Yanacocha: November 3, 2008

There was no way I was going to sit around all day and read the New York Times again. I decided to treat my election fever with a morning at Yanacocha Reserve, where the birds could care less about the electoral map. Despite the poor weather, as evidenced by the snow on Pichincha, it was a good decision to get away for a few hours, and I was rewarded with some great views of several terrific birds.

The morning got off to a good start as I stopped a few times along the access road to the reserve, noting a huge flock of Plain-Colored Seedeaters as well as three different species of flowerpiercer: the Black, Masked, and Glossy Flowerpiercers. The biggest surprise, though, was hearing the Undulated Antpitta calling in several places along the road. This massive antpitta has a deep guttural call that sounds like a melodious, extended clearing of the throat. While I didn't come close to seeing the bird, I was quite excited simply to hear it calling, as it is silent for almost three-fourths of the year.

Inside the reserve while walking along the Trocha Inca, I noted the same Gorgeted Sunangel from last month's visit to the reserve. The bird had progressed in establishing itself at the feeders and battled courageously with the Buff-Winged Starfrontlet for a nearby perch. This time I was able to take a few good photographs, recording a bird that is hundreds of meters above its normal range. All sunangels, I should note, perch seraphically with wings spread wide.

Shortly thereafter I could hear four different species of antpitta calling at the same time, including the Tawny, Rufous, Undulated, and Chestnut-Naped Antpittas, so descending to the lower more forested trail was a no-brainer. Just below the feeders on the Black-Breasted Puffleg Trail, I ran into the Barred Fruiteater feeding in the subcanopy. This striking cotinga is notoriously frustrating to observe as it calls frequently from deep cover in trees; it's also rather sluggish and unresponsive to playback. Not only was I lucky enough to get my best looks yet at this bird, I was also able to photograph it in a variety of positions. Now, I can ignore it the next time I hear its call.

The rain set in shortly thereafter, but I enjoyed my time at the feeders located just before the first tunnel. Indeed, the hummingbirds weren't bothered a bit by the weather, and I noted nine species in attendance. On the way out, I ran into another expatriate birder who was doing his best to locate the Andean Pygmy Owl which had been calling earlier in the morning. I had heard it calling earlier but thought it was a vagrant Andean Gull, which shows you just how much I'm into owls at this point.

Notable birds seen: Andean Guan, Barred Fruiteater, Mountain Velvetbreast, Sword-Billed Hummingbird, Shining Sunbeam, Golden-Breasted Puffleg, Gorgeted Sunangel, Streaked Tufted-Cheek, White-Throated Tyrannulet, Streak-Throated Bush-Tyrant, Blue-Backed Conebill, Black-Chested Mountain Tanager, Scarlet-Bellied Mountain Tanager, Superciliaried Hemispingus, Hooded Siskin, Plain-Colored Seedeater, Plumbeous Sierra Finch, Hooded Siskin.


Cory said...

Great pictures! Have you visited Milpe (milpecloudforest.com) and/or Mindo?

I am currently a student in Quito studying Spanish, political science, and history, and also doing service learning projects in different places. I had the honor of meeting and working on a reforstation project with one Juan Manuel, who owns a nice piece of land in the cloud forest and who is also a wonderful artist who paints many of the birds in Ecuador for the "bird books." The birds in this part of the world, esp. the colibrís, are just amazing!

Keep up the good work!

Cory Chase

Unknown said...

Birding in Ecuador--what a nice way to spend life! I am glad you are doing well...

Meghann Tovar

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