Monday, March 9, 2020

The hotspot tree

Our second full day at Shiripuno found us motoring down the river at daybreak.  We went a few miles and then disembarked up a muddy bank so that Jason and Tota could machete their way to the trailhead.  We surprised one of the locals on the way...

 You know you're in a big chunk of forest when you're seeing quality mammals.  This Tapir literally lost its shit when we came around the bend.  He spun his wheels in the mud for a second or so cartoon-style, and then bolted into the underbrush.  And you know the jungle is dense when a 3 to 400 pound animal disappears immediately.

While waiting for the trail to cleared/found a few birds appeared at forest's edge.  A Lettered Aracari was probably the toucan class bird I was most looking forward to.

There's a number of Oropendolas that the book lists as rare.  I didn't learn many of the rare birds, so when the guides noticed an oropendola that one called Green and one called Olive-backed I wasn't in much position to figure the answer out.

But for once the Two Bird Theory was a solid one; it turned out they were on different birds.  The Green is the flyby with the blood-tipped bill, the Olive-backed is about to display launch on the right.

And with that we disappeared into the forest.  It was muggy and still and we worked to find any birds at all.  Jason impressively identified a fairly non-descript high-pitched note as a Dwarf Tyrant-manakin, and then even more impressively found the tiny green bird amidst multi levels of dark green foliage.

You can tell by how pixelated the photo is that it was Dark.

Fito and Jason tried to tape out a couple antbirds with limited success, but the frantic pressured calls of a pair of White-fronted Nunbirds (imagine a pair of cardinals singing after doing a few lines of meth) drew our attention to a big open dead tree that actually had birds!

We struggled to find flocks on this trip so a trio of Paradise Tanagers (they were joined by a larger Opal-rumped for a bit) who appeared next were very much a relief.

I glimpsed this species once last year, and they're still on the Better View Desired list, but just a reason to go back!

On the opposite side of the color spectrum a Grayish Mourner had none of the black, green, azure, or scarlet of the Paradise Tanagers.
Mourner translates loosely as "dull unicolored bird."  There's 4 mourners in Equador, but only 2 are actually related to each other.  If you go by the taxonomy they're about 20 pages apart in the book since some are flycatchers and the others closer to tityras.

A Female Green-backed Trogon split the difference between the mourner and the tanagers color-wise.

Finally a couple woodpeckers, first Lineated, a bird widely distributed in the tropics...

and finally Yellow-throated.  There's a few yellow or yellowish woodpeckers in Ecuador and we saw a couple, but this was the only one that was even semi-cooperative.

We spent probably 30 minutes just watching the birds come and go from this tree given how hard we'd been working to see a bird here or a bird there in the forest interior.  Someone commented the tree should be an eBird hotspot.  Fito thought the name could be "tree in the Amazon." He maayyyyybe was unconvinced.

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