Saturday, 9 January 2010

New for Ecuador?? That Would Be Nice!

It was a little further afield today, in fact a 45 minute taxi ride to the Salt Pans at Pacoa, to the north-east of Salinas. Again in the company of Benito Haas and his trainee, Marine Biology student Victor Vera, they were bound for some survey work while I was invited along for the ride. Unlike yesterday, the full cloud cover soon disapated, so by 09-00 we were looking at 80F+ and in the arid heart of the pans it was hot. However, all the birding wasn't restricted to that area as at 06-30 we took a look at some scrub land, on the way, where we found a scarce visitor to these parts, Ornate Hawk-Eagle. The fist stop on the survey was at a small estuary, where they went off to count Gulls while my attention was attracted to a small group of passerines in someone's back garden. There I found, what I now know to be Parrot-billed Seedeater, but they were all too flighty not allowing a photo. As we moved on from this site, more of the same were seen in a sea-side bush and this time a few average shots were obtained.

Soon we were at the small village of San Pablo, where more counting was envisaged, but that was until up ahead in a small flock of Laughing Gulls we found a large 'White-winged' Gull. Bearing in mind no White-wing of any description has ever been recorded in Ecuador (or maybe even South America for that matter) it raised each of our heart rates a little. Seemingly undisturbed by our pescence, a number of photographs were taken along with detailed descriptions. My first reaction was Glaucous Gull, but looking through my archive photographs later in the day, I have somewhat changed my mind to Glaucous-winged Gull. It is intended to submit this important find to the relevant authority, but before going firm I'd like the opinion of any of you who might venture a suggestion or support! It is thought important enough to get this record away as soon as possible so, after looking at the series of photos below, I would very much value any thoughts on this fantastic Gull. I haven't given up on it being a 'hybrid' yet either?

That, I can tell you, sufficiently put the cat among the pigeons to stall any thoughts of further counts and apart from discussing it endlessly we simply dropped into ordinary birding mode. The Salt Pans by this time were seriously hot, so of what would have been 'foot work' was done by car, we just covered what looked like potential bird areas by foot as were thought fit. By mid-day it's true to say we had all had enough, and unanimously decided to head back to town. In addition to the birds mentioned above, we also added Red-faced Parrot, Tropical Kingbird, House Sparrow, Wilson's (Large-billed) Plover, Black-crowned Night-Heron and American Kestrel to our 2 days list, giving a grand total of 62 species.

I'm moving on tomorrow and hope to be on Galapagos in the next few days, depending on flights from Guayaquil the largest city and main sea port of Ecuador.

Trip and Life Additions

GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL (pending verification)

Trip Ticks - 754 Lifers - 515 Endemics - 44

All figures are subject to adjustment!

American Oystercatcher

Laughing Gull

Western Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper, with Semipalmated Sandpiper behind for comparison.

Parrot-billed Seedeater

Black-'necked' Stilt

Kelp Gull

Kelp Gull again

White-cheeked Pintail - always distant and nervy.

Semipalmated Plover

A few images for anyone who might be able to confirm the identity of this Gull. Any comments or ideas would be most welcome, best via e-Mail or you are able to add a COMMENT on this Blog. A swift reply would be appreciated as I hope to submit an early description along with these photographs. Thank you in anticipation.

At the moment I'm going for Glaucous-winged Gull but your help will be most welcome.


  1. Wow, excellent record mate, good work!!!

    IMHO this looks very good for a 1st winter Glaucous-winged. All dark bill and dull legs are the most obvious features. It's quite a pale, bleached individual but you can still see the tertials and tail feathers are relatively dark, and uniform, without showing the mottly pattern that a glauc would.
    I'm sure some more learned people will be along to voice their opinion soon.

  2. Hey, thanks Joe always good to hear from you. As you can see life is still hell for me but very much apprecate your thoughts. Hope you doing well and look forward to buying you a pint next time you in the George & Dragon in Sunderland hee, hee!