I have already posted about the plethora of pleasing birds at Guango Lodge’s well-stocked hummingbird feeders so this post will focus on the birds we found on a short exploration of some of the trails on the grounds at Guango Lodge. We only had a little more than an hour of good daylight left when we left the cozy confines of the lodge and walked down the path to the river’s edge, and it didn’t take long at all for good birds to show themselves. First was a female Masked Trogon, followed rapidly by a male Masked Trogon. We got cripplingly good looks at the birds, looks that did not translate, somehow, to terribly good photographic opportunities. I did what I could and the best that I got is of the male, at right, but better pictures would have to await our next encounter with the species. Despite the lack of decent images we really enjoyed watching the birds flycatch a couple of times before they disappeared upriver.
Searching the Río Papallacta for Torrent Ducks was the main plan for our walk and we scoured the river from our first vantage point, missing Torrent Ducks but finding White-capped Dippers, my second encounter of the trip with the charming little birds. We watched them work their way upstream after the trogons, while also enjoying the presence of two species of jay, Turquoise Jay and Inca Jay. The latter were not terribly cooperative, a disappointment that would be rectified the next day, but the Turquoise Jays were willing to let me digiscope them.
We continued downstream searching for Torrent Ducks but not finding any. Despite the lack of our sought-for species we had a fun time and did manage to find a couple of birds besides dippers making their living on the river. Both a Black Phoebe and a Torrent Tyrannulet were searching for food, though the phoebe played it safe, perching high and dry on a big rock and occasionally sallying forth for a bug while the tyrannulet hunted at the very edge of raging torrents, occasionally getting hit by spray and even getting hit by a small wave at least once.
Eventually we reached as far as we were willing to walk downstream and we veered from the river to make our way upstream through cow pasture, at least for a little while. It didn’t take long for Renato to pick up on a call that he decided we needed to pay attention to, and it is a good thing he was paying attention because we ended up seeing a couple Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucans! Somehow this bird wasn’t even on my radar but it sure was nice to see it in my spotting scope!
After the toucans flew off we made our way back to the river’s edge and while everyone else tried to track down a calling Cinnamon Flycatcher I walked out on a small bridge over the river to scan one more time. I scarcely believed my eyes when I spotted a beautiful male Torrent Duck upstream, exactly where we had been searching not fifteen minutes earlier!
I wanted to yell for my fellow birders but was afraid I would scare the duck, a stupid thought considering that the river was literally a torrent and would have prevented the duck (or the other birders) from hearing my voice anyway. So I walked away from the duck and retrieved the others and, fortunately, the duck was still there when we got back and it was joined by a female too! We made our way upstream in the dying light and got great looks and lousy pictures from across the river. It was great to have successfully found our quarry, even if Torrent Duck is a relatively easy bird to find. We returned to the lodge, triumphant, and celebrated with tasty beverages before loading back into the van and heading to our lodgings for the night. It had been a great day’s birding but we still had two more day’s worth of birds ahead of us and a need to get some sleep.
For better shots of the ducks, including a Torrent Duckling, take a look at Renato’s most recent post from Ecuador.