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vagabonds3 "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness." Mark Twain

The Rarest Bird

ECUADOR | Monday, 11 March 2019 | Views [37]

Blue-Throated Hillstar, Cerro Arcos

Blue-Throated Hillstar, Cerro Arcos

THE BLUE-THROATED HILLSTAR MAY BE THE RAREST BIRD on the planet.  It is certainly the rarest hummingbird with only an estimated 200 individuals.  It lives at 12,000 feet elevation and feeds exclusively on the chuguirrigua plant which is being depleted by grazing.  The future of the Blue-throated Hillstar isn’t by any means a rosy one.

nn

   Tough going at 12,000 feet in the Andes

It took us three hours on twisting, switchback Andean roads to reach Cerro de Arcos Reserve where we switched to Bernardino’s battered 4X4 pickup for the truly terrible final 3 km.  A short downhill hike through grass hummocks brought us to one of the Hillstar's haunts and one quickly obliged.  We were sheltered from the worst of the strong winds but the wispy fog and gathering clouds made a cold rain a clear and present danger.

nn

   Blue-throated Hillstar, rarer than hen's teeth

Everyone hunkered down awaiting another and hopefully better photo op.  In two and a half hours we saw two different Hillstar males several times each.  No females, which doesn’t bode well for the bird.  My photos were disappointing considering the effort involved — the elevation and the hills really hit me hard — but seeing such a rarity is its own reward.

nn

   Dusan and Bernardino crest the hill

We lunched at the reserve in a building Bernardino built himself.  I think Frank Lloyd Wright would have approved of the way it incorporates great slabs of rock and some amazing woodwork.  On the way back to Saraguro we were held up by a crew clearing a rockslide.  “Derumbres” in Spanish would be an issue, both real and imagined, for the rest of the trip.

 

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John and Connie, Sheikh Zayad Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

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