Cotopaxi National Park: September 6, 2008

Aimee and I spent the weekend touring Cotopaxi Province; actually, I spent the weekend driving her around so that she could research the bounty of far-flung hotels and lodges in the region. The trade-off was that we would camp in the national park, where I could bird the late-afternoon and early-morning hours around Laguna Limpiopungo, a good destination for migrating shorebirds and paramo specialities.

Although the weather was very poor in the morning, the afternoon before yielded some decent birding with the dramatic backdrop of Cotopaxi making each sighting seem a little more special. The Andean Gull, Andean Coot, and Andean Teal were all plentiful in the marshy reeds adjoining the lake, and a pesky Carunculated Caracara picked through the Andean Lapwing breeding grounds despite the birds' best efforts to chase it off.

While walking around the lake back towards a stand of chuquiragua shrubs, whose bright orange flowers attract the stunning Ecuadorian Hillstar, I passed a pair of calling Grass Wrens, several Stout-Billed and Bar-Winged Cinclodes, a solitary Brown-Backed Chat-Tyrant, and a couple of Plumbeous Sierra-Finches. Indeed, the hearty high-altitude hummingbirds were present, although I only managed this single photograph of a male at considerable distance.

Walking back in near darkness, I encountered an impertinent Tawny Antpitta blaring out its alarm call repeatedly from a nearby shrub. If only all antpittas were so bold.

Notable birds seen: Ecuadorian Hillstar, Carunculated Caracara, Brown-Backed Chat Tyrant, Plumbeous Sierra Finch, Tawny Antpitta, Andean Coot, Andean Teal, Andean Gull, Stout-Billed Cinclodes, Bar-Winged Cinclodes, Grass Wren, Andean Lapwing.

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