So, it all started with a bird named Lulu, Lulu's Tody-Flycatcher, a great named bird if ever there as one, which, unfortunately, has been now officially name Johnson's Tody-Flycatcher. I still vehemently vote for Lulu! Much of the day was spent birding in and around the excellent Owlet Lodge in Abra Patricia. This fantastic birder's lodge, set up to preserve the habitat for its famous and rare owlet (Long-whiskered), has a series of trails, which are marked with small signs with bird names slapped upon them. Now I have seen this before at reserves, but rarely do you find the birds beside the appropriate sign. But not at this lodge; we picked up Lulu, right beside the sign bearing its name; this is the way birding should be.
We then left the lodge and birded along the road below the lodge for a while, walking along another of their trails much further down the road. We were here to try for a scarce flycatcher, and try our luck with the first of several antpittas we were hoping for in this area. While Nick played for the flycatcher, I tried for the antpitta. While we worked on these, we nailed down a Bar-winged Wood-Wren that took little persuasion to come in and check us out. Not long after Nick's target responded from a swathe of bamboo: Cinnamon-breasted Tody-Tyrant, and it did not take long before we saw a pair of these spritely birds. Then. a shiver went up my spine; behind us an Ochre-fronted Antpitta called back rather belatedly. We quickly backtracked and could hear it calling close, it felt like we should be able to see it, but no amount of scanning could track it down. I nervously pressed play on my I-Pod, keeping the volume down, and instantly, it popped up onto an open branch! Amazingly, it lingered there, so we could approach closer and train our cameras on it at length. It was a very special antpitta sightings indeed.
During the remainder of the morning, we picked up more White-capped Tanagers (five this time, compared with seven the day before), a White-collared Jay, a Highland Elaenia (which was a rather lame lifer for me), and enjoyed a flurry of tanagers, dominated by Flame-faced Tanagers, Saffron-crowned Tanagers, and Silvery Tanagers.
After lunch, we decided to try one of the local trails at the lodge, after a brief rest. We headed off down the trail with rain looking imminent. Luckily it stayed away for an hour, which was just enough time to find a White-faced Nunbird, sitting high above a sign with its name on of course, and a super Red-hooded Tanager. Much of the rest of the afternoon was rained off, but, when you have just added a nunbird of this quality to the list, that was fairly easy to take.
More from Abra Patricia and Afluente came the next day, a day which was even better than this one!