Back to Ecuador…in Pictures

Crested Quetzal 11-22-2017-0444

Crested Quetzal

How I wish I could be in Ecuador today! We are in the single digits which presents a challenge even for hardy Midwesterners. Revisiting the trip through these photographs is only a little bit more frustrating than trying to take the pictures themselves, but I am grateful for the escape on a day like today.

The two pix immediately below represent two frequent quandaries: one, a lot of vegetation, but where was the bird, and two, we can see the birds but they are far away and have their backs to us. The Crested Quetzal at the head of this post was the only one that ventured to turn around.

Above, three views of a Black-Crested Warbler. Below, a Scarlet-Rumped Cacique.

I think the best looks I got at the Mountain Wren below were outside my back porch.

Also in the “yard”, an Azara’s Spinetail. And a Cinnamon Flycatcher.

Cinnamon Flycatcher San Isidro 11-23-17-0697

The Green Jays are…also yellow and blue and black.

Green Jay 11-23-2017-0613Sometimes I got a good picture in a less-than-attractive setting, like the Chestnut-Bellied Seedeater below.

Southern Lapwings…

A Strong-Billed Woodcreeper…

While we were grateful for sunshine, sometimes its intensity interfered with images. Below, a Streaked Xenops, Squirrel Cuckoo and Red-headed Barbet.

Anytime we encountered rushing water we were looking for Torrent Ducks. We did finally find this male.

A Tropical Kingbird on the left, a Short-crested Flycatcher on the right.

Woodpeckers were seen infrequently. Below, the best I could manage of a Yellow-Vented Woodpecker.

I am grateful for any Mountain-Tanagers I managed to capture. Below is the Blue-Winged.

Also directly around the room, a beautiful butterfly and a hairy but flashy-looking fly.

Of course the ubiquitous Chestnut-Breasted Coronets insisted I pay attention to them…

Chestnut-breasted Coronet 11-23-2017-0629And this Green Jay was reminding me he too can be camouflaged. Somewhat.

Green Jay in palm 11-23-2017-0479

Spider in web 11-22-2017-0270As hard as it is to sit inside with the sun shining brightly today, I know that clarity comes at a price… We are due for a slight warm-up tomorrow, just enough to turn cloudy and start snowing. Hey. The days are getting longer. Spring is coming. Keep thinking Spring. It will happen. Have faith. And I have yet more tropical diversions in store for this page.

 

Humming into 2018

Bronzy Inca 11-21-2017-9822

Bronzy Inca

Happy New Year. Here we are, 2018, we made it out of 2017. I made bread last night and I’m making quinoa pumpkin soup today. Some things never change. Beyond that, almost all my resolutions are on ice until I feel like I’ve thawed out enough. I’ve had my long underwear on all day to deal with the sub-zero wind chills every time I visit the backyard. Perhaps due to the severe cold, it’s been a fairly relaxing weekend, mostly indoors, with time to revisit the pictures from Ecuador, and when reflection or identification becomes too cumbersome, I happily doze off under the comforter.

Sword-billed Hummingbird 11-19-2017-8471

Sword-billed Hummingbird

I’ve decided to devote this post to some hummingbirds seen on the trip. The Chestnut-breasted Coronets were everywhere and often bullies at the feeders, which made it easy to try to ignore them, but on the other hand they made themselves available for a lot of pictures, so I obliged.

The Fawn-Breasted Brilliants were not so easy to intimidate, like the one in the top left picture of the mosaic above.

I had almost forgotten the Buff-tailed Coronets but was happy to find pictures of them from the beginning of the trip, several of which are below.

Collared Incas were common and holding up their own at the feeders too.

The White-Bellied Woodstar is just plain cute, and I think he knows it.

The female of the species is charming as well.

White-bellied Woodstar11-19-2017-8441

Female White-Bellied Woodstar

Not all the hummers were at feeders, like the next three below.

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Viridian Metaltail

Shining Sunbeam 11-20-2017-8645

Shining Sunbeam, not so shining in the rain

Sparkling Violetear 11-21-2017-9371

Sparkling Violetear

I love the Speckled Hummingbird too. Its facial markings make it easy to recognize.

Speckled Hummingbird 11-21-2017-9459

Speckled Hummingbird

Stumped 11-21-2017-9386

I can’t figure this guy out unless it’s a Long-tailed Sylph without the long tail.

Black-tailed Trainbearer11-19-2017-8414

Black-tailed Trainbearer

Buff-tailed Coronet 11-19-2017-8379

Buff-tailed Coronet

Hummers 11-19-2017-8513

Two Buff-tailed Coronets getting feisty

Two more feeder shots with a nice flower that was also hard to ignore.

More colorful photographs from Ecuador to come. This is turning into the perfect antidote to a harsh winter.

Flowers 11-21-2017-0152I hope you are safe and warm wherever you are and may your year be off to a good start.

Home At Last

Chestnut-Breasted Coronet 11-21-17-0567

Chestnut-Breasted Coronet

I’ve been home in body for almost three weeks, but my soul remains in Ecuador.Paramo 11-19-17-0434Paramo 11-19-17-0437

Cota Paxi Volcano 11-19-17-0960

Cotopaxi Volcano

Coming back to a busy work schedule, holiday pressures, choir commitments has made it challenging to get through the photographs. I still have to ferret out most of the bird pictures, although I have been reviewing them every chance I get to put up on Field Guides’ webpage, since I feel an obligation to the group as I was the primary picture-taker. On top of that pressure is the reality that it takes twice as long to process the pictures on my newer MacBook Pro, designated the “travel laptop,” which is where the bulk of the pictures reside. We’ll be visiting those pictures soon, I hope. In the meantime, here is a sampling of what I downloaded to my older laptop after I got home.

 

Paramo 11-19-17-0422The irresistible landscape is part of Cayambe-Coca National Park, which we visited on our way from Quito to our first night’s stay at Guango Lodge in Papallacta. Guango was the magical place I stayed at for one night last year on the way down to the Amazon.

I could easily return to this part of the world just to explore the plant life.

Paramo 11-19-17-0461In this quick post I am adding a few bird photos of species we saw practically every day. Below on the left is a Speckled Hummingbird.

Not a hummingbird, but an irresistible flycatcher, the Cinnamon Flycatcher was also on the list almost every day.

Below is a tiny leaf-colored insect on a large leaf to give you an idea of scale, and a closer crop of the creature itself.

More amazing plant life from the paramo and montane cloud forest. According to Wikipedia there are over 100 species of endemic plants here.

A couple more hummer photos…

Chestnut-Breasted Coronet 11-21-17-0570

Chestnut-Breasted Coronet

 

Fawn-Breasted Brilliant 11-21-17-0484

Fawn-Breasted Brilliant

Bronzy Inca 11-21-17-0485

Bronzy Inca

Below, a Chestnut-Breasted Coronet emerging from the flowers.Chestnut-Breasted Coronet 11-21-17-0501And a Fawn-Breasted Brilliant, Chestnut-Breasted Coronet and a mystery bird with its back to us at the feeder.3 Hummers 11-21-17-0473I will be back soon, the three-day weekend will offer more time to get caught up here and try to visit everyone else’s blogs I have not managed to see. I wish you all a joyous and peaceful holiday.

 

Side Trip on the Way to the Amazon

Collared Inca 7-2-2016-3622

Collared Inca

I got back from my trip later than planned Tuesday night and went back to work Wednesday, so I find myself catching up with my home birds, having to postpone cleaning up the predictable big mess until yesterday and today. But in between I managed to clear off my hard drive and upload all the pictures from 17 days of picture-taking in Ecuador.

Guango Lodge's Hummers and Flowerpiercers 7-2-2016-3750

These images are a few taken at the feeders at Guango Lodge in San Isidro, Ecuador. The stop at San Isidro was not a planned part of the trip, but after my flight to Miami was canceled and I spent the night in the O’Hare Airport, by the time I managed to get a flight to Quito I met with two other participants for the Amazon trip whose flights had also been delayed. We were given the option of either staying in a hotel and then taking the internal flights and boats that would get us to the rest of our group, or we could drive to Coca, staying in San Isidro one night, birding along the way so to speak, and take the boat to Sacha Lodge. We opted for the car trip and the night in San Isidro as the better option, and so we got to see some birds along the way. The lodge at San Isidro was beautiful and I hope to return someday.

White-Bellied Woodstar 7-2-2016-3675

White-Bellied Woodstar (female)

I have not managed to begin going through the rest of the photos yet. I apologize if this is in any way confusing. Basically I had combined two trips, the first to Sacha Lodge in the Amazon, and the second to the Galapagos Islands. If I had to miss a flight it’s just as well it was for the first part of the trip because it would have been impossible to catch up with the Galapagos tour. In addition, to streamline packing for two trips, the second with a lot of connections, I decided not to take my laptop with me, so I have a lot of work to do after the futility of editing through photos on the camera!

Above, Tourmaline Sunangel. Light and focus are so important when trying to capture hummingbirds in particular as their gorgets change rapidly. I wish I could have gotten better shots of this bird.

Below, a Chestnut-Breasted Coronet.

I hope to be back soon with many more photos and even a couple videos. Although I plan to do the posts chronologically I may get distracted and go back and forth between the two trips. Please bear with me.

Below, a female Glowing Puffleg and a Sword-Billed Hummingbird. I had much better pictures of the Sword-Billed last year in Colombia but it’s always worth mentioning this incredible species.

There were a couple Flowerpiercers at the Guango Lodge feeders but I only managed to capture the Masked Flowerpiercer halfway decently.

Below, Buff-Winged Starfrontlet.

Buff-Winged Starfrontlet (female) 7-2-2016-3685

Buff-Winged Starfrontlet (female)

It was wonderful to go away. I hope I can go back to Ecuador, there is so much more to see. It was also blissful to be away from the entire political mania and I find myself reluctant to dip back into that fray. I may have to access the desert island in my head for a while yet.

Collared Inca (female) 7-2-2016-3621

Tourmaline Sunangel (Female)

I hope you are staying cool somewhere this summer!