Archive for Ecuador
With your indulgence, one last photo from Ecuador, this time a male Booted Rackettail at a feeder at Tandayapa Bird Lodge.
Sigh. I left Ecuador as I had arrived, in the dark, and so deprived of (or perhaps spared) the sight of the volcanoes said to ring the airport’s runways. But there was a certain pleasure in another small symmetry: my first bird in Quito had been Rufous-collared Sparrow, and my last bird in Quito, singing loud in the pitch-black of early morning, was Rufous-collared Sparrow. A good start, a good end, and a good reason to look forward to my next visit!
The feeders on the back porch of Tandayapa Lodge are justly famous for the 20 species of hummingbird that can be seen there on a good day–all at once! I did not witness a day like that, but the few hours I did spend watching the sugarwater frenzy were dazzling all the same.
The abundant Andean Emeralds were joined by several other common species: Buff-tailed Coronet, Purple-throated Woodstar, Western Emerald, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, and Booted Rackettail were rarely out of sight.Â Purple-bibbed Whitetips were not uncommon, though most were female-plumaged birds, attractively spangled hummingbirds reminiscent of a giant rackettail. Males were much scarcer, but worth waiting for.
Empress Brilliants were far from common, but each one that appeared created a real stir among the watchers.
This impressive bird shows any number of features that deserve commemoration in its common name, but “Empress Brilliant” is, I suppose, evocative, if not terribly informative.
Something of a rarity as high up as the Lodge, only a couple of Green-crowned Woodnymphs were in attendance while I was there (though we’d seen many of them at Milpe in the days before). In a world of gaudy birds, this one ranks among the gaudiest.
The females are very elegant, echoing the pattern of the males in subtle gray and green.
My favorites? The three species of violet-ears, especially Brown Violetear, a shy beauty slipping around in the trochilid throng, never staying long but always the source of gasps when it did show up.
This may be the best picture I took in Ecuador, or at least the one I like most.
Northwest Ecuador is teeming with birds of subtle charm: Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant, for example, was my first lifer this time around, and Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant my last; both are absolutely beautiful flycatchers, but perhaps not what most people think of when they imagine birding the tropics.
Tandayapa Bird Lodge is ideal for getting to see many of those more colorful birds. The couple of days I had there were great for such birds as Red-billed Parrots in fast-flying flocks and tanagers in the treetops.
Blue-winged Mountain-Tanagers were among my favorites: big, bright, and conspicuous, even visiting feeders over breakfast (theirs and mine) for great views.
A common sound in the cloud forest was the hawk-like keening of Golden-headed Quetzals. We didn’t actually see many of these rather reclusive birds, but this one sat for its portrait, nicely showing off the fringed upper-tail coverts that nearly conceal the black rectrices.
And Tandayapa was a wonderful place for watching Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, to my mind the Choco endemic: beautiful, big, and classic in its tropical beauty.
Now that’s the cloud forest: fog, epiphytes, and toucans!
One of my favorite afternoons in Ecuador earlier this month was spent at Tony and Barbara’s place in the upper Tandayapa Valley. Their hummingbird feeders were going great guns, with Mountain Velvetbreasts and Green-tailed Trainbearers a common sight right at the house, and small tanager flocks worked the edges while we watched from the comfortable porch.
Tony took a few of us around to see their resident star, a female Common Potoo brooding a chick atop a snag.
The eerie light, the awkward angle, and the abundant vegetation made it difficult to get clear pictures of this amazing sight, but that oddly placed white bump to the right beneath the adult’s belly plumage was the chick. Tony told me that both mother and child will occupy the snag until the youngster has grown large enough to displace the parent, at which point the adult will seek a new roost, leaving the old one to the fledgling.