Pasachoa: July 9, 2008

Only an hour's drive from Quito, Pasachoa is an extinct volcano whose western facing crater is filled spectacularly with native vegetation. Here exists one of the few remaining stands of montane forest in the interandean valley, and despite a few cow pastures on the lower flanks there is ample undergrowth, including chusquea bamboo, throughout the crater. Trails lead from the base of the volcano up towards the summit through several different climate zones, ending in paramo and patches of elfin forest. The site makes for great hiking and good birding despite it not being part of the regular birding circuit.

This morning was particularly noteworthy for my success with skulking birds, which were showing without playback on the lower trails. The Plain-Tailed and Rufous Wren, Stripe-Headed and Pale-Naped Brush Finch, and Unicolored Tapaculo were in abundance, and I finally had a nice look at the Chestnut-Crowned Antpitta, which alighted on some bamboo just two meters away. I had been chasing this secretive bird for months, whose splendid crown and white body were quite apparent in the predawn light. Another highlight was catching a quick but good view of the Bar-Bellied Woodpecker, a pair of which were feeding surreptitiously in some bushes nearby on the walls of the crater.

Notable birds seen: Chesnut-Crowned Antpitta, Stripe-Headed Brush Finch, Bar-Bellied Woodpecker, Rufous-Breasted Chat-Tyrant, Andean Guan, Red-Crested Cotinga, Unicolored Tapaculo, Russet-Crowned Warbler, Sword-Billed Hummingbird.

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