11 March 2012

Antpittas & Oilbirds...ECUADOR 23 Feb.

We enjoyed breakfast as the sun rose at San Isidro, and then walked out of the restaurant to take in the intense activity around the lodge shortly after dawn. Large lights draw in a myriad of moths during the night, creating a flurry of activity at daybreak as birds come in to pick off the hapless insects which have arrived overnight.

A pair of Masked Trogons were one of the first birds to show themselves, while Olive-backed and Montane Woodcreepers plucked moths from the same telephone pole. Vermilion-rumped Subtropical Caciques and giant Russet-backed Oropendolas were noisy and hard to miss, while more subtle were the Canada and Blackburnian Warblers flitting in the understorey. Many of these were looking pristine in newly gained spring plumage, indicating that it will soon be time for them to head north from the tropics to their boreal breeding grounds. The seemingly resident family "flock" of Crested Quetzals also soon appeared, and peaked at six birds at one time! Flocks in the area also held the dashing Saffron-crowned Tanager, and a very confiding Cinnamon Flycatcher (above) among others.

A special trip was taken to watch a pair of White-bellied Antpittas being fed in the forest behind the restaurant, although as rain fell heavily, the other antpitta we'd hoped for, Peruvian refused to show and we soon retreated for cover from the heavy downpour. Walks around San Isidro completed a brace of quetzals with a male Golden-headed Quetzal also found, a very cute Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher, (above) as well as this confiding Bluish Flowerpiercer (below).

At dusk we positioned ourselves along the road and enjoyed the spectacle of more than 20 Oilbirds passing over as the light faded, with the aid of a flashlight, and later in the evening the striking "San Isidro Mystery Owl" showed up again and glared fiercely back at us.

Next up was a hummingbird bonanza at Wild Sumaco Lodge...

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