Friday, February 26, 2016

an Antpitta at last

We were pretty satisfied as we left the Rain Forest Discovery center and walked back to the van at the entrance, not so coincidentally at the trailhead for Pipeline Rd.  Another guide exchanged greetings with Jose, and passed on word that a Streak-chested Antpitta was being seen a quarter mile down the road.  Well.  No one wanted lunch that bad.  We wasted no time and fairly quickly started hearing the bird sing before noticing a couple other birders just off and up the trail.  We went to join them, with hearts pounding while trying to move with maximum stealth and a minimum of sudden movements.  Despite a relatively open section of wood, it took a minute to pick this bird out of the leaf litter.  And what a bird.

 While the book shows the big head and eye, and unique essentially tail-less shape, it didn't do justice to the ochre eyering and lorepip set off by the slaty cap, or to the cleanliness of the breast streaking.

We watched it whistle its slow ethereal minor key song as it worked about in the leaves.

This species habitually puffs its breast feathers in and out.
 I'm not sure if that's a cooling mechanism or if it's just part of its display.  I tried to use a variety of settings as the bird slowly moved back and forth.

The bird remained in view for just over 20 minutes before it abruptly flew, startled by a sudden breath of wind.
All I can say is that it was incredible.  While all of us had been tantalized by their song previously, only a minority had laid eyes upon an antpitta before.  For me, it was my first.  And you never forget your first. 

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