Monday 23rd November. We left the Lodge early to bird the lower sub-tropical forest area around Milpe. The forest here should hold some different species from the higher cloud forest of yesterday. Sure enough it wasn't long before we spotted a party of Choco Toucans. I immediately thought of those Guiness adverts when I saw this bird. It is a stunner and it was great fun watching them frolic around in the tall trees, they appeared to be very sociable with a lot of mutual preening and close contact. very nice to see.
Bronze Winged Parrots were giving regular fly-pasts but getting a photo opportunity was not easy, particularly as the light was very poor and they liked to sit a long way off in tall treetops. I did the best I could under the circumstances.
The next interesting bird was a stunning female Choco Trogon. An alternative name for this Bird is the Blue Crowned Trogon. The word Choco refers to one of the great ecosystems of South America. It includes areas that begin in the lowlands of Panama, bordering the Pacific Ocean, to Ecuador. Known for its biological diversity, the Choco is one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. It is of course being destroyed rapidly and there is very little left in Ecuador. The culprit as usual is the palm oil industry which wipes out every living creature as well as indiginous human communities, but then big business can pay off corrupt politicians so nothing will stop it. Anyway many birds in this region are referred to as "Choco" although they may have another, more formal name. It is actually best to use the latin or scientific names to be precise, but I am not a scientist, nor an academic. I am a birder.
I say this was a stunning bird which it was from the back, but a frontal view showed a deep division down the centre of the breast which does not look natural to me. I have no idea what caused it but the bird looked healthy otherwise. We will never know.
Eventually all the World's forests will be gone but for a few small preserves, maintained for eco-tourism or by well meaning philanthropists. The only forest birds left will be those that can cohabit with homo sapiens, taking food from feeders and living in reserves and gardens. The Orange Billed Sparrow below below is feeding on a fruit feeder, one of many in this part of Ecuador. It is certainly more colourful than our own sparrow species and hopefully one that will adapt to a changing habitat.
Here are a few more of the many stunning birds attracted to feeders. The Rufous Throated Tanager below is a stunner, my photo does not do it justice.
Tanager species try to outdo each other in colours. The Glistening Green Tanager has developed a wonderful shining green coat that looks almost unreal, like a child artists impression of a bird, amazing, but photos do not do it justice.
The Blue Winged Mountain Tanager is a faily common and widespread species . . .
. . . unlike the Moss Backed Tanager below, a very localised species only seen in a small region of NW Ecuador. It is also very timorous and would occasionally dash in to the feeders & be gone again in a flash, so I had to be quick and was pleased to get a shot of this very attractive and hard to get little bird.
Last but not least for the moment is the Golden Naped Tanager, a mostly blue species but the chestnut coloured crown gives it its name. A widespread species often seen in mixed flocks.
Ok I hope these photos show just what a spectacle even casual visitors to Ecuador can expect to see once they get out of town. However this kind of photography, although challenging in the poor light conditions, is not really demanding enough, so after eating our boxed lunches at the feeders I was keen to get back to hunting birds in the deep forest.
The next one may be less attractive than the Tanagers and other table feeders, but it is very much harder to get and therefore more to my taste. What it lacks in charm it more than makes up for in name, the Scaly Throated Foilage Gleaner is quite a mouthful but is very descriptive. Although quite large this family of birds is hard to see in the forest canopy and I did well to get this shot.
Update I found another shot from the same day of a different bird (two hours apart). This one looks more like a Scaly Throated Foilage Gleaner than the one above, so I have asked Gabriel for an opinion, awaiting the reply. 01/01/2016.
The Quetzal is an enigmatic bird and was one of my target species. I had seen many photos of this beauty and was finally very pleased to have several sightings. However today the light was poor and the bird was some distance away, but because I was so pleased to see it, here it is.
The Summer Tanager is absolutely stunning, but it does not visit feeders and is very hard to find even though it is bright red. I managed to get a couple of very distant shots but you can see just what a superb bird it is, and very unusual for a Tanager to be all one colour, but what a colour.
Another hard to photo bird, the Swallow Tanager may be quite common but it doesn't visit feeders and I only managed a distant shot, but here it is for the record.
Here's a nice little bird that will probably survive the forest destruction. The Bananaquit is a cute little chap which can be seen around parks and gardens eating flowers. Strangely I don't think it eats bananas! I had to use flash to capture this image as the light was particularly bad. In fact it was raining at the time which drew our forest birding to a close for the day, but we had seen a lot and I looked forward to more later.
I finsh today's report with a shot I don't remember taking and it was not listed for the day. Perhaps I took it whilst Gabriel was otherwise occupied & didn't notice. It is a White Necked Jacobin, strange name as it doesn't have a white neck, perhaps it refers to the female. Anyway this discovery in my photo portfolio, definitely taken on 23rd Nov, takes my tally up to 420 species. A nice find.