11 March 2010

Santa Elena Peninsula...(Ecuador): 4 February 2010

In complete contrast to the high altitude, chilly paramo grasslands visited the day before, we spent a morning on the hot, sweltering Santa Elena Peninsula, right at sea level. Here the vegetation had clearly not seen wet weather for some time as much of it was tinder dry. This coastal scrub holds a bunch of local species, that can often be conveniently easy to come by, the simply use of a pygmy-owl call bringing in many of them to mob the "false" intruder. Pretty quickly we picked up a number of mobbing hordes of Parrot-billed Seedeaters, so named for their strange swollen parrot-like beaks, one of the commonest passerines on this dry peninsula. Other birds within these frenzied mobbing parties included the "horny" Gray-and-white Tyrannulet, that sports a shaggy white crest, several Collared Antshrikes (top photo), a pair of Superciliated Wrens, several mousey Tumbesian Tyrannulets, a few Necklaced Spinetails, a single odd Short-tailed Field-Tyrant, a number of sharp-dressed Collared Warbling-Finches, while the occasional West Peruvian Dove overflew us too. The only colorful vegetation on the peninsula seemed to be several small clumps of scarlet flowers, one of which attracted a lone Short-tailed Woodstar. Once the morning heated up, activity began to die (and frankly we ran out of species to look for), we hit the coastal strip and checked the coastal lagoons of Ecuasal where a pack of Chilean Flamingos (bottom photo) stood out from the surrounding packs of wintering North American waders and shorebirds that included hundreds of Wilson's Phalaropes, and many sandpipers, dowitchers, plovers, terns and gulls.

In the afternoon (after a seafood spread in Salinas) we headed for Mantaraya Lodge and the woods that line the Rio Ayampe...

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