10 January 2010

Pihas and Spadebills at Sumaco...(Sumaco, E Ecuador): December 23 - 25, 2009

The run up to Xmas at Sumaco was superb. The birding was excellent despite the regular heavy rains that haunted us, but the food at the WildSumaco Lodge kept our spirirts up-superb. One day we were rained off the trail at peak time in the morning (just after I clapped eyes on a Chestnut-crowned Gnateater clasped to the side of a vertical stem), returned at the first hint of the rain stopping, and quickly picked up a Gray-tailed Piha sitting quietly in the subcanopy: a lifebird all round! Another day saw us walking the F.A.C.E. trail where I was soon smarting at having left my camera in my room, as a pair of gorgeous Scarlet-breasted Fruiteaters were watched nest building at extremely close quarters, below eye level. I could only imagine what the photo might have been! Before we got on the trail though we were overflown by one of the lodges star birds, a Military Macaw that noisyl passed overhead twice before we had even reached the trail. We also could not resist another look at the hummers feeders where all the regulars were there including this Black-throated Brilliant. Late that same afternoon we watched a Blackish Rail come stomping angrily out of the reeds with the use of a little playback! Our final day there was Christmas Day, which was special in many ways. Early on we targeted a rare flycatcher, the Red-billed Tyrannulet, that responded very well and we watched it for some time in the 'scope. Then we decided to have last walk on the Piha Trail, where we soon picked up a Wing-banded Wren near the start, continued with the ultra-rare Yellow-throated Spadebill (a strange spadebill in that you have to look up to see it, and not low in the understorey like many other spadebill species). Our finale was a superb Crimson-bellied Woodpecker, before we finally had to leave the foothills and dropped down to the oil town of Coca to catch our boat to the Amazon...

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