24.2.10

AMAZONIAN ECUADOR DAY 4

Today we switched for the morning so that the group that had done the Tiputini trail now did the tower and vice versa. The first trail group had managed to find the rare Hairy-crested Antbird, but the second group couldn't repeat this luck. Antbirds are a diverse but frustratingly difficult family of new world tropical birds. In most places they are hard to find, but here at Napo there is a remarkable selection. During our twelve days in Ecuador we would tally over thirty species. Photographing them is tough as they tend to be in the understorey. This isn't the best photo but this male Black-faced Antbird gives an idea of the typical view of antbird - dark and shaded and partially obscured!


For both groups the main target on Tiputini Trail was the exceptionally difficult and beautiful Black-necked Red Cotinga. Like its relative the Cock-of-the-rock, this is a lek species. The males come to traditional display sites (not nesting sites) where they display their fitness by singing and fluffing up their elaborate feathers. The Tiputini trail offers the most accessible lek of this species in the world. Fortunately both groups were successful in their quest for this rare find. As you can see it was worth the long, hot and humid trek!


We visited Napo during the dry season, but the trails were still quite wet and muddy in places. We had very little rain during our stay, but we were impressed with how many fungi were growing along the trails. Some looked like fungi we might have in temperate regions (though they almost certainly were different species).




Others were structurally quite different from typical bracket or 'toadstool' type fungi. This odd bat shaped species was one example.



Perhaps the most unusual fungi we saw was one that apparently had taken over a butterfly body. This created a truly bizarre growth form!!




In the afternoon both groups again paddled the black water streams. Our path through one of these was blocked by a newly fallen tree. Our native guide Jorge took out his machete and with bare feet, started to chop at the tree, while balancing on the bow of the boat. Some in the group (okay ME!) thought this was a fruitless proposition, but as you can see Jorge is a remarkable man!

video


As we neared the lodge at dusk, a full moon was rising over the lake. It was a magical way to end the day!



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