The Galapagos Islands and Southern Ecuador - 17th April to 4th May 2004

Published by Peter Nash (peterdnash AT

Participants: Peter Nash


Waved Albatross

Peter Nash

This was the second visit to Ecuador for Glenn Hickson, Roger Stanfield and myself. We had birded the north of the country in February and March 2003 with Tropical Birding and we had no hesitation in using them again for our tailor made trip to the south.

To see my 2003 report, please follow the links at

We met Ian Campbell and his wife Cristina and Nick Athanas of Tropical Birding at the British Bird watching Fair in 2003. and discussed the best areas to visit etc and over several subsequent emails we finalised our itinerary.

We decided to visit the Galapagos Islands at the start of the trip. Nick recommended that we use the charter cruiser Yate Fragata so our flight to Ecuador was timed to get us to Guayaquil the day before it sailed.

The boat was a good bird watching platform and we had some excellent pelagic birding on our journey around the islands. We were also able to swim with some of the incredible marine life around the islands.

We didn't need a Tropical Birding guide for this section of the trip but Cristina arranged all our transport and accommodation.


On the Galapagos all groups have to be accompanied by a national park guide at all times when inside the park. The US$100 entrance fee includes his services.

On our return to Guayaquil we met up with Jose Illanes our Tropical Birding guide. Jose guided us last year and we were very pleased to meet up with him again. He lost his minidisk player in Macara on the 26th, but Cristina sent him a replacement down from Quito. His cousin brought it down on an overnight bus and he was back in action the following day!

Our driver Darwin Solano did a great job for us and knew his way around Ecuador, we did a total of 1650 km with him.


We chose KLM on price and quality of service We flew from our local airports, Humberside, Manchester and Heathrow to Guayaquil via Amsterdam and Bonaire.

Our flights to and from the Galapagos were arranged by Tropical Birding on TAME.


We used "Lets Go Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands" which is very comprehensive and has lots of useful maps. For the Galapagos I used "A guide to the Birds of the Galapagos Islands" by Castro and Phillips.

The weighty "The Birds of Ecuador" by Ridgely and Greenfield is essential.


Mosquitoes were bothersome just about everywhere on the mainland.

At Jatumpamba-Jorupe we were attacked by a swarm of huge black bees. We did nothing to provoke the attack but they poured out of their nest about 30 feet above us and without warning we were repeatedly stung. Our only escape was to run for it swiping off the bees as we fled.

We saw many more similar nests but none of them took such exception to us.


• 17th April. Flew from Humberside 1445.

• 18th April. Arrived at Guayaquil 0700. We were met by the minibus and English speaking guide arranged by Cristina. We were taken downtown to the Hotel Continental and after a quick wash and brush up we were on our way to Salinas and the Santa Elena peninsula. Salinas is around an hour and a half west of Guayaquil and the saltpans are just before the town. We were allowed to walk around the saltpans.

• 19th April. We were taken to Guayaquil airport and flew to the Galapagos island of Baltra. Coach and ferry to Isla Santa Cruz where we boarded the Yate Fragata. Afternoon visit to the Darwin Research Station.

• 20th April. Morning birded Santa Cruz highlands etc, then cruise to Isla Santa Fe. Afternoon trip ashore. Overnight cruise to Isla Espanola.

• 21st April. Isla Espanola. Punta Suarez and Gardner Bay. Overnight cruise to Isla Floreana.

• 22nd April. Diving with Penguins at Post Office Bay Floreana. Also moored at Punta Cormorant, Devils Crown, and Enderby Island. Overnight cruise to Santa Cruz.

• 23rd April. Turtle Bay Isla Santa Cruz then cruised to Baltra for our return flight to Guayaquil. Night in Hotel Continental. Meet up with Jose Illanes, our Tropical Birding guide.

• 24th April. Predawn start to Cerro Blanco Protected Forest located at K16 on the road to Salinas. Then a short drive to Manglares-Churute reserve on the east of town. In the afternoon we drove south to Zaruma birding on route. Night Hotel Roland in Zaruma.

• 25th April. Buenaventura Dianita Trails. Heavy rain overnight. Hotel Roland.

• 26th April. Disaster today when Jose lost his minidisk player. Buenaventura lower trails. Drive to Macara. Night at Hotel Santigym, Macara.

• 27th April. Jatupamba Jorupe and Macara River. Night at Hotel Santigym.

• 28th April. Drive to Loja. Birding at Sozoranga, Utuana, Catamayo and Cajanuma. Night at Bombuscaro Hotel, Loja

• 29th April. Cajanuma National Park am. Drive to Tapichalaca. Night at Tapichalaca Lodge, birded around the village at the entrance to the park.

• 30th April. Tapichalaca. Jocotoco Antpitta. Drive to Zamora. Night at Hotel Orillas del Zamora.

• 1st May. Rio Bombuscara National Park. Also birded a marsh just outside the park. Night at Hotel Orillas.

• 2nd May. Drive to Cuenca. Birded old Zamora road, San Francisco National Park and the old Cuenca road. Night at Posada del Angel.

• 3rd May. Drive to Guayaquil. Birded El Cajas National Park and around Dos Chorreras. Second visit to Manglares-Churute. Night at the Continental. Had a very pleasant good-bye dinner with Jose and Darwin in the hotel restaurant.

• 4th May. Darwin dropped us at Guayaquil airport for our flight home.

• 5th May. Arrive Humberside airport 0950.

Galapagos Bird List.

My list was compiled using my Bird Recorder software. The site refers to the first sighting and the numbers are the total for the trip.

Galapagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus) Floreana, 4
Waved Albatross (Phoebastria irrorata) Espanola, 61
Dark-rumped Petrel (Pterodroma phaeopygia) Santa Fe, 4
Audubon's Shearwater (Puffinus (assimilis) lherminieri) Santa Cruz, 1650
White-vented Storm-petrel (Oceanites gracilis) Santa Cruz, 150
Wedge-rumped Storm-petrel (Oceanodroma tethys) Santa Fe, 6
Band-rumped Storm-petrel (Oceanodroma castro) Santa Fe, 2
Red-billed Tropicbird (Phaethon aethereus) Santa Cruz, 133
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) Santa Cruz, 450
Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii) Santa Cruz, 1000
Nazca Booby (Sula (dactylatra) granti) Santa Fe, 440
Red-footed Booby (Sula sula) Espanola, 2
Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) Santa Cruz, 880
Great Frigatebird (Fregata minor) Espanola, 70
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) Santa Cruz, 17
Great Egret (Ardea alba) Santa Cruz, 10
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) Santa Cruz, 70
Striated Heron (Butorides striatus) Santa Cruz, 2
Galapagos Heron (Butorides (striatus) sundevalli) Santa Cruz, 15
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) Floreana, 30
Galapagos Pintail (Anas bahamensis galapagensis) Floreana, 10
Galapagos Hawk (Buteo galapagoensis) Santa Fe, 4
Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus (himantopus) mexicanus) Floreana, 10
Whimbrel [Hudsonian Curlew] (Numenius phaeopus hudsonicus) Floreana, 1
Wandering Tattler (Heteroscelus incanus) Santa Fe, 11
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) Floreana, 1
Lava Gull (Larus fuliginosus) Santa Cruz, 15
Swallow-tailed Gull (Creagrus furcatus) Santa Fe, 102
Brown Noddy (Anous stolidus) Santa Cruz, 430
Galapagos Dove (Zenaida galapagoensis) Santa Cruz, 37
Smooth-billed Ani (Crotophaga ani) Santa Cruz, 40
Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus) Santa Cruz, 2
Galapagos Flycatcher (Myiarchus magnirostris) Santa Cruz, 32
Galapagos Martin (Progne modesta) Espanola, 2
Galapagos Mockingbird (Nesomimus parvulus) Santa Cruz, 56
Hood Mockingbird (Nesomimus macdonaldi) Espanola, 20
Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia aestiva) Santa Cruz, 32
Large Ground-finch (Geospiza magnirostris) Baltra, 28
Medium Ground-finch (Geospiza fortis) Santa Cruz, 30
Small Ground-finch (Geospiza fuliginosa) Baltra, 64
Common Cactus-finch (Geospiza scandens) Santa Cruz, 1
Large Cactus-finch (Geospiza conirostris) Espanola, 10
Vegetarian Finch (Camarhynchus crassirostris) Santa Cruz, 10
Large Tree-finch (Camarhynchus psittacula) Santa Cruz, 10
Small Tree-finch (Camarhynchus parvulus) Santa Cruz, 10
Medium Tree-finch (Camarhynchus pauper) Floreana, 6
Woodpecker Finch (Camarhynchus pallidus) Santa Cruz, 10
Warbler Finch (Certhidea olivacea) Santa Cruz, 20

Stout-billed Cinclodes - EcuadorBlue-mantled Thornbill - Ecuador

For a copy of species seen in Ecuador please e-mail me at peterdnash at