on the island for the evening, while a large group of adult White Ibis made its way out towards the coast. A few Royal Terns were also fishing the estuary, their deep and graceful wing beats in perfect cadence with the wind chop on the water below. The site is a far cry from the Caroni Bird Sanctuary in Trinidad, for example, but our visit definitely had its moments.

Notable birds seen: Neotropic Cormorant, Tricolored Heron, White Ibis, Magnificent Frigatebird, Royal Tern, Green Kingfisher, Mangrove Warbler.

No comments:

Fatbirder's Top 500 Birding Websites