Monday, 19 April 2010

Severn Counties talk 15th April

Last Thursday Severn Counties hosted the second talk we have had from Steve Brookes, who runs an ecotourism company called Wild Parrots Up Close ( ). A very interesting evening was had by all, as Steve had a great presentation of the birds seen on previous trips to one of the South American destinations he takes small groups of people to – in this case Ecuador.

Last year Steve gave a presentation on the trips he does to a reserve a few hours from Rio de Janeiro in the Atlantic Rainforest. This rainforest, quite separate from the extensive forests of the Amazon basin, once covered most of the coast of tropical South America, but has been reduced to scattered fragments as a result of the growth of human population. Many unique and endangered endemic species, of which the most famous are the various species of Lion Tamarin (of which we have 3 on show at Bristol), are found nowhere else.

The area of the reserve is called the Reserva Ecologica de GuapiaƧu (REGUA).In 2001 the REGUA Association was formed in accordance with Brazilian law with full administrative responsibilities. Meanwhile in England in 1999 the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest Trust (BART) was established as a registered charity. The REGUA project has engaged in a vast amount of replanting using native trees and wetland restoration since then, and so far the regeneration has been impressive, with both Capybara and Spectacled Caiman recolonising naturally. So far the known species on the reserve runs like this:

Birds 440 species
Mammals: 61 species including the Critically Endangered Woolly Spider Monkey
Reptiles: 42 species so far
Amphibians: 47 species
Arachnids: 58 species
Dragonflies: 48 species
Moths: Lots (there are not enough people who can identify them, although so far 33 hawk moths have been found)
Plus, of course, any number of orchids.

For more on the REGUA reserve, and how to visit it, their website is at

For videos of Woolly Spider Monkeys, visit ARKIVE at

But to move on to the Ecuador trip. This focused on a unique ecotourism lodge which, unlike many such centres, is actually run by the local people, the Anangu Quichua Community. Not wanting to see their homeland go the way of all too many other areas, they created the Napo Wildlife Centre. This has only been open a few years, but has already been declared “one of the top 10 birding sites of the world” at the 2004 British Birdwatching Fair. Visitors may stay in other areas and visit on a day basis, but Steve’s tours stay at the lodge and have access to the reserve from the early hours, which means they can see birds visiting the clay licks at first light. Steve’s photos of 400+ Scarlet-Shouldered Parrotlets was most impressive. The reserve also harbours Black Cayman, Tapir (although the chances of seeing one are very slim indeed), Harpy Eagle, Giant Otter, and other animals and plants too numerous to mention.

For more on the Napo Centre, see their website at

(image of Scarlet-Shouldered Parrotlet from Tolweb)

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