Crescent-faced Antpitta at Papallacta

cresent-faced-antpitta_1_filteredRecently I had heard that Alejandro Solano had seen a Crescent-faced Antpitta Grallaricula lineifrons along the road behind the complex of Termas Papallacta. I was a bit surprised as this road is being heavily birded in recent times and nobody had reported seeing it before. This was reason enough for me to keep my eyes and ears open for it when I visited the area.  On 24 August 2009 we drove up to the ranger station and I looked for what I thought was suitable habitat for the species. I did not have any clue when and where the bird was seen but a certain spot along the road looked promising to me. On our way back I played the song at this spot and a minute later I got a positive response! The bird was calling regularly (click here for a recording) and it seemed to move in our direction. We looked for a window in the vegetation and after a few minutes of waiting I played again a few song notes very softly. I started to get a bit nervous as the bird came down and sounded very close.  It took us a while to figure out where it was but suddenly I was watching it: a spectacularly patterned little antpitta, wow! It was a real thrill watching this secretive bird and knowing that many of my friends had heard it but never had seen it. On 13 September Roger Ahlman went to the spot and even managed to photograph the bird!

The field guide Birds of Ecuador (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001) does not mention any records from the immediate Papallacta area but calls the species “doubtless much overlooked”. This new record supports their prediction that the species is probably found along the entire east slope of the Andes in Ecuador. As the Papallacta area seems to have many suitable habitat at a similar elevation I would not be surprised more territories will pop-up in the future. Will Chestnut-bellied Cotinga Doliornis remseni be a next new one for Papallacta?

Dušan M. Brinkhuizen (text)


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Aves Ecuador by Dušan M. Brinkhuizen