Bosque Protector Jerusalem: December 4, 2009

It's the Fiestas de Quito this weekend, and life in the capital city has been noisy and wild. There are outdoor public concerts on seemingly every block, and open air buses with brass bands playing on the roof drive around the city aimlessly. Despite being sick for the last week, I simply had to escape the din for a few hours, heading off to Bosque Protector Jerusalem for some late afternoon birding and early evening owling. Although it doesn't boast a big bird list compared to most other sites in Ecuador, the reserve is only an hour away and supposedly contains a few gems I have yet to see, such as the Buff-Fronted Owl.

The Casa de Aves Trail yielded some typical interandean species, such as the Scrub Tanager, Streaked Saltator, and Common Ground-Dove, and down by the reservoir I spotted two male Blue-and-Yellow Tanagers and a pair of Golden-Rumped Euphonias. The Giant Hummingbird is also quite common here, and they could be heard calling throughout the afternoon. The real mystery of the visit had to be the elaenia I observed feeding in the shrubs along the water. The species of this genus of tyrant flycatchers are almost impossible to identify on sight alone, and birders typically distinguish them based on their distributions in the field guide, as some species even have remarkably similar vocalizations. I'm going way out on a limb, then, when I claim it was a Sierran Elaenia even though this bird seemed very large and impressively yellow; it just as easily might have been a fresh-plumaged White-Crested Elaenia or even a Lesser Elaenia, for all I know.

As dusk fell I walked through the camping area under a row of massive eucalyptus trees. Meanwhile, high above an adult Harris's Hawk wasn't comfortable with my presence and moved ahead of me from tree to tree as I passed underneath. Despite putting in over an hour after nightfall, I only heard one owl call once, which didn't give me much to follow up on. I also tried trolling briefly for the Buff-Fronted Owl in a few shallow ravines but no luck. Quito was still a mess when I got back, but at least I had successfully distanced myself from the mayhem, if only for an afternoon.

Notable birds seen: Harris's Hawk, American Kestrel, Common Ground-Dove, Black-Tailed Trainbearer, Giant Hummingbird, Azara's Spinetail, Sierran Elaenia, Southern Beardless Tyrannulet, Vermilion Flycatcher, Golden-Rumped Euphonia, Blue-and-Yellow Tanager, Scrub Tanager, Streaked Saltator, Hooded Siskin.

No comments:

Fatbirder's Top 500 Birding Websites