02 March 2009

The Woodstars of Manabi…(Ayampe, Ecuador): 19 – 21 February 2009

We made several visits to the lowland deciduous woods (19m) flanking the Rio Ayampe (Manabi province) on the extension that holds one of the rarest hummingbirds in the world at this time of year, the thimble-sized Esmeraldas Woodstar. This endemic bird has a tiny world population, and most sightings come from this area for just a few months of the year. Thereafter the bird vanishes and as yet no-one knows where. The need for recent rumours of conservation organizations looking at purchasing land in the area to become a reality were all too evident from the visible chainsaws in the area, and increasingly patchy nature of the habitat. In spite of this the dinky woodstar was all too easy, a male having returned to his favoured snag, where he spent most of the time rooted to it, occasionally flying off to feed for a few minutes before returning, and on one occasion to chase off an intruding male rival. An exquisite hummer for sure. In the end we had three separate males in the Ayampe area, and also found a single Little Woodstar too, another bird that is not all that common either. The same area produced a pair of Slaty Becards, a powerful Pacific Royal Flycatcher, Grey Hawk, Ecuadorian Piculet, and a couple of White-backed Fire-eyes. A brief visit to the Agua Blanca section of Machalilla NP produced many Pacific or West Peruvian Doves and best of all a perfect performance from a Pale-browed Tinamou that came stomping towards us.

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