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

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

photos copyright 2006 - 2016 David McDonald

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