02 August 2011


Well after way too long out of the field I went on an "exploratory weekend" with Andrew Spencer into the heart of the Choco region (Esmeraldas province), seeking rare birds and chasing Choco endemics. Checking in to a "shady" hotel in Lita we were set for a Saturday onslaught on the "Awa Trail", a known haunt for a much-wanted lifer for me: GOLDEN-CHESTED TANAGER. I had tried this trail years before but ending up abandoning the trail due to unbearable muddy conditions. So I prepared for the worst (wore a pair of trousers I was prepared to lose!) and we headed through the boggy pasture and into the forest. We enjoyed a cracking day on this trail with a number of cool Choco endemics sprinkled on the list,(including some ten or so Scarlet-and-white Tanagers that included more than a few jaw dropping males). We had barely got into the forest when Andrew (who was in the front) gestured to an Indigo-crowned Quail-Dove bobbing along the trail. Not long later Andrew was a little more excited when he clapped eyes on my lifer Golden-chested Tanager (the bird pictured above and the "Bangsia" of the title, its genus). I hurried back through the mud (which was by no means swift or subtle), and amazingly this gorgeous tanager remained there and stared down at us with little sign of shyness at all. By the end of the day we managed to bump into at least three more groups of this super bird, along with a very co-operative White-tipped Sicklebill, an unusally showy Choco Tapaculo and a whole bunch of other cool species. An exhausting though thoroughly exhilarating day in the foothills of the Andes.

We could not resist a late afternoon check of nearby Yalare-to see if any forest (or birds remained)...


Birding Blogger said...

What, no Star-Chested Treerunner?

Sounds like an amazing day! I always wanted to see this tanager but missed it several times at Canande as well as at Playa de Oro. I wonder if the Lita area will ever draw more birders.

Congratulations on the photo, too!

Derek Kverno

Sam Woods said...

The site was a little too low for the treerunner although we went tom the exciting new Chical Road a few days later (post to come) and got the treerunner along with a whole bunch of rare Choco birds-one of my best two days in the field in Ecuador ever. I had missed the tanager at the two sites you mentioned too, which I think are not anywhere as good or reliable as this new site.

Rebecca Lewis said...

Sam, I always feel like I am there with you when I read your descriptions. Sounds like an outstanding trip.