Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tandayapa Bird Lodge

Tandayapa Bird Lodge is famous for its hummingbird feeders, that are always filled with 100s of hummers and 13 or more species per day...
As I already told you, I'm here in Ecuador for an exchange year and recently rediscovered my birding passion. But being in a country with over 1600 species, including birds like Condors, Harpy Eagles, Andean Cock-of-the-rocks and 135 species of Hummingbirds there are things that would be more surprising.
I have already seen many birds but no trip was an only-birding trip, not even a single day.
But 2 weeks ago, this would change... I had decided to go to Tandayapa Bird Lodge, a Lodge in ecuadorian cloudforest not far from Quito, where I live, that is run by birders for birders...
I had visited it once, but the time was just sufficient to see the hummingbirds and very few tanagers...
But this time I would wake up at 5:00AM take a taxi at 5:45 and start with the first bus at 6:30. I was at the bus terminal at 6:25 but had to orientate me and so the bus started without me and I had to wait an hour!!! Grrr
But at least the second bus went fast and when I arrived at the Tandayapa Pass, where normally only few cars pass, there was something and the police let all the cars up the Tandayapa Pass, to take an alternative road. So I could just sit up on a pick-up and was at the Lodge only 20 minutes later. It was 9:20, already late for some birds, but I wanted to try if anything was at the "Hide" a place to observe birds from very close. But the fruits put outside were already old and it was already late... So after waiting 10 minutes I went back to the Lodge, bought a small, but informative field guide and began to walk down the trails. I watched a mixed flock including Beryl-spangled Tanager, the cool Red-headed Barbet and some Orange-bellied Euphonias, when a tiny Crimson-rumped Toucanet flew in, just 2m away.
The cool Red-headed Barbet
I would have gotten better pictures of this tiny Toucanet, if I had reacted faster...
Just after this and only 5m away I flushed up a bird. My first thought of some Antpitta was soon corrected as a pair of Immaculate Antbirds jumped around. I was very proud of myself, since I thought, this bird was rather hard to see... (Consulting the field guide showed it was rather easy...)
Then some Treehunters and Finches showed up, but especially the Treehunters, were always too fast away too identifie them...
A beautiful little snake lay on the way and I almost tripped on it, funnily this was the same species of snake I found the last time I came to Tandayapa. It seems to be very common in this area...
It's beautiful isn't it?
Soon the birds became less until I found a big flock of many different birds, but all well hidden in the underground. Another time many treehunters and foliage-gleaners that wouldn't let me identifie them and then a bird I found pretty cool. The "rare and inconspicous" Black Solitaire. Doing some investigation back in Quito I found out, this bird had been recorded only very few times in the last years...
And then just turning around there was the last bird for almost an hour. It was almost exactly 11:30 and a Sickle-winged Guan allowed great views, as it was eating in a fruiting tree. Only the photos didn't get as beautiful, because of some leaves...
The best photo I got of this cool bird.
I went searching a long time, but the birds wouldn't even vocalize. I made them sing a little when I began to whistle but no bird would come out. Until I heard somethingvery near and as I tried to find it I flushed up a bird. Luckily it sat down on a near branch and it was obvious I had my first Cock-of-the-rock eventhough it was a female and not as bright as the male... But as fast as it came, as fast did it go.
After that I went back to the Lodge only encountering one flock including the normal birds.
A Barred Becard...
The everpresent Slate-throated Whitestart.

Then I went down the Nono-Mindo Road finding almost nothing. But a Cock-of-the-rock flew away showing his incredible red colour...
Back for the lodge there was a flock with many birds I couldn't identifie and I had let my field guide in the lodge. I had the impression there were some furnariids, Antbirds and other rather ground-dwelling birds, but all unknown to me. I got only one bird by photograph that was identified for me by Iain Campbell (what an honor...), as a Oleaginous Hemispingus.
Back at the lodge I met Chris West, a young birder from the US. I hadn't thought there was somebody else, who is interested in birds and still young.
Together we encountered some birds around the Lodge, like the Masked Trogon, Squirrel Cuckoo, Red-billed Parrots, Powerful Woodpecker and Blue-and-black Tanager.
Some hummingbirds will sit on your finger, if you are a little bit patient...

There were 3 Masked Trogons around the Lodge...
The red-billed Parrots sat around in a tree near the Lodge.

Then it began getting dark and I headed back to the Main road to take a bus back to Quito, but this time no car came to pick me up and I had to run all the way back. And I really ran, but it soon got reeeaaalllyyy dark. I ran more than 1 hour and I really run, what a luck my eyes still are good, because there were many holes on the road and I wouldn't have liked to trip into one of them... Luckily there came a motorbike and picked me up, brought me to Nanegalito, where a bus took me to Quito...
What a nice day, I saw almost everything I wanted...

Special birds:
Sickle-winged Guan, White-tipped Dove, Red-billed Parrot, Violet-tailed Sylph, Brown Inca, Buff-tailed Coronet, Booted racket-tail, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Purple-throated Woodstar, Masked Trogon, Red-headed Barbet, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Powerful Woodpecker, Immaculate Antbird, Andean Cock-of-the-rock, Barred Becard, Black Solitaire, Oleaginous Hemispingus, Blu-and-black Tanager

Other animals:
Cope's Tropical Racer

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Birding in Ecuador

I wanted to write little about germany's animals, but I did not like the post, so I removed it and decided to write more about actual happenings.
Surely this is my exchange-year in Ecuador.
When I came here, I hoped to see hummingbirds, macaws and toucans. 3 days after I arrived here I saw my first hummingbird, for macaws and toucans I'd have to go to the jungle.
Soon I realized there were also some other birds, but I had problems identifying them and I didn't know nothing about them. Then a trip to Galapagos changed my mind and soon I informed myself more and more about ecuadorian animals.
Soon after that trip I got to the ecuadorian jungle, seeing many other animals and then I began to do researches, identifying all the animals I had seen and since then I looked everywhere for birds and other wildlife. Especially the birds are stunning here and so I began making lists.
After this I got to Tandayapa Bird Lodge, and soon had my first day, that was dedicated only to birds.
Now there will come more bird-trips, for example I hope to get to Yanacocha, Paz de las Aves and many other places, hoping to see more birds every day.
Even in Quito there are some interesting birds, like the Blue-and-yellow Tanager or the Black-tailed Trainbearer, some really cool birds, that I have almost daily.

My birdlist includes more than 200 species, but I have a field guide only since 3 weeks and many birds can I only identifie with this...

Some really special birds I have found in Ecuador until now are the following ones:
Crested and Golden-headed Quetzals, Andean Cock-of-the Rock, Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Chestnut-mandibled and White-throated Toucan, Chestnut-eared, Many-banded Pale-mandibled Aracari, Tawny Antpitta, Great Tinamou, Boobies, Galapagos-Penguin, Sickle-winged Guan, Blue-throated Piping-Guan, Wattled Jacana, Red-billed and Orange-winged Parrot, Barn and Tropical Screech-Owl, Band-winged Nightjar, Vermillion Flycatcher, and every single hummer and tanager.
Some highlights I still want to see are: Andean Condor, Harpy Eagle (rare), Swordbilled Hummingbird, Sunbittern, Macaws, Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe and the very rare Long-wattled Umbrellabird

There are also other animals in Ecuador, and almost every single is interesting for me.
The majoritie of those have I seen, when I went to Galapagos and the jungle. Apart from this 2 trips only very few other wildlife than birds.
My absolute highlights were:
>The monkeys (common squirrel m., dusky titi m., monk saki, Graells's Tamarin and Golden-mantled Tamarin), South American Tapir, Capybara and Galapagos Sea Lion.
> A boa constrictor, some other, smaller snakes, Poison-Dart Frogs, Western Basilisk, Black Caiman, Black Tegu, Marine and Land Iguanas on Galapagos and the Sea Turtles on Galapagos, including, one that was lying on the beach and wasn't able to go back to the sea.
And not to be forgotten also the giant Tortoises of Galapagos.
>White-tipped Reef-Shark, Golden Cownose-Ray and piranhas...

Animal experiences

In all my years of searching for animals, eventhough it wasn't really professional, I happened to have some experiences I'll surely never forget. For example I had some hummingbirds sitting on my fingers this year and I had many bird nestlings in my garden in Hamburg, also including some funny Eurasian Jays.

But the absolut highlight in my life, was a Stonefish I almost put my hands on when I snorkeled in the Red Sea. Maybe you already know that this fish is considered the most venomous fish in the world and can be almost invisible, because he "imitates" a stone. It was my very first encounter with this species, I was 10 years old, and I snorkeled in water, that was less than 1m deep. So I used the stones to move through the water. I was just going to put my hands on this "stone" when I realized something about this stone. It had a mouth. And eyes. And fins. When I realized this, I was faster out of a water, than you could count to 3. But 5 minutes later I was back in the water, trying to find it again...

Also did I have to pull my flipper out of the open mouth of a male, 2m-long Galapagos Sea Lion, that obviously only wanted to play, but I like to have somebody a little less big and strong to play with, like the female, that posed very nicely for the camera.
Another cool thing was, on the maldives, where my father and I went to dive every single minute we could. Then one day, we were driving to a diving site, by speedboat: Dolphins, Flying fish and some other things had I already seen, but then I saw something really impressing: Do you have ever seen fish jump out of the water. For sure, but was this fish 2m long, jumped the same length out of the water and was followed by 6 others? There was a group of sailfishes, just having a funny time I guess...^^

Maybe one of the most spectacular things I have seen was the displaying of a pair of Variable (Red-backed) Hawks. They were flying high in the air, then two of them flew together and suddenly shooted downwards, like arrows, their wings close to the body and circling one around the other. The spactacle was not more than 5s long, but it was incredible with what a speak they were falling and it was incredibly cool, how they made this spirals.

Find the Stonefish!!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hi, world

Hi world,
eventhough I doubt anybody has already noticed this blog, I'll try to describe myself and about my animal experiences.

I am 16 years old, live in Hamburg, Germany and have been interested in animals since I was in kindergarden, probably even before. With the years I got to know so much about animals, that my parents had fear, there wouldn't be more space in my head for other things.
When I got older, I still was fascinated by animals, but not as much as before.
Now I am in Ecuador for an exchange year and after a while I got really interested in the birds and all the other wildlife. Once I went to a jungle Lodge. Since then I had to find out every single species of animals I saw, even if it was the Plain-brown Shit-bird...
I began to make lists of animals I'd seen home or on vacations and also for Ecuadorian Animals.
The biodiversity is really immense and I try my best to see them all. But I will only have time until 6th August, because then, I'll be back home...

Now I got the idea of to report about my animal experiences and maybe somebody, somehow finds this blog and is going to read it...(Dad?!)
Me and the Tapir Christina in Yarina Ecolodge...