Saturday, September 24, 2016

Bulletin 275 - Ecuador #9 - Parrots and Monkeys

Nothing says tropics quite like parrots and monkeys and we saw lots on this trip. All of these photos were obtained in the Amazon region.

The macaws are the largest and most spectacular of all the parrots and they are confined to the New World. The 36" Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) is red with yellow on the wings. This one was alone in a tree. The sexes are similar.


Scarlet Macaw
And this one was flying overhead.


Scarlet Macaw
The 34" Blue-and-yellow Macaws (Ara ararauna) were further away, but there were 1/2 dozen in a tree for a spectacular sight.


Blue-and-yellow Macaws
We also saw Chestnut-fronted and Red-bellied Macaws but I din't get good photos of them.
The ubiquitous 11" Blue-headed Parrot (Pious menstruus) is readily IDed with his blue head and green body. This is my best photo yet of this bird.




Blue-headed Parrot
The 8.5" Black-headed Parrot (Pionites melanocephalus) has a black crown, yellow cheek, and white underparts.


Black-headed Parrot
There were about 9 monkey species possible in the Amazon area at Shiripuno Lodge. We saw 7 and I got photos of 6 of them. The cutest were the Common Squirrel Monkeys (Saimiri scureus). They are small monkeys with clown-like faces and black lips.


Common Squirrel Monkeys - adults
This lighter colored juvenile peeked out between some leaves.


Common Squirrel Monkey
Next is the long-limbed White-fronted Spider Monkey (Ateles belzebuth).


White-fronted Spider Monkey
The next was a new mammal for me. This group of small monkeys are called titi monkeys and are undergoing a major revision in nomenclature. The one we saw in Ecuador was the Dusky Titi Monkey (Callicebus discolor). However on Wikipedia, there is a new (2016) proposed classification and the new name is White-tailed Titi Monkey (Plecturocebus discolor). I guess take your pick what you want to call it.


Dusky Titi Monkey
The White-fronted Capuchin (Cebus albifrons) is one of 4 species of capuchins. This is the Ecuadorian subspecies that doesn't have any white on the face as the name would suggest. This subspecies is listed as critically endangered.


White-fronted Capuchin
Ecuadorian subspecies


The next is a type of monkey called a Saki monkey. Again it may have a new name. The name I was given on the trip was Equatorial Saki (Pithecia aequatorialis). However, a new revision in 2014 has the range of this one as just northern Peru, so not this guy. It would appear to be a Napo Saki (Pithecia napensis) as we were on a tributary of the Napo river in Ecuador. Anyway this is a heavy set appearing monkey with a very bushy tail.

Equatorial Saki
or ? Napo Saki
Lastly is a Venezuelan Red Howler (Alouatta seniculus). Howlers as you know are the heaviest of the new world monkeys.

Venezuela Red Howler
The other monkey I caught a glimpse of was a Wooly Monkey, but it scampered off into leaves before I could snap a photo. This trip was by far the most productive of monkey species of any I have taken.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2016 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.

Bulletin 275 - Ecuador #9 - Parrots and Monkeys

Nothing says tropics quite like parrots and monkeys and we saw lots on this trip. All of these photos were obtained in the Amazon region.

The macaws are the largest and most spectacular of all the parrots and they are confined to the New World. The 36" Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) i sred with yellow on the wings. This one was alone in a tree. The sexes are similar.


Scarlet Macaw
And this one was flying overhead.


Scarlet Macaw
The 34" Blue-and-yellow Macaws (Ara ararauna) were further away, but there were 1/2 dozen in a tree for a spectacular sight.


Blue-and-yellow Macaws
We also saw Chestnut-fronted and Red-bellied Macaws but I din't get good photos of them.
The ubiquitous 11" Blue-headed Parrot (Pious menstruus) is readily IDed with his blue head and green body. This is my best photo yet of this bird.




Blue-headed Parrot
The 8.5" Black-headed Parrot (Pionites melanocephalus) has a black crown, yellow cheek, and white underparts.


Black-headed Parrot
There were about 9 monkey species possible in the Amazon area at Shiripuno Lodge. We saw 7 and I got photos of 6 of them. The cutest were the Common Squirrel Monkeys (Saimiri scureus). They are small monkeys with clown-like faces and black lips.


Common Squirrel Monkeys - adults
This lighter colored juvenile peeked out between some leaves.


Common Squirrel Monkey
Next is the long-limbed White-fronted Spider Monkey (Ateles belzebuth).


White-fronted Spider Monkey
The next was a new mammal for me. This group of small monkeys are called titi monkeys and are undergoing a major revision in nomenclature. The one we saw in Ecuador was the Dusky Titi Monkey (Callicebus discolor). However on Wikipedia, there is a new (2016) proposed classification and the new name is White-tailed Titi Monkey (Plecturocebus discolor). I guess take your pick what you want to call it.


Dusky Titi Monkey
The White-fronted Capuchin (Cebus albifrons) is one of 4 species of capuchins. This is the Ecuadorian subspecies that doesn't have any white on the face as the name would suggest. This subspecies is listed as critically endangered.


White-fronted Capuchin
Ecuadorian subspecies


The next is a type of monkey called a Saki monkey. Again it may have a new name. The name I was given on the trip was Equatorial Saki (Pithecia aequatorialis). However, a new revision in 2014 has the range of this one as just northern Peru, so not this guy. It would appear to be a Napo Saki (Pithecia napensis) as we were on a tributary of the Napo river in Ecuador. Anyway this is a heavy set appearing monkey with a very bushy tail.

Equatorial Saki
or ? Napo Saki
Lastly is a Venezuelan Red Howler (Alouatta seniculus). Howlers as you know are the heaviest of the new world monkeys.

Venezuela Red Howler
The other monkey I caught a glimpse of was a Wooly Monkey, but it scampered off into leaves before I could snap a photo. This trip was by far the most productive of monkey species of any I have taken.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2016 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Bulletin 274 - Ecuador #8 - Cotingas, Trogons and Jacamars

These are the places visited. At the end of each bird description, I will give the 2 letter code where the photo was taken.

Shiripuno Lodge in Amazon  (SH)
Mindo area on west slope has several close reserves that we visited (MI)

The cotingas are a diverse New World family of 66 songbirds. Overall they are rather difficult to find. The 12" male Andean Cock-of-the Rock (Rupicola peruvianus) is red on the west slope of the Andes where we saw several at a lek. He has a large crest and black wings with large white patches.The males on the east slope of the Andes are orange as seen here.  MI


Andean Cock-of-the-Rock - male west slope
Another group of cotingas are called fruitcrows for their overall black color. We saw 2 species on the trip but I only got photos of the 11" Purple-throated Fruitcrow (Querula purpurata)  MI


Purple-throated Fruitcrow

We also got a distant view of the 7" male Purple-throated Cotinga (Porphyrolaema porphyrolaema). Although the purple throat cannot be seen, the black back, white underside and white wing patch is diagnostic for this bird. It is listed as scarce in the Ecuador Guide book.  SH


Purple-throated Cotinga - male
The trogons are worldwide family of 43 species with 2/3 in the New World. They are medium sized colorful fruit eating birds that are easy to photograph when you find them as they usually sit still. The 10" male Blue-crowned Trogon (Trogon curucui) has a blue head, red belly and yellow bill.  SH


Blue-crowned Trogon - male
The 11" female Green-backed Trogon (Trogon viridis) has gray head and chest and yellow belly. She has a blue eye ring and black bill. The male would have a blue head and chest. This bird was formerly known as the Amazonian White-tailed Trogon. SH


Green-backed Trogon - female
The 11" male White-tailed Trogon (Trogon chionurus) has bluish purple head and chest, yellow belly, pale bill and solid white tail. This individual is missing some of his white tail feathers (probably molting). This bird was formerly called the Western White-tailed Trogon.  MI


White-tailed Trogon - male
The quetzals are 6 larger birds in the trogon family with fancy plumage such as epaulets, crests, long tails etc. The 13.5" male Golden-headed Quetzal (Pharomachrus auriceps) has green back and red underparts, golden green head and black undertail. I only got a single photo of the bird before he flew.  MI


Golden-headed Quetzal - male
The jacamars are a small family of New World birds (18 species) most of which are found in Amazonia. I got 2 new ones for the trip. They resemble large hummingbirds as the have long tails and long pointed bills. The 7.5" Yellow-billed Jacamar (Galbula albirostris) is the only jacamar in Ecuador with a yellow bill.  SH


Yellow-billed Jacamar
The 7.5" White-eared Jacamar (Galbalcyrhynchus leucotis) is brown with a white cheek patch and pink bill.  SH


White-eared Jacamar
I have photographed 14 of the 43 trogons now and they can be seen here.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2016 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Bulletin 273 - Ecuador 2016 #7 - Antbirds and Woodpeckers

These are the places visited. At the end of each bird description, I will give the 2 letter code where the photo was taken.

Shiripuno Lodge in Amazon  (SH)
Archidona a town on the east slope  (AR)
San Isidro Lodge at a higher elevation on east slope (SI)
Guango Lodge even higher on east slope (GU)
Antisana reserve on the paramo    (AN)
Mindo area on west slope has several close reserves that we visited (MI)

I think the most amazing development in neotropical birding in the past 20 years was the ability to attract antpittas to feeders. When I went on several trips in the 90s, antpittas were shy retiring birds that might come close with a played tape, but they always were skittish when they saw people, and I never saw a single one. 

Well progress occurred when someone discovered that they could be attracted with earthworms and a lot of patience. Now many locations have an antpitta that will come to a location each morning when called and chopped worms are provided. The fortunate birders just have to stand quietly and watch and photo them. But they are in the wide open and close (20 feet away). However, it is a labor of love to train the antpitta. At San Isidro lodge, they said it took 8 months before the bird came reliably every morning.

I got photos of 5 species on this trip, 4 of them were at feeders. The absolute highlight is the 9.5" Giant Antpitta (Grallaria gigantea). Antpittas are long-legged almost tailless birds. This one is dark brown with black streaking on the breast. The guide book lists this bird as rare. The man whose place we visited calls the bird Maria and it took about 20 minutes of him calling before the bird showed up.  MI

Giant Antpitta
The same man also showed us the 6.75" Yellow-breasted Antpitta (Grallaria flavotincta). In fact, he had 2 birds trained in 2 different locations and we saw them both. This is even more rare as it has only a single dot on the Ecuador map where it is found.   MI


Yellow-breasted Antpitta

At San Isidro Lodge, the local bird is the 6.75" White-bellied Antpitta (Grallaria hypoleuca). 


White-bellied Antpitta
Guango Lodge also had a trained bird, the 7.25" Chestnut-crowned Antpitta (Grallaria ruficapilla). This one is quite attractive with the rufous head, cream throat and streaked breast.


Chestnut-crowned Antpitta
The final one was in the open at the treeline above Guango Lodge. The 6.5" Tawny Antpitta (Grallaria quitensis) is listed as common and easy to see. He was right beside the gravel road we were on.
Tawny Antpitta

The only antbird for the trip was the 3.75" male Amazonian Streaked-Antwren (Myrmotherula multostriata). Like most antbirds, the males are black and the female is brown.  SH


Amazonian Streaked-Antwren - male
Several cool looking woodpeckers were found on the trip as well. The 10" Crimson-mantled Woodpecker (Colaptes rivolii) is mostly has mostly red upperparts and yellow underparts. The is a female with the black crown.  GU

Crimson-mantled Woodpecker - female


The 8" Spot-breasted Woodpecker (Colaptes punctigula) is brown above with a spotted yellowish breast. This is also a female with the black crown.  AN

Spot-breasted Woodpecker - female
The 8" Cinnamon Woodpecker (Celeus loricatus) had been photographed before but this one was much closer. This is a male with the red patch on the throat.   MI

Cinnamon Woodpecker - male
The campephilus genus are the largest woodpeckers. There was only one in North America, the extinct Ivory-billed woodpecker. I got 2 new species on this trip. The 13.5" male Guayquil Woodpecker (Campephilus guayaquilensis) has a red head and large crest.  MI

Guayaquil Woodpecker - male
The female 14" Powerful Woodpecker (Campephilus pollens) has a black crest. The male would have a red crest.  SI

Powerful Woodpecker - female
Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2016 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Bulletin 272 - Ecuador 2016 #6 - Water Birds and Night Birds

These are the places visited. At the end of each bird description, I will give the 2 letter code where the photo was taken.

Shiripuno Lodge in Amazon  (SH)
Archidona a town on the east slope  (AR)
San Isidro Lodge at a higher elevation on east slope (SI)
Guango Lodge even higher on east slope (GU)
Antisana reserve on the paramo    (AN)
Mindo area on west slope has several close reserves that we visited (MI)

These birds are associated with water - lakes, rivers etc or are nocturnal.

This is the first trip where I saw several ducks. The 16" Torrent Duck (Merganetta armata) is a resident of swift flowing rivers in the mountains. They stand on rocks in the river and dip their head under the water to look for fish. When one is sighted, they dive in to pursue it. How they survive being bashed around in the rapids is a miracle. The male is mostly white with a brown back and a red bill.  SI


Torrent Duck - male
The female is all brown.   SI


Torrent Duck - female
The lakes on the paramo (tundra) host some resident ducks. The 16" Andean Teal (Anas andium) is a plain brown duck. We found a family group.  AN


Andean Teal - family
The 16" male Andean Duck (Oxyura ferruginea) is almost identical to our Ruddy Duck, but the breeding male has an all black head and lacks the white patch below the eye.   AN


Andean Duck
As one would expect, there is also a coot there, the Andean Coot (Fulica ardesiaca) is identical to the American Coot. However, it is the only coot in Ecuador, so the ID is easy.  AN


Andean Coot
The 12" Silvery Grebe (Podiceps occipitalis) is a rare resident of highland lakes. It is gray and white and has a red eye.  AN


Silvery Grebe
Dippers are are the only aquatic songbirds. Watching the tiny 6" White-capped Dipper (Cinclus leucocephalus) buffeted by waves and spray as they pick food washed onto the rocks is an amazing experience. The sexes are similar and the ID is easy as no other small bird is in that habitat standing on the rocks in a swift flowing stream.   GU


White-capped Dipper
The last water associated bird is the strange huge (25") Hoatzin (Opissthocomus hoazin). This spiky crested prehistoric looking bird lives along slow moving oxbow streams in the Amazon. The sexes are similar and it is the only member of the hoatzin family.   SH


Hoatzin
We only saw 4 nocturnal birds for the trip. The only owl was the mystery San Isidro Owl. It is a mystery bird as it is identical with the Black-and-white Owl of the western slope, but this bird is at San Isidro Lodge on the east slope where it is not supposed to be. The similar bird on the east slope is the Black-banded Owl which is more black than white on the underparts. Here is a discussion of the bird. Perhaps time will tell if it is a new species.  SI


San Isidro Owl
The next 2 were real treats as the guide knew where they were roosting or nesting so they could be seen in the daylight. This 8" Blackish Nightjar (Nyctipolus nigrescens) has been roosting during the day at this same location for 2 years! He sits on a rock just 20 feet from a fairly busy highway.  AR


Blackish Nightjar
The other is the Lyre-tailed Nightjar (Uropsalis lyra). This is another rare find as the range map shows only 6 dots on the map of Ecuador. The female is 10" long, but the male has 25" long tail feathers. This female is actually on her nest. The two babies were not visible when I was there. The rufous collar is the ID mark for this bird.  MI


Lyre-tailed Nightjar - female on nest
The last night bird is the 21" Great Potoo (Nyctibius grandis). Potoos are a 7 species family of nightjar like birds. They roost during the day in trees such that they resemble a broken limb and become nearly invisible. This whitish bird is only the second potoo I have photographed. With his large head, he almost looks like an owl.  SH


Great Potoo


Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2016 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.