18 January 2010

Napo Wildlife Center: Amazon Day 5…Ecuador: December 30, 2009

This day did not turn out to be particularly birdy, and was certainly not a good numbers day. However, it was really about one very special bird. We breakfasted in darkness and then were quietly paddled to the start of the Tiputini Trail just as the birds and animals were waking up. There were many distracting noises but we had to remain focused, ignore them, and keep on track to get to a specific area further up the trail. An hour and half later we reached the spot. It did not look particularly special, or different from any other spot, but one loud call later confirmed we were indeed in a very special part of the forest, for the calls came from a Black-necked Red Cotinga (top two photos), and this was its lek area, where several males regularly come to call and advertise their presence to females. The loud and distinctive call was electrifying, but this crimson vision still remained out of sight. In fact over the next hour as we tracked this striking bird it soon became apparent that despite its vivid red colors and being a fair size, this could be one tricky customer to lay eyes on, and used the foliage well to hide its dazzling plumage. Over the next hour though we did track it down and spend a long time admiring this Amazonian beauty to good effect. The only trouble with being so single-minded in our pursuit of this bird is we had to walk past a number of key birds en-route. Sadly after the cotinga show the rainforest quickly died down. Our best period of activity was when we literally walked into an army antswarm that held five species of antbird including the incomparable White-plumed Antbird. Always a highlight whenever it appears. However on the way back we did pick up a male Black-throated Trogon sitting quietly in the undergrowth, a noisy Citron-bellied Attila that quickly alerted us to its presence by virtue of its loud, far-carrying call, and after a considerable search a spiffing male Striped Manakin was scoped up for all.

Our afternoon was a little more chilled out. We dropped off our muck boots and enjoyed a more tranquil period swanning down a quiet creek, where at one time we followed a Giant Otter as it played with a fish mid-stream (bottom photo). Also along the creek was a belated first Long-billed Woodcreeper of the trip (whose calls had been haunting us for days now!), and a Silvered Antbird. We finished just before the sun sank below the horizon watching a Blackish Nightjar perched on an open branch.


Derek Kverno said...

Wow, that's a gorgeous bird! You make it sound like it wasn't worth it, though, as you had to pass up so many other birds on the way to the lek. What could be better than the cotinga, I wonder?

Thanks again for frequently updating your wonderful blog, Sam.

Sam Woods said...

No, no it was well worth it believe me. I gave completely the wrong impression there!