15 March 2010

Buenaventura one more time...(S Ecuador): 12 - 13 Feb 2010

Two days were spent in the misty foothills on the west slope of the Andes in Buenaventura reserve, before we continued our journey south out of El Oro province into the southern province of Loja. In Buenaventura deep mooing calls after dawn had us peering into the treetops for large black shapes. A sudden substantial movement overhead caught our eyes and there in all its considerable glory was a hulking Long-wattled Umbrellabird. A little later we homed in on another more impressive individual that had its strange wattle stretched out to full effect, all 30+cm of it! As that is not enough with this oversized cotinga, its also sports a punk hair cut. The other main highlight from Buenaventura was the endemic El Oro Parakeet, a species only first described as recently 1988, and an endangered Ecuadorian endemic that perhaps numbers as few as 250 birds in the world. This reserve is their stronghold, with some 200 or so birds estimated from here. In spite of all of this you would think it would be a little tricky to find. However, we walked up into a muddy pasture and checked on a few wooden nest boxes, striking gold (El Oro means gold in Spanish), at the third attempt when we found five lined up on the lid of the nest box. We then stood transfixed as these approachable parrots flew into the tree we were standing next to and played amongst themselves while we watched on (and cursed the fact our cameras were sitting pointlessly on the front seat of the vehicle!)

Other highlights from the reserve included Red-masked Parakeet, screeching Gray-backed Hawks, Brownish Twistwing, Choco & Chestnut-mandibled Toucans, displaying Club-winged Manakins (top photo), and a hulking female Guayaquil Woodpecker. However, one of the other attractions of this Andean reserve is the buzzing hummer feeders, which were typically crowded with hummingbirds of all shapes and sizes, and at least 16 hummingbird species were seen by us in the reserve over our two days. The dry humid woods of Jorupe were up next...

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