Remember the Rainforest 1
gathered them with the greatest eagerness. Although the chicks were already well-formed in the eggs, the Indians still devoured them as a snack.
Ciconia americana, the Maguaris
Those Maguaris (Ciconia americana) and some large white egrets (Ardea egretta)
Egret family, the Ardeadae
were currently the only aquatic birds we encountered. The Indians said, too, that they were not laggards, for the remaining bunch had been directed to the other side of the Japura Falls and north, because of the high level of the waters of the Amazon.
This point matches the report of Mr. von Humboldt, according to which the aquatic birds of the Orinoco, after the spring equinox, that is, in the first flood time, fly south, because the height of the waters in that river make food hard to find. In general, however, I found in the Japura, in the months of December to February a few birds of each species (1). On the eve of Christmas, the sky suddenly darkened over us, without a single glimmer of stars; but then it became festive, illuminated by thousands of fireflies, awakened as if by magic, they were emerging from every bush.
We continued the journey, now between islands, now by the northern shore. The Japura may encompass, at its greatest extent in the main channel, at most a quarter of a league offshore, and from one shore of the mainland to the other, it is that wide;
in many places, the depth is low with the main channel an average being five to six bracas. Our toil increased with the increasing current; there were many sunken logs, swarms of mosquitoes, blistering heat, overcast sky, and frequent showers of rain. That is why, despite the efforts of the Indians, we only reached the town of Sao Joao do Principe after five long days of travel.
Sao Joao do Principe
It is situated on the northern shore, here quite elevated, a quarter of an hour below the mouth of the Purcos, one of the largest tributaries on the southern side.
This place, the extreme colony of the Portuguese in Japura, was founded in 1808 by the former Governor, J. J. Vitorio da Costa, brother-in-law of my companion Zani,
Captain Zani ?
and it was settled with families of the tribes
and Jamas, domiciled in the woods of the neighborhood. The benevolent attempts of the insightful founder, who provided for more lively traffic to the village, in whose proximity several chiefs of these tribes owned plantations, were largely disrupted by the establishment of a white judge for the Indians.
(1) The Indians provide for their supply of exotic birds in the following species:
stork family (Jaburu),
and small and large ducks (Potery and Guanana) after February. The birds, then killed by the thousands, are prepared by smoking and sandwiched, all together,
between the spats of the pacovasororoca (Urania amazonica),
or of certain palm trees, and are thus preserved in the cove of the hut.