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March 17, 2011
It was almost a full moon. Even better, it was almost a full ‘Supermoon’. Actually some even called it an “Extreme Supermoon”. On the 19th it will be full and it will be the closest to the Earth than it has been for 18 years.
For me, it meant a chance to find a Potoo. I warned Gene earlier in the day that I was going out so he could be prepared. He doesn’t want me to be out alone in the jungle at night so he goes with me. For Gene, the sun going down signals the end of activity. Oh, he’ll wander up the restaurant or a communal cocktail hour, but in general, he is ready for some wine and a book at the end of the day. It is a bit of a sacrifice on his part to go birding with me at any time, but creeping through a rainforest with a flashlight in hand when he could be having a cocktail or two is an imposition. As a compromise, I have restricted my nocturnal meanderings to full moons and we didn’t go out the last one at all because it was rainy.
I was feeling lucky. The Supermoon wasn’t the only one omen for a good hunt. It’s St. Patrick’s Day. How lucky is that? It’s lucky for me; 36 years ago on this day, I had my beautiful, complex, intelligent and exasperating son. Well, the exasperating aspect seems to be diminishing with age (his and mine?). Love You Miguelito. Happy Birthday!
So, after one martini for Gene, we set off for a thrilling walk in the jungle under an almost full Supermoon. We walked to the entrance of the National Park where there is a small river. Susan on Limerick had told me she heard there were Potoos in that area. It’s about 2Ks to the stream and the walk had been disappointingly quiet.
We saw a few sloths, but mostly it was a snapping branch here…a scurry in the underbrush there. A hard metallic ‘tink’ every so often (iguana?). Now and then, a quiet throat-clearing of a bird deep in the darkness. An occasional silent flutter-by of a bat.
No night birds calling. No glowing eyes. Finally, as we passed the path to the clearing where the little cinder-block buildings are, we heard a bird calling. To his credit, Gene didn’t say a word or let out an impatient sigh as I turned off the paved road and threaded my way through the over-grown path to the clearing. I heard, ‘Pareo’. “PaRAYoh” belted loudly over and over. He kept calling as we crept into the clearing, but when we walked closer to the center, he stopped. We stood and waited. Overhead the moon shone brightly but intermittently because it was windy and clouds scuttered across the sky. I could hear the wind playing in the leaves of the trees and unknown things moving in the dense jungle, but the bird was quiet. I knew Gene had had enough for the night and was ready for wine and reading so I reluctantly went back to the path. The light of the moon wasn’t much help here and Gene kept the flashlight on the path.
When we came out of the treed area to the clearing near the marina, we heard the call again. Only now it was softened around the edges and the volume was turned way down. It was the same though.
I went to Xeno Canto when we got aboard and identified the call of a Common Paraque.
Tomorrow is another night and tomorrow the moon will be one step farther to being super.