27 July 2009

Palenque's Island Paradise (NW Ecuador): July 6, 2009

Took a visit to the forest island of Rio Palenque, a magical bit of lowland rainforest hemmed in on all sides by plantations. Despite the grim reality, Palenque is a great place to bird and provides an easy going place to go after lowland forest species. I enjoyed a day here watching a Black-headed Antthrush walk with its chicken-like gait through the leaf litter, bumping into White-whiskered Puffbirds (see photo) "hissing" at me from the forest edge, observing Red-billed Scythebills, with their absurdly curved reddish bills creeping up trunks of trees, and watching the ginger form of the rare Ochraceous Attila hanging our in a young plantation at the forest edge. Not where you would think to look for an endangered species at all, although that is excatly where it likes to be at Palenque. Best of all though I finally nailed my all time nemesis bird in Ecuador, Little Tinamou, that finally put me out of my misery by walking across an open trail. It was a long and painful wait! Other highlights included a "barrage" of trogons in one particular area where Ecuadorian Trogons tried to outcall the neighbouring White-taled and Violaceous Trogons which were all shouting at each other in a small patch of open forest. A cute Pacific Pymgy-Owl also came in to check me out, a Ruddy Foliage-gleaner provided a rare treat by uncharacteristically staying put on an open branch for a while, a group of Orange-fronted Barbets (see photo) sprayed sawdust down on me as they excavated a hole, and several Whiskered Wrens and Gray-and-gold Warblers were found creeping around the understorey. A small reserve, but one that from this day at least appears to be packed with good birds.

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