Birding in the Ecuadorian Andes–Artisana Ecological Reserve

(October 11.)
The Artisana Ecological Reserve extends high above the treeline, almost 19,000 feet at its highest point. (I think we only got to about 12,000 feet.) This presents a different kind of challenge for bird photography.
I had dreams of getting a good photo of an Andean Condor, the worlds largest flying bird, but the only ones we saw were too far away for any lens I could reasonably be expected to carry.

Let’s zoom in closer on these cliffs.
Cliffs Zoomed in
Hmmm…what’s that near the top? Maybe if I severely crop the image…
Andean Condor
Yup, that’s an Andea Condor all right. (At least according to our guide.) Sorry, but that’s the best I could do.
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Birding in the Ecuadorian Andes–Paz de las Aves Reserve

(October 10)
Bridge-Paz de las Aves
The Paz de las Aves Reserve features subtropical forest at about 6,000 feet.
The Andean Cock-of-the-Rock is a large brightly-colored bird with an oddly-shaped head. It gets its name from the fact that the males get together every morning at dawn and have a contest to see who can scream the loudest.
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Beautiful Bones–Anime Early Impression

Sakurako-sanBeautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation (Crunchyroll) features the hoary old trope of an eccentric amateur detective who solves murders that the clueless police would never be able to figure out for themselves. (The Japanese title is Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru or “A Corpse is Buried Under Sakurako’s Feet”.)

This kind of thing always requires a certain suspension of disbelief. How likely is it that a civilian living in a pleasant small town will constantly be stumbling on murders? (And why don’t the police ever wonder whether she’s the evil mastermind behind them all?)

(Of course a writer might go the route of Hyouka in which the amateur detectives solved trivial “crimes” of no interest to the police. But that series, clever though it was, was not a great success.)

But if you’re the type who likes this sort of story Beautiful Bones is a particularly nice example of the trope. It’s stylish and clever with a certain underlying humanity that is often missing from stories like this. (And it’s not entirely a “murder of the week” show since the mysteries are not always murders.)
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Utawarerumono The False Faces–Anime Early Impressions

Much to my surpise the new anime series that I’m enjoying most is Utawarerumono The False Faces (Utawarerumono–Itsuwari no Kamen) (Crunchyroll), a fantasy-adventure in which a man finds himself in a strange world where the people have animal ears and act sort of like medieval Japanese.
This is a sequel to a 2006 anime series which I never watched. Fortunately it seems quite possible to enjoy the sequel without having seen the original, though I’m probably missing a lot of subtle implications due to my ignorance of the backstory.

(“Utawarerumono” means “Someone celebrated in song and story.” Or perhaps “Something.” The difference would be clear if the title was written in kanji but it’s in hiragana.)
Barefoot in snow
Our nameless hero wakes up and finds himself without any memories, stranded on a snow-covered mountain in his pajamas. (Incidentally the scenery in this show is beautiful.)
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Birding in the Ecuadorian Andes–Yanachocha

(Otcober 8.)
The reason that Ecuador has so many types of birds (some other countries have more species, but none come close to the number of species per square mile) is that the mountains give it a wide variety of microclimates. The Yanachocha trail has an altitude more than 10,000 feet and features temperate forests, a very different environment from Quito.

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