20 November 2010

High Andean Dreams...Ecuador: 20 Nov 2010

Just a quick interlude from my "Galapagos Diary" to update from today in the field.

I had a mega days birding at Papallacta in the high Andes of Ecuador. We arrived at the pass with snow dusting the scenic paramo, and clear skies bringing spectacular looks at two neighboring giants: Antisana (photo three), and Cotopaxi (photo two) volcanoes. As we drove up to the heady heights of 4200m we noted Paramo Ground-Tyrants hopping along the snow covered verges (photo four), and an exquisite violet-hooded male Ecuadorian Hillstar probed the thistle-like chuquiragua plants. Once we reached the top it was all about trying to find the "Andean Grouse", actually a shorebird called Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe. A lot of walking, catching our breath, and then finally there they were, two birds shuffling through the snow-covered moss, that allowed us to walk right up to them (within 5 feet! top photo)

Then we dropped down lower and wandered into the polylepis woodland, where instantly a pair of Giant Conebills showed up, creeping nuthatch like up the trunks as they do. A bonus was also finding the ultra-skulking Paramao Tapaculo that very nearly got its photo taken.

After a brief stint with Sword-billed Hummingbirds at Guango, and a pair of Torrent Ducks along the Rio there, we finished up in the atmospheric elfin forest, where right "at the death" a pair of Masked Mountain-Tanagers showed up in a large flock of Black-backed Bush-Tanagers.

A great Andean day...


Lee Dingain said...

Great shots Sam! I'm dreading the day you buy that 7D!!

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