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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Yanacocha Reserve in February

Tawny Antpitta (Grallaria quitensis)

I have gotten behind on my blog updates as I have been quite busy the past couple of weeks. I will try to rectify this over the next few days since I have made several trips to Yanacocha, Parque Jerusalem, Cotopaxi and Guango Lodge. As I said, I have been busy.

I will start with Yanacocha since I have been there three times since my last post. I was privileged to travel there on each occasion with some new friends. Graham Osborne from England accompanied me on my first trip, Klaus Emmaneel from Victoria BC on my second and William Donaldson of the US on the last. Although unusual for this time of year, we had good weather for each visit.

There is not as much tanager activity at this time since there is not as much fruit available. Most trees are in bloom. However, we did encounter the Grass-green Tanager. It is quite common at lower altitudes but not seen much at Yanacocha so this was a pleasant surprise. There were also several Barred Fruiteaters active along the paths and near the hummingbird feeders near the tunnel.

A couple mixed flocks were encountered consisting of Spectacled Whitestart, Masked and Glossy Flowerpiercers and Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanagers. A small group of Hooded Mountain-Tanagers were also spotted as they passed through the area. The Bar-bellied Woodpecker was seen on one occasion and the Crimson-mantled Woodpecker was also present. Rufous Wren and Rufous Spinetail were quite active although their constant movement made it difficult to get a good view. A Smokey Bush-tyrant was also observed within one of these flocks.

Great Sapphirewing (Pterophanes cyanopterus)
The hummingbird feeders were abuzz with activity as usual. Sword-billed Hummingbird, Great Sapphirewing, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Mountain Velvetbreast, Golden and Sapphire-vented Puffleg, and Tyrian Metaltail were all present. It is still too early for any sightings of the Black-breasted Puffleg but the time is approaching when that is a possibility. The Blue-backed Conebill has also been regularly seen near the feeders although not participating in the nectar frenzy.

When we returned to the ranger station it was interesting to find that the workers have followed the lead of Angel Paz by putting up a small hide to attract the Tawny Antpitta. About 50 yards from the guard shack one can make a few whistles and a couple of these illusive birds will come in to see if there are any worm morsels to be had.  Although the hide is there to provide a little more cover from the birds, the Antpittas have overcome their fear and will jump right up onto the walls of the hide in search of food. It used to be that getting within fifty feet of this bird was unusual. Now you can see them at arms length.

All three trips to Yanacocha were successful, seeing about 20 to 25 species before the clouds came in and obscured our vision. I will be on the lookout for the Black-breasted Puffleg as their time approaches. Meanwhile I will be busy trying to get caught up on my blog updates.

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