Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Peru, May 9, Day 8: THE bird!

When we were planning to do this trip we discussed several options. At one point Martin asked me what bird I most wanted to see in the Western hemisphere. I didn't even hesitate; it was the Marvelous Spatuletail. I remember seeing a video of this bird displaying several years ago and being totally blown away. I love hummingbirds and this one is a doozy! Its body is tiny, 15 cm, but the tail on the male bird is a wonder to behold. It consists of only four feathers, two long pointed straight ones and two incredibly long raquet shaped feathers that cross and can be moved independantly. When the bird flies the tail is all over the place. May 9 was the day we were going for this bird.

We left Jaen and did some birding on the road from Jaen to Pedro Ruiz. Its a shame that modern English tends to hyperbole, because it becomes difficult to express the depth of feeling when something really is awe inspiring. This drive falls into that category. I have been lucky enough to travel in several countries in South America and to have seen the Andes in numerous locations. None of these places came close to blowing me away the way this road did. The mountains shot up overhead right next to the road. It was impossible to see the tops through the van windows in many places. Cascades of water dropped well over a thousand feet in several locations. The third tallest waterfall in the world, over 3,000 ft, in this area. Unfortunately we didn't see that one, but the ones we did see were pretty darn spectacular.

We saw some birds, of course. Several Fasciated Tiger-herons were in the river that ran along parts of the road. We picked up Peruvian Pigeon, Buff-bellied Tanager and Maranon Spinetail. We tried very hard to find Maranon Thrush, but had no luck. Martin and I had been fortunate to see it in Ecuador several years ago, so we were not too disappointed, but I wish we had gotten it for the others in our group. Finally after lunch we arrived at the Spatuletail Reserve near Huembo.

The reserve sits in a beautiful valley. We walked down the trail leading to a gazebo when it started to pour. We had been very lucky with weather on this trip, so we really couldn't complain. The feeders where the Spatuletails come in is lower down and there is no cover, so we waited under the shelter for the rain to let up. Finally it cleared a bit, so we headed down. There are benches across from the feeders. We sat and waited. A week before we left for our trip we talked with a friend who had been at the reserve several months ago. He said female Spatuletails came in to the feeders, but not the males. They had spent hours hiking to find a male with a full tail. I was trying hard not to get my hopes up, figuring we would have the same luck.

The feeders are extremely busy. We had Chestnut-breasted Coronets, three species of Woodstars, Andean Emerald and Bronzy Incas coming in. Then HE flew in, a male Spatuletail in his full glory. I can take video with my little point and shoot Fuji and thought I was ready. The first video I shot is rather funny. I immediately dropped the camera when I saw the bird (luckily I had the strap on) All you can see is the ground swinging back and forth and hear me saying "OH MY GOD!" Luckily I did a little better with the second one.
You can hear Martin's camera clicking and me whispering "What a gorgeous bird!" The video is not good quality, but if you look carefully you can see the tail bobbing around. 
After we recovered a bit we walked a trail near the feeders. To be honest, I do not recall any of the birds we saw, but I did see some incredible orchids. We then walked back up to the administration building and watched the feeders there. We were thrilled to see yet another Marvelous Spatuletail. I shot another video; the quality is even worse, but you can see the tail moving a bit better.
We had a bit more rain and a little rainbow right before we left. The spatuletail was every bit as good as I had imagined!

I have not talked much about our hotel accommodations in my blogs. I am making an exception for this night. We stayed in Pomochoca, a town next to a good size lake, formed by an old volcano crater. When we arrived in town I was a little curious., as it is very rural and the homes and businesses were extremely simple. We have stayed in some rather spartan hotels, and I thought this would be another one. I was more than pleasantly surprised when we pulled into a gated facility and found a really lovely resort! The gardens were beautiful, as was the lobby and our room. Our driver Juan Jose pointed out a huge pottery sculpture of a person in a pre-Colombian style. He explained it was a replica of an Incan sarcophagus. He told me to look in the back. I was stunned to see an actual mummy! We then went to our room to get ready for dinner. Suddenly we lost electrical power and the lights went out. This is pretty common in Latin America, so I wasn't concerned. We took our flashlights and walked to the dining room for dinner. As I passed the mummy I couldn't help think that this felt like a bad horror movie. Luckily he stayed put and we had a great dinner.

My photos for the day including the videos:

Our bird list:
 1  Fasciated Tiger-Heron

2 Great Egret

3 Snowy Egret

4 Black Vulture

5 Turkey Vulture

6 Savanna Hawk

7 Harris's Hawk

8 Roadside Hawk

9 Short-tailed Hawk

10 Crested Caracara

11 American Kestrel

12 Peruvian Pigeon

13 Eared Dove

14 Croaking Ground-Dove

15 White-tipped Dove

16 Speckle-faced Parrot

17 Groove-billed Ani

18 Lesser Nighthawk

19 Green Violetear

20 Sparkling Violetear

21 White-bellied Hummingbird

22 Andean Emerald

23 Violet-fronted Brilliant

24 Chestnut-breasted Coronet

25 Bronzy Inca

26 Marvelous Spatuletail

27 Purple-collared Woodstar

28 White-bellied Woodstar

29 Little Woodstar

30 Emerald Toucanet

31 Pale-legged Hornero

32 Maranon Spinetail

33 Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet

34 Highland Elaenia

35 Vermilion Flycatcher

36 Short-crested Flycatcher

37 Great Kiskadee

38 Tropical Kingbird

39 Green Jay

40 Blue-and-white Swallow

41 White-winged Swallow

42 Speckle-breasted Wren

43 House Wren

44 Long-tailed Mockingbird

45 Buff-bellied Tanager

46 Silver-beaked Tanager

47 Blue-gray Tanager

48 Palm Tanager

49 Blue-black Grassquit

50 Chestnut-throated Seedeater

51 Saffron Finch

52 Peruvian Meadowlark

53 Scrub Blackbird

54 Shiny Cowbird

55 Yellow-tailed Oriole

56 White-vented Euphonia

No comments: