10 August 2009

A Tale of Two Antpittas…(NW Ecuador): August 2009

Giant Antpitta is a very rare species that in recent years, with the advent of Angel Paz’s “antpitta farm”, Paz de las Aves, has become “gettable” as he has habituated several of them there. One of the Giant Antpittas at his site has been reliable (on and off) for the last 4 years and he has named that individual Maria. Away from there however, the bird remains extremely difficult to see or even hear, and encounters are very rare.

These photos were taken on a recent short “Introtour” of northwest Ecuador, with a group of seven people based out of Tandayapa Lodge. One of the biggest surprises of the tour was when we dropped in to check out the hummingbird feeders at Bellavista Lodge (that held Collared Inca and Gorgeted Sunangel and others), just up the valley from Tandayapa Lodge, and one of the group Harvey comes to me with the question “what is this bird?” and then proceeded to show me a full frame shot of a Giant Antpitta. This does not happen everyday! I frantically asked him where he had seen the bird and pretty soon we were all gathered around the public toilets while a very bold, fearless Giant Antpitta bounced around on the path beside us. Superb, and a very nice surprise. I since found out this particular bird has been visiting the lodge every day over the past month for no apparent reason. Someone did throw some rice out for it while we were there, although unsurprisingly this insectivorous bird showed absolutely no interest in it!

The bottom bird is the Bellavista bird, photographed on August 3rd. The top photo is “Old Faithful” Maria, Angel’s most reliable Giant Antpitta, shot at Paz de las Aves just a couple of days later on August 6.

It seems there has never been a better time to try and get this very rare species on your list.

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