Sunday, March 31, 2019

Andean Potoo

Alex indicated he'd heard that a Potoo had been seen at Guango a few days before.  He hadn't actually seen one in several years.  We walked the trail and he suddenly stopped having spotted the bird.
It was a lot paler than the birds I've seen in Central America ... which turned out to be for good reason, it's a different species!  Which I didn't realize until after the fact.  Ah well. 

We didn't see a ton of birds on this section of trail, we spent a decent amount of time looking unsuccessfully for Torrent Ducks.  Turquoise Jays were fairly prominent.  They started out as flashes in the upper canopy, but worked their way lower.

Finally a view of an orchid or bromeliad in the canopy just before a nice mixed flock started filtering past ... (stay tuned)

Saturday, March 23, 2019

that's oxygen you feel

After success with the seedsnipes and some of the other high elevation passerines in the last post we descended a little to try for Giant Conebill, a specialty of the Polylepsis forest.  We didn't find any, and aside from this Scarlet-breasted Mountain-tanager there weren't a ton of birds about.

There were a lot of interesting plants though, no idea on what they are...

We worked for the conebill for a while before Alex decided to descend further.  It's always an interesting effect descending from the uber-high elevations when everyone on the bus is suddenly (and apparently randomly) energized.  Part of it is getting back to the green of the jungle, but I think a lot of it is dropping back down to only a mile and a half of elevation and suddenly having enough oxygen to breathe!

We didn't go far down the next road before Alex spotted activity and we bailed out of the bus for a rapidly moving small flock.  Spectacled Whitestarts frequently lead the flocks here

This one had several Superciliaried Hemispingus, a new one for me.

There were hummingbirds around.  Alex felt this metaltail was a Tyrian, I was voting viridian.  The tail looks pretty black to me and the bird pretty green, but he felt he saw color in the tail as it flew in.  Definitely a metaltail at any rate.

As is this one.
We had just seen a (female) Rainbow-bearded Thorntail buzz past.  I was hoping this was the Thorntail back; in the rain it was hard to see much of anything in the field, but the zoom shows another Viridian Metaltail.  As the rain intensified we retreated back down to the lodge for lunch.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Now you've heard of them

After scoring the seedsnipes at 14,000 feet we descended the mountain.  To at least 13,750 feet down to the brushiness that gives way to the seedsnipes' mountaintop tundra.  I don't know the names of the juniper like bushes, but they held some unique birds. 

Ever asked "What the heck is a White-chinned Thistletail?"

Well now you know.  And in the next pic you can see the thistletail even...

A person might ask a similar question about a Many-striped Canestero.
 And again, now you know

Everyone knows what an antpitta is.  Tawny Antpitta is A LOT easier to see than most members of the family.

Saturday, March 16, 2019


Plural no less!

Four times turned out to be the charm for the seedsnipes, along with arriving fairly early in the morning.  Our driver spotted two as we drove back up the mountain above the treeline into the clouds.  It was very windy and at 14,000+ feet the clouds blowing through at eye level made a combo of thick fog and horizontal sprinkles.  But the birds were there, and fairly tame as they walked ptarmigan-like about the tundra.

 These pics are actually better looks than we got; the fog was REALLY thick and I had to push them a lot with photoshop to get any color.

You can see the amount of water condensed on the little blue flowers behind the bird in this next pic.

After putting a lot of effort into these birds last year, this was one of my most wanted birds for the trip; it was very much of an experience getting to see them.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

So you want to see a Barred Owl

Get out in the woods!  I've seen 4 the last week.

First one was in the pine stand at Sarett where the trees are looking a little too tall and open to provide a haven for Long-eared's.  I can't really take credit for finding this one; the crows noticed it first.

One was in a pure deciduous 2nd growth woodland.

But the other two were in pinestands as well.  This sleepy bird was a walkaway view.

I'm sure I'm mostly getting lucky, but March is the time of year when I see Pileated Woodpeckers just flying around in a lot of random places when I'm driving; I assume these are 1 year old birds looking for breeding territories and it wouldn't surprise me at all if the Barred's are doing the same thing.

Another March activity?  Checking goose flocks for birds that aren't like the others.
I don't know that I've ever seen a Sandhill Crane flying in a goose formation, but there's a first for everything.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Three seedStrikes

We spent lunch of the first day again at the Tambor Condor restaurant, just down the road from the cliffs where the condors nest.  Last year we were too late to see the birds lift off, but did see one fly in during lunch.  This year was the opposite; we'd seen them fly off in the morning ... and we saw them fly off at lunch too!
 Note the trail bird is an immature, with buffy brown where the adults are white.

 Again there were hummingbirds around.  Last year I got my best pics of Shining Sunbeam at Yanacocha (not on this year's itinerary).  This year this was the only one I saw.

Sparkling Violet-ear was again a show-stopper.

The Giant Hummingbird was on the same feeder as last year.

I was hoping a Sword-billed might visit the Datura, but no such luck.

I found a cluster of Eared Doves (definitely very different from a Mourning Dove) behind the lodge.

Last year we made 2 tries for Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe in the highest of high elevations (about 14,000 feet), and missed the bird each time.  We tried again in the afternoon.  When it wasn't raining horizontally (and at most 40 degrees) it was pea-soup fog.  We didn't see a seedsnipe, but maybe 4 times would be the charm...

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

paramo waterbirds

The paramo shortgrass seems to fill a similar niche as some of the shortgrass prairie of our central west.  But the arid appearing paramo was wet enough for a handful of waterbirds to make a living.

Here's a pair of Andean Teal that had found a little collection of water.  This is basically as bright as their plumage gets...

I'd love to know the name of that reddish plant that's a pretty common and unique feature of the high elevations.

Andean Ibis showed a lot better this year; last year we had a couple fly-by's that went over the road and only distant scope views.

The bird in the rear is a young Carunculated Caracara

Finally a montage of Andean Gull, which seems to act like Franklin's but is equally parts Bonapartes, Little, and Black-headed in appearance.
With (what else?) a photo-bombing caracara in the background again.  (They're pretty common up there).

Saturday, March 2, 2019

The itsy-bitsy (Andean) lapwings

 walked on the paramo

Along came a Buzzard-eagle
 patrolling to and fro...

Out came the adult to chase the eagle away

(and then a caracara too, because hey)

Now the itsy-bitsy lapwings hid in the paramo
Because they are plovers, the adults make a row

for the itsy-bitsy lapwings had put on quite the show