11 January 2010

Sacha: Amazon Day 2 (Part I)…Ecuador: December 27, 2009

This was one of those classic Amazonian days that are just a joy to be part of. Tons of birds, and a good mix of birding: we began on Sacha’s magnificent canopy walkway, hit the trails in the terra firme forest behind the lodge, and then in the afternoon enjoyed a relaxing canoe ride in varzea forest.

On the way to the walkway we called in a striking Collared Puffbird that sat there in the gloom in our scope for some time. Also on this walk was a very close Rusty-belted Tapaculo that tried its best to hide itself behind a dead log, but failed as by then the game was up as we had already clapped eyes on it.

The walkway was slow to get going but eventually we began racking up new birds, and notably many ones with outlandish colors. Through the morning we saw 6 species of cotinga, including Purple-throated, Plum-throated, & Spangled Cotingas from the walkway, and a number of toucans too, including White-throated Toucans, and Ivory-billed & Many-banded Aracaris. Tanagers of color were out too; at one point Opal-crowned and Opal-rumped Tanagers were sat side by side. Also from our lofty position looking down on massive rainforest trees we enjoyed a pair of Bronzy Jacamars (bottom photo), and a majestic perched Ornate Hawk-Eagle.

On the trails en-route back to the lodge the fine form continued with an outrageous pair of manakins sitting side-by-side on the same branch. It was almost as if the male Golden-headed Manakin had attracted in the male Wire-tailed Manakin as they both tried their hardest to outperform each other. It truly was an “eye-damaging” burst of color! One of the most melodic and beautiful songs in all of the tropics was then heard a short time later, and a little use of playback brought in the culprit, a marvelous Musician Wren (middle photo). The same area also held a superb Striated Antthrush that strutted across the trail beside us. We then made one final, very special stop before lunch, at a known stakeout for Crested Owl (top photo), where we soon found one of them sat there. It glared straight at us with a powerful, almost hypnotic stare that left us feeling more than a little intimidated, before we had to force ourselves to leave it and break for lunch!

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