Photos with this report (click to enlarge)
Our journey started at the easy going on town of Coca. We drove 2 hours on the Auca road; which had been paved recently almost to the Shiripuno river. We had a canoe ride downstream from the bridge to the Shiripuno Lodge. With no more than 50 meters wide, the Shiripuno River offers spectaculars views of forest sceneries all the time; with a moderate canoe speed a lot of birds can be seen easily.
This reserve belong to the Huaorani People, at one point they were about 400 individuals wondering in the immensity of the forest; in the old days they were hunters and gatherers chasing monkeys, curassaws, and peccaries, searching for new hunting areas, moving theirs huts from time to time, scrutinizing giant Kapok trees for Harpy Eagle nest, climbing to the top of tree where the nest are; capture the chick and bring it down. Raising a Harpy Eagle chick is a major commitment because it add more duties to the regular hunting obligations: to bring extra hunted animals for the eagle and it continuos as long as the hunter want to release the eagle. The Harpy Eagle gives pride and respect inside their clan but the most important is security; the bird make a high pitch whistle when an intruder get too close to the clan hut boundary.
We had a relax birding time at Shiripuno Lodge, the back-door trail network , with the helpful signs every 100 meters, so we knew how far from the lodge we were; These trails were the most productive of all. We got to know them very well, got to the point to know some of the mixed flock so. The interesting part was to go out there at different time at the same trail and find new species every time.
During our stay at Shiripuno we had the opportunity to see what a Tropical Ecology Field Course was about; students from Grand Junction, Colorado. The Mesa State College students accompanied by their teachers were exploring the the different concepts and applying methods to understand the diversity of the Amazon Lowlands.
When the calm returns after the quick and heavy rain, the Salvin's Curassaws go out to the riverside, easy to recognize their vocalization. The more time we spend in the forest, observing birds behavior like the feeding habits of Rufous-tailed Flatbill, the synchronized behavior of the Cinereous Antshrike while they were nesting, we found a Wing-banded Antbird territory next to the Forest Moriche Swamp, the Pearly Antshrike always found at the mixed flocks, the Pavonine Quetzal has it's territory in the junction of the E. O. Wilson and Carue Trail. The Black-faced Hawk not far from the same junction. During our stay we found five Spotted Puffbirds in three different territories, the last two were matting at seven meters from the ground in a tangle of lianas. The hot corner was the junction of the E. O. Wilson Trail and the Wallace Trail were we found hear and saw the Black-necked Red Cotinga. The Yellow-throated Flycatcher is supposed to be very rare in the ecuadorian amazon, we found a whole bunch of those and some of them were carrying nesting material. Undulated Antshrike is another specialty of Shiripuno found in areas near swamps with old light gaps, and another Swamp specialty is the Black Bushbird
Army Ants Swarms at Shiripuno is the best, when you are able to find it; however there are several type of army ants, Eciton sp. Neivamyrmex sp, Solenopsis sp. and others; we have encounter some differences in the bird community attending different type of army ants at Shiripuno: The underground Solenopsis sp. swarms have birds like Lunulated Antbird White-breasted Wood-Wren, Blue-backed Manakin, Blue-black Grosbeak, Scale-backed Antbird, Bicolored Antbird. The major Eciton sp. swarm host few pairs of White-plumed Antbirds, Bicolored Antbird, Sooty Antbird, Reddish-winged Bare-eye, Sooty Antbird, Scale-backed Antbird, Plain-brown Woodcreeper, White-chinned Woodcreeper, Amazonian Barred Woodcreeper.
The great newsis that Rufous Potoo was found before the junction of Colibri Trail and Wallace Trail 300 meters away from the lodge.The Nocturnal Curassowwere found on the Colibri Trail at the 700 meters sign singing at the canopy..
Exploring the Amazon in these days are quite easy compare to the days of the early naturalist, who traveled into the jungle sweating their lives to find most of the species that we know today.Today is easy, now we can choose the destinations we would like to bird in the Internet and few hours in the airplane and we are in places with hot water, air conditioning, extensive list and compulsive birdguides. There are not many species to describe out there, except for few generics explorations.
But there is a major challenge for everybody: the conservation of fragile ecosystem; The Andes, the Choco, the Amazon and others ecosystems around the whole world.
Find your alternative birdtour....
Greater Yellow-headed Vulture
Greater Black Hawk
Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift
Amazonian Violaceous Trogon
Amazonian White-tailed Trogon
Amazonian Barred Woodcreeper
Rio Suno Antwren
Amazonian Streaked Antwren
Black-necked Red Cotinga
Western Striped Manakin
Southern Nightingale Wren
Masked Crimson Tanager