01 March 2011

Stalking Seedsnipes...ECUADOR (23 Feb.)

After an uneventful afternoon shooting hummers at Guango Lodge, where the most notable thing was something we did NOT see: Sword-billed Hummingbird. This flagship bird for Guango, (that could arguably be referred to normally as the best site on Earth for this incredible bird), was nowhere to be found! So having got a flashcard full of all the other hummers, me and my photographers took a gamble and ascended over Papallacta Pass and then up to a heady 4200m in pursuit of a strange Andean shorebird. At these heights your biggest challenge is often not the bird being around, but the weather holding off long enough to give you a realistic chance of finding it. While we got distracted by brilliant purple-hooded male Ecuadorian Hillstars feeding on their beloved orange, thistle-like Chuquiragua flowers on the way up, we finally decided to push on to the top which was intermittently clear (a rare thing). On arriving at the top I began a circuit of the antennas, and suddenly heard a low muffled sound that I knew well, a Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe was shuffling along ahead of me, mere feet away. This bizarre bird is a shorebird and not a gamebird in spite of its rather Ptarmigan like appearance and behavior-it likes to be in amongst cushion plants high in the mountains. Soon enough we were all slowly stalking it through the moss, and the bird gave outstanding views....I love the high Andes such a great environment to bird in: clear air, beautiful scenery, and strange birds!

More from the Andes very soon...

1 comment:

Sam Woods said...

On this day we only had one bird, which I was a little surprised at as usually you encounter a pair there. However, I had been told they had recently been nesting, so presumed the other bird to be sitting at the time. Sadly though news has come out in the last few days that another bird was found dead there, I hope the species can continue to survive there, as they have become scarce in recent years, allegedly due to attacks from local dogs.