This was a very targeted birding trip designed to try and see about 130 species missing from our list that occur in southern Ecuador. In the event we saw about 70 of these, a number we were very satisfied with given the difficult weather conditions at some sites. As with all our previous trips to Ecuador, ground transport, general arrangements and accommodation bookings were faultlessly arranged by Jane Lyons (Mindo Bird Tours) – thanks so much once again Jane. We stayed mainly at the very well run Jocotoco Foundation reserves and cannot recommend them too highly. A big thank you to all the Jocotoco Staff at the different reserves for looking after us so well. Thanks also to our driver Edwin Carrion for all his help and understanding.
We flew into Guayaquil from Santiago and then on to Loja via Quito as there are now almost no direct flights from Guayaquil to Loja.
27 May 2010, overnight Gran Hotel Guayaquil
28 May, Flight to Loja. Drive to Buenaventura/Umbrellabird Lodge
1 June, Drive to Jorupe/ Urraca Lodge
4 June, Drive to Tapichalaca/ Casa Simpson
7 June, Drive to Bombuscaro-Cabanas Copalinga
9 June, Drive to Nangaritza/ Yankuam
11 June, Drive to Loja, Bombuscaro Hotel
12 June, Drive to Ancanama, return to Catamayo -Hostal Rosal del Sol
14 June, Flight Loja to Guayaquil and international departure.
28 May 2010 Catamayo to Buenaventura (Umbrellabird Lodge)
We arrived at this Jocotoco reserve in the early afternoon, in time for a late lunch. In between showers of rain, we explored the immediate environs of the camp and were captivated by the array of hummingbirds visiting the feeders next to the dining-room. New ones for us were Emerald-bellied Woodnymph and Violet-bellied Hummingbird. A local guide, Leo, offered to accompany us for the next few days – his knowledge of the reserve and its birds were invaluable.
29 May 2010 Buenaventura
The day was spent in the forest area up the track finding one of our target species, Long-wattled Umbrellabird. As a real treat Leo showed us a nest in a small tree close to the track and we were able to watch a female LW Umbrellabird feeding the single chick. The forest was alive with birds and we logged 41 species this day, of which Loja Tyrannulet and Brown Violet-ear were new. Other notables were Esmeraldas Antbird, White-throated Spadebill, White-bearded and Club-winged Manakins and Crested Guan.
30 May 2010 Buenaventura
Today was a round-trip walk of 16 km to the upper part of the reserve with the hope of getting El Oro Parakeet. Before setting off, Leo told us of a Northern Violaceous Trogon, one of our targets, he heard calling near the entrance gate so we quickly went down and had excellent views. On the way up through the forest we saw our first Rufous-headed Chachalacas (subsequently saw many at the dining-room feeders) and located a White-tipped Sicklebill feeding on Heliconia flowers. After hearing the call we lured a Song Wren into view with playback and higher up the track did the same with Three-banded Warbler and Ochraceous Attila. At the top of the reserve track at the junction with the public road we had good views of Yellow-bellied Siskin. We then on up the public road, stopping at a bridge to check the river where there was a Fasciated Tiger Heron. Leo then led us up through steep and muddy pasture to a nestbox site where El Oro Parakeets were seen earlier in the year. Alas, despite waiting around until mid-afternoon they did not appear for us. We did however, get good views of a Line-cheeked Spinetail, another of our targets.
31 May 2010 Buenaventura
First thing in the morning we searched for Pacific Royal Flycatcher in the ravine below the lodge and were successful. This was followed by a White-backed Fire-eye along the road below the lodge. Both were very responsive to playback. Later on we had a brief glimpse of Rufous-fronted Wood-Quail along the main track above the lodge. We spent considerable time trying to obtain better views of the group with limited success although they responded well to playback.
1 June 2010 Buenaventura to Jorupe (Urraca Lodge)
Set off early for the long drive to Jorupe, arriving at Urraca Lodge in the mid-afternoon. The vegetation in this area is dry with lots of Ceiba trees. This is a delightful reserve with lots of trails and had many of the species we were looking for. We were quickly taken in hand by the resident guide, Leo, (yes the same name) and for the remainder of the afternoon birded the road below the lodge, picking up 8 more target species: Pale-browed Tinamou, Grey-cheeked Parakeet, Ecuadorian Piculet, Watkin’s Antpitta, Slaty Becard, White-tailed Jay, Plumbeous-backed Thrush and Highland Hepatic Tanager.
2 June 2010 Jorupe
The day was spent birding up the track and on trails around the reserve. Tumbes Swift was located overhead and Blackish-headed Spinetail and Henna-hooded Foliage Gleaner were found along the main track. Further up we were lucky enough to see a Loja Hummingbird, recently split from Amazilia Hummingbird. Other targets logged were Pacific Elaenia, Grey-breasted Flycatcher, Sooty-crowned Flycatcher and Black-capped Sparrow.
3 June 2010 Jorupe to Utuana and back
Before first light Leo took us down to the main tar road where, loaded with picnic lunches, we waved down a ‘camioneta’ and paid a few dollars each for the one hour drive to Sozoranga. From there it is a short walk to the Utuana Reserve. This is at a higher altitude than Jorupe. Shortly after leaving the car, loud calls drew our attention to a Black-cowled Saltator in a eucalyptus tree! A good start. Once in the reserve we found Blackish Tapaculo (responding well to Grey-headed Antbird playback!), Chapman’s Antshrike and Chestnut-crowned Antpitta. At the hummingbird feeders, Purple-throated Sunangel was new for us. Despite much searching, two other targets, Grey-headed Antbird and Piura Hemispingus eluded us. On our way back down the main road at the end of the day we searched for Grey-headed Antbird at sites known to Leo, but were once more unsuccessful.
4 June 2010 Jorupe to Tapichalaca
Another long drive to the next Jocotoco reserve – made longer by long stops for road works in unfortunately bird-less areas. We arrived at Tapichalaca in heavy rain and mist, a portent of what seems to be the usual weather for this area. The feeders on the veranda however were great and we settled in to identifying the many hummers, including Amethyst-throated Sunangel and Flame-throated Sunangel.
5 June 2010 Tapichalaca
Set out after breakfast with Franco to walk to the Jocotoco Antpitta site – only light rain. After following a White-throated Quail Dove (not a target species but crippling views) along the trail for a while, we arrived at the feeding shelter where Franco called up a Jocotoco Antpitta which enjoyed being fed a lot of earthworms while we sat watching in awe. Leaving Franco to continue his feeding we carried on up the trail to climb up and over back to the lodge. Hampered by rain and mist, birding was difficult, but near the top we lured a Chusquea Tapaculo out of the bamboo for brief views. A wet afternoon saw us on the ‘undulated Antpitta’ trail, no undulated Antpittas, but excellent views of a Slate-crowned Antpitta which responded well to playback. No other lifers today, but lovely views of several White-capped Tanagers in a brief respite of evening sunlight over the valley.
6 June 2010 Tapichalaca
Spent most of another misty and rainy day birding the road above the lodge. Finally got to grips with Golden-plumed Parakeet, having often heard their calls in the mist, with a pair arriving at a palm tree just near the Cruz del Soldado. An Ash-crowned Spinetail gave us brief views in bushes alongside the road.
We did not bird down towards Valladolid because we had birded the Maranon previously in Peru.
7 June 2010 Tapichalaca to Cabanas Copalinga near Zamora
Early morning saw us at Cruz del Soldado where we got both Golden-crowned Tanager and Rufous-capped Thornbill. Edwin arrived with the truck as we were walking back to the lodge, and were soon on our way to Cabanas Copalinga via Loja and Zamora. Again arriving in rain, we were welcomed to the very comfortable Cabanas Copalinga by Catherine. Armed with information from Catherine we birded around the Cabanas, picking up three new hummers, Wire-crested Thorntail (feeding on the large Verbena bushes) and Violet-fronted Brilliant and Many-spotted Hummingbird (at the feeders). In the trees around the lodge we found Lined Antshrike, Golden-winged Tody Flycatcher and Olive-chested Flycatcher. Among a flock of mixed tanagers, Golden-eared Tanager was new for us. To end the day we had close views of Ecuadorian Tyrannulet in a tree next to our cabin.
8 June 2010 Podocarpus N.P. – Bombuscaro and Copalinga
After an early breakfast Catherine attempted to drive us up to the entrance to Podocarpus NP, but heavy rain during the night had washed one of the bridges away. This was not really a problem as we were able to wade across the river and walk the remaining 2 km to the park entrance. The area is good birding. From the entrance to the park we walked up hill through the forest to the Bombuscaro ranger station. It was deserted, presumably because of the washed out road, and we had the place to ourselves. Birding was quiet but enlivened by a flock of one of our main targets, White-breasted Parakeet. Also about half-way back to the entrance we had close views of a Maroon-chested Ground Dove – a difficult species to get!
Back at the Cabanas some late afternoon birding above the lodges produced Equatorial Greytail and Olivaceous Greenlet.
9 June 2010 Cabanas Copalinga to Yankuam Lodge
Before Edwin arrived to pick us up we birded the garden and luckily the Spangled Coquette turned up not long before our departure – feeding on the Verbena. Most of the rest of the day was spent on the slow drive to Nangaritza and Yankuam Lodge. We arrived in the late afternoon and arranged with the single staff member (Jacinto?) present to take us up the gorge to Shaime and then to the Oilbird cave the next day. He was an extraordinarily efficient and versatile individual, an excellent boatman, a great cook and knowledgeable about the birds!
10 June 2010 Yankuam Lodge to Shaime and back
Jacinto provided us with an early breakfast and the three of us then set off at first light by boat up the Rio Nangaritza, through the spectacular gorge, past sandbanks with Capybaras, to arrive at the Quechewan village of Shaime. The resident ranger was not to be found, but Jacinto knew the way to the Oilbird cave. It was an arduous 3.5 km walk up through the forest along very muddy trails. After about 1 km there was a cleared grassy area with a few cattle and a small logger’s camp. This was the Orange-throated Tanager site and Jacinto knew the call – it was not long before we were enjoying good views of this rare bird. We then continued on upwards through the often knee-high mud, accompanied by a persistent dog. We finally arrived at the oilbird cave and scrambled down inside and saw the Oilbirds. Jacinto then hauled out the packed lunch he’d prepared earlier in the day and it was great to rest up and eat a good meal while listening to the weird hissing sounds of the Oilbirds. It was then time to face the muddy trail again. The area nearest the cave is still primary forest and here we found two more targets, Foothill Antwren and Blackish Antbird. Along a ridge-line we also found Chestnut-crowned Gnateater and Olive-faced Flatbill as well as Foothill Strong-billed Woodcreeper – against a background of chainsaws and falling trees. We were pleased to find ourselves back at Shaime village without any rain. The heavy rain of the past few days meant the river was running strongly so it was a quick trip back through the gorge to Yankuam Lodge. A really great and memorable day!
11 June 2010 Yankuam Lodge to Loja
Before departing we birded the trail that sets off opposite the lodge into the forest, but this was relatively unproductive and has been logged. We left at about 10 am and arrived in the late afternoon in Loja. Stayed the night at the Bombuscaro Hotel.
12 June 2010 Ancanama
Our target was the Crescent-faced Antpitta which is reported as being relatively easy to see at this site near Saraguro. After asking around we eventually located the turn-off to Ancanama about 3 km south of Saraguro. This is a well-maintained dirt road that runs up to military communications base at about 3200m ASL. Unfortunately it rained throughout our visit and conditions were difficult for birding. We did manage one lifer: a Mouse-coloured Thistletail. The habitat was excellent. Our timing was not! As a consolation we did have close views of a pair of Bearded Guans on the road at about 3000m. The cold, wet conditions eventually forced us back to the main road and lunch, before heading off for Catamayo and the Hostaria Rosal del Sol.
13 June 2010 Catamayo
Much of the day spent around the hotel, re-packing, laundry etc for next phase of trip as well as watching Australia lose to Germany in the world cup! Pacific Parrotlets and Fasciated Wrens were common in and around the hotel gardens.
14 June 2010 Departure
Loja - Guayaquil - Santiago
Fasciated Tiger heron
Maroon-chested Ground Dove
Ecuadorian Ground Dove
West Peruvian Pygmy Owl
Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift
Glittering throated Emerald
Northern Violaceous Trogon
Amazonian White-tailed Trogon
Foothill Strong-billed Woodcreeper
Southern Roughwing Swallow
Blue and White Swallow
Henna-hooded Foliage Gleaner
Rufous-necked Foliage Gleaner
Montane Foliage Gleaner
Western Slaty Antshrike
Southern Beardless Tyrannulet
Black-headed Tody Flycatcher
Golden-winged Tody Flycatcher
Common Tody Flycatcher
Pacific Royal Flycatcher
Black and White Becard
Green and black Fruiteater
Grey and gold Warbler
Southern Yellow Grosbeak
Green and gold Tanager
Highland Hepatic Tanager
Lachrymose Mountain Tanager
Blue and black Tanager
Ashy-throated Bush Tanager
Yellow-throated Bush Tanager
Common Bush Tanager
Grey-hooded Bush Tanager
Black and White Seedeater