20 March 2010

Andes Custom Introtour Day 1 (Ecuador) 25 Feb 2010

A very special gang of birding friends began a tour with me on this day, a mixed group from the Magee Marsh area of Ohio. A mixture of folks from the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Ottawa NWR, and Maumee Bay State Park came over to Ecuador to find out what all the fuss is about. So I set about showing them... We began on the cloudy slopes of Pichincha, at the spectacular hummingbird reserve of Yanacocha, just a short drive from the capital Quito. The Andes is ALL about multicolored mixed flocks and the craziness of this all, and we saw this first hand. Among the melee of species present we picked out several butch tanagers including the striking Scarlet-bellied & Black-chested Mountain-Tanagers, Blue-backed Conebills, and the strangely-named Superciliaried Hemispingus (much to Laura's delight!) Also along the trail was an all too brief Barred Fruiteater, and a not so brief Ocellated Tapaculo that already was vying for bird of the trip just a few hours in. This polka-dotted Andean beauty is tough to beat in my book, and not surprisingly another group soon joined up with us eagerly to treasure this cool mountain bird.

The hummer feeders were predictably busy, with the outrageous Sword-billed Hummingbird proving the showstopper there (one of an outstanding 24 hummer species seen that day here and at Tandayapa Lodge in the late afternoon), competing not only with hummers but several nectar parasites too, in the form of several cobalt blue Masked Flowerpiercers and Glossy Flowerpiercers too (top photos).

Over lunch a
Tawny Antpitta came to check us out, popping onto a fence post and glaring at us (jealously) while we picnicked on site! The afternoon was quieter but thrilling all the same for a couple of notable additions: the dreamy blue Turquoise Jay (bottom photo), and the gob-smacking Andean Cock-of-the-rock, dressed in bright vermilion, munching on cecropia catkins.

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