17 March 2010

Tapichalaca Tapaculos (Ecuador): 17 Feb 2010

With just a morning to continue exploring Tapichalaca before we had to head north to the colonial city of Cuenca, Rich decided to return to the Jocotoco Trail, although not just for a shot at seeing the adult antpittas that were uncharacteristically absent the day before (when the juvenile entertained us instead), but also for the chance of one spotty tapaculo. However, first up was a tapaculo but not the special polka-dotted one that Rich was so keen on, but a Chusquea Tapaculo, that was visiting the compost pile behind the lodge. On our way up the Jocotoco Trail we bumped into a striking Long-tailed Antbird, and pretty soon after re-acquainted ourselves with the young Jocotoco Antpitta, that simply would not leave us alone. At one point, once we thought we had lost it, we watched as it literally stalked us along the trail!

Having lost the antpitta we tried the tape a couple of times for the Ocellated Tapaculo that we so wanted this morning, to no avail. We spent a little time trying for and finally getting a marvelous Barred Antthrush a little further on, before returning to the "tapaculo" spot a little later. On returning to the very same spot just thirty minutes or so later we were startled to hear a pair of Ocellated Tapaculos calling loudly! What followed was the greatest Ocellated Tapaculo show that I had ever experienced. Just a quick burst of tape bought them crashing clumsily through the undergrowth, and periodically emerging out of the dark depths to call back from an open branch. This culminated in one particularly excitable bird that actually landed on the open trails beside me. Thankfully I did not stand open mouthed for too long and managed to crack one shot off of this once in a lifetime performance...(top photo). One of the classic Andean birds for sure, with its cherry-red face, and boldly dotted plumage.

With time running out, what with all the time we had spent with the polka-dotted one, we hastened back down the trail, only to be distracted by the arrival of the two adult Jocotoco Antpittas that were a little less shameful than the tame juvenile, at least occasionally retreating into cover! (bottom two photos) After leaving Tapichalaca (seeing a gorgeous Golden-crowned Tanager as we left), we endured the long, long drive to Cuenca, after which we settled in to our hotel, and started thinking ahead to tomorrows final day, in the high Andean paramo of El Cajas...

1 comment:

Lee Dingain said...

Superb photo of the Jocotoco on the tree buttress!