AMAZONIAN ECUADOR DAY 3
Today was all about parrots, and what a day it was. The whole group paddled in two canoes back to the warehouse and then boarded a river boat to head to the first of three mineral licks that attract parrots. The parrots need to ingest the minerals to counteract the toxic contents of some of the fruits and seeds that they eat. Specific licks are used by specific sets of parrots, possibly based upon their location, or the minerals they contain. Either way, they provide rich and spectacular birding opportunities. The first we visited was on a river bank and we couldnt approach too closely. This lick was dominated by Mealy Amazons, however there were also fair numbers of Yellow-crowned Amazons and Dusky-headed Parakeets. This bumpy video clip isnt the best but it gives some idea of the number of parrots and the din they make!
To see the second lick, we had to land on shore and walk to a well designed covered viewing blind. Here we could get much closer to the parrots and the photographic opportunities were much better. Again Mealys were common, but there were many Blue-headed Parrots as well.
The final lick we visited was a fair hike down a well constructed trail through terra firma forest. On our way to the lick we picked up several great antbirds and manakins, but my favourite sighting was a perched Sapphire Quail-dove which sang from the same branch for half an hour! This allowed us killer scope views and even a chance to get decent digiscope images.
The final lick also had a blind, but this time a totally different set of parrots. There were at least a dozen stunning Orange-cheeked Parrots among the throng here. The still and video clip below gives an idea of the spectacle.
Before leaving this trail we took a short but steep walk uphill. At first it seemed like a lot of effort for little reward, but we had several incredible birds here. One of the best was this Lanceolated Monklet which perched co-operatively for scope views!