04 January 2011

Orange-throated beauty...ECUADOR (26 Dec '10)

After 5 years in Ecuador enough was enough, I simply had to see an Orange-throated Tanager. It was not embarassing not to have seen it thus far, after all it is very rare and local, and as yet I had not been to the area. A plan was hatched with Nick Athanas and Iain Campbell, (who had both seen one already) to visit Yankuam Lodge in extreme southeast Ecuador, in the shadow of Peru... The lodge has been established for years and is the known best site in the world for this tanager, although an exciting new road into forest on the far side of the river had recently opened up new birding areas and led to interesting exciting new discoveries. We simply could not resist. This also meant a bumpy ride (and a strange ferry crossing) was now all that was needed to connect with the tanager, instead of the famed muddy, difficult hike of old.

We reached the spot, after several delays due to devious hitch-hikers who took us off route , and straight after leaping out of the car the tanagers were heard overhead. A little playback brought a small group of these stunning Orange-throated Tanagers into a near tree, for poor photos to be obtained (photos). The photos may be bad, although the bird is so breathtaking I hope the sheer beauty of this rare bird shines through nonetheless?!
After sleeping off the middle of the day in the car we set off for other scarce birds once the day had cooled a little. Nick went one way I went the other, and when we met up we swapped sightings. I managed to find a vocal pair of Blackish Pewees one way (my 2nd lifer of the day), and Nick had found a White-bellied Pygmy-Tyrant, only very recently found at this site as a first record for Ecuador. We raced back for the pewees just as rain started to slash down, and swiftly after (amid fears we would be cut off from returning back across the river ), we set off for the pygmy-tyrant, and enjoyed smashing views of this tiny rare flycatcher. After tracking an antwswarm that had Hairy-crested Antbird and Zimmer's Antbird in attendance we returned to the lodge with no ferry problems, elated after a landmark day in Ecuador, that brought me 3 lifers, even after five years in the country!

More to come from the Yankuam area, and the famous Tepui Trail, that held the promise of more rare "Peruvian" species...

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