20 December 2009

Fruits of the Forest...(Paz de las Aves, NW Ecuador): December 16, 2009

The second day of the tour involved a visit to the magical Refugio Paz de las Aves, world famous as an "antpitta paradise", as the local farmers have habituated a number of species and individuals there. Any talk of this place inevitably focuses on these, and sure enough we ended up seeing 3 Giant, and 2 Moustached Antpittas, as well as 1 Yellow-breasted Antpitta in just a few crazy hours on site. And all almost got under our feet. However, the place is also rich in other species, and especially frugivorous birds that come to feed within the many fruiting trees that scatter this small, private reserve. Before the antpitta frenzy (and just after we had been shown an inconspicuously roosting Rufous-bellied Nighthawk-photo), we stood guard at one of these and watched on as a pair of Toucan Barbets, a single male Golden-headed Quetzal, an Olivaceous Piha, and several Crimson-rumped Toucanets came in to feast in a tree loaded with small green fruits. We then returned to join the rest of the expectant crowd for antpittas, although were delayed a little to watch a Cloud-forest Pygmy-Owl sitting quietly in a tiny window high in the trees.

After the antpittas we enjoyed a heavy brunch of local bolones and empanadas, and were distracted by the visit of another spectacular fruit-eating bird, this one a gorgeous male Orange-breasted Fruiteater that popped in to feed on cecropia catkins right beside the cafe where we were brunching, for unstoppable views of this scarce and beautiful endemic cotinga...(top photo)

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