22 July 2015

July 17, 2015

My ‘night owl’ alarm went off even earlier today, at 4:40am, and snooze was not an option. We met in the lodge for breakfast at 5:00am and departed at 5:45am for 45 minute drive to our first birding location. As we drove the access road from the Buenaventura Lodge to the main road, about 6 km long, we tallied several Common Paraque siting on the road.  Our goal today was to add two regional specialities to our lists: El Oro Parakeet and El Oro Tapaculo.

At 6:28am we arrived at our first birding site, or at least so we thought. We spotted some birds from the road actively feeding on insects that were attracted to a single lamp located next to an old animal pen (probably for goats or pigs). In just a few minutes we added Brown-capped Vireo, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Streaked Flycatcher, Bronze-winged Parrot, Violet-tailed Sylph, Line-cheeked Spinetail (first lifer for the day), Golden-crowned Flycatcher, Loja Tyrannulet (now known as Golden-faced Tyrannulet, and a lifer), Russet Anthshrike, Slaty-capped Flycatcher, and Red-faced Parakeet (lifer) among others.

Birding at the Buenaventura Biological Reserve

From this site we then drove to where we would try for our first target, El Oro Tapaculo. Tapaculo’s in general are a difficult species to see, as the majority are relatively dark-plumaged, usually ranging from dark to darker gray. The exception is Ocellated Tapaculo, but that was not on our list of expected species for the trip. After a short hike up a gentle grade we arrived at some older forest where at least four tapaculo’s were known to have territories. In order to see one, it is necessary to entice them into view, and in order to do that we had to use call playback, a common technique amongst guides who use an mp3 player to broadcast the birds song in hopes of encouraging it to inspect the “intruder”. Our guide played the song and elicited a response, but the bird was frustratingly difficult to see in the thick dark underbrush. Only glimpses of the bird darting from one clump of debris to another was what was afforded. We worked the area for nearly two hours, trying different angles, different birds, and even taking a break. We eventually had to give up, and decided we would try our luck tomorrow morning, but even earlier.

Despite missing the tapaculo, we did tally Common Chlorspingus, Silver-throated Tanager, Roadside Hawk, Crested Guan, Three-striped Warbler, Uniform Antshrike, Bronze-olive Pygmy-Tyrant, Chestnut-collared Swift, and Short-tailed Hawk. Our next stop was back where we first saw the mixed species flock feeding on insects around the lamp. Here we were to walk another short trail in an attempt to find El Oro Parakeet, our other target bird for the day. Sadly, we were disappointed again…a ‘double-dip’ some might say. We did however see Ornate Flycatcher, Golden Tanager, Scale-throated Foliage-Gleaner, Cinnamon Becard, and Streaked Xenops.

Back at the car we slowly worked our way back to the lodge, stopping occasionally to check patches of forest for birds. At these stops we found Flame-faced Tanager, Golden-naped Tanager, Glistening-green Tanager,  and Buff-fronted Foliage-Gleaner.  At the lodge, from 11:45am-1:15pm, we had all of the same hummingbirds as previously reported, and also added the following species to our trip list: White-necked Jacobin, Crowned Woodnymph, Yellow Tyrannulet, Southern Beardless Tyrannulet, and Buff-rumped Warbler. Following lunch we took a short siesta until 3:00pm, when we reconvened our birding above the umbrellabird trail.

We spent about two hours walking the road back to the lodge, for approximately 6km. Although no lifers were added, several notable birds added to the trip list, including: Broad-billed Motmot, Esmerelda’s Antbird, Striped Woodhaunter, Yellow-throated Chlorospingus, Checker-throated Antwren, Olive-striped Flycatcher, Song Wren, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, White-whiskered Hermit, Guira Tanager, Immaculate Antbird, and Plain-brown Woodcreeper. We ended the day with a nice dinner back at the lodge.

Our three-room cabin at Buenaventura Lodge