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A Birder’s Paradise!

August 3, 2019

We have been managing the reserve for over a month now – high time we introduced ourselves! We are Alex and Georgia, a couple from Scotland, both graduates in biology and lovers of wildlife, particularly birds, and therefore in paradise at Reserva Las Tangaras! Our first month has gone by in a whirlwind, with the steep learning curve that comes with managing this amazing place and being thrown into rainforest life on the other side of the world.


A little more colourful than the birds we’re used to catching at home!


Always scanning… but we’ve seen Torrent Ducks, Sunbitterns and a Ringed Kingfisher from that spot!


We didn’t know leaves came this big

At home, we are used to life on the Scottish coast, with its unpredictable (but usually cold…) weather, views across the sea, and all the home comforts of electricity, WiFi and the luxury of travel by car. It’s safe to say that life at Las Tangaras is a little different! The constantly pleasant temperature, predictable daily weather pattern, and distance from ‘civilisation’ have made for a stark and refreshing change. Our alarm clock is now a chorus of Brown Violetears and Wattled Guans, and waking up to that sound after 10 hours of sleep, in total darkness and with only the sound of rainfrogs and the rushing river, is an amazing feeling.


Brown Violetears make up the bulk of our dawn chorus


Dawn breaking from the lodge

As keen birders back home, where we’re used to being absolutely familiar with every bird that flits across in front of us, or sings from the trees, being tossed into the rainforest was quite a shock! The diversity and density of species here is unlike anything we’ve ever seen, and the initial feeling of not knowing a single species that we were listening to was daunting. However, you quickly become familiar with what you regularly see and hear, and we’ve now racked up well over 160 species of bird since arriving, in just the small area of the reserve and the road to Mindo. In the forest, many of the birds are just as likely to come to you as you are to find them yourself, so birding from the porch over meals can be highly productive as flocks move through. From the gaudy Tanagers and Barbets that flit through the treetops gorging on fruit, to the more subdued but equally characterful Foliage-gleaners and Woodcreepers that methodically work the lower branches and trunks, searching out caterpillars and insects, or if you’re lucky, a roving group of Toucans calling from the treetops, there is always something to see while you eat your breakfast!


Red-headed Barbet


Buff-fronted Foliage-Gleaner


Choco Toucan

We couldn’t talk about the birds without mentioning the hummingbirds of course. The feeders outside the lodge that we dutifully fill each morning attract a huge variety of these amazing birds, and their chases and squabbles over sugar make for endless entertainment. As Matias and Facundo said in their previous blog post, it is impossible not to anthropomorphise them. Our current favourite is a newcomer – a female Purple-throated Woodstar that has appeared here in the last week, joining the two males already visiting.  She’s the smallest at the feeders, at only around 6cm long and weighing as little as 3 grams, it’s hard to convey just how tiny she is. Despite her tiny stature, she takes no nonsense from the Brown Violetears that try to bully her away, and doggedly returns again and again, flying in like a chubby feathered bumblebee, until she gets a chance to dip her bill in and take a drink.


Our female Purple-throated Woodstar

At the moment, we’re making the final preparations for the arrival of our bird banding team, who will stay for 2 weeks and gather some fantastic data on the species using the various habitats across the reserve. We’ll be back with another blog after the expedition has finished, hopefully having banded plenty of amazing birds!


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