Sunday, November 16, 2008

First day in Ecuador

Eared Dove

Today was our first real day in Ecuador. We arrived last night around 10pm, always fun to arrive in a new country after dark, but it was extremely painless and easy to get out of the airport. 
Customs was a joke, they took our forms without even glancing at them, and the guy manning the computer at the x-ray machine appeared to be nodding off. 
We were in bed and asleep by 11:30, and glad to be there.

This morning we didn't make it out into the big world until about 1000, due to shower problems, which is to say nobody, including the staff, being able to figure out how to turn on the shower. At least we got a free breakfast for our trouble.

We opted not to get a car for the entire trip, and today we figured that we should give the bus a try, rather then the more conventional taxi. It was a great time, even though we stuck out like a sore thumb, being gringos amongst all the natives. The bus system was very interesting.
There are three bus lines that run through Quito, all down some of the more major streets for most of the length of the city. They have one lane going each way down the middle of the road, separated from the normal traffic by concrete barriers, with bus stations between the two one way lanes. The stops themselves are elevated and can only be entered from one direction, with the fare being a whopping 25 cents. Everyone uses the buses, and each one that we were on was standing room only.

It was a busy day in Quito today, with a market going on at the one park we went to, and a concert nearby, with drums that could be heard from about a mile away, a 'futbol' game at a stadium nearby, and overall just lots of happy people wandering around, being happy and
 Ecuadorian.

                     Black-tailed Trainbearer

The best part of the day for me was the park that we visited, which was the only place in the city that had birds other then Eared Doves, Great Thrushes, and Rufous-collared Sparrows. Not that I dont like those birds, but its nice to have some diversity.
Of course, diversity in Quito means 10 species in an entire day outside, but thats besides the point. The show stealer was for sure the Black-tailed Trainbearer, a hummingbird that has about a 3 inch long body, with up to a 7 inch long forked tail! There were at least 7 males in this park, I saw no females the whole time I was there. Also cool were Sparkling Violetears, a rather large and aggressive hummingbird that has an interesting display flight in which it fans its tail and twitters wildly.
Some other birds of note included at least one Vermillion Flycatcher and two Summer Tanagers, neither of which I was really expecting in this small urban park.

It started raining at about 5pm and has continued until now. Looking out our window in the daylight, between the concrete facades of buildings under construction, you can see Volcan Pichincha looming up, in the not so far distance, with the top always enshrouded by clouds. It reminds you that you're around 10,000 feet above sea level.
Speaking of that, altitude has been almost no problem. You get out of breath doing simple things, and breath more often, but other then that, perfectly fine.

Here's to hoping the rain clears up overnight!



Day list from today:

Black Vulture     1
American Kestrel     1
Rock Pigeon     11
Eared Dove     59
Sparkling Violetear     13
Black-tailed Trainbearer     7
Vermilion Flycatcher     1
Great Thrush     19
Summer Tanager     2
Rufous-collared Sparrow     12
10 species  This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)

IMG_1095.JPG.jpg

Black-tailed Trainbearer

5 comments:

Luke Seitz said...

OMG dude sweet. how is the lens? i'm gonna keep pestering you about that. BTTR is friggin awesome.

eBird?

sounds like fun.

I got DICK today in Portland, and a Parula.

Ian Davies said...

The lens is great. I mean, this isn't the first time I've used it. I used it a bunch in MA, and was totally happy with the results, all the time.
It's 9.5 lbs with the body, so quite hefty, but image quality makes up for it.
Awesome, sounds like you had a sweet day. Late NOPA.

Hope Batcheller said...

Wicked awesome. This isn't going to help my South America obsession any...

CJ said...

For those of us not in the know, what lens are we talking about?

CJ, Scotland

Ian Davies said...

Sorry Chris, I should have specified it.
Just before this trip, for the purpose of the trip, I got the new Canon 50D and a 400mm f5/6 USM lens. Still not as good as your setup :p