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Monday, September 13, 2010

Papallacta Pass Revisited

Volcano Antisana as viewed from Papallacta Pass
I looked out my window this morning and saw that the mountians were clear to the East so I decided to go back up to Papallacta Pass. We have been having some beautiful clear days this week which has made it great for birding at the higher elevations.

When I arrived at the pass there was no one at the entrance so I went on up towards the antennas. On the way up I met the ranger who told me that he had spotted some deer up near one of the lakes. Unfortunately they were gone when I arrived so I had a little disappointment, but not for long.

Stout-billed Cinclode (Cinclodes excelsior)
There was a lot of bird activity this morning, especially from the Stout-billed Cinclodes and the  Paramo Ground–Tyrants. They were everywhere. The Cinclodes were searching for food in holes that they had burrowed in the sides of the hill. They were popping in and out of these kitchens all the way up the mountain.

It was also a great morning for seeing raptors. I watched Black-chested Buzzard-eagles, Variable Hawks, Carunculated Caracara, and White-throated Hawks soar over the mountains. You could see the major snow-capped volcanoes in the background; Antisana, Cotopaxi and Ilanisas. It was a beautiful day.

Brown-bellied Swallow (Orochelidon murina)
The highlight of the morning was when four Noble Snipe took off from the lake and flew past me and over the hill. I couldn’t have asked for a better morning for birding.

In all I saw about 16 different species of birds in the couple hours I spent at the pass. They were:

Andean Tit-Spinetail, Bar-winged Cinclode, Black Flowerpiercer, Black-chested Buzzard-eagle, Blue-mantled Thornbill, Brown-bellied Swallow, Carunculated Caracara, Ecuadorian Hillstar, Great Thrush, Many-striped Canastero, Noble Snipe, Paramo Ground-tyrant, Plumbeous Sierra-Finch, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Stout-billed Cinclode, White-Throated Hawk,

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