Andes Cock-of-the-rock (eastern subspecies) (orange, rather than red)
While in Banos, Ecuador, during the first minutes of sunrise on 10/12/17, we reached one of our target birds, the Andean Cock-of-the-rock! This was the bird species which was on my mind the most before going to Ecuador due to its extremely odd (and obvious) physical characteristics and shear beauty.
Note that this guy is orange (instead of red). The orange fellows are the eastern subspecies, found on the eastern side of the Andes Mountains that essentially bifurcate Ecuador. The red ones, which I will post later, are from the western side the Andes.
Getting to this remote location on the eastern side was an awesome, albeit muddy and painful, adventure. The entire time I kept wondering to myself why in the world I do these crazy things lol.
My bird guide (Sandra My) and driver (Fausto) planned it all out perfectly! Rather than taking an open trail to these Cock-of-the-rocks, we snuck down below them and literally crawled and snaked our way up what seemed like a muddy wall with extremely thick vegetation such as moss, thorns, vines and trees. The incline was so steep that I had to dig my elbows, fists and knees into the mud in order to leverage my weak self up the mountain. I followed behind Fausto, who used his mountain climbing experience to find the best way for me to sneak up to these birds under the cover of the thick understory. Fausto literally is an expert mountain climber who guides groups up mountains with ropes, ice picks and such in high elevations in order to peer into volcano tops, traverse glaciers etc...things I'm not manly enough to do.
Anyway, we used the understory to conceal our presence so as not to not scare them away before getting close and high enough to be eye-level with this extraordinary species. Once atop, I clicked away, and here are some of my favorite shots. Again, this is the eastern subspecies, and so is orange...I will post some of the red (western species) later which we got later in the trip, northwest of Quito. God bless!