08 December 2012

Bearly time for Frogging!...ECUADOR (25-26 Nov)


By the time the rain stopped at Maquipucuna, and the Rufous Motmot had long since gone to roost, the frogs reacted in style, with a solid and resounding chorus ringing through the night, of at least three species right around where we stayed. I only managed to find one, which I am having a little difficulty in identifying, but it posed with aplomb for photos.


 



Next morning dawned bright, and Rebecca and I headed out for some early morning birding before we hot the "bear trail" again. We started with a few skulkers with winning views of South America's version of Asia's Pygmy Wren-Babbler, the Southern Nightingale-Wren, followed shortly after by views of an immaculate Orange-billed Sparrow. Then our attentions were once again back on to all things furry, and it did not take long to find our first of the day. We bumped in to a volunteer virtually sprinting back down the trail having caught up with an early morning bear, and was still clearly dealing with the high from this. Moments later we were enjoying what was presumably the same, somewhat bold, bear, brazenly feeding in the open, then launching a brazen attack on us as we watched which comprised of bear piss and poop. I was so busy enjoying the bear I very nearly got caught in the substantial crossfire. I was simply absorbed in the moment. Then, suddenly, it shinned down the tree, within mere feet of a beaming Rebecca, and then scrambled rather clumsily up a bank and away. Finally, our last bear sighting was the longest one yet. While lacking the extreme closeness of the former, and certainly lacking the drama of the "bear shower", it was a unique sighting. It continued to feed at length while we watched on, as the bear foraged at some 15-20m up, sniffing for its favoured fruits, then, when clapping eyes on it, and realising it was placed precariously at the prominence of a slender branch which would clearly not carry it substantial weight, displayed its raw power by gnawing on the base of the branch until it began to show the strain from its bite and then grabbed the falling limb with its teeth, just as it appeared to be falling from its reach. Then it turned it around gingerly, ensuring the fruits were now placed clos to its mouth, and cleaned the branch of its bounty within a matter of minutes. afterwhich it was happy to let the branch come crashing to earth, once it was done with it.

All too soon we had to turn about face and return to Quito, taking a scarlet Andean Cock-of-the-rock along the return journey.

Next up was another visit to the "kingdom of the bears", and an irresistible chance to take in the Banded Ground-Cuckoo just one more time...

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