Ecuador 2016: Too many birds


The jet-lag is easing, the bites aren’t quite as swollen and I’ve only got about 1,000 images to go through from a storming three week birding trip to Ecuador with Mike Stocker and June Watt, and that elusive lost man of the rainforests, Tropical Thomason.
We survived Amazon green hell, a spot of altitude sickness in the Andes, collapsing roads, psycho-drivers and some of the friendliest folk and most beautiful scenery this side of the Pecos.
Birding was top notch with 526 sp seen between us.
Here’s a few of the countless highlights, although I did find the Cock Of The Rock above a tad vulgar…
57 sp of Hummers ranged from the brutish Giant Hummer to the dazzlingly beautiful Velvet Purple Coronet.



I’ll do a full blog on the adventure of course and post a link on here once I get it started, in the meantime here’s to Torrent Ducks, Black Faced Ibis, Oilbirds and Rufous Bellied Seedsnipes.





And with eight species bagged, it would be rude not to look at the Antpittas from a Giant Antpitta called “Maria” to an impossible Rufous Crowned Antpitta that goes by the improbable name of “Shungalita” and lives at a chocolate factory.



And of course, there will be Andean Condors…


Hope you enjoy it – makes a change from a sub-zero November, updates to follow.

Much about?


It’s a long way away certainly, but with a fair wind and a bit of luck we’ll be back in just about one piece soon.
Amazonian rainforest and towering Andes are admittedly a bit different from the Ribble, but birdin’ is birdin’ wherever you are.
So as usual, the usual question – what have we missed while we’ve been away?
Much about?
Please let me know via the “comments” thingy….is there lots of good winter birding out there, or is the December festive behemoth lumbering unrelentingly onward….
Any Bewick’s anyone? – must try and catch up with one before 2016 is out, although making do with smart Snipe would be just fine too.


See you soon….



I was watching the Red Legged Partridges out on Plex on a recent sunny evening as they dust bathed and began tuning up their truly daft “song” if that’s the right way to describe the racket.
Weird to think I had to go all the way to Norfolk to see my first one as a kid – it was a tick many moons ago alongside Pec Sand and Red Backed Shrike as I recall, while the grown-ups were hoping for heavier score.
Now Red Legs are almost as much of a traffic hazard on Plex as the lycra-clad lunatics that love the place ever since the tracks got all respectable and resurfaced.
And Greys are few and far between.
It got me thinking about numbers and biomass – all grown-up issues that Mark Avery can explain far better than most.
Do the bazillions of Red Legs have an effect on Greys? Anyone know?
I’m sure I read somewhere that Greys were more susceptible to pesticides, but that they were also the dominant species where the two meet, but I can’t remember.

Into the heart of an immense darkness


“He’s out there operating without any decent restraint, totally beyond the pale of any acceptable human conduct. And he is still in the field …”

He has been way out in the paramo, rainforest and who knows what else for far too long, now it’s time to track down Tropical Thomason.
He was last seen SO long ago, it was in the days before Sibe Accentor became merely an autumn scarce.
Most recent reports have him papping Swallow Tanagers on the Dia de Muertos down Mindo way, so the trail is still quite warm (in fact it may be very warm by the time we land, positively scorching from what we’ve heard)…
A few record shots of him have emerged from this never-ending South American odyssey of course, but it’s a bit like seeing images of Bigfoot, you’re never quite sure if it’s the real deal or not…


Nah, that’s defo not him – this is far more likely to be Trops (except with substantially less hair of course):

THE MUPPETS - ABC's "The Muppets" stars Animal. (ABC/The Muppets Studio)

At least we know what we’re looking for now, and hopefully we’ll be catching up with him before you can say Black-capped Donacobius… you keep him talking Mike, I’ll get the net.
Back soon, toodle-pip.

Sunflower heart stealing varmint


I’ve been struggling to work out why the sunflower hearts have been disappearing so fast in the feeders at Dempsey Towers recently; while Goldfinches, Greenfinches and Chaffinches are back for the winter, they’re not here in sufficient numbers to account for the feeders emptying so quickly.
The answer came bouncing down the garden this morning, ignoring pine cones, nuts, berries etc to leap up and display its usual flash acrobatic skills.



Impressive in its defiance of gravity, this Red Squirrel has actually been around the Towers for a month or two now, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it hammering the sunflower hearts – what’s wrong with the peanuts in next door’s garden???
The Siskins will not be amused if they turn up again in a month or two.
If it keeps on scoffing the seeds at this rate I anticipate a slightly slower moving Red Squirrel by the end of winter.