Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Golden-headed Quetzal at Septimo Paraiso

A few days after my first view of the Golden-headed Quetzal, I had another encounter with one of these magnificent birds, this time showing off the brilliant front side.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Golden-headed Quetzal

I hadn't thought much about seeing a quetzal in Ecuador, so when this Golden-headed Quetzal suddenly appeared out of the mist in the Septimo Paraiso valley it really did seem like a vision out of the "seventh paradise." The bird, the forest, the light -- everything was perfect at that moment.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Widow Skimmer (female)

Today I did my first real birding since returning from Ecuador. As I have experienced before when coming back from a birding experience in an "exotic" location, the familiar birds of my home area become even more interesting than they were before I saw all those new ones. These birds are my "neighbors" and I feel more connected to them. I know them well, but I know almost nothing about the new ones I see in foreign places. Anyway, I did see a "new" flying creature today -- this Widow Skimmer dragonfly down in my favorite nearby "wilderness" near the Willamette River.

Choco Toucan

Toward the end of my time in Ecuador I had almost given up on my hope of seeing Toucans, but then within a two-day period I saw three species, including the three Choco Toucans that were competing for the right to use this perch on a dead tree top. After becoming familiar with their croaking voice, I then occasionally heard one from a long distance, maybe 1/2 mile, even though I could not see the bird.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Strong-billed Woodcreeper

Having watched our North American creeper, the 5-inch-long Brown Creeper, for most of my life, it was hard to get used to seeing large creepers in Ecuador. In particular, the 12-inch-long Strong-billed Woodcreeper was almost shocking as it captured 4-inch moths and beat them on a tree branch until the wings fell off. Quite entertaining, to say the least.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

More Ecuador hummers

I'm still replaying the memories of my brief excursion to the cloud forest of Ecuador. Remembering the chaos around the hummingbird feeders at Septimo Paraiso still brings back the dizzying feelings of sensory overload. The White-naped Jacobin (immediately above) and the Green-crowned Woodnymph (top) were two of the spectacular performers there.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Ecuador Butterflies

When the birding got a little slow it was easy to switch to watching butterflies when I was in Ecuador. I have no idea what their names might be, but they were nonetheless spectacular.

The Pacific Hornero, according to one source, is found only in Ecuador and Peru. The family of Horneros takes its name from the oven-shaped mud nests these birds build, "horno" being the Spanish word for the outdoor oven that is often seen beside country homes in South America. I hadn't anticipated seeing this bird, but did encounter a small group of them walking around on the weedy edge of a dirt road.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Violet-tailed Sylph

More from Ecuador

I spent most of my 9 days in Ecuador birding in the cloud forest in one deep valley near Mindo, about two hours northwest of Quito in the western foothills of the Andes. The mornings were generally sunny, and in late afternoon the mist flowed in from the lowlands, spilling over the ridges like an incoming tide. Hummingbirds thrive in this environment, and I saw 18 different species of them, including the stunning Violet-tailed Sylph.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

My Ecuador birding adventure

I'm back from my 9-day birding trek in Ecuador. It's impossible to describe adequately in a few words how good it was, so I'll just have to use a few lame expressions like "fantastic, incredible, amazing, wonderful..." etc. Hopefully, a few pictures will say it more effectively. A Toucan Barbet, a Giant Antpitta, and a Masked Trogon.