08 December 2014

Fork in the Road...ECUADOR (17-18th Oct)

Feet still firmly planted in the city of Quito; I continued to check in on Quito's Jardín Botánico, hoping for new migrant arrivals from the north. I stopped in twice over the weekend, and enjoyed some migrant watching in the shadow of the Andes, visible in the near distance behind the park. This is presumably, where much of these birds will end up, on the forested slopes of the Andes.
Swainson's Thrushes had clearly come in en-masse, with their constant liquid calls resounding around this small park. Some half a dozen or more birds were present, taking full advantage of the fruiting trees around the park entrance, which were associating with the "mystery" elaenias in the same tree (Lesser or White-crested Elaenias being the likely contenders). While scratching my head over the elaenias, something every visiting guide there has done this year, a larger bird dropped suddenly into the same tree, quickly plundered the berry crop and left. Thankfully, on this occasion I got a clear and undeniable view of the bird, and my lifebird finally fell to me after three visits to look for it: Large Elaenia. Unfortunately, I was so stunned that it had finally graced me with a clinchable view, I forgot to raise my camera!
Other migrants over the weekend were at least 5 Eastern Kingbirds (one here is photographed with the Andes visible in the backdrop), a few Snowy-throated Kingbirds, 2 Fork-tailed Flycatchers, 1 Scarlet and 1 Summer Tanager, and several Western Wood-Pewees. Overhead a party of 3 White-collared Swifts screamed past.
For boreal migrants, that was about that, although a large bird causing havoc among the local Great Thrushes, turned out to be a remarkably confiding immature White-rumped Hawk, and the first time I had managed to get a decent look at this plumage, or indeed this hawk so close up. This bird had surpised all by turning up in Quito a week or more earlier and had been hanging around, perhaps in the knowledge a crop for migrant birds were there for the taking?!

With a trip Down Under beckoning, I was relieved to finally get a proper sight of the Large Elaenia, in the full expectation the bird would have moved on by the time of my return to Quito (which it was)!

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