We said good-bye to Blas and his family (in El Palmar) very early in the morning and took a bus to Upata, where we waited for another bus going to the
south... oh, don't you know what I'm talking about? Rafael Cortes and your blogger host were still in eastern Venezuela after three wonderful days at El Palmar with Blas Chacare and his family, and now we were heading to Las Claritas, the mining town that is the gate to the forests of La Escalera, La Gran Sabana and the Canaima National Park! The public transport was slow and quite uncomfortable because it was full, but we enjoyed anyway the 5 hours trip, adding to the list White-tailed Hawk, Swallow-tailed Kite, White-collared Swift and Brown-chested
Martin to our list. Eventually, we reached Las Claritas, and the bus dropped us just in front of what we called home the next two and a half days: the Barquilla de Fresa Inn. His owner, Henry Cleve, welcomed us and showed us our cabin, which was simply great, specially by the fact that it was surrounded by hummingbirds feeders, and the stars at the feeders were no less than four adult males Crimson Topaz!!! What a magnificent creature!
I tried to get some shots showing its spectacular glow, but it was not easy! (and trust me, it was truly out of this world!)
The feeder can give you an idea of the size of this hummingbird.
The female was very shy... I only got one creepy shot... notice its profile and the white thighs.
However, the Topaz were not the only hummingbirds attending the feeders, a Long-billed Starthroat, several Black-throated Mangos, a White-necked Jacobin, a Rufous-breasted Hermit and my life Gray-breasted Sabrewing also were regular around the cabins.
Henry proposed to take advantage of the last rays of sunlight visiting the famous Capuchinbird lek close to town. The pot-holed, dirt road (watch the last photo) was not a problem for Henry's powerful LandCruiser, and in the way we stopped at first at a mixed colony with hanging nest of both Crested Oropendola and Red-rumped Caciques.
At the Capuchinbird lek, it was clear that something was wrong... we heard no Capunchinbirds at all while approaching the site; instead, the constant noise of some sort of machinery filled the environment... we only hope that the bizarre Capunchinbirds have not left their lek due to human activities (however, as a consolation prize I can say that we did heard the Capunchinbird while seeing the Harpy Eagle nest near El Palmar).
We went to bed only imaging the surprises waiting for us at the forests of La Escalera the next day!