Catacocha: July 20, 2008

With no parks or reserves in the area, birding around Catacocha is something of a pioneering endeavor. We stayed in town one night for several reasons, the primary being that it's within Aimee's territory she is responsible for writing about in the new edition of the Lonely Planet Ecuador. I won't bother detailing where I spent the following morning birding; suffice it to say that it was in dry scrub and deciduous woodland within a fifteen minutes' drive from town.

This was my first chance to see some of the Loja specialties, and after wandering around a bit I found some decent woodland and adjacent farms to explore. A relatively quiet stream produced the Blue-Crowned Motmot, Squirrel Cuckoo, and Amazilia Hummingbird. Neighboring woodland yielded the Three-Banded Warbler, Scarlet Woodpecker, Yellow-Tailed Oriole, and Plumbeous-Backed Thrush, as well as a nice array of flycatchers, including the Gray-Breasted Flycatcher and the Black-and-White Becard.

The call of the Watkins's Antpitta lured me into an abandoned field, where I had my first look at this striking skulker calling from deep within a bush. A miniature woodpecker, the Ecuadorian Picculet, was also tapping away on some dead shrub, behaving just like any other woodpecker would despite its oddly small size. The hot sun and some aggressive dogs shut things down for me a little early this morning, but I would definitely encourage birders to get out and explore the area on their own if they have time.

Notable birds seen: Watkins's Antpitta, Blue-Crowned Motmot, Squirrel Cuckoo, Ecuadorian Picculet, Black-and-White Becard, Scarlet-Backed Woodpecker, Three-Banded Warbler, Plumbeous-Backed Thrush, Amazilia Hummingbird, Black-Capped Sparrow, Gray-Breasted Flycatcher.

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