23 November 2012

Trogons, Tanagers, & Puffbirds...ECUADOR (10-13 Nov)

My tour with the strange bunch of people from the Cape Bird Club (I mean this in a very good way!), continued with some ventures to lower altitudes, as day trips from Tandayapa Bird Lodge.  We visited Milpe first, in the Andean foothills, where new birds came thick and fast with our drop in altitude, including their star bird, the displaying Club-winged Manakin, which won the BIRD OF THE DAY vote at the evening dinner, although other highlights there included a handsome and beautiful songster, the Spotted Nightingale-Thrush, displaying White-bearded Manakins which sound remarkably like firecrackers, and a surprise group of Crested Guans hiding out in the early morning mist (a rare bird at this reserve).

On another day we dropped down further still, traveling extremely early in the morning to get to the lowland Rio Silanche reserve, which like Milpe is run by the Ecuadorian NGO, the Mindo Cloudforest Foundation. Like Milpe this yielded a day list of over one hundred species, with an overwhelming amount of new birds for the group (which they welcomed with open arms). Among the stars of the day were a number of flock following birds, including the endemic Orange-fronted Barbet, Scarlet-browed Tanager, and the striking Black-striped Woodcreeper (the best of its kind on the west slope of the Andes in Ecuador in my opinion).Other standouts included a dashing scarlet-headed male Guayaquil Woodpecker (named after Ecuador's most populous city), a hissing pair of White-whiskered Puffbirds, a bright-eyed Choco Trogon, and Vernon found an outrageous Spectacled Owl which glared at us with ferocious intensity from its day roost. Once we had seen this spectacular owl so well in full daylight, it was pretty clear this bird would win the BIRD OF THE DAY vote, though sadly it lifted off just before my lens captured this magic moment---gutted!

More to come from this adventure with the Cape Bird Club in the Andes of Ecuador, very soon...

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