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Nature Reserve & Biological Station

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Two rare Chocó endemics on camera

Putting field data into Excel sheets may seem like the most boring part of the biological work at Un poco del Chocó yet sometimes even the dullest task can be full of surprises. This is the story of how @lizallocca and I have seen a Berlepsch’s Tinamou AND the legendary Banded Ground-Cuckoo less than one minute apart from one another without having to plough our way through the forest in pursuit of an elusive Tinamou or a merciless army ant swarm but simply by swiping through some photos from the Hummingbird cameras used to study pollination relationships at the reserve.

During our internship at the station it was one of our jobs (and somehow seemed to have become our personal mission too) to go through the accumulated data, digitising data sheets, sorting through hummingbird pictures, labelling photos. And so we were sitting at Nicoles and Wilos house one of these days doing our thing, comforted by Bagira, the station cat, and cardamom coffee, unsuspectingly clicking our way through pictures of flowers, eyes twinkling over the occasional hummer peeking into the camera ready for their close-up when suddenly a bird way too big and way too ground-bound for a hummingbird comes into view. Startled by this feathery surprise we stop the swiping and start scrambling through the field guides scattered around the house. It is unmistakably the Berlepsch’s Tinamou and as Tinamous are in general a rare sight to see we call for Nicole to look at the bird which is still mostly covered by understory plants. She confirms our identification and we click onwards expecting to see it vanishing from sight as suddenly as it had appeared, only to witness it emerging completely from the bushes, stopping and staring at the camera for one frame before then making its way lazily down the trail. And as if that would not have been enough already, the next frame shows none other than the Banded Ground-Cuckoo. You can probably imagine the noises we made as the pictures were outdoing each other with awesomeness and you are probably not surprised when I tell you that all three of us were screaming by the time the unmistakable scaled breast and green tail of the Cuckoo came into view. We actually screamed so loud that Bagira, the chillest cat on earth, jumped and fled up the stairs. And if you will not believe us then see for yourself, maybe you too will jump at the revelation that tropical rain forest is never short of surprises.

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