09 January 2011

Up onto the Paramo...ECUADOR (8 Jan. '11)

My first birding of the year was a half-day visit to the windswept paramo grasslands of Antisana, high in the Andes of Ecuador. Although, only a short drive out of Quito, and welcome relief from an extended period in the city. It was great to be back in the field, and as we emerged up onto the upper grasslands we were greeted by the usual site of hundreds of Carunculated Caracaras roaming the "plains" in search of food. Here is a flight shot of one of these (top photo). Also the normal tame high Andean species were in evidence: Plumbeous Sierra-finches (middle photo), both Stout-billed and Chestnut-winged Cinclodes, and even a Paramo Pipit gave the feeling of spring despite the bitterly cold wind that was in evidence, as it sung from a fence post (third photo). Although a little more camera-shy (i.e. I failed comepletly to get a shot) were Antisana largest residents, the enormous Andean Condor, several of which were seen gliding low overhead.

More from Antisana shortly...

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