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I've been a Canberran since moving here from Adelaide on the first day of 1980. I now live in suburban Duffy with my partner Louise Maher, ABC 666 radio and on-line journalist. Among my early memories is following Sleepy Lizards (Shinglebacks) around the paddocks north of Adelaide, guarded by the faithful bull terrier. I have always been passionate about the natural world, trying to understand how it works, how the nature of Australia came to be, and sharing those understandings. My especial passions are birds, orchids and mammals. For much of my life I have been a full-time naturalist, running bush tours, writing books etc, doing consultancies, presenting a regular radio slot on local ABC, chairing a government environment advisory committee and running adult education classes. Recently I have eased back somewhat, but am still writing, teaching, doing some radio work and running overseas tours - as part of my fascination with our Gondwanan origins I've been running tours to South America for the past decade. I was awarded the Australian Plants Society Award in 2001 and the Australian Natural History Medallion in 2006, both for services to education and conservation.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

City Wildlife Snapshots: Guayaquil

I'm away for May, accompanying a natural history tour to tropical Queensland.
I don't have time to set up full postings for the time I'll be away, but in the hope
of keeping you, my valued readers, while I'm absent, I'm going to post a few brief
perspectives - snapshots perhaps - of some wildlife I've come across in cities.
I
often leave my camera behind when I go out in towns, so I can think of many possible subjects
for this series that I can't offer you.
In particular I can't offer a posting on an Australian city!
(My home town of Canberra doesn't count, as it's known as the Bush Capital, and it'd be too easy...)

No-one visiting Ecuador is likely to spend much time in Guayaquil for its own sake. It is the country's largest city, crowded and industrial, and home to at least four million people. Moreover it burnt extensively in 1895, so lacks the feeling of age that Quito and Cuenca carry. Nonetheless its location 60km from the coast on the Guayas River, the largest west coast South American river, ensures that there is wildlife, especially birds, to be seen. The riverfront esplanade development known as the Malecon 2000 is a must for anyone visiting Guayaquil. The next four photos were taken along the Malecon.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Nyctanassa violacea.These handsome herons roost in trees above the Malecon and feed unconcernedly below the walkways.
Pacific Parrotlet Forpus coelestis.This little delight was photographed from a restaurant table on the Malecon.
Saffron Finch Sicalis flaveola; despite the name it seems that it's actually a tanager!
I couldn't resist this outrageous clash of colours.
Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus.One of the most familiar birds throughout Ecuador (and well beyond) but there's something
special about seeing it backed by city buildings.
But even away from the river, there is wildlife alongside and above the chaotic streets.
These Red-Masked Parakeets Psittacara erythrogenys were investigating and squabbling over this
pipe over the street, presumably considering it a potential nest hollow.
Shamefully this parrot's numbers are in decline due to the demands of the pet trade.


But one of the most startling aspects of Guayaquil is the presence of a large population of Green Iguanas Iguana iguana in Seminario Park, surrounded by busy streets. They are quite unfazed by people, lounging in the trees and coming down to dine on lettuce provided.

On weekends locals crowd in to see them, and the whole thing is quite surreal!


And that's all for this time. I hope you've found it better than nothing! And when in Guayaquil, it really is worth taking a few hours to stroll the Malecon, have lunch there - and of course visit the iguanas.

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