Preparing to leave the cloud-forest behind

/ 2013-04-30 / 23:43:46

The last few days me and Michael has started to prepare everything for the end of the season. The weather has been lovely so the other day I spent almost the whole day outside, making an inventory of all the mistnets; length, mesh size, how many holes etc. I was drinking in the sunlight, thinking that I could finally get a different tan than the one after my fieldclothes. My arms, shoulders, neck and face are really bronze by now, while the rest of my body barely has seen the sun since I left Mallorca!
The following days we've done the same kind of inventory with everything that Michael is planning to leave behind for next year. For example the pelicases for the camera systems, camera cables and all other sorts of cables, cameras, screws, tools, trapdoors, yeah you get it, EVERYTHING.
Tomorrow though we're going to take a brake from this and go with Marco, the manager if the reserve, to a place called Pasaje to look for parakeets. Definitely more fun than counting screws! :)

Here are two pretty bug-pictures for you. I promise that when I'm in Mexico, and have more Internet access, I will upload all the nice pictures that I've taken here in Ecuador! I've only taken about 650 ;)

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Isla de la Plata

/ 2013-04-30 / 20:34:51

It was the first day in Yunguilla that we came up with the idea that Lena and I should take the opportunity to go to Isla de la Plata. As I'm sure I've mentioned earlier we'd been wanting to go there since January, but with our schedule it's been impossible. Now we we're supposed to stay in Yunguilla until Saturday, but since there weren't that much for the two of us to do there this was the perfect time. So early on Wednesday morning we took a bus to Cuenca where we did some super-speed sightseeing before continuing to Guayaquil and then Puerto Lopez. It was already 9 o'clock when we arrived so we checked into the first hostel we found and told them that we would like to go out to the island the next morning. No problem! At breakfast we were approached by a guy who booked us for a tour with some American tourists.
The boat ride out to the island took a bit over an hour. I hadn't even noticed before how much I missed the ocean! Open water, clear sky, fresh breeze, it was simply wonderful :)
When we arrived our guide Enrique took us to the colony of the Magnificent Frigatebirds (Fregata magnificens). Some if the males we're displaying for the females, they have a red throat pouch on their throat that they inflate. It looks just like they have a red balloon attached to their throat. Standing there in the middle of the colony was truly a dream come true, such magnificent birds!
Isla de la Plata is known for being the breeding ground of three species of boobys; Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii), Nazca Booby (Sula granti) and Red-footed Booby (Sula sula). The last one is quite rare and we would have loved to see it, but unfortunately the guides never take you to that part of the island. Same goes for the Nazca Booby, but I was lucky enough to spot one from the boat, sitting really nicely on the cliffs. The Blue-footed one is much more common and we saw it everywhere. On our way to the Frigatebird colony a juvenile wandered out of a bush and joined us on the path. It's the end if the breeding season now and these last chicks are sometimes neglected by their parents. This gorgeous guy was simply hungry.
Another dream bird that we got to see was the Red-billed Tropicbird (Phaethon aethereus), a beautiful white seabird with a long tale and bright red beak.
Before going back to Puerto Lopez we got some time for snorkeling around the boat. The water wasn't very clear but I could still see some really nice angel fishes.
I would have liked to stay longer at the coast, one day wasn't nearly enough, but we had to get back. I hope that I'll have the opportunity to go to the Caribbean coast while I'm in Mexico. Which by the way is less than a week from now! On saturday I'm taking the bus to Guayaquil and then all of Sunday will be spent on airplanes and in different airports. After that, a new phase begins!

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Every Night is Movienight!

Allmänt / 2013-04-26 / 23:46:41
Back from Paccha!
We spent 4 days in the field and caught 0 parakeets. Whoop!
Fortunately it´s so fun hanging out with Gaby and Kathy that at least I don´t really mind. Poor Michael had to suffer through a minimum of one chickflick per night and more that enough giggling!
I think that all birders know the feeling when you´ve been wanting to see a bird for sooo long, and then suddenly finds it. For me it was like that in Paccha with the Golden-naped Tanager (Tangara ruficervix), it´s a gorgeous little blur bird that I´ve been searching for in Buenaventura for 3 months now. And while waiting at my net the other day it simply jumped out in front of me. The mistnetting in itself wasn´t a huge success either. Three days, and all i got was three birds the first day. Two of them were Montane Woodcreepers (Lepidocolaptes lacrymiger), like you can see on the picture. The other one was a gorgeous hummingbird that you will get to see another day.
The weather in Paccha was crap, pretty much the whole time. To top this of we split up and were guarding mistnets in different areas. So there I was sitting, alone in the rain, watching an empty net, no parakeets in sight. But that´s how it is sometimes.
 
 
 
Something I noticed is that the frogs on the other side of the mountain (cause we we´re actually only 14 km away from out house, but it took us two hours to drive there with the car) are blue instead of green! Anyone who´s good at these dendrobatidae species is welcome to tell me what it is I got pictures of :)
 
 
Right now we´re in Piñas and are going to leave Lena at the bus later, cause she´s going home! It´s insane how quickly the time flies by, next sunday I´m flying to Mexico! 

Going to Paccha

Allmänt / 2013-04-21 / 16:48:59
Hey everyone!
Something is wrong with the blogging app on my phone, so the promised tale of our adventures to the coast will have to wait.Right now can only give you this short update from Lena's computor.Today we will go with Gaby and Katy to Paccha to try to catch parakeets there. We wont be back until thursday but then we will hopefully go to Pinas so that I can write you a proper blogpost!


Bus-birding in Firts Class

/ 2013-04-15 / 21:50:28

Home sweet home!
That's how I felt last Saturday when we got back to Buenaventura and our house. It feels like I spent almost half of last week in a bus, and actually I did. Me and Lena decided to use our free days to go to Isla de la Plata, instead of hanging around in Yunguilla. Isla de la Plata is a an island which is home to several interesting seabirds and we've been planning to go there ever since January, but never found the time.
The tours to Isla de la Plata goes from a nice fishing town turned into tourist place - Puerto Lopez. And to go there from Yunguilla takes about 10 hours. So in total last week Lena and I spent about 30 hours sitting on our asses, looking out through dirty glass windows. The whole time I was searching for the Little Blue Heron, but without luck, I had to settle for the three egrets; Great Egret, Snowy Egret and Cattle Egret. But three new species that I got very happy about was the Harris' Hawk, Wattled Jacana and Black-necked Stilt. Much more was hard to see from the bus.
On one bus we found this nice embroidery on the seats, and got ourselves a good laugh. I wonder how many of these they produced before realizing the error, if they even have!

I have sooo much to tell you, and show you, but no time today. I'm trying plan my future, figure out what to do after Mexico. Anyone who would like to sponsor me with 10 000 dollars to go studying in Australia? ;)
http://www.csu.edu.au/courses/postgraduate/ornithology/course-overview">http://www.csu.edu.au/courses/postgraduate/ornithology/course-overview
I've been considering this course for about two years and have decided to apply for next year, hopefully they'll consider my experience sufficient.

I promise next time I have Internet access I will post a lot of pictures from me and Lena's adventure to the coast! :)


Fieldworkers going on vacation

Allmänt / 2013-04-06 / 22:04:15
I've got two bad news.
First off, we've had more nest-predation. A large snake found the nest with three chicks and ate them one by one, with a few days in between. We tried to prevent it from coming back, but how do you create an obstacle that a snake can't get past in the middle of the forest? We didn't succeed. Yesterday when Michael was going to meassure the last chick the rain was pouring down so we didn't take out the monitor to check the camera in the nest. He was in for quite the scary surprise then he put his hand inside the nest and felt cold skin instead of feathers! Fortunately, this snake isn't poisonous, and it seemed too full and lazy to care.
This means that we in the last week went from five chicks to only two, since the two remaining nests have just one each. One of them is the nest where the woodcreeper stole four eggs, and in the other one four out of five eggs never hatched.
As if this wasn't bad enough, when we came back to the car (tired, wet, mad), someone had smashed the driver's window and stolen the radio. This car can be started with almost any key, so now we wont be able to leave the car by the side of the road or in Piñas anymore. 
 
On monday we will hopefully go to Yunguilla for a few days. It's the reserve a bit farther north where Michael's girlfriend Steffi is doing her phd on the Pale-headed Brush-finch (Atlapetes pallidiceps).
We need some vacation.
This means that we're not going to the lodge on tuesday, but I'll probably give you another small update on monday before we take the buss to Cuenca :)
 
The following pictures were taken when we caught with mist-nets in Ñalacapac a few weeks ago.
 
 
Southern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis)
 
 
Blue-and-white Swallow (Notiochelidon cyanoleuca)
 
 
Gray-rumped Swift (Chaetura cinereiventris)
 
Sorry that so many pictures turned out upside-down, that's never a problem when I upload directly from the phone.

Tanager-frenzy!

Allmänt / 2013-04-06 / 21:42:05
 
Golden Tanager (Tangara arthus) one of the most common tanagers.
 
 
Lemon-rumped Tanager (Ramphocelus icteronotus), without doubt the most common tanager. Beautiful (you can't see the yellow rump on the picture), but oh so boring. This is the male.
 
 
Silver-throated Tanager (Tangara icterocephala)
 
Flame-faced Tanager (Tangara parzudakii) male and female. Really gorgeous birds, supposed to be quite rare in the reserve but I've proved to be a magnet, everywhere I go, there they are.
 
 
Bay-headed Tanager (Tangara gyrola)

Mist-netting in Tarquino 2

Allmänt / 2013-04-06 / 21:29:43
Hey everyone!
The last two days we've been catching parakeets with mist-nets in the breeding area called Tarquino 2. The reason for this is that the group of 7 adult there aren't sleeping in the nest-box with their chick. Not even the parents, which is really uncommon. The breeding area is in a forest-pasture, so the possibilities for mist-netting are slim. Fortunately for us, they pass a small meadow up on a hill on their way to the nest. This is what we found out last week when we spent almost a whole day up there.
The day before yesterday, when we we're on our way up the mountain carrying four long metal poles, we were all three feeling kind of pessimistic. Catching parakeets isn't easy, they often see the nets and fly around them. Not this group though. Out of 9 parakeets (a couple from a nest in the sae area is part of the group during the day) we caught 6, one idividual even flew into the net twice. We didn't catch the couple, but they used to sleep with their chick in the beginning so we've already caught them once. The third individual we didn't get our hands on was the father, and he's been caught previous years so it didn't really matter.
Mist-netting in Tarquino 2 - Huge success!
 
A nice side-effect to trying to catch parakeets this way is all the other birds you catch in the progress. So here follows a small photo-bomb of the species we've got a closer look at.
 
 
White-bearded Manakin (Manacus manacus) female
 
 
Olive-striped Flycatcher (Mionectes olivaceus) juvenile. The adults are much prettier, one of mu favourites!
 
 
Loja Tyrannulet (Zimmerius flavidifrons) The bird I got most exited by, new species for me and one that I've really wanted to see!
 
 
Plain-brown Woodcreeper (Dendrocinda fuliginosa)
 
 
Green Honeycreepers (Chlorophanes spiza) female and male

Sit back, relax and let the birds come to you

/ 2013-04-02 / 21:44:56

Birding in the forests here is quite special. A lot of the time you walk around and see nothing. Ofc you always hear birds and you're never far away from the nearest one, but often it's those annoying invisible birds. Until the wave hits. In the blink of an eye you're surrounded by tanagers of different species, always together with some flycatchers and maybe a warbler. Furnarids and woodcreepers follow moments later. There are so many birds you don't know where to look!
And then they are all gone. And you're back to trying to find that damn invisible thing.

The other day we spent some time trying to find out from which direction one of our groups come, when they come to feed their chick. Here follows a list of all the species I saw, standing in pretty much the same spot.

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)
Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus)
Gray-backed Hawk (Leucopternis occidentalis)
El Oro Parakeet (Pyrrhura orcesi)
Red-masked Parakeet (Aratinga erythrogenys)
Bronze-winged Pionus (Pionus chalcopterus)
Golden-olive Woodpecker (Piculus rubiginosus)
Spotted Woodcreeper (Xiphorhynchus erythropygius)
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper (Glyphorynchus spirurus)
Azara's Spinetail (Synallaxis azare)
Slaty Spinetail (Synallaxis brachyura)
Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant (Lophotriccus pileatus)
Dusky-capped Flycatcher (Myiarchus tubereulifer)
Golden-crowned Flycatcher (Myiodynastes chrysocephalus)
Blue-and-white Swallow (Notiochelidon cyanoleuca)
Gray-rumped Swift (Chaetura cinereiventris)
Gray-breasted Woodwren (Henicorhina leucophrys)
Slate-throated Whitestart (Myioborus miniatus)
Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola)
Orange-bellied Euphonia (Euphonia xanthogaster)
Thick-billed Euphonia (Euphonia laniirostris)
Bay-headed Tanager (Tangara gyrola)
Fawn-breasted Tanager (Pipraeidea melanonota)
Golden Tanager (Tangara arthus)
Silver-throated Tanager (Tangara icterocephala)
Flame-faced Tanager (Tangara parzudakii)
Black-chinned Mountain-tanager (Anisgonathus notabilis)
Lemon-rumped Tanager (Ramphocelus icteronotus)
Common Bush-tanager (Chlorospingus opthalmicus)
Black-winged Saltator (Saltator atripennis)
Black-and-white Seedeater (Sporophila luctuosa)
Chocó Brush-finch (Atlapetes crassus)
Black-striped Sparrow (Arremonops conirostris)

The last one, the Black-striped Sparrow, was a new species for me. I love that I still see new birds almost every day! In total I've seen closer to 140 so far :)

These pictures I took when we we're catching parakeets with mist nets in Ñalacapac. It's a female Orange-bellied Euphonia and a Common Bush-tanager (the one with the white eye).


Apropå grodor

/ 2013-04-02 / 19:26:03

Every day when we get back from the field we clean our boots and hang them upside down. This is so that no scorpions will crawl in there. Imagine the panic when I put them on the other day and felt something crawling over my foot!! Fortunately it was only this frog who had somehow managed to jump into it :)


Kittlar dödsskönt i kistan

Allmänt / 2013-04-01 / 23:57:42

Hey everyone!

I think I´ve already mentioned that our house is full of different kinds of bugs, for example cockroaches. Especially the kitchen is right now totally invaded by teeny tiny ants. They love sugar. And I love sugar. I don´t really love the ants, but they fortunately don´t taste anything ;)

I also remembered that I never uploaded that picture of the house that I promised already in January. But here it comes!
It´s a simple stonebuilding that gets very cold and damp in the evenings. All my stuff got moldy after only a few weeks, so before I go to Mexico (which by the way is only a month from now!) EVERYTHING will have to go into the washing-machine.

Tomorrow we´re going to the lodge, so more pictures and updates then! :)

Kisses to my family and loved ones.






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