Sunday, December 21, 2008

La Selva

First off, I would just like to say that the Amazon, at least the Ecuadorian part of it, is absolutely amazing, one of the most special places I have been in my life. Once you get away from the oil fields and wanton exploitation of the forests, there is nothing but pristine jungle as far as the eye can see. More trees have been found in 25 hectares, about 55 acres, of forest here, then are found in ALL of North America north of Mexico. Birds are abundant, and other life is as well.
During our few days at La Selva we saw over 10 mammals, including 6 monkeys, over 10 reptiles/amphibians (herps), and last but not least, 253 species of birds.
The only downside of our visit, well, my visit, was the fact that I spent our first full day there lying in bed, after being sick from food poisoning all night, trying to keep the contents of my stomach in my stomach, and being unable to bird in the most biodiverse place I have ever been. Ah well.
The two and a half of days of birding that I did get to do were spectacular, without trying for big days we managed over 160 species each day, and some of the birds included over 25 various antthings, 10 woodpeckers, 6 manakins, 14 parrots, 4 jacamars, and countless other goodies. One of the days was spent birding the clay licks across the Rio Napo at Yasuní National Park, where the spectacle of hundreds of parrots and parakeets coming in to line their stomachs with clay, so that they are able to feed on toxic seeds throughout the coming day, is nothing short of incredible, much less deafening!
After that we walked trails behind the licks, heading off into the 'terra firme' forest, which is to say land that doesnt seasonally flood, with our wonderful guide Rodrigo, who knew all the birds as well as quirky things about the forest, and all the other life around as well.
The birding up in the small hills of the terra firme was quite nice, and one of the nice bird features of that area is the relative abundance of manakins, of which we saw Golden-headed, Dwarf Tyrant, White-crowned, Blue-crowned, and Stripes, all in just a morning. Such neat little birds. Another highlight was a Scarlet Macaw coming down to the parakeet clay lick, one of the two licks that we visited, where our guide had not seen a Macaw come down to drink for three years! Other memorable experiences included a Great Tinamou walking across the path not 10 feet away from us, being attacked by a Black-tailed Leaftosser, having a Fork-tailed Woodnymph study us from about 4 feet away, and just wacky birds like Cream-colored Woodpecker and White-eared Jacamar, that make you wonder why they exist.
The other day of birding was spent at the Napo river islands in the morning, and another lagoon, separate from the one that the lodge is located on, called Mandicocha.
The river islands are really great, cool birds, cool habitat, and wonderful photo ops. Some of the better birds seen there were Oriole Blackbird, Pied Lapwing, Spotted Tody-Flycatcher, and Capped Heron, for looks, and Castelnau's Antshrike, Parker's Spinetail, Olive-spotted Hummingbird, and Lesser Hornero, for rarity.
Mandicocha, where we spent the afternoon, was nothing less then spectacular. It is this wonderful lake that is edged with water hyacinth and reeds, and we were there at sunset, and I cannot imagine a prettier place then there. The edge of the cocha had such glamour birds as Orange-backed Troupial, Wattled Jacana, Azure Gallinule, and Red-capped Cardinal, while overhead flew Black Caracara, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, and the omnipresent Neotropical Palm-Swift. From there we paddled down a little stream, for longer then we planned, where a troupe of at least 60 Squirrel Monkeys played around overhead for a while, White-chinned Jacamar flycatched from the trees nearby, and a Common Potoo tried his best to look like a dead branch, while keeping a wary eye on the monkeys, before we had to get back to land and make a 15 minute mad dash back to the lodge before dark. 45 minutes there, and we made it back in 15 haha. Motivation is a powerful thing.
It really is impossible to capture our experience there in just a few paragraphs, and some of the things that I've missed out on so far are the location of the lodge, which is situated on this lovely oxbow lake, edged with mangroves, where piranhas swim and caiman lurk, and where we saw Zigzag Heron one morning at dawn, albeit not well, and on our two night paddles we were lucky enough to see Amazon Tree Boa, a wonderful snake that had extended its head more then 3 feet off of a branch, in the hopes of catching a moth or something of that ilk, Black-banded Owl, sadly heard only, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, and the wonderful raccoon-like Kinkajou!
In conclusion, my only regret is that we didn't have more time down there in the east, even though at times it was the hottest I have ever been, with 80 degree temps and 95%+ humidity, it was still awesome.
A link to all the pictures I've taken on this trip, including 54 newbies from La Selva, can be seen at:

Full species list from La Selva:


Pygmy Marmoset (smallest monkey in the world)
Black-mantled Tamarin
Common Squirrel Monkey
White-fronted Capuchin
Red Howler Monkey
Dusky Titi Monkey (Edit: This was the name I got from the guide, it seems that only White-tailed Titi is around in eastern Ecuador)
Amazonian Red-tailed Squirrel
Western Pygmy Squirrel
Black Agouti
Long-nosed Bat sp.
White-lined Bat sp.
Fishing Bat

Reptiles/Amphibians (Herps):

Common Whipsnake
Amazon Tree Boa
Black Caiman
Northern Caiman Lizard
Golden Tegu Lizard
Yellow-spotted River Turtle
House Gecko
Collared Forest Gecko
Ruddy Poison Dart Frog (Edit: Neither of these dart-frog species seem to exist under the below names. All herp names are from my guide. The two toads are seemingly absent from the internet as well, except that Sharp-Nosed toad might be Bom Jardim Toad (Rhinella dapsilis)
Stripe-faced (?) Poison Dart Frog
Crested Toad
Sharp-nosed Toad


Silver-bellied Piranha
Leaf-cutter Ant
Bullet Ant
Army Ant
Black Tarantula
Red-rumped Tarantula
Pink-footed Tarantula


Great Tinamou
Cinereous Tinamou
Little Tinamou
Undulated Tinamou
Bartlett's Tinamou
Speckled Chachalaca
Neotropic Cormorant
Zigzag Heron
Rufescent Tiger-Heron
Cocoi Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Striated Heron
Capped Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Boat-billed Heron
Roseate Spoonbill
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Greater Yellow-headed Vulture
Swallow-tailed Kite
Ornate Hawk-Eagle
Black Caracara
Yellow-headed Caracara
Bat Falcon
Peregrine Falcon
Gray-breasted Crake
Azure Gallinule
Pied Lapwing
Collared Plover
Wattled Jacana
Spotted Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Yellow-billed Tern
Large-billed Tern
Pale-vented Pigeon
Plumbeous Pigeon
Ruddy Pigeon
Ruddy Ground-Dove
White-tipped Dove
Gray-fronted Dove
Sapphire Quail-Dove
Ruddy Quail-Dove
Maroon-tailed Parakeet
Dusky-headed Parakeet
Chestnut-fronted Macaw
Scarlet Macaw
Blue-and-yellow Macaw
Red-bellied Macaw
Blue-winged Parrotlet
Cobalt-winged Parakeet
Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlet
Black-headed Parrot
Orange-cheeked Parrot
Blue-headed Parrot
Orange-winged (Amazon)Parrot
Mealy (Amazon)Parrot
Yellow-crowned (Amazon) Parrot
Squirrel Cuckoo
Greater Ani
Smooth-billed Ani
Tropical Screech-Owl
Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl
Spectacled Owl
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl
Black-banded Owl
Sand-colored Nighthawk
Common Pauraque
Ladder-tailed Nightjar
Great Potoo
Common Potoo
Short-tailed Swift
Gray-rumped Swift
Fork-tailed (Neotropical) Palm-Swift
Pale-tailed Barbthroat
White-bearded Hermit
Straight-billed Hermit
Great-billed Hermit
Blue-chinned Sapphire
Blue-tailed Emerald
Fork-tailed Woodnymph
Olive-spotted Hummingbird
Glittering-throated Emerald
(Amazonian) White-tailed Trogon
(Amazonian) Violaceous Trogon
Black-throated Trogon
Black-tailed Trogon
Blue-crowned Motmot
Broad-billed Motmot
Ringed Kingfisher
Amazon Kingfisher
Green Kingfisher
Green-and-rufous Kingfisher
Black-fronted Nunbird
White-fronted Nunbird
Yellow-billed Nunbird
Swallow-winged Puffbird
White-eared Jacamar
Brown Jacamar
Yellow-billed Jacamar
White-chinned Jacamar
Scarlet-crowned Barbet
Gilded Barbet
Lemon-throated Barbet
Chestnut-eared Aracari
Many-banded Aracari
Golden-collared Toucanet
White-throated Toucan
Channel-billed Toucan
Lafresnaye's Piculet
Rufous-breasted Piculet
Yellow-tufted Woodpecker
Little Woodpecker
White-throated Woodpecker
Spot-breasted Woodpecker
Scale-breasted Woodpecker
Chestnut Woodpecker
Cream-colored Woodpecker
Ringed Woodpecker
Lineated Woodpecker
Crimson-crested Woodpecker
Black-tailed Leaftosser
Lesser Hornero
White-bellied Spinetail
Plain-crowned Spinetail
Parker's Spinetail
Orange-fronted Plushcrown
Point-tailed Palmcreeper
Chestnut-winged Hookbill
Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner
Olive-backed Foliage-gleaner
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
Long-billed Woodcreeper
Cinnamon-throated Woodcreeper
Amazonian Barred-Woodcreeper
Black-banded Woodcreeper
Straight-billed Woodcreeper
Striped Woodcreeper
Buff-throated Woodcreeper
Fasciated Antshrike
Great Antshrike
Barred Antshrike
Plain-winged Antshrike
Mouse-colored Antshrike
Castelnau's Antshrike
Dusky-throated Antshrike
Plain-throated Antwren
White-flanked Antwren
Gray Antwren
Dugand's Antwren
Gray Antbird
Black-faced Antbird
Peruvian Warbling-Antbird (Warbling Antbird)
Yellow-browed Antbird
Black-and-white Antbird
Silvered Antbird
White-shouldered Antbird
Plumbeous Antbird
Sooty Antbird
Bicolored Antbird
Spot-backed Antbird
Dot-backed Antbird
Black-spotted Bare-eye
Black-faced Antthrush
Striated Antthrush
Thrush-like Antpitta
Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet
Mottle-backed Elaenia
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher
Spotted Tody-Flycatcher
Orange-eyed Flycatcher (Olive-faced Flatbill)
Gray-crowned (Flatbill) Flycatcher
Golden-crowned Spadebill
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Drab Water-Tyrant
Cinnamon Attila
Citron-bellied Attila
Bright-rumped Attila
Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Short-crested Flycatcher
Lesser Kiskadee
Great Kiskadee
Boat-billed Flycatcher
Social Flycatcher
Gray-capped Flycatcher
Piratic Flycatcher
Sulphury Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird
Screaming Piha
White-winged Becard
Black-tailed Tityra
Bare-necked Fruitcrow
Purple-throated Fruitcrow
Dwarf Tyrant-Manakin
Striped Manakin
White-crowned Manakin
Blue-crowned Manakin
Wire-tailed Manakin
Golden-headed Manakin
Red-eyed Vireo
Dusky-capped Greenlet
Violaceous Jay
White-winged Swallow
White-banded Swallow
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Donacobius
Thrush-like Wren
Coraya Wren
House Wren
White-breasted Wood-Wren
Scaly-breasted (Southern Nightingale) Wren
Long-billed Gnatwren
Hauxwell's Thrush
Lawrence's Thrush
Black-billed Thrush
White-necked Thrush
Yellow Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Magpie Tanager
Orange-headed Tanager
Fulvous Shrike-Tanager
Silver-beaked Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Turquoise Tanager
Opal-rumped Tanager
Green-and-gold Tanager
Black-faced Dacnis
Yellow-bellied Dacnis
Purple Honeycreeper
Swallow Tanager
Lesson's Seedeater
Chestnut-bellied Seedeater
Red-capped Cardinal
Yellow-browed Sparrow
Grayish Saltator
Buff-throated Saltator
Yellow-shouldered Grosbeak
Blue-black Grosbeak
Red-breasted Blackbird
Oriole Blackbird
Giant Cowbird
Epaulet (Moriche) Oriole
Orange-backed Troupial
Yellow-rumped Cacique
Russet-backed Oropendola
Crested Oropendola
Casqued Oropendola
Golden-bellied (White-lored) Euphonia

253 species, 177 lifers


Tom said...

Really cool Ian.

Remember, when you get sick, puke and rally.

Liam said...

As you said, "...Spotted Tody-Flycatcher, and Capped Heron, for looks, and Castelnau's Antshrike, ... and Lesser Hornero, for rarity."

This is commonly done while girl-watching


CMS said...

Just amazing. My profile photo shows what you're missing by not being here in New England...
(and then it snowed another foot!)

The photos are just wonderful. Can't even pick one out--you must love your new setup.

Now watch what you eat....And happy holidays to you and your Mom!


Hope Batcheller said...

Very awesome! Not-so-awesome about being sick, but good you're better. Nice pics, too.