20 December 2009

Foothill Mornings...(NW Ecuador): December 17, 2009

This was a day of contrasts. We began down at the lowly elevations of 1100m, in an area of foothill forest and then returned back to the subtropics (2300m elevation), by the afternoon. It was a wet day again, and it was soon clear the rainy season has arrived in earnest and the long-standing drought in Ecuador has finally broken. A whole crowd of new birds awaited us at Milpe, as it was our first time in the foothills. We were greeted along the entrance track by a pair of the endemic Choco Toucan, and just after we entered the forest a male Choco Trogon (aka White-eyed Trogon) broke the initial silence we experienced and provided a nice opener. Not long after another splash of color was provided by a superb male Golden-headed Quetzal in virtually the next tree along. The two reserves in the area visited bought us flock after flock: Rufous-throated Tanagers passed through overhead in one flock that also held a striking Slate-colored Grosbeak, and chubby Ochre-breasted Tanagers came through in the understorey within another, while Choco Warblers were conspicuous in all these parties. Soft hooting calls left us to an endemic pigeon, Pallid Dove, that was singing near the parking lot, and a Little Cuckoo was found not too far off there either. Indeed the parking lot was a veritable hot spot, as a male Guayaquil Woodpecker was heard calling from there before he was pinned down on a near truck, showing off his bright red head and a well-marked V on his back. Toucans were prominent today as the recently lumped Pale-mandibled Aracari (or should we now call it merely a Collared Aracari?!) was also added later in the day. A surprise find was a furry number rummaging around on a forest trail, an as yet unidentified species of Agouti, a rare sighting in the northwest where animals are at a premium (see photo). This small private reserve also bought us a Collared Trogon, one of four from this family encountered on this day alone (along with the quetzal, the Choco Trogon at Milpe, and Masked Trogon later at Tandayapa).

1 comment:

Zuri said...

Ecuador is such a diverse and peaceful country. The weather, the colonial cities and the people are just fantastic. Nothing compares to the landscapes of the Highlands, the lush of the Amazon Rainforest, the exotic Beaches of the Coast and the mystery of the Galapagos Islands.