Report 5. Friday, September 7, 2007. Birding Day 4. Birding San Isidro.

Note: Sharon's notes are in {green curly brackets}. Information added to the original reports will be in [red].

It's ten after six and it's light outside. The alarm went off at 540.

We are up and outside, where we get our own inca jay, just outside the cabin. A cacique shows up, and we can tell by the color pattern that it's a SUBTROPICAL CACIQUE. First I thought they were yellow-bills, but then I saw red on one's back. And as you know, that makes it a subtropical one.

We join up with Magda and Steve, whose room is through the wall from ours, by the way, and resume birding. "What have you seen?" Steve asks. "We got a cacique. First I thought it was a different one we'd already seen, but he flashed his colors, and it's a subtrop." SUBTROP? WHAT THE HECK KIND OF LANGUAGE DID I JUST USE? Steve cracks up. "Subtrop?" He will give me grief about that word for the rest of the trip. "That's the funniest thing I've heard in my LIFE," he says. I've got some even better ones, just sittin' there waitin' for him.

Steve records black-billed peppershrike, which we've heard but not yet seen. He's trying to draw it in. After some coaxing, a pair of birds, maybe three, fly to a tree very close to us and we get good looks. A nice upgrade.

We start at the courtyard, and begin walking up the road. We see a gray-breasted wood-wren, and then get LONG-TAILED ANTBIRD. Very elegant look. Sharon gets a drop of something in her eye, falling from up high, and we fear it's from a bird. But she recovers in time to see with us a SMOKY BROWN WOODPECKER. We continue walking and get a BLACK-EARED HEMISPINGUS -- actually a pair of them. Sharon saw them first, and with her crappy eye. Dangit, I hate when that happens.

Next we get a fairly common SMOKE-COLORED PEWEE. Sharon gets a Common Bush-tanager, but I don't. Since we already have this bird, from Costa Rica, only one of us has to see it to register it as a trip bird.

Steve goes ahead of us to take a separashun, while we wait. But no sooner has he reached a safe spot, when he calls us to come see a pair of wonderful CRIMSON-MANTLED WOODPECKERS. Great birds, near San Isidro's parking lot.

Note to self: When Steve goes to a separashun, we should all go with him. {It's amazing how many times Bob or I will see a bird after one or the other of us has gone off to "go to the bathroom". I think we should have a new category "Birds seen while peeing".}

We make our way down to the morning feeding of a different type of antpitta. This one is supposed to be much more shy, and we are instructed to not move much and to whisper quietly. I can't think of anything to whisper so I just keep quiet.

After what seems like twenty minutes of coaxing, a WHITE-BELLIED ANTPITTA zips out of the brush, grabs a worm, and zips back in. This happens a couple more times, and we quietly make our way out of the feeding area. Steve has us scheduled for a van ride to a birding road. Hot dang.

We walk up the road again, getting AZARA'S SPINETAIL and OLIVE-BACKED WOODCREEPER. A small tyrannulet with a yellow belly goes unidentified, but then we get a pair of gorgeous SAFFRON-CROWNED TANAGERS. Next is ASHY-HEADED FLYCATCHER. Sharon sees a RUSSET-BACKED OROPENDULA, which I only hear at the time.

Next, before driving out, we walk down a small trail from the parking lot, where it stops at a huge overlook. We have about a 120 degree sweeping look at the top of the forest, as the ground falls away below us. In fact, we have to be careful where we step. There is heavy brush cover just below us, but I think a person would slip right through it.

Steve goes for a separashun again, leaving the rest of us to ID birds for ourselves. Sharon and I get BLUE-WINGED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER, then I get everybody on a GOLDEN-RUMPED EUPHONIA, way off to the left, plus we get FLAME-FACED TANAGER. These are pretty easy birds to identify. {Note to everyone, don't you think Bob's pictures of the birds are exceptionally good this trip?}

Steven returns and gets us one of our top 30 birds, a pair of RUFOUS-CROWNED TODY-TYRANTS. The word "tody" means "small."

It's 915 am, and we finally head out in the van. Shortly we see swifts, and Steve has Wilson pull over at the edge of the gravel road. We get out and get good looks at CHESTNUT-COLLARED SWIFTS. When they are above the skyline, with a light background, they just look kinda darÉk, but when they are below the skyline, with a dark background, we can clearly see their rufousy colored collars. One of the characteristics of these swifts is that when they glide, their wings are slightly below level, like if they were a half-inch off the ground, their wingtips would drag on the ground.

They are actually gliding over fields adjacent to a trout farm, and I get some nice photos.

A Mountain Trout Hatchery, with stream to the right

Earlier Steven said that if he gets three lifers, he'd shave off his sideburns, and this just made his third one of the trip. A single WHITE-CAPPED PARROT flies over.

We exit onto the paved highway, and drive some distance to a gravel road turnoff, and drive in a ways. We all get out and leave Wilson behind, with the van.

Sharon gets BERYL-SPANGLED TANAGER, a spectacular turquoise-blue bird with black marks on its chest, making an interesting pattern. We also get GREEN-AND-BLACK FRUITEATER, a bird we were hoping for.

Beryl-spangled Tanager

Wilson has been following us as we were birding, and he picks us up. We drive on further, near a wonderful waterfall, where he parks and we get out to do some birding. There is a certain flycatcher-type bird that has been seen here they want us to get.

It is raining, and when we got into the car the last time, I bent my umbrella sitting on it. She don't work no more.

By experimentation, I find that if I use two hands, I can hold it open, or with one hand, I can HOLD it open, by sliding my hand all the way to the top and pinching the shaft real tightly.

I need another umbrella.

Steve goes off for a separashun, but quickly calls us up to where he went. He has a new bird, but can't get any of us on it before it goes across the forest, landing in a tree near the road over there.

We go over there, and Magda locates the DUSKY PIHA, making Steven's day. We load into the van and take off. Steven and Wilson begin talking and we turn around and go back to near the waterfall. We get out and Steven calls in a SLATY-BACKED CHAT-TYRANT. This is the bird Wilson saw, but either forgot to tell Steven or thought we had already seen it. While we're there, we also get another nice hummingbird, a WHITE-TAILED HILLSTAR.

We're finally done with this road, and go back to the asphalt highway. As we take off, I notice a sign that says "Mirador de la Virgen." This is another area, not the one we went into, but it's a mark that may be useful later, when I write up the events.

I doze off during the drive back to San Isidro, but Sharon gets Southern Rough-winged Swallow while I sleep, and that counts as a trip bird, by our rules. Wilson stops at a service station and fills up with diesel again, at $1.03.7 Hot dang.

When we get to the trout farm, the swifts are swooping very low and we can see their collars very clearly now. Back at the parking lot, we get good looks at russet-back oropendulas.

We have lunch and a small siesta, then head for the parking lot, where we will drive to the afternoon's birding locations. On our way, we get a very nice male masked trogon, then an ANDEAN SOLITAIRE.

Masked Trogon Male

We get a big flock of Band-tailed Pigeons. As we drive along this road, Steven says, "This is one you need, Bobby." Steve thinks it is one of our top 30, but it's not. It's a nice Southern Lapwing, but we've seen it before. A black phoebe chases insects.

We continue on, and Wilson gets us a nice Roadside Hawk, perched in a meadow, on a fencepost. It's a little before 5 pm. We continue on and a guan flies across the road. We hear it and Steven tries to draw it out. It responds, and although we don't get a good look at it, it's an ANDEAN GUAN. We register it as heard-only.

We resume our drive and and come to the funniest thing I've seen in a while. It's an outdoor basketball court -- that's good. But the concrete surface has been totally chopped up so as to be boulders and rocks, of all sizes. You couldn't even walk on this thing, let alone dribble a basketball on it. Pretty funny.

Staples Center. Doesn't that look a LITTLE like a giraffe?

We come to the farthest south and east point of this Ecuador trip, where a road ends at a river.

Originally we were going to go quite a bit further east (via a different road), and bird Loreto Road, but Wilson has informed Steven that there are some security problems going on there, and Steve makes the judgment that we should pass on it. I'm sorry to miss all the birds that we would get there, but am 100% behind avoiding dangerous situations.

The road ends at a river.

A sign says that there's a lodge on the shore, across the river.

Well, there's no lodge over there, first off, and second off, there's no way to cross the river. Even funnier than the basketball court. I wonder what the story is. SierrAzul is listed as a major birding location in our field guide. Life's a mystery.

Sharon and I go one way, Wilson hangs around the van, while Magda and Steven go off together a different direction. Sharon and I wander apart. She looks across the river and tries to decide if she sees a large black bird or maybe it's river trash. She's trying to decide whether to call me over when the bird flies. So we don't know what it is. We're hoping for white-capped dipper at one of these rivers or streams.

Meantime, we get a CHESTNUT-BELLIED THRUSH, working a tree in the area.

We turn around and head back towards San Isidro, coming to a bend in the road just when it's getting dark. Wilson parks by the side of the road and we get out. Wilson has seen a night bird here before.

Steven plays the call of the nighthawk, and we hear an owl respond. Steven then switches over to the owl call when, sacre bleu (English translation: sucker bill), the RUFOUS-BELLIED NIGHTHAWK flies over us and more specifically over Steve's iPod. We wade into the wet meadow beside the road, in the direction the nighthawk flew, hoping that its iPod call will make it fly over again. To our surprise, a RUFOUS-BANDED OWL flies over from the road and perches in a tree in the distance.

We listen to their infrequent calls, then slosh back to the road, and drive back home. We are much closer to the cabanas than I thought, and we turn up the drive to San Isidro. It's 745 pm, so we head down to a late dinner.

I go back to enter the day's photos and digital audio recordings, and we hear a hoot. And Horton heard a Who. I go outside, in time to meet another birder with a spotlight, not yet shining on the owl, which we see above us, on a wire, but in the dark. He goes to get a friend, while I go in to get my video camera, and we meet again. I get some good video.

Black-and-White Owl, spotlit, lifted from video

The owl flies away, to chase its own dinner, and I go back in to finish off the evening's computer tasks.



Trip Birds Seen Today (First Time on the Trip): 32
Total Trip Birds to Date: 136

Life Birds Seen Today: 26
Total Life Birds to Date: 117

Best Birds: Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Blue-winged Mountain-tanager, Rufous-crowned Tody-flycatcher, Flame-faced Tanager, Golden-rumped Euphonia, Beryl-spangled Tanager, Slaty-backed Chat-tyrant, Rufous-bellied Nighthawk, Rufous-banded Owl. A day full of best birds.

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