Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Parrot Clay Licks along the Napo River

Yellow-crowned Parrots and a Mealy Parrot scraping clay off the bank of the Napo River.
The sight (and deafening sound) of hundreds of spectacular parrots feasting on dirt was certainly a highlight of the trip. We visited two large clay licks along the Napo River and a small muddy pool in the forest and saw nine species of parrots (Orange-winged Parrots were often seen in flight but few were near the licks). One lick was observed from the boat and the other two had large shelter/blinds so the birds would not be disturbed.

Mealy Parrots 

Mealy and Blue-headed Parrots. Dusky-headed Parakeets were also present near the river lick but stayed in nearby trees.

Orange-cheeked Parrots, Cobalt-winged Parakeets and Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlets crowd into a muddy pool while Scarlet Macaws perch overhead at this interior forest lick.

Friday, February 19, 2010

San Isidro, Ecuador

A huge variety of moths, katydids, flies, cicadas and other insects are attracted to outdoor lights at night, especially at places such as San Isidro which is many miles distant from other lights. "San Isidro" Owl and Rufous-banded Owl can be often be found near one of the lights waiting for large insects to appear (photos from some past trips are on my homepage).

In the morning there is a burst of activity around the lights as many birds arrive to feast on the insects that can be gleaned from the foliage around the poles. About twenty species of birds were seen before breakfast time. There is often a nice mix of migrants such as Canada Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler and Swainson's Thrush among the resident woodcreepers, flycatchers, caciques and trogons.

Canada Warbler

Cinnamon Flycatcher

Masked Trogon

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Napo Wildlife Center continued

Things that go Bump in the Night

This Tricolored Swamp Snake was crossing the trail pre-dawn (yes we did get up early some days). People often ask me about whether I see snakes while in the tropics. Snakes are seldom seen (despite some searching) and none of the three species we saw this trip were venomous.

Bats are numerous but seldom seen well enough to identify. These Proboscis Bats (also called Long-nosed Bats) like to roost on tree trunks directly over water. We saw a group of these bats by the lodge's dock where they were roosting on a pole used to anchor the water intake line.

Tawny-bellied and Tropical Screech-Owls were heard most nights from our cabins at the lodge. This Tawny-bellied was roosting in a tree near the canopy tower. We were also lucky to have our guides point out another tree cavity where two Night Monkeys were perched.

Night Monkeys

Great Tinamou (below) and Marbled Wood-Quail (above) are often heard but seldom seen birds of the jungle. Our guides worked very hard one evening to locate night roost of these birds.

This Ladder-tailed Nightjar was roosting along the shoreline of the Napo River.

Night-time was a good time to go out and search for insects, nocturnal wildlife or just listen to the haunting calls of the Common Potoo. An additional bonus was seeing the southern sky and astronomical features not visible from Canada such as the Large Magellanic Cloud (a bright dwarf galaxy).

Friday, February 12, 2010

Canopy tower

The 36 m (120 ft) canopy tower was an impressive structure and a great place to spend the early morning hours. Birds ranged from the tiny Pygmy Antwren and Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatcher, to Spangled Cotinga, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Masked Tanager, Ivory-billed Aracari, Channel-billed Toucan, Blue-and-Yellow Macaw and King Vulture.

We saw or heard monkeys every day (six species in total). Pictured above is a Golden-mantled Tamarin, Saguinus tripartitus, the animal used as a logo for the Napo Wildlife Center. We saw these beautiful monkeys by the lodge, along the trail to the canopy tower and from the top of the tower.

We were also lucky on another day and saw a Pygmy Marmoset, the smallest of the true primates.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Birding by boat

The trip down the Napo River was quite comfortable in this large motor launch. We did stop a few times to look at birds along the way to the Napo Wildlife Center. One of the highlights was watching a group of Pied Plovers on a sand bar.

Pied Plover

Eventually we transferred to two canoes for the two hour paddle to the lodge. We paddled (OK, we lounged on padded seats and the guides paddled) this blackwater creek several times during our stay and each trip produced great sightings.

Northern Caiman Lizard basking over the creek.

This creek was perfect for kingfishers. We had great looks at Ringed, Amazon, Green-and-Rufous, Green and Pygmy Kingfishers from the canoes. I had my best view ever of the sparrow-sized American Pygmy Kingfisher shown above.

Ringed Kingfisher

This tiny adult Zigzag Heron cocked its tail back and forth much like a motmot. We also saw a recently fledged Zigzag Heron along the creek.

young Zigzag Heron

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Back to Ecuador

I'm just starting to look through my images taken in Ecuador over the past two weeks. The main stop on this trip was the Napo Wildlife Centre, located in Yasuni National Park about 50 km east of the town of Coca. Getting there involved a 3 hour trip by motor launch down the Nap River and a two hour paddle up a small blackwater creek to the lodge.

One of the most conspicuous birds along the creek and the small lake were the lodge is located is the Hoatzin. These birds uttered unbird-like grunts and hisses and flopped from branch to branch as the canoes passed by. The fermentation of leaves in their crops produces an unpleasant odour which permeates their flesh. Their local name translates as "stinky turkey" and they are seldom hunted. Hoatzins are not closely related to any other group of living birds.

Napo Wildlife Center