Trip to the Mangle River, in Córdoba, Colombia
My trip to the Mangle River was a wonderful experience. Getting to this small river is not easy; it is hard to see it on the extensive Caribbean coast of Córdoba, Colombia. Only those who know its exact location can find it because the dense jungle of the tropical dry forest does not allow one to see its mouth from the sea.
I left by boat from the “Viento Solar Reserve” in Río Cedro, near Moñitos. In another post, I will talk about the reserve because that place deserves many stories and images so that I will focus on the experience in the river. Its course is surrounded by ferns, gigantic trees with unknown flowers and fruits, and the mangroves on both banks, from which its name derives.
The boat moved slowly; the engine was off, and the river turned into a narrow tunnel with the mangroves crisscrossing over the water. The river is not very deep and has trunks and roots trapped at the bottom; only those who know it well can navigate its turbid waters due to sediment.
I was surprised by the variety of bird species; although we heard their songs and calls, most remained hidden among the foliage, and it was a challenge trying to locate them.
Kingfishers crossed before the boat, trying to catch their prey in quick dives. I managed to follow one to a tree branch; it had a fish in its beak. Perhaps it was not hungry because it did not eat it immediately; it was just looking around without swallowing it.
Many species of herons were on the high tops of the mangrove swamp; they could see their territory from up there. I was surprised by the color of their plumage, especially on the white ibis, because its feathers were beige. When I checked my photographs carefully on my computer screen, I realized that they were covered in mud. The sediment of the river during the rainy season dyes its feathers. I had the same feeling with the Yellow-crowned night heron, white and gray plumage, but all its feathers were brown in the Mangle River.
I could hear the fascinating parrots chatting on a very tall and dry tree, but the backlight was powerful, and they were more than 300 feet away. I barely distinguish them, but at last, I could photograph them.
The boat advanced slowly, there was a lot to explore, and it was impossible to discover all the secrets of this beautiful place. I saw plants with seeds and fruits that were utterly unknown to me; the mangrove roots formed an impenetrable tissue where crabs, oysters, and many species of fish live. They take refuge in that closed world, waiting to be strong enough to live in the outside world.
Iguanas are prehistoric animals with many designs, textures, and colors on their skin; they lazily sunbathed on the treetops, hidden among the thick foliage or on the sand. They have long spines on their head, back, and throat and black and white stripes on their tail.
When leaving the mouth of the river, we visited a small and peculiar islet with some bizarre rock formations called the castle, and it is inhabited by red crabs that jump from stone to stone; I did not know that crabs could jump. The only other inhabitant of the islet was a brown booby; I was reading about it, it is a species in danger, and no colony has been reported in this area; it was a strange sight.