Friday, April 22, 2011

Los Colibris

By far the biggest attraction at TBL were the hummingbirds. A montage of color and motion engulfed the feeders that adorned the upper deck located off the lodge's Great Room. One could expect to daily see sixteen species. And while the number of species seen daily was astonishing, so too were the number of individuals jockeying for a spot at any of the four feeders. Activity seemed to increase in tempo when it misted or lightly rained. At those times we stopped counting. Over two hundred and fifty might be present without knowing how many more were sitting in the surrounding foliage.

Green Thorntail
A large whiteboard mounted on the outside wall adjacent to the doors from the Great Room listed all hummingbird species seen at the lodge along with a short notation as to when a species had last been recorded. A total of thirty-one species to date. Some, like Green Thorntail, Gorgeted Sunangel, Hoary Puffleg, Green-tailed Trainbearer, Mountain Velvetbreast, Purple-crowned Fairy, and Collared Inca were rare visitors (none of these ever showed during our stay at the lodge - at least not that we could see). Others like Tawny-bellied Hermit, Green-fronted Lancebill, and Wedge-billed Hummingbird could be seen on the lodge property but did not frequent the feeders.

Western Emerald
Andean Emerald
Present in greater numbers were Western Emerald, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Andean Emerald, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Buff-tailed Cornet, Booted Racket-tail, and Purple-throated Woodstar. Present daily but in far fewer numbers included Brown Violetear, Green Violetear, Sparkling Violetear, White-necked Jacobin, Empress Brilliant, Green-crowned Brilliant and Violet-tailed Sylph. Less regular (not seen daily but at least a few times during any given week) were Green-crowned Woodnymph, Speckled Hummingbird and Velvet Purple Coronet. More seasonally apparent and absent for weeks or months at a time were White-bellied Woodstar and Little Woodstar.

Purple-bibbed Whitetips
Purple-throated Woodstar (female)

Purple-throated Woodstar (female)
While the lodge was provided an abundant supply of hummingbirds to observe, further afield and throughout the Tandayapa Valley (depending on habitat zone dictated mainly by elevation) many more colibri were to be found within a few hours drive from the lodge: White-whiskered Hermit, Stripe-throated Hermit (formerly Little Hermit), Long-tailed (formerly Long-billed) Hermit, Purple-chested Hummingbird, White-tailed (Andean) Hillstar, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Ecuadorian Hillstar, Black-tailed Trainbearer, Purple-backed Thornbill, Tyrian Metaltail, Long-billed Starthroat, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Tooth-billed Hummingbird, Black-throated Mango, Rainbow-bearded Thorntail, Sapphire-vented Puffleg, Golden-breasted Puffleg, Black-breasted Puffleg, Great Sapphirewing, Blue-chested Hummingbird, Violet-bellied Hummingbird, Blue-headed Sapphire, Giant Hummingbird, and Purple-collared Woodstar. The chances of any of these species showing up at TBL were slim to none.

Brown Violetear

Buff-tailed Coronet
White-necked Jacobin
On average, hummingbird feeders needed to be replenished three times daily. Tom learned how to make the sugar solution and fill feeders. How exciting to walk up to a feeder buzzing with hummingbirds and to have to nudge them off perches so that a feeder could be removed for filling. Hummingbirds also landed on refilled feeders before they were completely hung up! Several quizzical hummers - specially the Booted Racket-tails - would zoom in and hover inches from Tom's face then buzz off. As sweet as he was, when no sugar water was to be found, they quickly lost interest. Wearing a red article of clothing almost guaranteed a close encounter with a hungry hummer.

Fawn-breasted Brilliant

Sparkling Violetear
Rarely did a day pass without one or more hummingbirds making their way into the Great Room where they needed to be rescued. These interlopers were usually captured by hand. Guests reveled in being able to hold a hummingbird before releasing it outdoors.

Booted Racket-tails

Not long after we departed TBL a film crew from Birding Adventures TV arrived to film a couple of programs about the hummingbirds of Tandayapa. The segments recently aired on TV and can also be seen on YouTube. In some of the scenes: Rosa (the kitchen wave); Luke Sietz, the replacement volunteer after we left (Luke is seen standing between Iain and the film host James Currie). José Llanos, our friend and TB guide for our two previous tours of Ecuador joined in the action as well. Many of the scenes around the lodge and Tandayapa Valley were very, very familiar!
How relaxing for us to sit on the deck either by ourselves or sharing the company of guests, with a cuppa coffee, tea, or something stronger, observing all the color and motion the hummingbirds provided. A fair trade, we'd say. We fed them sugar water and they fed our souls!

Empress Brilliant

Empress Brilliant

Violet-tailed Sylph

Violet-tailed Sylph

Velvet Purple Coronet

Velvet Purple Coronet

Rufous-tailed Humminbird

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Green-crowned Woodnymph

Green-crowned Woodnymph

Brown Inca

Purple-chested Hummingbird                                                               

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