08 March 2012

Size matters (ECUADOR) 21 Feb.


In the afternoon we crossed over the high pass at Papallacta-4000m/13,125ft (as ever cloaked in heavy cloud, mist and rain!), and descended to Guango Lodge, nestled within wet mossy cloudforest alongside the rushing Guango River on the eastern slope of the Andes. Betty was soon enjoying the abundance of photo opportunities of the hummers which were not perturbed by the gloomy, chilly conditions. Tourmaline Sunangels dashed this way and that, revealing it's ruby colored throat when twisting its neck towards us, White-bellied Woodstars buzzed, bee-like around the feeders, while dapper male Collared Incas watched alongside, dressed as if in a tuxedo with their immaculate black and white plumage. However, the "prince of Guango", and their celebrity bird, is undoubtedly the dramatic Sword-billed Hummingbird, a bird that possesses the longest bill of any bird, (relative to body size). Seeing them again always reminds me of a BBC program that first brought them into my life, "Birds of the Sun God", narrated by the legendary David Attenborough, when I was a kid and being mesmerized by a shot of this incredibles bird. The cameraman took his time as he swept along the full length of its bill, accentuating its extraordinary length as he did so. I longed to see one, and then ten years or so later I was on one of my first birding experiences in Ecuador, around the town of Papallacta (a stone's throw away from Guango no less), and a movement caught my eye around a large bloom of Angel's Trumpets. My eyes quickly latched onto a hummingbird hovering at the rim of a large flower. I fixed on it, not daring to believe, though thinking what else would be quipped to probe into this enormous flowers. As if to confirm my hopes the bird began to slowly back out, revealing its most famous feature as it did so, a true living cartoon if ever there was one!

More from Guango, and the bird-rich slopes of the Andes, to come...


2 comments:

Christian said...

That, is unbelievable! Superb shot of serious interest.

Sam Woods said...

The good thing is if you make it to Ecuador...it is easy!