Thursday, March 29, 2018

Tanagers great and small

I think antbirds (or for normal people trogons) are the hallmark bird of the neotropical lowlands, but tanagers would have to be in the conversation for the standard bearer in the mid-elevations.

Yanacocha had an interesting range of tanagers coming to their feeders.  What is a tanager?  Nobody really knows, but these Black-chested Mountain-tanagers looked more like small crows in clown costumes than the Scarlets that will start filtering through in a month.

Scarlet-bellied Mountain-tanagers were also unique to these upper mid-elevations.

Still too big? Here's Masked Flowerpiercer, a bird I thought would be common throughout the trip.  We only saw it at Yanacocha.

Another size down is Glossy Flowerpiercer
Finally Capped Conebill, a bird the size of a warbler
 It's not much bigger than the Starfrontlet hummingbird next to it.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Bird of the trip

For me at least.

Sword-billed hummingbird, a bird whose bill is longer than its body.  Some of us glimpsed one at Guango, but it was at Yanacocha that we had solid views.

I don't usually post feeder shots, but that bill is just crazy.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Great Sapphirewing

Building, ever building up the Yanacocha hummingbird chain, today is Great Sapphirewing.  See if you can guess how this bird got its name...

 The young males ... not so much.

The females flashed a lot more limited blue in the upperwing at least

One last look at the bird perched.
There can't be many places where a Sapphirewing would be the second coolest hummer, but Yanacocha was one of them ... stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

the opposite hummingbird

I'm going to continue on the hummingbirds of Yanacocha theme, today's is Shining Sunbeam.

Most hummingbirds are green, this one ... orange.

They would frequently hold the wings back for a moment upon alighting.

The other opposite effect?  Most hummingbirds have an iridescent throat.  This one? An iridescent ... rump.

Because who doesn't want rainbows emanating from their posteriors?

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sick. but not of starfrontlets.

I've never really had serious problems with illness in the tropics, but in the early morning hours (ironically after eating in the nicest hotel we would stay at the entire trip) of our overnight in Quito I was incapacitated by the most raging case of food poisoning I've ever had in my life.  Two others on the trip were effected, one nearly to the extent I was.  I was pretty disheartened to miss the morning's birding but at least after a few hours I started being able to keep down some Sprite.  The driver circled back to pick me back up and while I missed the trail at Yanacocha reserve I at least spent an hour or so at one of the hummingbird set-ups while the others were finishing up the trail and eating lunch.

And there were hummingbirds.  This is Buff-winged Starfrontlet. 

 The name confused me.  Not the Buff-winged part, that one is easy.  I was thinking it was in the same family as the Starthroats of Central America, combining starthroat and starfrontlet in my mind.  I couldn't figure out why their bill was so much differently shaped.  Duh.  Because they're different.  Oh well.  The Starfrontlet is actually in the same genus as the Incas that were present at somewhat lower elevations.

Not sure if the forehead or the throat is the star, but it was green and blue in the right light.

The female has the same long straight bill and the buff wing as the male

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Back over the Andes

After spending the morning at Guango in upper mid elevations of the eastern Andes we headed back towards Quito to spend the rest of the trip on the Andes' west slope.  But not before crossing back over the high elevations.  Needless to say, we found some birds.

Great Thrush is one of the most common birds in the brushy scrub right at the treeline.

We found some elevation specialties, like Black-backed Bush-tanager and worked hard for some brief looks at Masked Mountain-tanager.  A Pale-naped Brushfinch was a lot more cooperative while Tawny Antpittas continued to serenade us.

Viridian Metaltail is another specialty of the dry paramo in Ecaudor and Colombia

When a person thinks of cotingas they usually picture bright blue and purple birds.  Apparently Red-crested Cotinga fits into that tribe somehow. 

We again ascended to the 14,000 foot range of Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe.  After striking out on Giant Conebill on the way up we struck out on the seedsnipe for the second straight day despite covering a lot of rolling tundra on foot.  We were headed back to Quito when a bird flew directly in front of the bus.  There were definitely mixed emotions in Jose's voice as he called out Blue-mantled Thornbill, another very elevation limited Ecuadorian endemic.  There turned out to be two birds and they were quite cooperative chasing each other about the limited perches.

It was a really cool bird to end the day with.

Monday, March 5, 2018

East slope hummingbirds

After our morning walk at Guango we spent about 20 minutes at the hummingbird feeders before having to pull ourselves away.  The Andes Mountains are consistently tall enough that there's not a lot of habitat corridors to allow birds to bleed over from one side of the mountain to the others so the same elevation can have very different birds on the two sides.  (Or maybe it's a moisture difference; the west side is a lot wetter than the east side).  Either way there were a handful of birds at these feeders that were unique to the trip.

First up is Long-tailed Sylph, actually fairly common at Guango.  The long-tailed hummingbirds were not easy to photograph.  It was very difficult to get the face in focus but still get the iridescence of the upper surface of the tail.

Next up is Tourmaline Sunangel, a short-billed, dark, medium-sized hummingbird.

Speaking of degree of difficulty, it's really hard to get the focus locked up on a moving bird very close to you.  It was a little bit of a bummer this White-bellied Woodstar has some scruffy molt going on.

Chestnut-breasted Coronet is another east slope specialty.  We saw I think 3 species of coronet on the trip, they would typically extend their wings when they would land.  I also saw both Chestnut-breasted as well as a west slope species do this display where one bird would extend its wings and bill from below the other.  I think it was likely a courtship thing since it was fairly protracted.  Sexes are identical in coronets though so hard to say for sure.

This is Buff-tailed Coronet, a species found on both sides and honestly one of my favorite pics from the tip.

Incas are fairly large hummingbirds with long heavy bills, this is Collared Inca.

One more view of one of the smaller species, Tyrian Metaltail that we'd seen at higher elevations the day before.

We did glimpse a few other species, including Sword-billed Hummingbird and, for some members, Moutain Velvetbreast, but those will have to wait for later posts (or for the Velvetbreast that I missed later trips!)