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WINTER BIRDING IN ECUADOR – 2015 Part 5 – From Phil’s Journal – 1/20/15 GUANGO TRAILS – SORTING OUT HUMMERS

November 20, 2016

I guess the skies determined that we needed a day of rest. It has rained nearly all day. Ann and Phil managed to squeeze in a 1½ hour walk just before lunch, with very few birds to award their effort. Only 4 new species for the trip today, but one cleared up a tummy-seen-only for Ann and one a tummy-seen-only for Phil, and so Ann netted 3 lifers and Phil 2 for the walk.

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Entrance to Guango Lodge

The rain finally breaks about 4pm. I waited out the last of it at a small cabana where I can study the comings and goings at the Guango hummer feeders I don’t usually watch. It is cool, so I pull on my warm, red cap. Within minutes, a Tourmaline Sunangel flies up and lands on my chest, examining the fittings on my binocular strap. A Collared Inca circles my head a couple times, bill-length away from my eyebrows. Several times more my face is fanned by Collared Incas and Sunangels, and twice more a Sunangel lands on me.

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Anti-slip device on wet, muddy trails.

A mystery hummer appears, with white crissum feathers completely covering the vent and undertail, much more extensively than any of the other Sunangels we’ve seen over the last two days. Its tail seems longer, its plumage darker, and the glittering feathers at its throat an iridescent pink with purple-blue feathers at the crown, on the chest area just below the pink, and on its shoulders. Two women and Ann have joined me now, and we carefully examine this bird! Consult three field guidebooks. Check through every species of hummer on two different Guango lists, and finally decide it’s a Sunangel. My guess is that this must be the brightest full adult male of all those we’ve seen! Later, I look closely at the picture in the big Birds of Northern South America and what bird do you imagine is an exact match for my mystery hummer? The other bird books and side-by-side comparisons of birds at the feeder had me so convinced that the birds was not a Tourmaline Sunangel that when I finally got to the Big Book, I studied every bird but. In the meantime, the four of us studied, discussed, compared notes, considered and reconsidered, and finally Ann decided to go through the books in search of only the combination of pink throat and white crissum, and made the final call. Tourmaline Sunangel. Some birds come easy; some are handed to you by a guide; none are more fun than those you work out on your own.

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Roaring river near the lodge – Good place to look for Torrent Ducks.

Just before dinner, the weather clears and Ann and I make yet another jaunt in pursuit of the Mountain Avocet-bill, a smallish hummer with a comparatively short bill that just barely turns up at the tip – like an avocet. We finally encounter a mixed flock of whitestarts and thrushes, and as Ann turns to leave, a pair of Cinnamon Flycatchers flits up to a bare branch in plain view. This is a species I’d seen earlier with Mauricio, and I always feel so much better when we both get a bird.

By bedtime, the altitude has hit me hard. Head congestion plagues my sleep and by morning I’m feeling pretty puny. During one point of midnight restlessness, I hear an owl hooting not far from the lodge. Never did figure out what it was.

 

 

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