Ocellated tapaculo_02
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The Ocellated Tapaculo: An Icon of the Andean Forests

“Hey, Daddy! What was the coolest chicken you noticed in Colombia?” This was one of the first questions my youngsters requested me upon my return from this biodiverse nation. Some folks might need anticipated me to call one of the toucans, parrots, or hummingbirds. My youngsters, nonetheless, are already conscious of my choice for stranger, extra uncommon birds. In order that they weren’t too stunned when my reply was the Ocellated Tapacullo.

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NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S @ 400mm, ISO 3600, 1/60, f/6.3

Earlier than I introduce you to this chicken, let me simply say that I’m not a whole outlier in my tastes. Simply take a look at the chicken that made it onto the cowl of the identification information, Birds of Northern South America, or Quantity 8 of the birding bible, Handbook of the Birds of the World. Sure, you guessed proper. Out of 1000’s of species, the Ocellated Tapacullo was chosen for each covers.

What’s so attention-grabbing about this songbird? I believe it’s a wonderful chicken, however the extra noteworthy factor to most avid birders is its mysterious life. Curiously, we all know nearly nothing about this chicken. We all know what it appears to be like like, and we all know what it feels like; we all know the place it lives, and we’ve got a imprecise concept of what it feeds on. However that’s just about it.

It’s superb that even immediately there are terrestrial creatures on our planet whose biology is as mysterious to us as the moons of Saturn. For instance, we don’t know what their nests appear to be, not to mention their eggs. (In reality, of the 55 species of tapaculos, just for 18 of them is it recognized what their nest appears to be like like.)

If in case you have the coronary heart of an explorer and haven’t been recruited into the NASA house program, South America could also be a promised land for you. In reality, my colleague Tomas Grim and I not too long ago found – with a good quantity of luck – the nest of one other songbird, the Black-throated Flowerpiercer. A comparatively well-known species, however with a nest unknown till not too long ago. However that’s another story.

So… again to the thick undergrowth of the northern Andes. It’s there, between 1900 and 3600 meters above sea degree, that the Tapaculo lives. The chicken’s presence is barely revealed by its song, which carries fairly far. However following its voice is often an inconceivable job in the tropical montane forest.

The Ocellated Tapacullo’s favourite habitat is a tangle of chusquea bamboo – a thorny, impenetrable wall of inexperienced the place even a sharpened machete received’t assist. You’d be caught on one of the thorns after a number of steps, like an earthworm on a fishing hook. On this gloomy surroundings, the tapaculos weave in search of meals.

It was about fourteen years in the past that I first noticed this exceptional feathered creature. It was in the crater of the Pasochoa volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes. After a number of days at the web site, I used to be unable to {photograph} greater than the head and half of the physique lined with a bamboo stem.

However issues regarded far more promising in the forests close to Pereira, Colombia. Though I didn’t have lengthy there, I already noticed an Ocellated Tapaculo seem after I first arrived, and I understood that photographing this phantom right here was not unrealistic. The following morning was the actual success.

For the first hour, there was an ominous silence. Tapaculo didn’t make a peep. It didn’t look good. The second hour wasn’t significantly better. A couple of tentative whistles recommended that the tangle of useless branches close by was not totally lifeless. The moss-covered stone that I needed to make use of as a perch was not seeing any motion. And my group wanted to go away in just some minutes.

Now, it’s possible you’ll suppose I’m coloring the story to offer an in any other case boring scene some momentum. However that’s when a reddish-brown head emerged from behind the rock, and the chicken’s complete physique adopted. The Ocellated Tapacullo was posing on the mossy stage! I used to be so excited that I captured this primarily static scene at 15 frames per second.

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NIKON Z 9 + NIKKOR Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S @ 400mm, ISO 2800, 1/60, f/6.3

I’ve discovered that shutter speeds beneath 1/30 second are dangerous even for perched birds. So, I stayed simply above that threshold to get moderately sharp photographs at the lowest doable ISO. Then as out of the blue as the Tapaculo appeared, it vanished. Was I actually photographing it, or was it only a hallucination attributable to a number of hours of watching a single rock?

My coronary heart was nonetheless pounding with pleasure as I glanced at the show to substantiate that it had actually occurred! It’s there! I take a look at my watch – time to go. Destiny had dramatized this story as much as the final minute. I packed up the tripod and camera and moved onto the subsequent location.

So far as I do know, there are two locations in all of South America the place the Ocellated Tapacullo is prone to be seen and photographed. One is in Ecuador and the different is in Colombia. Should you go to these or comparable websites, you’ll be serving to to guard the native wildlife and, of course, you’ll be experiencing one thing very particular.

#Ocellated #Tapaculo #Icon #Andean #Forests

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