Yanacocha: May 10, 2009

Another beautiful morning at Yanacocha Reserve, located just west of Quito on the opposite flank of Volcán Pichincha. May and June are the typical months for sighting the endemic Black-Breasted Puffleg, so I figured the reserve was worth yet another visit. Of course, I didn't encounter the rare hummingbird, but it was a pleasant morning nonetheless with notable birds including the Barred Fruiteater, White-Browed Spinetail, Bar-Bellied Woodpecker, and Sword-Billed Hummingbird. Oddly enough, the Rufous-Naped Brush Finch made several visits to one of the open-faced nectar feeders, pausing nearby to preen in this tree.

As it was such a clear and sunny morning, I kept my eyes fixed directly above for much of the time, relying on my ears for locating forest birds. While identifying soaring raptors isn't one of my strengths yet, I noted what I thought was the Black-Chested Buzzard-Eagle cruising way overhead. After analyzing my photographs, though, I'm starting to think it was the Black-and-Chestnut Eagle based on the wing shape and color pattern. I'd be happy to hear anyone's thoughts as this would be an unusually high sighting for this magnificent raptor, which normally ranges in temperate montane forest to a maximum altitude of 3000m (it would have been soaring at 3500m, above treeline).

Notable birds seen: Andean Guan, Sword-Billed Hummingbird, Bar-Bellied Woodpecker, White-Browed Spinetail, Barred Fruiteater, Rufuous Wren, Blue-Backed Conebill, Scarlet-Bellied Mountain-Tanager.

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