Friday, 24 August 2012

Hummingbirds of Ecuador (part 2)

Territorial dispute

Booted Racket-tailed Hummingbird (male) investigating a bee.

Buff-tailed Coronet

          One of the main targets at Guango was the magnificent Swordbill hummingbird. This species has a beak, or bill, longer than its body. I guess for preening they have some mutual agreement to scratch the neighbour three houses down. They use their bills are rapiers or baseball bats to sort out other species. There are certain local bell-shaped flowers where the nectar would only be accessible by this species.
         After four nights we left Guango for a lodge on the Western side of the Andes. This was at a lower altitude and was host to quite a different selection of species who generally keep to certain altitudes where they exploit certain niches.

Bus that took us from Guango to Tandayalpa

The landslide that took out the road leading to Tandayalpa Lodge

         The road leading immediately to Tandayalpa Lodge had been washed out in what looks to be an irreparable mud-slide. This meant that the Lodge could only be accessed by around 200 steps. A few local lads were recruited as porters.....and their strength was impressive. They could carry three 50lb bags at once. This was also a very nice comfortable lodge especially considering that everything had to be portered in. We each had a bedroom with ensuite and everything was clean and tidy. The food was not quite as good but the staff was hard-working....except the manager, who smoked, drank beer or talked loudly on his cell phone. Strangely there was a cell phone signal at one remote corner of the main building which was good to contact the outside world. There was a young and very pleasant Canadian lad helping out at the lodge and taking birders on guided tours. We did not pursue other birds but saw several colourful species in close proximity; toucans, trogons and barbets.

A White-collared Inca in flight

Booted Racket-tailed Hummingbird

White-bellied Woodstar pair (male below)

         We shot a lot of images and evenings were fairly frenetic downloading and sorting them out. The other folks on the trip, all Americans, were nice people; a retired dentist and his wife, a retired cardiologist and his wife, a cartage contractor and a practicing dentist. You can see the heart and the teeth were well catered for in case of emergency.
When it was time to leave Tandayalpa the bags were portered down to where the bus could access......the bus was late and rain advanced menacingly over the hill. The bus when it arrived was a bit larger than it should have been and hence had a little difficulty getting up the was more fun reversing down. We made it back to Quito safely and stayed a final night at the Hilton. Linda took us out to a very nice restaurant for a final dinner together.

The lounge at Tandayalpa Lodge

My bedroom......the spare bed and computer center.

I had an early start in the morning with four flights to get back to Singapore. At times you get some friendly fellow travelers to share some conversation with and not so soon I was back in sultry Singapore.

Fawn-breasted Brilliant

A Tyrian Metal-tail chases a gnat

An interspecies dispute (Sparkling Violet-ear and Rufous-tailed Coronet)

Rufous-tailed Coronet

Graeme Guy August 2012 

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