More From Ecuador

Fork-tailed Woodnymph 11-24-2017-1810

Fork-tailed Woodnymph

After shoveling snow all weekend, I don’t know how I’m going to get through the rest of the winter if I run out of pictures from Ecuador…

Since my head is still full of snow, I won’t try to remember exactly where these pictures were taken, so my comments will be few. Don’t you love my disclaimers?

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Blue-Crowned Trogon

It was a good day for tanagers. Below is a distant Blue-Browed Tanager which was a new one for me.

The Blue-Winged Mountain-Tanager below refused to reveal much of itself. I love how these birds with such bright plumage manage to blend in with their surroundings: “maybe I look like another yellow leaf.”

It was nice to get good looks at a Blue-Necked Tanager, below.

And then we found a Speckled Tanager, which I have seen elsewhere, but I can’t remember. Maybe Costa Rica or Colombia…? One of these days I’ll get my list together.

I’m sure I was always trying to get a halfway decent photograph of a Paradise Tanager. Any part of the bird you might see is spectacular but it often proved difficult to capture the entire bird at any one time. These two were far away but otherwise not camera-shy.

Not a lot of parrots sitting still, most of the time they were flying over in pairs, their calls to be identified by our guide often before we could see them. This Blue-headed Parrot was the exception.

I remember we went up a trail in search of the Powerful Woodpecker. It was thrilling to find a pair noisily knocking about the trees.

I have too many pictures from this one day! I will be back with the rest soon. I think I’m still mentally tired from shoveling, so “less is more” right now. I’ll close where I started, with a couple more shots of a Fork-Tailed Woodnymph.

 

Humming into 2018

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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.

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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.

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Female White-Bellied Woodstar

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

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Viridian Metaltail

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Shining Sunbeam, not so shining in the rain

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Sparkling Violetear

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

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Speckled Hummingbird

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

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Black-tailed Trainbearer

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Buff-tailed Coronet

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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

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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

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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…

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Chestnut-Breasted Coronet

 

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Fawn-Breasted Brilliant

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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.

 

Double Vision…Deal With It!

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Wire-Tailed Manakin

I got so excited thinking about how much better I was going to see after cataract surgery, I completely forgot to ask about the length of time and inconveniences of recovery. My timing could have been better, perhaps, like after fall migration, not during. As it stands right now, my current prescription does not work with my right eye, so in between trying to figure out which eye to read with, I have been working on eye-hand coordination with my left eye behind the camera lens and my right index finger on the shutter button. I keep imagining headaches but I’m too lazy to indulge.

Beyond inconveniences like staring too long at name-tags trying to read them and place them with faces on Saturday night at my 50th high school reunion (well, if I had cataract surgery, you probably already deduced I’m not a spring chicken), I’m finding at least my distance vision is improved and I think I can still see with binoculars. After a visit to the eye doctor this morning, I go back for another checkup in two weeks and then I think I can get another right lens for my glasses which will fit with my new vision and then I will quit complaining about all this. “All the better to see you with, my dear.”

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Donacobius – If you saw my post from the Colombian Andes last year this bird might look familiar.

Luckily these pictures were all taken the last day and a half in the Ecuadoran Amazon when both eyes were working about the same. This completes my recap of the Amazon trip.

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The Boardwalk

On the way to the Wire-Tailed Manakin, accessed by walking a boardwalk trail directly adjacent to our rooms at Sacha Lodge, we stopped by Mariposa Lodge, a butterfly house where butterflies are actually raised and shipped to butterfly enclosures all over the world. Below are a few I was able to photograph.

From the canoe, an Osprey and some Large-Billed Terns.

Also from the canoe, this Hoatzin, looking simply fabulous.

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Hoatzin

Here are a few pictures from the boat down the Napo River as we were leaving the lodge. I was saddened by the fact that this once pristine wilderness is now, of course, exploited for oil. There aren’t too many places left on earth that have not been touched by drilling or fracking, I’m afraid. I was encouraged to hear the Amazonian Ecuadorans protesting further drilling at Yasuni National Park and I hope they succeed in stopping it. Ecuadorans have also joined the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline and protect the Missouri River. The world is shrinking rapidly and we are all in this mess together.

On our last morning, we saw our last Trogon, the Collared Trogon below on the left, and after trying to find a White-Chinned Jacamar all week we finally did see one, on the right.

Below, an Oriole Blackbird and a Grayish Saltator. And two Blue-Grey Tanagers.

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Blue-Grey Tanagers

There were two of the Wire-Tailed Manakins, this is likely just another picture of the same one. They weren’t displaying or dancing but they’re still awfully cute.

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I think I just found a new profile picture for Facebook.

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I’ll be back as soon as I can, in between eye drops.

View from the Top: The Metal Towers

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Many-Banded Aracari

On the morning of July 7 at Sacha Lodge in the Ecuadoran Amazon, we went up to the “metal towers” which are three towers strung together with canopy walkways in between. I don’t seem to have a picture of the first tower from the ground before we climbed up, but the view at the top was astounding.

Above, there are two Pied Puffbirds on one of the walkways between the towers, what the walkways look like and the platform on top of one of the towers. Below, I got a closer view of one of the Pied Puffbirds.

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Pied Puffbird

The Toucan below wasn’t as close as the Puffbird but large enough to capture, even if he thought he was hiding behind the limb that obstructs his bill.

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White-Throated Toucan

The Ringed Woodpecker below was one of the first birds I tried to photograph, and although it was quite far away it stayed on that snag, working on a hole in it, for more pictures than I needed. I’m very bad at editing though, especially weeks later…

Below, a Palm Tanager and a Wing-Barred Piprites.

The Lanceolated Monklet was far away too, but too cute to pass up.

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Lanceolated Monklet

The Spangled Cotinga is definitely a canopy bird, always perched up high.

In the afternoon we were back in the canoe. There’s a little video from the canoe below to give you the feeling of it. At some point we saw the Gilded Barbet below but I think it might have been up at the tower. I may have to start taking notes while I’m taking pictures.

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Gilded Barbet

Two more classy woodpeckers to add to my list, the Chestnut and Cream-Colored.

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Chestnut Woodpecker

I do remember the Cream-Colored Woodpeckers below were seen from the canoe.

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Cream-Colored Woodpeckers

Below, a short trip in the canoe. Don’t ask me what’s flying around, whether it’s a bird or a butterfly, before we stopped to see what Oscar, our guide at the front of the canoe, was pointing out.

The Duida Woodcreeper has been split from the Lineated Woodcreeper and I think this is it in the picture below.

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I think this is a Duida Woodcreeper

From the ground, not the canoe, we saw these adorable Spix’s Night Monkeys peering out from their daytime hole.

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Spix’s Night Monkeys

It was a great day for Aracaris and Toucans. The Ivory-Billed Aracari was up at the tower.

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Ivory-Billed Aracari

Likely I’ll be back with one more post from the last day and a half in the Amazon and then it’s on to the Galapagos.

 

Back to the Amazon

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Gilded Barbet

These pictures are from two days at Sacha Lodge in the Ecuadoran Amazon. The first day we spent time at the wooden tower. There were two towers available to us, the wooden and the metal. The wooden tower was the oldest and construction had already begun to replace it while we were there. The climb up the narrow steps all the way to the top was excellent physical therapy. This tower was built around a huge tree, part of which you can see in the pictures below. A canopy view is a mixed blessing sometimes. While you can see birds on the very tippy-tops of trees, they are often too far away to photograph well. So generally the more detailed photographs were taken on the ground either on the way to the tower or on the boardwalks. Below pictures are one of the entire tower from the bottom, and what it was like to be on the top.

I added two new parrot species to my life list that first day we spent at the wooden tower. Below, on the left is a Black-Headed Parrot, Scarlet-Shouldered Parrotlets on the right.

Here’s the only Attila of the trip.

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Cinnamon Atrila

You never know who’s perched on a branch but in this case it was a lot easier to see the birds below: a Straight-Billed Hermit and a Russet-Backed Oropendola.

Trogons are so amazing. We saw both of these on the same day. I think a Two Trogon Day is exceptional.

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Green-Backed Trogon

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Black-Throated Trogon

We saw some other creatures too, of course, but the Squirrel Monkey was much more difficult to capture than the snake. Squirrel Monkey and Anaconda. Click on the picture to see the monkey a little better. I think our guide told us the Anaconda was a youngster…

The little bird below is a Slender-Footed Tyrannulet. Whatever possessed them to give it this name is beyond me. Slender-footed as compared to what? But it’s a lovely little bird. And you can see his feet.

I had an opportunity to try to capture the Black-Bellied Cuckoo below both days, first from the tower on the left, and the photo on the right was taken from a closer vantage point.

Below on the left is a Yellow-Tufted Woodpecker, and on the right, a Spot-Winged Antshrike.

It was very exciting to get a good look at a King Vulture, below. Although I think I have seen this bird before, I have never seen it so well.

King Vulture 7-5-2016-4871Tanagers were tough to get photos of on this trip. On the left, Silver-Beaked Tanagers which we saw almost daily, and on the right, a glimpse of a Paradise Tanager from the canopy tower.

You have to work a little bit at finding the bird below.

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Speckled Chachalaca

The bird below was not shy, and I am just now noticing how lovely his throat complements the fruit on his chosen plant perch.

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Pink-Throated Becard

Blue-Gray Tanagers look different in this part of the world, but they haven’t been split from the other I have been so used to seeing.

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Blue-Gray Tanager

Birds by the water…the Blue-and-White Swallows that hung out around the restaurant by the Napo River and a Striated Heron.

Below is the female counterpart to the bird at the top of my post. She’s lovely too.

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Gilded Barbet (female)

I will be back soon with more from this trip! I still have some unidentified captures but none of them were great photos, so I can spare you the agony. 🙂

A Riot of Color

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Long-Billed Woodcreeper

I have finally managed to get through all the Sacha Lodge/Amazon photographs, with only a few stragglers left, so as I comb back through them day by day I will try to share the best with you.

Finally settling down into these pictures has buoyed my spirit too, which was broken somewhat by a combination of events. I got sick the last two days of my second trip, which were travel days, basically, off the boat and back to the mainland (I wonder if it was reverse seasickness?), and it took me a week or so after I returned home before I felt like I could eat again. Zapped, everything became more of a chore than usual. And diving back into a cartoonish political sphere didn’t help my mood either. But I think I’m beginning to find some sort of balance again, at least for a while.

Maybe the best medicine was planning to take two short trips next year..something to look forward to.

We visited two clay/salt licks on July 4, where we saw lots of Dusky-Headed Parakeets (above, top) and Cobalt-Winged Parakeets (above, bottom). The Cobalt-Wingeds come to a lick in Yasuni National Park where there is a blind so you can wait for them to gather and witness the pandemonium. Click on the pictures for a better view.

Below, some parrots, which are notoriously difficult to see when in the trees.The Blue-Headed Parrots are in the top of the first picture, but I was lucky enough to get a better shot of two of them below. The Orange-Winged are the two in the lower right and the Mealy has its back to us. I am surprised I managed to get some color off the Chestnut-Fronted Macaws.

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Blue-Headed, Orange-Winged and Mealy Parrots

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Blue-Headed Parrots

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Chestnut-Fronted Macaws

By the second day I was using the flash attachment… And it wasn’t all psittacines.

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Scarlet-Crowned Barbet

I don’t know if I ever saw the part of the bird below for which it was named, but Woodpeckers have a way of being named for miscellaneous field marks. There’s enough to identify the Spot-Breasted without seeing the spots on its breast.

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Spot-Breasted Woodpecker

A female Hook-Billed Kite on the left and a Gray-Headed Kite on the right, below.

A tarantula on someone’s door back at the lodge later…and a glimpse of an Oriole Blackbird, below.

Let us not forget the black birds. Yellow-Rumped Cacique and Black-Fronted Nunbird…

The picture below was shot from the boat, which is always a challenge for clarity. I begin to wonder how much of the image-stabilization really takes over for me.

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Black Caracara

Short-Crested Flycatcher and Gray-Breasted Sabrewing…

I think we had eight species of Woodcreeper on this trip and I added three to my life list. but I haven’t begun to figure out that yet.

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Black-Banded Woodcreeper

What a wonderful owl, to be awake and visible during the day…There were actually two of them, but the other one was obscured by vegetation.

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Crested Owl

I’ll be back very soon with more from the tropics and beyond.