22 December 2012

Back to the "patch"...ECUADOR (12 Dec)

In Ecuador, and indeed over the past 7 years, Tandayapa Bird Lodge has felt like my home patch, as I have been there more than anywhere else. I am certainly not complaining about that! I continued my time with the folks from the oldest bird club in South Africa, the Wits Bird Club, with a day in the Tandayapa Valley of northwest Ecuador, famously home to many Choco endemics, and a slew of tanagers and hummingbirds besides. We started our day right around the lodge. As dawn lit up the lodge, a familiar scene unfolded, with the regular "parade" of species dropping in to investigate what moths were left on the sides of the building after the night.

The first to come in was the noisy and vocal Golden-crowned Flycatcher which is never slow to let you know its around, with its far from musical tones! While a cable supported a pair of these flycatchers, the rope railing below shuddered as a male Masked Trogon landed there, and looked around slowly for anything to pounce on. As usual it was so engrossed in picking up any insects it could find (and it found more than a few), that it barely noticed the band of keen photographers approaching within inches of it. Soon after the brown-backed female (the male has a glossy, iridescent green back) also came in, although sat a little higher up and was relatively inconspicuous compared to the show put on by the male. The flowers jiggled as a Three-striped Warbler worked them, and the usual Slate-throated Whitestart came in to clean out the guttering of any moths.

More furtive was a Streak-capped Treehunter that very nearly slipped by unnoticed  A couple of woodpeckers also passed by with first a Golden-Olive Woodpecker, and then a Smoky-brown Woodpecker. Once the post-dawn action had subsided, we moved up the valley, where some 7 kilometers above the lodge some other, higher elevation species can be found. Things were disturbingly slow up there for a while, although after some perseverance, and a second late morning visit to the same site we finally found our main quarry, the rare and local Tanager Finch.

Next up was to be a visit to the endemic-rich foothills, and the reserve of Mashpi...

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