Ecuador II Travel Diary - p 5 of 5




13 November 2011
Today Jorge drives us
down the mountain to San Isidro Lodge, owned by the same couple that built Guango.  Along with a restive flock of Russet Oropendolas, the lodge grounds feature a tame flock of Inca Jays.  In the dull light of late afternoon, I manage a photo using high ISO (640) and low shutter speed:  1/60". 




Inca Jay
Sparkling Violetear

13 November 2011
San Isidro is pleasant, but has essentially the same assemblage of hummers as did Guango.  Carmen, the lodge manager, is kind enough to find a driver so that after lunch, we continue on to WildSumaco Lodge a day early.  Back into a pickup truck we go.  We pass through a sparsely populated and progressively poorer region of Napo province.  After harrowing crossings of some one-lane bridges, we arrive at WildSumaco, the last stop on our tour, in late afternoon.
    Sure enough, the hummers here are quite different - many are just spectacular.  Naturally, there's one species that dominates, in this case Sparkling Violetear.  As if being the biggest hummer wasn't enough, he raises the feathers of his ear-patch to show everyone he's really mad now. 







WildSumaco, at 3500' elevation, has comfy temperatures and of course rain.  How about 13 feet of rain a year?  Its back deck is great for both photography and birding.  The tree that attracts the most birds is Cecropia, found throughout tropical America.  Its odd, finger-shaped fruit is a magnet for every bird around, including Golden Tanagers and Bay-headed Tanagers, along with both Gilded and Red-headed Barbets.  Unfortunately, the cecropias are too far away to photograph the small birds.  But Many-banded Aracaris, as well as Black-mandibled Toucans and Channel-billed Toucans, make good subjects.





Black-mandibled Toucan


Golden-tailed Sapphire


 The sugar-water feeders on each side of the deck also attract Black-breasted Mangos, Gorgeted Woodstars, and Brown Violetears.  This Golden-tailed Sapphire, which I photographed years ago in Peru, scintillates when seen from the correct angle. 
   Two elusive species, Black-throated Brilliant and Gould's Jewelfront, dart out from perches in the thickest vegetation to sip sugar-water, then are gone.  The jewelfront was named for British ornithologist John Gould, who in the 1800s collected specimens of just about all hummers - 320 of them.  But apparently he only saw one live hummingbird in his life - our Ruby-throated Hummingbird of eastern North America.



13 November 2011
This morning a small flock of Magpie Tanagers visited the cecropia.  One then flew to another tree closer to the deck, where I managed a photo.  Although lacking the brilliant colors of many tanagers, the Magpie does look snappy as he spreads his tail for display.  I wonder if this bird really is a tanager.


Magpie Tanager

Wire-crested Thorntail male WildSumaco has one of the most fascinating of hummingbirds:  Wire-crested Thorntail.  We saw its cousin, Green Thorntail, on the western slopes.  Wire-crested is a dainty, mere slip of a bird, the sort of oddity you'd expect among the myriad hummers in the tropics.
    The female Wire-crested hummer lack the crest and long tail, and is decorated with white.  Several times we watch the mating ceremony:  the male hovers about a foot from a perched female and swings back and forth, displaying his long tail and that amazing green iridescence on his head.  He's a smooth operator, his charm irresistible.  The object of his affection flutters her tail and raises her feathers, a sure sign among thorntails that love is in the air.
Wire-crested Thorntail male

               The End

Travel Diary