Yanacocha: March 15, 2009

Sunday morning birding would be much finer if it didn't directly follow Saturday night. Despite a shaky start, my plan this morning was to take a leisurely drive along the northwestern ridge of the Andes, stopping at Yanacocha Reserve, a few places along the old Nono-Mindo road, and an arid site near Calicalí. The weather was good, but not blindingly clear and sunny, and I felt pretty content birding along the entrance road with a mug of hot coffee in one hand and my binoculars in the other. No Great-Horned Owl, no Curve-Billed Tinamous, no Grassland Yellow-Finch, but a Black-Tailed Trainbearer rising into the air with its streaming tail feathers forked in display was good enough to make my morning.

Once inside the reserve and walking along the Trocha Inca, I darted past a birding group towards the principle hummingbird gardens. Not looking for anything in particular, I stumbled across the Rainbow-Bearded Thornbill in its usual spot along the first hillside with a northern exposure. It was feeding in the low flowering shrubs along the path, and I had excellent looks at its brilliant crown, white-tipped tail feathers, and, of course, rainbow beard. Considering the Sword-Billed Hummingbird is pretty common on both slopes, I'd say that the Rainbow-Bearded Thornbill is the target hummingbird at the reserve, given that the Black-Breasted Puffleg is unrealistically rare.

Continuing along the Trocha Inca, I ran into a nice mixed flock with the Superciliaried Hemispingus, Cinerous Conebill, and Black-Chested Mountain-Tanager. The lovely Crowned Chat-Tyrant was found nearby snagging grubs from the foliage growing along a stream, its yellow frontal patch quite striking against the bird's dark gray plumage. I also startled a pair of Andean Guan that were sitting casually in the crown of a tree located down below in a ravine; one showed its red dewlap nicely as it turned its head to look back at me. The hummingbird gardens offered no surprises, although my heart skipped a beat when I first saw a juvenile Sapphire-Vented Puffleg looking very dark in the chest while in profile. After a brief rest, I made my way quickly out of the reserve as poor weather rolled in over the northern flank of Pichincha. The only birds that caught my ear were some Plate-Billed Mountain-Toucans calling loudly several hundred meters below.

Notable birds seen: American Kestrel, Andean Guan, Rainbow-Bearded Thornbill, Black-Tailed Trainbearer, Sword-Billed Hummingbird, Azara's Spinetail, Crowned Chat-Tyrant, White-Throated Tyrannulet, Glossy-Black Thrush, Black-Chested Mountain-Tanager, Scarlet-Bellied Mountain-Tanager, Cinerous Conebill, Superciliaried Hemispingus, Plain-Colored Seedeater, Rufous-Naped Brush-Finch.

1 comment:

AIMÉE DOWL said...

Getting up so early on Sunday mornings is always easier when I get to spend Saturday night with you! Aimee

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