The Cocha Antshrike – 10,000 Birds

“Cease paddling. Quiet now!” Hissed our information because the canoe rounded a bend within the blackwaters canal which connects the Rio Napo with the oxbow lake the place our lodge was situated. Every little thing stopped. I used to be as quiet as a church mouse, waked the digital camera and let the lens relaxation on my lap. We have been within the distant Amazonian forests and never a sound was to be heard apart from the rhythmical dripping of water from the raised paddles. 

“Pay attention! Do you hear that tune?” He added. At first nothing. Then I heard it. It was a collection of deep, hole notes, too quick to depend and very fixed in tempo. The native information who was on the bow stood up. He was very alert now, scanning the suitable financial institution along with his eagle eyes. He then pointed to a dense patch of tangles a few meter above the bottom. A fairly small black hen moved about, making quick hops backward and forward till lastly it stopped for a few seconds, reducing its head to the facet watching us inquisitively. It was a male Cocha Antshrike (Thamnophilus praecox), a wholly black inconspicuous hen (apart from white underwing coverts not often seen) ,and that was my solely window for a shot. Out of the blue it darted off into the jungle by no means to return. That’s how it’s with most smaller Amazonian birds. You normally get a few second or two at most earlier than they disappear and for those who’re actually fortunate you would possibly get a pair extra seconds as a bonus. Anyway, off it went leaving me to stare at an empty department with the digital camera lens nonetheless in hand. I by no means bought to see the feminine although, with its lovely chestnut brown plumage, though I’m fairly certain she was someplace shut by. 

Earlier than my first journey to the tropics a few years in the past I all the time questioned how is it even attainable that new hen species are found with all of the deforestation and normal habitat obliteration occurring everywhere in the world. I imply, we as a species are immediately principally all over the place. We’ve unfold to each nook of the world, stuffed each nook and cranny conceivable, and nonetheless we preserve taking during the last diminishing leftover habitats. However nonetheless new species are discovered. Throughout my journey to Peru (the place I nearly bought misplaced within the jungle making an attempt to find a rumoured Andean Cock-of-the-rock lek), my rambles in South-east Asia and likewise this final journey to Ecuador, I realised that that is greater than attainable as a result of in comparison with the forests in these areas our European ones look like a stroll within the park. As a lot as I’d like to develop this matter I higher cease now and depart it for one more time. Briefly, I actually imagine that there nonetheless are, possibly not a lot however an excellent variety of species that to today go unnoticed to the scientific eye, however are absolutely recognized to the indigenous peoples (the most effective instance is the newly found large rat from the Solomon Islands). The Cocha Antshrike was one in all these species not way back.

Cocha Antshrike (Thamnophilus praecox) – photograph by Dušan Brinkhuizen

The Cocha Antshrike is a fairly curious, fascinating little hen of the Igapo (black-water flooded) forest undergrowth and streams, which was lengthy recognized solely from a single feminine specimen. Solely within the late 1980’s was it “rediscovered” so to say, with the male being discovered at Imuya Cocha and described to science for the primary time. Lastly the species was full. Being a really restricted-range species ( discovered solely regionally in NE Ecuador alongside the Rio Napo and its tributaries however with attainable sightings in neighbouring Brazil and Colombia) and low-denstiy (confined to black-water drainages) its habits poorly recognized. For instance nothing is understood of its breeding habits, any accounts of its weight-reduction plan (it’s assumed to feed on bugs and different arthropods), methods of foraging and motion (presumed resident) are wanting. So principally subsequent to nothing is understood about this hen which makes me the extra enthusiastic since I personally plan to get to understand it higher within the years to come back.

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