Recent news from the clouds

Well, I have now been in Ecuador for just over six weeks, and have just over two weeks left in the country. For the most part I have been guiding small groups of people around the trails and roads near Bellavista, and occasionally a little further afield. I have just returned from a fantastic six-day birding trip down to the Amazon region not far from Tena, taking in some sites such as Guango and San Isidro on the way down the east slope of the Andes. For now a write-up on the trip will have to wait, as it will require more time and internet than is currently available to me! To keep a bit of content going on the blog, I will show a few images of the wildlife and landscapes around Bellavista, and try and produce some interesting info.

It is now invierno in this area of Ecuador, which is basically the rainy season. At Bellavista, light rain has been setting in at about 1200 every day, and lasting until about midnight, but occasionally there have been periods of constant rain for several days! When the mist clears away, the landscapes are pretty stunning, which volcanic peaks such as Pichincha and Cotocachi sticking high above all others.
A selection of bird images:
Red-headed Barbet

Strong-billed Woodcreeper. These guys are very tame around the lodge, and come to feast on the moths and other insects that get attracted to the lights overnight. I have watched them devour some pretty beasty things, such as a Hercules Beatle
Every now and then we have these stunning Toucan Barbets coming down from the canopy and showing very well around the lodge. Most of the time these large barbets hang out in the canopy of fruit trees like Cecropias in flocks of up to 10.
Watching this Turquoise Jay devour this huge Atlas Moth-type was a bit heart braking! The moth itself is at least half the size of the bird, and yet the jay merely grabbed the abdomen and shook off the enormous wings, and was thus left with a piddly little body to gulp down.

These colourful Blue-winged Mountain-tanagers are the commonest tanager at Bellavista, travelling around in noisy groups, and every morning coming down around the car park at the lodge to feast on some of the moths attracted to the night-lights
The star of Bellavista’s area is this stunning bird- the Plate-billed Mountain-toucan. They can often be tracked down by their rasping calls, and a flock will usually be found feeding on some variety of fruiting tree, such as a Cecropia or Maracca Palm. As we enter the nesting season around the lodge, I have noticed a few pairs splitting off the main flocks, perhaps beginning to eye up extinct woodpecker holes in rotting trees
The Buff-tailed Coronet is the commonest hummer at Bellavista, dominating the feeders most of the time, and flashing its orange underwings in classic coronet fashion after landing

This cute little Purple-throated Woodstar can be mistaken for a bumblebee when it visits the feeders, as the wingbeats are so fast as to produce a humming sound. Rarely perching, these guys are a delight to watch
The Montane Woodcreeper is the smaller relative of its hench relative that we get at Bellavista. Often found in mixed feeding flocks, this species spends most of its time rooting around in the thick layers of moss covering the trees

Crimson-mantled Woodpecker. This is one of two species that we have at Bellavista, and is certainly the most colourful.
As I eluded to earlier, we are now into the nesting season over here, with over 15 species nesting around the various trails at Bellavista. Turquoise Jays were gathering nesting material around the lodge a few weeks ago, and now a nest has appeared on one of the trails. It was particularly cool to see the nest of this Collared Inca hummingbird (right)- a beautiful little cup overhanging a small waterfall on one of the trails
Some insects…
A rather stunning moth!

Bullshorn Spider- a small but very impressive species found around the trails

Millipede
 And to end this post, here is an image of a very pretty flower called Nasa aequatorialis
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