20 December 2009

Late Afternoon Tanager Finch...(Old Nono-Mindo Road, NW Ecuador): December 16, 2009

After the flurry of antpittas and the gobsmacking Orange-breasted Fruiteater at Paz de las Aves I opted to head up the Old Nono-Mindo Road. Gloomy weather overhead did not bring the promise of much. Black clouds gathered, and seemed to drop down to eye level making the viewing conditions challenging to say the least. Of course these subtropical Andean birds love this kind of weather and the activity was good all the way along the road with a number of varied feeding flocks encountered, before we reached our final spot, an area of thick brush and chusquea bamboo along one of the higher stretches of subtropical forest. Huge mossy trees loom overhead here, heavy with the burden of many dark red bromeliads that scatter their thick limbs. However, we were not interested in the impressive trees above, for the rare Tanager Finch lurks in the bamboo understorey. During this damp late afternoon we watched as one of these rare Choco brush-finches emerged out of the underbrush and sung from within the dark shadows, a precursor of a very strange few days where we ran into this rare bird time and again in different spots in the Tandayapa Valley. This photo is of this very first one seen during that wet, and gray late afternoon.

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