14 December 2010

The Perfect Ten Antpittas...ECUADOR (13-14 December 2010)

We headed up into the scenically stunning highlands of Cerro Toledo in 4WD's to cope with the rough Andean road. As we bumped our way up there cloud rolled in and out, revealing a spectacular Andean vista with it. The birds was top notch too. We were here for a very special, rare and local hummingbird, and we got it: a rosy-throated male Neblina Metaltail. Also there was a party of Masked Mountain-Tanagers, Mouse-colored Thistletail, and a little lower down Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager and a friendly group of Orange-banded Flycatchers.

In the evening we arrived at Tapichalaca, the home of the Jocotoco Antpitta (new to science in 1997, and one of THE great ornithological discoveries of the 20th Century). After dinner we headed out from the lodge in unusually blustery conditions and bagged a pair of White-throated Screech-Owls (top photo).
Today we watched a Jocotoco Antpitta bounding around our feet (bottom 2 photos), in spite of its incredible rarity, and also picked up another two antpittas: the dinky Slate-crowned Antpitta, and substantial Chestnut-naped Antpitta, bringing our antpitta tally to TEN SPECIES so far. We ended a very enjoyable day (that also brought us Maranon Thrush and the wonderful Grass-green Tanager-one of the classic Andean tanagers) watching an Andean Potoo ignoring the wind and standing sentry on a dead snag on a high ridge top.

Off to the amazing Copalinga Lodge tomorrow, that is perched on the edge of Podocarpus National Park, a tanager hot spot of note. We have currently tallied 64 tanagers for the trip and with some luck might just crack 70 species for the tour!!!

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