14 December 2009

Strangely named Woodpeckers in the foothills...(Milpe, NW Ecuador): November 2009

This is a photo taken of a female Guayaquil Woodpecker on a recent tour of NW Ecuador. This shot was taken in the foothill reserve of Milpe, a small 62ha sanctuary near the town of San Miguel de Los Bancos in Pichincha province. Guayaquil Woodpecker occurs only on the western side of the Andes, from SW Colmbia through Ecuador to NW Peru. It is currently listed as near-threatened, although is thought to be delicining due to habitat fragmentation. The bird occurs at Milpe with another very similar conspecific species, Lineated Woodpecker. However, the female Guayaquil has a much broader white stripe on the side of the head, and the white mantle braces meet on a Guayaquil, forming a distinct V shape (on a Lineated they do not meet to make a point). This was one of a pair, although the male managed to avoid my camera!

Other birds recorded that day at Milpe included croaking Choco Toucans, a pair of Choco Trogons, Lanceolated Monklet, a butch Brown-billed Scythebill hugging a mossy rainforest trunk, a newly recognized species: Choco Tyrannulet, (split from Golden-faced last year), a marvellous male Scaled Fruiteater which gave its strange, raptor like call, multiple Choco Warblers, a breathtaking male Yellow-tufted Dacnis, and several of the endemic Rufous-throated Tanager, to name but a few seen in a day of more than 100 species.

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