On our final birding day in Ecuador we saw - wait for it - five species of antpittas - all at the private birding refuge Paz de las Aves. The efforts of one man and his brother to establish this refuge for birders and photographers is world-wide famous, and a can't miss experience for those visiting this part of Ecuador. I recommend visiting their website for an armchair visit to Paz de las Aves.
We arrived at Paz de las Aves at the crack of dawn to see another highly desired bird, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola peruvianus). It was raining lightly and approximately 20 birders were stuffed under the roof of a blind to first listen to the raucous calling of the male cock. As the light improved, it became possible to see these birds perched, bobbing and flying around their breeding area. (I don't think lek is the correct word here because they were in the trees, not on the ground.)
Cock-of-the-Rock - crazy looking and sounding bird.
Our first antpitta was Giant Antipitta (Grallaria gigantea). We saw this beautiful bird so well as it walked along the branch to the end where it ate the worms placed at the tip to lure it out. I must have got 15-20 photos
The next: Yellow-breasted (G. flavotincta)
Next up: Ochre-breasted (G. flavirostris). Here there were two birds and they also stayed for a long-viewing.
Next: Chestnut-crowned (G. ruficapilla). We saw this bird along a trail earlier on the trip, but not so well as this.
For our fifth antpitta we saw the Moustached Antpitta (G. alleni). The Moustached was a real scramble as we were hustled along the muddy trail. I had a one-click chance for a photo and missed it. Truth be told, because I opted to use my split second for a photo, I essentially missed seeing the bird. Seeing Luke Seitz's photograph of Moustached Antpitta on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Neotropical Birds website made me wonder if this is the Paz de las Aves bird - or at least made me think he took his photo at the refuge.
After elbowing under the Cock-of-the-Rock blind, we were hustled along the muddy trails to see a family of Dark-back Wood Quail (Odontophorus melanonotus).
Because a lot of the birders present on this morning preferred to stay behind in the Cock-of-the-Rock blind, this was possibly the best viewing we enjoyed.
Our Paz del las Aves day was very crowded - approximately 25-30 birders raced along muddy and slick trails to see these birds. On the one hand it was exciting. On the other, it seemed odd and unpleasant.
Watching French Open with Rafael Nadal (Spain) play Dominic Thiem (Austria) and it's a great match and a good time to catch up on some Ecuador blog entries.
Club-winged Manakin (Machaeropterus deliciosus). Deliciosus indeed and it certainly lives up to its name. A true beauty. The photos are not great, but not bad either, as I recall the narrow, little triangled window we were shooting through.
I took this 43 second video trying to get the loud cracking sound of the bird snapping it's wings. I didn't get the wing snapping, but about 14 seconds in there are 5-6 seconds of really clear images. You can hear the sound of the rain and the voices of other participants.
It was raining hard when we found this bird and the hilly trails were slick with mud. The manakin made it all worthwhile.
From time-to-time I find articles in the New York Times that I want to keep for future reference. The NYT is so big that articles, especially about birding, can be hard to find after publication date. You may want to see as well.
Dragonflies are flying again. The species number is not high, but I have seen a few. Of these, Green Darners (so far only males) and Black Saddlebags seem to be most common. I also saw a male Twelve-spotted Skimmer on Saturday along with a few Dot-tailed Whiteface - both first of the year for me.
On Saturday, I also netted my first ever baskettail at Crosswinds Marsh. In fact, not only is this my first baskettail sp. ever seen, this is the very first dragonfly I have ever netted. Imagine my surprise when this happened. Despite holding it in my fingers, an email exchange with Darrin O'Brien suggests that my dragonfly will remain identified only to Epitheca sp.
This, to me, is likely to be a Common Baskettail, but as Darrin points out to me from an Urban Odes blog entry, Identifying Odonata from Photographs, dating back to July 2010, I'll probably never know. Further, he writes, "ID is very difficult in this region to differentiate the species. Common (E. cynosura) is most common here, but others are possible. Some baskettails cannot even be identified under the microscope." Click on the blog entry link and scroll down a bit to hybrids and uncertain taxonomy to read more about the difficulty of identifying Epitheca to species in this region.