Acanama: August 6, 2008

Near the town of Saraguro, located between Cuenca and Loja in the highlands, there is a degraded section of montane and elfin forest that is home to the highly localized Crescent-Faced Antpitta. Unfortunately, this fact doesn't hold much interest with the people of Saraguro, who, despite their rich culture and historical background, would rather convert this ridge into more pastureland for their cows. Outside of town there is a modest reserve called Huashapamba, but the antpitta is typically found higher up on the ridge near some radio masts.

I spent a cold and rainy morning looking for this tiny, beautiful bird. Despite getting lost and covered in mud, I still managed to find the Crescent-Faced Antpitta; incredibly, at one point there were four individuals calling in an open area within a three-meter radius from me. Even though the ground cover was less than knee-high, I didn't catch the slightest glimpse of the bird, though. The grallaricula genus is truly an elusive one to see.

There were some outstanding mixed flocks in the area too, but I was too numb and wet at that point to appreciate them. With better weather, and preparation, this would have been an outstanding morning for birding.

Notable birds seen: Golden-Crowned Tanager, Rufous-Naped Brush-Finch, Black-Crested Warbler, Glowing Puffleg, Mountain Wren.

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