The idea for this customised Tropical Birding tour arose after a similar tour led by Iain Campbell, which we made in Southern Ecuador in April 2003. The itinerary, planned from several previous TB itineraries, and fine-tuned in e-mail correspondence with their Quito office, was designed to include forest habitats at different elevations on both West and East slopes of the Andes, high paramo, and some of the Amazon lowlands. Although originally arranged with Iain as our leader in the Andes, he was still recuperating from severe malaria, and for the Eastern slope we were placed in the equally capable hands of his TB colleague Jose Illanes. In the Amazon, we were with resident Sacha guide Marcelo. All were great company, and their excellent knowledge of where to find key spp., and especially of calls, plus their sound equipment and laser-pointers, resulted in us seeing many more birds than we could have hoped to find on our own.
Despite all of this assistance, our own previous experience of birding in Ecuador, Venezuela and Central America was still invaluable.
The trip was very successful and enjoyable. We saw 590 species of birds (+14 mammals), including a high proportion of our targets.
Inevitably, we did much better with some groups than others; this list included 28spp. raptors, 17spp. parrots, an amazing 61spp. of hummingbirds, 9spp. trogons/quetzals, all 8spp. jacamars, all 6spp. barbets, 12spp. toucans/aracaris, an astonishing 7spp. tapaculos (+2 more heard), 77spp. tyrant flycatchers, 11spp. manakins and 78spp. of tanagers and allies.
However, despite much effort, success at actually seeing antpittas was limited
The last day or so at Tandayapa on our own did provide a good unwind, though with hindsight, we could have used another day (+ ? a night) low down on the Western slope to spend more time birding at Los Bancos, Four Rivers, etc. Overall, we were very happy to have tackled the trip this way, rather than as a self-drive holiday. Ecuador is not well-signed (unlike W.Venezuela) and our Spanish is minimal.
Tropical Birding’s logistical arrangements and timing all worked like clockwork, and having all of this taken care of, not to mention so many birds being found for us, certainly made good sense. Iain and Tropical Birding can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
Iberia tickets Heathrow - Madrid - Quito -(Guayaquil)- Madrid - Heathrow from Wildwings cost & pound 590 incl.taxes. A tax of $25 (E22) is payable in cash on departure from Ecuador
Travel in Ecuador
Tropical Birding provided a minibus + driver for all excursions and transfers; internal flights and boat trips to Sacha also included.
Accommodation & Food
Also all included in the price. Lodges (and hotel in Quito) all very comfortable, and food, including packed breakfasts/lunches where needed, was excellent
Tropical Birding package incl. all accommodation, food and transport in Ecuador was US$ 3880pp. Since 2000, Ecuador has used US$ as its sole currency, and with the progressive decline in the exchange rate to £1 = c$1.90, this price became much cheaper following our initial booking.
The only additional costs were for beers and tips, both well-earned by those concerned!
Weather and Clothing
In most of the Andes, very pleasant shirt-sleeve conditions, though warmer at low level. At high altitude, cool enough for fleece + windproof coat and gloves. We virtually lived in walking boots, although Sacha provides wellies, which are essential for the wetter trails there.
In the mountains, cloud often increased in afternoons, but we had little rain. In the Amazon, very hot, after pleasant but misty starts.
On the Equator, so 0600 - 1800, usually necessitating 0500 starts. Ecuador is 5hrS behind GMT, as per US East Coast Time
Usual inoculations advisable. We took malaria prophlylactics for our time in the Amazon. Everywhere we stayed provided bottled or filtered water.
The Birds of Ecuador (Vol.II The Field Guide) Ridgely & Greenfield (2001) is absolutely ESSENTIAL
The sister Volume (I) on Status, Distribution and Taxonomy plus useful background information on geography and habitats is also worth having.
Neotropical Rain Forest Mammals Emmons & Freer (1990).
Accounts of similar recent trips (all with Tropical Birding) by Andrew Duff & Ann Lawson (2002), Mark Harper (2002) and Peter Nash (2003) were very useful in planning our trip and in compiling homework lists of species recorded at each site.
Dec.9th Heathrow Madrid Quito Tandayapa.
Dec.11th Pedro Vincente Maldonado.
Dec.12th Mindo Road, Tandayapa.
Dec.13th Milpe, Los Bancos Quito.
Dec.14th Yanacocha, Quito.
Dec.15th Antisana Guango.
Dec.16th Papallacta Pass, Papallacta Lake, Guango San Isidro.
Dec.17th San Isidro.
Dec.18th Loreto Road.
Dec.19th Guacamayos Ridge Quito.
Dec. 20th Quito Coca Sacha Lodge.
Dec. 21st Sacha.
Dec.22nd Napo River, Shipaty Creek, Providencia Trail.
Dec. 23rd Napo River, Yasuni NP.
Dec. 24th Sacha.
Dec. 25th Sacha - Coca - Quito - Tandayapa.
Dec. 26th Tandayapa, Nono Road.
Dec. 27th Mindo Road, Tandayapa - Quito - Guayaquil ..
Dec. 28th Madrid - Heathrow.
This section includes directions for and access to the main sites visited, and the more interesting birds seen; those marked with an *asterisk were seen only at one site.
A. The WESTERN SLOPE
Our base for birding the Western slope was Iain’s very comfortable Tandayapa Bird Lodge, situated at c.1700m above the village of Tandayapa on the old Nono-Mindo Road, about 6km up a rough unsurfaced road off the main highway NW from Quito towards Los Bancos (see map on p.7); an hour and half drive from the capital.
The Lodge is rightly famous for its hummingbird feeders around the upper terrace. We saw 19spp. here: *Tawny-bellied Hermit, Green-fronted Lancebill, Brown Violet-ear, *Green Violet-ear, Sparkling Violet-ear, *Western Emerald, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, *Andean Emerald, Speckled Hummingbird, *Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Green-crowned Brilliant, *Empress Brilliant, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, *Brown Inca, Buff-tailed Coronet, Booted Racket-tail, Violet-tailed Sylph, *Purple-throated Wooodstar and White-bellied Woodstar. There are excellent photographic opportunities.
Other birds seen in the garden and around the Lodge included:*White-tipped Dove, *Sierran Elaenia, White-tailed Tyrannulet, *Rufous-winged Tyrannulet, *Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant, Golden-crowned Flycatcher, *Bananaquit, White-sided Flowerpiercer, Golden-naped Tanager, *Metallic-green Tanager,Beryl-spangled Tanager and *White-winged Brushfinch.
Another well-known institution at Tandayapa is the light feeding-station, where a low intensity light attracts insects, and is visited by birds, including some notorious skulkers, to feed on these around dawn. At the time of our visit, this facility had just been moved and a larger viewing hide built - we saw only Immaculate Antbird and Russet-crowned Warbler, though Antthrushes and Antpittas do visit.The cloud forest around the lodge is accessed by several well-maintained trails (see map on p.7); however, these proved much more productive with Iain’s knowledge of calls and disc player, than on our own: Sickle-winged Guan, *Dark-backed Wood-Quail, Plumbeous Pigeon, *Golden-headed Quetzal, *Toucan Barbet, *Spotted Barbtail, *Rusty-winged Barbtail, *Lineated Foliage-gleaner, *Streak-capped Treehunter, Plain-brown Woodcreeper, *Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Montane Woodcreeeper, *Slaty Antwren, *Rufous-breasted Antthrush, Streak-necked Flycatcher, Flavescent Flycatcher, Smoke-coloured Peewee, Golden-winged Manakin, Glossy-black Thrush, Grey-breasted Wood-Wren, Three-striped Warbler, *Black-capped Tanager and Tricoloured Brushfinch.
2. OLD NONO-MINDO ROAD
From Tandayapa village the turning over the bridge is the old road to Nono, whilst the road uphill past the Tandayapa Lodge turning leads up through the Upper Tandayapa Valley to Mindo (see map on p.7). Both are unsurfaced, have little traffic, and offer excellent birding up through the cloud forests above the lodge.
We made only two brief late afternoon/evening sorties on the Nono Road.Better finds were: Sickle-winged Guan, Plumbeous Pigeon, Red-billed Parrot, Crested Quetzal, *Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, lekking *Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, *Turquoise Jay, *Beautiful Jay, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager and Yellow-bellied Seedeater. The road is also a regular site for *Lyre-tailed Nightjar, which nest on rock outcrops above the road just beyond the village, and perform at dusk; we had excellent views of a male at 1835hr.
The Mindo Road climbs for 6km above Tandayapa to Bellavista Lodge (c.2200m) near to the ridge summit, where the higher level cloud forest has a distinctly different mix of spp. The road eventually descends through more fragmented forest to re-join the main Los Bancos highway in the village of San Tadeo. Among the highlights seen here were: Roadside Hawk, *Scaly-naped Amazon, Squirrel Cuckoo, *Gorgetted Sunangel, Masked Trogon, *Toucan Barbet, *Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, *Powerful Woodpecker, Azara’a Spinetail, Streaked Tuftedcheek, Spotted Barbtail,Pearled Treerunner, Striped Treehunter, Tyrannine Woodcreeper, *Spillmann’s Tapaculo, *Ocellated Tapaculo,White-crested Elaenia, Streak-necked Flycatcher, Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant, Flavescent Flycatcher, Smoke-coloured Peewee, Green-and-Black FruiteaterBlack-billed Pepper-Shrike, Brown-capped Vireo, Grey-breasted Wood-Wren, *Ecuadorian Thrush, Glossy-black Thrush, Turquoise Jay, Spectacled Whitestart, Three-striped Warbler, Russet-crowned Warbler, Masked Flowerpiercer,Saffron-crowned Tanager, *Flame-faced Tanager (W.race), Golden-naped Tanager,*Metallic-green Tanager, Blue-and-Black Tanager, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, *Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager, Hooded Mountain-Tanager, Grass-green Tanager, White-shouldered Tanager, *Dusky Bush-Tanager, *Slaty Finch, Black-winged Saltator, Tricoloured Brushfinch, and *Tanager Finch (on the road at first light
3. MILPE RESERVE, LOS BANCOS
Milpe is a recently created reserve to protect some excellent lowland forest (c.500m), accessed down a short unsigned track at the E end of Los Bancos, 1.5hr drive from Tandayapa; a permit can be obtained from the warden’s house by the car park.
The track beyond the entrance, passing through forest fragments and cultivation, is the best place to start, as two of the specialities, *Ochre-breasted Tanager and *Moss-backed Tanager, both sing from exposed perches early am. We also found Bronze-winged Parrots, *Chestnut-collared Swift, *Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Pale-mandibled Aracari, *Bran-coloured Flycatcher, *Ornate Flycatcher,Golden-crowned Flycatcher, *Bay Wren and *Rufous-throated Tanager along here.
Just behind the car park is a shaded viewpoint (should be good for raptors), with several hummingbird feeders - *Green-crowned Woodnymph, Green-crowned Brilliant, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, etc. This is also the starting point for the trail system. On our shortened visit we still found many good spp:- *Plain-breasted Hawk, Green Thorntail, *Rufous Motmot, *Azara’s Spinetail, *Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner, *Spotted Woodcreeper, Plain-brown Woodcreeper, W.Wood Peewee, Cinnamon Becard, Masked Tityra, Golden-winged Manakin, an amazing lek of *Club-winged Manakins, Swainson’s Thrush, White-thighed Swallow, Tropical Parula, *Olive-crowned Yellowthroat, *Choco Warbler, Three-striped Warbler, Blue Dacnis, *Yellow-collared Chlorophonia, *Silver-throated Tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, White-winged Tanager, White-lined Tanager, Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager, Black-winged Saltator and *Slate-coloured Grosbeak.
4. PEDRO VINCENTE MALDONADO
The village of PVM is a further half hour drive beyond Los Bancos; just before the village an unsigned rough track through badly degraded forest and farmland eventually (c.6km) reaches, just beyond the obvious large river bridge, a sizeable chunk of lowland forest on the LH side; the area is in desperate need of protection, but some plans are underway. Birding is from the road, which has negligible traffic, and we spent most of a productive day (95spp.) on a 2km stretch of forest edge:- Swallow-tailed.Kite, Plumbeous Kite, *Bat Falcon, Ruddy Pigeon, *Dusky Pigeon,Blue-headed Parrot, Bronze-winged Parrot, *Band-tailed Barbthroat, White-whiskered Hermit, *Stripe-throated Hermit, Green Thorntail, *Violet-bellied Hummingbird, *Purple-chested Hummingbird, *Purple-crowned Fairy,*Choco Trogon, W.White-tailed Trogon, *Collared Trogon, *Rufous-tailed Jacamar, *Orange-fronted Barbet, Pale-mandibled Aracari, *Choco Toucan, Lineated Woodpecker, Black-cheeked Woodpecker, *Guayaquil Woodpecker,*Slaty Spinetail, *W.Slaty Antshrike, *Griscom’s Antwren, Pacific Antwren, White-flanked Antwren, *Dot-winged Antwren, *Dusky Antbird,*Sooty-headed Tyrannulet, *Brown-capped Tyrannulet, *S.Beardless Tyrannulet, Slaty-capped Flycatcher, *Black-headed Tody Flycatcher,*Common Tody-Flycatcher, *Yellow-margined Flatbill, *Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher,*Acadian Flycatcher, *Boat-billed Flycatcher, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Piratic Flycatcher, Cinnamon Becard, One-coloured Becard, Masked Tityra,*Black-crowned Tityra, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, White-bearded Manakin, Red-eyed Vireo, *Lesser Greenlet, Buff-rumped Warbler (on the river), Purple Honeycreeper, Green Honeycreeper, *Yellow-tufted Dacnis,*Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, *Guira Tanager, *Golden-hooded Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Summer Tanager, White-lined Tanager, White-shouldered Tanager, *Tawny-crested Tanager, *Scarlet-browed Tanager, Buff-throated Saltator, Black-winged Saltator, *Scarlet-rumped Cacique and *Yellow-bellied Siskin.
Even in the more open areas, additional spp. were still added:*Pacific Parrotlet,*Little Cuckoo, *Striped Cuckoo, W.Wood Peewee, *Grey-breasted Martin, White-thighed Swallow, *Tropical Gnatcatcher, *Blue-black Grassquit,*Lesser Seed-Finch, Variable Seedeater and Yellow-bellied Seedeater.
B. HIGH ALTITUDE SITES
A Fundacion de Conservacion Jocotoco reserve on the slopes of Volcan Pichincha, NW of Quito, reached by steep, unsigned and progressively deteriorating roads up through the suburbs of the capital. An easy walking track contours the slopes for c.2km through elfin forest at c.3500m. There is small permit charge.
One of the main interests is the high altitude hummingbirds, most of which visit the series of feeders along the trail (best ones around the viewpoint at the end). Pride of place goes to *Black-breasted Puffleg (at its only site), but we also saw:- *Great Sapphirewing, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Sword-billed Hummingbird, *Sapphire-vented Puffleg, *Golden-breasted Puffleg, Tyrian Metaltail and *Rainbow-bearded Thornbill. Other spp. seen, many of which occur in feeding flocks, included:-*White-browed Spinetail, Streaked Tuftedcheek, Tawny Antpitta, *Unicoloured Tapaculo, *Barred Fruiteater, Rufous Wren, Spectacled Whitestart, *Capped Conebill, Blue-backed Conebill, *Glossy Flowerpiercer, Black Flowerpiercer, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Hooded Mountain-Tanager, *Black-chested Mountain-Tanager, Superciliaried Hemispingus, Southern Yellow Grosbeak,and Rufous-naped Brushfinch.
Antisana is one of the highest (5704m) snow-covered volcanoes, which dominates the skyline to the SE of the capital. Huge areas of its slopes are a privately-owned ecological reserve, with access strictly controlled by permit.
We spent most of a day birding the paramo from c.3400->4000m from the mostly unsurfaced road which provides access to farmland and the reservoir; we were lucky with the weather.
Amongst the more significant birds of scrubby, rocky valley sides were:-Sparkling Violet-ear, *Giant Hummingbird, *Ecuadorian Hillstar, Black-tailedTrainbearer and Shining Sunbeam, plus Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, *Tufted Tit-Tyrant, Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant, Red-crested Cotinga, *Grass Wren, Cinereous Conebill, Black Flowerpiercer and Rufous-naped Brushfinch.On more open slopes, including cultivated fields, were :- *Black-winged Ground-Dove, Bar-winged and Stout-billed Cinclodes, *Streak-backed Canastero,*Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant, *Paramo Ground-Tyrant, *Paramo Pipit and Hooded Siskin. A large upland grassy plateau, partly devoted to sheep grazing, held flocks of *Buff-necked Ibis, Andean Gulls and a huge gathering of *Carunculated Caracaras.The large reservoir of Embalse de Mica, at c.4000m, has a good selection of waterbirds:- *Silvery Grebe, *Neotropical Cormorant, *Andean Teal, *Yellow-billed Pintail and *Andean Ruddy Duck, whilst *Andean Lapwings and an odd *Greater Yellowlegs were seen on the shorelines.
Antisana is probably the best site in Ecuador for *Andean Condor; we had several flyovers, plus an impressive circling flock of 9 - our guide’s largest ever count. Other raptors seen:- Variable Hawk, *Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle and *Aplomado Falcon.
7. PAPALLACTA PASS
The main road (Route 28) E from Quito to Baeza, Tena, etc, reaches its highest point (4000m) over the Eastern Andes at Papallacta Pass, a little over an hours drive from the capital. From the top of the highway, an unsurfaced vehicle track climbs up for several km to the communication masts on a small summit (4200m) to the N.
The habitat is rocky, scrubby paramo, some of it wet; better birds seen were:Shining Sunbeam, *Blue-mantled Thornbill, both spp. of Cinclodes, *White-chinned Thistletail, *Many-striped Canastero, Tawny Antpitta, *Paramo Tapaculo,Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant and *Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant; Paramo Rabbits are abundant here.
The summit area around the mast is the classic stake-out for *Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, and also offers superb views, clouds permitting.
Approximately 1km below (E) of the pass, the road passes beside one of the larger patches of mature Polylepis woodland. Perseverance in rainy conditions yielded our primary target of *Giant Conebill, plus Pearled Treerunner, Streaked Tuftedcheek, White-throated Tyrannulet, Spectacled Whitestart, Cinereous Conebill and Hooded Siskin, but we failed to find Bar-bellied Woodpecker.
8. PAPALLACTA LAKE
Continuing E, c.10min drive from the Pass, and just above Papallacta village, the obvious Lake is on the LH (N) side of the unsurfaced road. A section of old (but still driveable) road comes off before the lake and skirts through shrubby slopes on the N.side. A brief exploration of this area produced several hummingbirds not seen elsewhere:- *Purple-backed Thornbill, *Green-tailed Trainbearer, *Viridian Metaltail, plus Shining Sunbeam and Buff-winged Starfrontlet. Passerines included: Red-crested Cotinga, Brown-bellied Swallow, White-throated Tyrannulet,*Black-crested Warbler, Cinereous Conebill, Black Flowerpiercer, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, *Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, *Black-backed Bush-Tanager, Superciliaried Hemispingus, *Plushcap and *Pale-naped Brushfinch. A few Andean Gulls were on the water.
This area would warrant much more time and effort.
C. The EASTERN SLOPE
9. GUANGO LODGE
A further 10-15min drive down (E) from Papallacta, the very comfortable Guango Lodge, at c.2700m, is well signed on the RH side; this is the most convenient base for the Papallacta area. Once again, one of the main attractions are the hummingbird feeders around the veranda; these attracted an impressive 12spp:- Speckled Hummingbird, *Mountain Velvetbreast, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Collared Inca, Buff-tailed Coronet, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, *Tourmaline Sunangel, *Glowing Puffleg, Tyrian Metaltail, *Long-tailed Sylph, *Gorgeted Woodstar and White-bellied Woodstar.
A short trail leads to and beside the fast-flowing river, which holds Torrent Ducks and Torrent Tyrannulets. Other birds seen in the garden, along the trail and neighbouring roadsides included: Pearled Treerunner, Montane Woodcreeper, White-banded Tyrannulet, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Spectacled Whitestart, Mountain Wren,Blue-backed Conebill, Masked Flowerpiercer, Blue-and-Black Tanager and*Slaty Brushfinch.
10. CABANAS SAN ISIDRO
Another very comfortable base, with excellent food, signed down a 6km track off the Baeza-Tena road, immediately N of the small town of Cosanga, at c.2000m.The gardens/groundsprovided several birds of note:- *Sulphur-bellied Tyrannulet, White-crested Elaenia, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Inca Jay, Black-billed Pepper-Shrike, Mountain Wren and Subtropical Cacique. One of the famous San Isidro Mystery Owls, still the subject of much debate, showed in its favourite palm in the car park one evening. Hummingbird feeders around the restaurant were visited by 9spp., including Green-fronted Lancebill, Sparkling Violet-ear, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, *Bronzy Inca, Collared Inca, Chestnut-breasted Coronet and Long-tailed Sylph (also common in the forest).
The lodge owns an extensive area of subtropical forest, with several trails. We spent a whole morning on the longest of these, The Macucoloma Trail, seeing:-Masked Trogon, *Emerald Toucanet, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, *Yellow-vented Woodpecker, Pearled Treerunner, Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Olive-backed Woodcreeper, Montane Woodcreeper, *Long-tailed Antbird, *Equatorial Rufous-vented Tapaculo, White-tailed Tyrannulet, *Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher, Flavescent Flycatcher, Cinnamon Flycatcher, *Rufous-breasted Flycatcher,*Pale-eyed Thrush, *Sepia-brown Wren, Grey-breasted Woodwren, Blackburnian Warbler, Canada Warbler, Slate-throated Whitestart, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Flame-faced Tanager, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, *Common Bush-Tanager and *Chestnut-capped Brushfinch; also Red-tailed Squirrel.
Beyond the lodge, the unsurfaced road continues through forest and fields towards Sierra Azul; an afternoon excursion in deteriorating light was not particularly productive, though we did see several Broad-winged Hawks, White-capped Parrots heading to roost, *Smoky Bush-Tyrant, Glossy-black Thrush and Northern Mountain Cacique.
11. GUACAMAYOS RIDGE
Twenty minutes drive S from San Isidro/Cosanga on the Tena road is an obvious mast/aerial on the RH side; park here and take the downhill start to the trail along the cloud forest covered ridge at c.2200m. We spent a morning birding the first c.1km; although hard going, we did see:- *Wedge-billed Hummingbird, *Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, *Bicoloured Antvireo, *Slate-crowned Antpitta, *Ash-coloured Tapaculo, Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant, *Bronze-olive Pygmy-Tyrant, Cinnamon Flycatcher, *Yellow-bellied Pygmy-Tyrant, Green-and-Black Fruiteater, Rufous Wren, *Plain-tailed Wren, Masked Flowerpiercer, Hooded Mountain-Tanager,Grass-green Tanager and Northern Mountain-Cacique of note. Much effort was invested in trying to see the several calling Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, but all to no avail.
12. LORETO ROAD
Approximately half way between Baeza and Tena, the tarmac road to Loreto (and ultimately Coca) is a L. turn. The Baeza-Tena highway is unsurfaced and in a terrible condition, and could easily become impassable due to landslips; allow at least 2 hours to drive from San Isidro. The Loreto Road passes through partly degraded areas of forest low down on the E.Slope, but is still very species-rich; tanager flocks are a major feature here.
We spent a productive 9hr day birding roadsides between c.kms 12 and 18, seeing over 80spp. Raptors seen included :- *Grey-headed Kite, Swallow-tailed Kite,*Black Hawk-Eagle, *Short-tailed Hawk and Orange-breasted Falcon.Other birds of note :- *Chestnut-fronted Macaw, *Long-billed Starthroat,*Coppery-chested Jacamar, *Striolated Puffbird, *Red-headed Barbet,*Channel-billed Toucan, Lefresnaye’s Piculet, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, *Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Olive-backed Woodcreeper, *Lined Antshrike,*Yellow-breasted Antwren, *Golden-faced Tyrannulet, *Foothill Elaenia,Torrent Tyrannulet, Slaty-capped Flycatcher, Yellow-olive Flatbill, E.Wood Peewee, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Golden-crowned Flycatcher, *Cliff Flycatcher,*White-winged Becard, *Blue-rumped Manakin, *Olivaceous Greenlet,Swainson’s Thrush, Black-billed Thrush, Thrush-like Wren, *Wing-banded Wren, Tropical Parula, *Cerulean Warbler, Canada Warbler, *Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Thick-billed Euphonia, *Bronze-green Euphonia, Orange-eared Tanager,Saffron-crowned Tanager, *Golden-eared Tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, *Paradise Tanager, Green-and-Gold Tanager, *Spotted Tanager, Silver-beaked Tanager, Summer Tanager, White-winged Tanager, Yellow-throated Bush Tanager, Magpie Tanager, Chestnut-b.Seedeater, Subtropical Cacique, and *Olivaceous Siskin.
13. SACHA LODGE
Sacha was our base for 5d spent in the Amazon. Easiest route is by flying (30min) from Quito to Coca, where Sacha staff meet guests and take them and their luggage 2hr downstream to the Lodge. From their jetty, a 3km (which seems all of that at the end of a long day on the S.side of the river - see below) boardwalk through Varzea forest leads to a small lake, where you are paddled across to the Lodge on the far side.
Despite its remote idyllic setting, the Lodge, built in 1992, offers luxurious accommodation in thatched chalets, friendly hospitality and superb food.
The neighbouring La Selva Lodge, 5km downstream and a few years older, offers almost identical facilities and birds. The Lodge is visited both by keen naturalists and tourists looking for a jungle experience, but every effort is made to segregate these interests, and keen birders (eg. Tropical Birding clients) are placed with a dedicated bird guide for their entire stay; we were placed in the capable hands of Marcelo, and all of our excursions were with him and his ever-willing assistant (and boatman, tripod carrier!) Sergio. There is an extensive trail system accessible from Sacha, but this is not really signed for self-guiding, and many of the sites and habitats require a boat.
We requested Marcelo to work us hard, but we were suitably tired after 4 long hot days starting with 0500 breakfasts. The bird list for the area is huge (500+), and for a short stay, the best bet is to focus on most wanted groups/spp. We talked through our shopping list with Marcelo over dinner on the first evening; amongst the c.230 spp. we saw in our time in the Amazon, we were successful with a high proportion of our targets. The sections below list the birds we recorded in the main areas visited (see map on p.15).
A. Open dry woodland from the jetty. Around the landing, and along the N.bank to the E, the path runs though dry woodland/secondary growth; although little time was spent here, there were a few birds not seen elsewhere:-Pale-vented Pigeon, Cobalt-winged Parakeet, *Blue-crowned Motmot, *Black-fronted Nunbird, Gilded Barbet, *Mottle-backed Elaenia, *Grey-capped Flycatcher, *Variegated Flycatcher, *E.Kingbird, Black-billed Thrush and *Greyish Saltator.
B. Main boardwalk through Varzea forest. The main path then swings inland and follows a 3km boardwalk through wet Varzea forest. This area yielded several birds of note, and would probably have warranted more time :-*Speckled Chachalaca, *Spix’s Guan, *Mottled Owl at roost, [Spectacled Owl heard], *White-bearded Hermit, *Black-banded Woodcreeper, *Silvered Antbird, *White-shouldered Antbird, *Spot-winged Antbird, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, White-bearded Manakin, *Hauxwell’s Thrush and *Masked Crimson Tanager.
C. The lake. The low growth around the margins of the lake also produced several spp. of note :- *Hoatzin, *Pauraque hawking over the canoe moorings pre-dawn,Pale-tailed Barbthroat, *White-chinned Jacamar, Buff-throated Woodcreeper,*Short-crested Flycatcher, *Gt.Kiskadee, *Black-capped Donacobius and*Red-capped Cardinal.
D. Orquidea Creek.Across the lake from the Lodge, Orquidea Creek offers a good way to explore inside the very wet Varzea forest, and is also the shortest route to the wooden tower. We paddled up this several times, often around dawn and dusk, seeing:- *Black-crowned Night-Heron, *Boat-billed Heron, *Rufescent Tiger-Heron, [though no luck with Zig-Zag Heron], *Green Ibis, *Limpkin, *Slate-coloured Hawk,spotlit *Common Potoo, Ringed Kingfisher, *Green-and-Rufous Kingfisher, American Pygmy Kingfisher and *Orange-crowned Manakin.
E. Forest trails. We only walked a tiny proportion of the Sacha trail system, mostly around the wooden tower and behind the chalets towards the walkway.Most birds seen were with the aid of Marcelo’s ears and tape :-*Straight-billed Hermit, *Black-throated Trogon, *White-chested Puffbird,*Black-tailed Leaftosser, Plain-brown Woodcreeper, Buff-throated Woodcreeper,*Dusky-throated Antshrike*, Plain-throated Antwren, *Sooty Antbird, Bicoloured Antbird, *Black-spotted Bare-eye, *Striated Antthrush, *Wire-tailed Manakin, *Dwarf Tyrant-Manakin and Violaceous Jay. In several spotlighting sessions behind the chalets at dusk, we succeeded with *Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl [but failed at length with Crested Owl], plus Kinkajou and Night Monkeys. Also adjacent to the chalets, the exquisite Pygmy Marmosets can be watched sap-sucking on their favourite tree - ask staff for directions
F. Canopy viewing. One of the big attractions of Sacha (and La Selva) is the opportunity to bird up at canopy level. There are two structures - a wooden tower built around a gigantic kapok tree near Orquidea Creek, and a series of 3 metal towers linking a canopy walkway (see map on p.15). Both are probably best early am, but were also productive late afternoon. A telescope and tripod are absolutely essential.The wooden tower has large viewing deck at 45m, partly under the canopy of the kapok itself and offering views of several surrounding tree crowns, and more distant vistas. We much preferred this viewpoint. In a morning (0600-1000) and a couple of hours late pm, we saw many good birds only from here :-*Crane Hawk, *White Hawk, Speckled Chachalaca, Blue-headed Parrot, Squirrel Cuckoo, *Golden-tailed Sapphire, *Gould’s Jewelfront, A.Violaceous Trogon, *A.White-tailed Trogon, Swallow-winged Puffbird, *Scale-breasted Woodpecker, *Crimson-crested Woodpecker, *Dugand’s Antwren, *Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet, *Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatcher, *Cinnamon Attila, *Grey-capped Flycatcher, *Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Amazonian Umbrellabird, *Lawrence’s Thrush, *Black-faced Dacnis, Thick-billed Euphonia, *Rufous-bellied Euphonia, *White-lored Euphonia, *Masked Tanager, *Turquoise Tanager,Green-and-Gold Tanager, *Swallow Tanager, *Masked Crimson Tanager,*Scarlet Tanager, Magpie Tanager and *Moriche Oriole.
The canopy walkway, which is not quite finished, is at a similar height; the first tower is largely surrounded by tree crowns, but the central and third towers, and almost all of the suspended 300m walkway offer all-round views over the canopy. There is no shade at all on this structure; a hat is a must, but we were still feeling the heat before 0900; also, it is not recommended for anyone who dislikes heights or suffers from vertigo. Nevertheless, in a short morning and a brief evening visit, this did yield many new birds :-King Vulture, *Double-toothed Kite, Swallow-tailed Kite, Orange-breasted Falcon, Blue-and-Yellow Macaw, *Maroon-tailed Parakeet, *Purplish Jacamar, *Cream-colored Woodpecker, *Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, *Chestnut-capped Puffbird, *Slender-footed Tyrannulet, *Zimmer’s Flatbill,*Pink-throated Becard, *White-browed Purpletuft, *Wing-barred Piprites, Blue Dacnis, *White-ventedEuphonia, *Opal-crowned Tanager and *Opal-rumped Tanager.
Significant birds seen form both structures were :-*Gt. Yellow-headed Vulture, Black Caracara, Plumbeous Kite, *Laughing Falcon, Ruddy Pigeon, *Black-headed Parrot, Mealy Amazon, *Fork-tailed Woodnymph, *White-fronted Nunbird, *Gilded Barbet, *Many-banded Aracari, *Ivory-billed Aracari, *White-throated Toucan, Lefresnaye’s Piculet, Lineated Woodpecker, *Dusky-chested Flycatcher, Piratic Flycatcher, *Black-tailed Tityra, *Spangled Cotinga, *Yellow-green Vireo, Green Honeycreeper, Purple Honeycreeper and *Yellow-bellied Dacnis
14. NAPO RIVER and ISLANDS
The wide Napo River is full of small islands and sandbars; on the journeys to/from Coca (2hr by motorboat), and on trips from Sacha, typical waterbirds seen from boats included:- Striated Heron,*Cocoi Heron, *Pied Plover, *Collared Plover, *Sanderling!, Spotted Sandpiper and *Yellow-billed Tern. Raptors encountered over the river were King Vulture, *Yellow-headed Caracara, Black Caracara and Osprey, whilst *White-banded, *White-winged and our only *Barn Swallow were also feeding over the water. Typical birds seen in riverside trees:- *Amazon Kingfisher, *Brown Jacamar, Swallow-winged Puffbird, *Drab Water-Tyrant and Amazon Umbrellabird.
The islands themselves hold a very distinct bird fauna, and we saw many spp. not encountered on the mainland, many of which were found in an hour spent on one small island covered primarily with reeds and scrub:- Pale-vented Pigeon,*Ruddy Ground-Dove, *Greater Ani, *Blue-winged Parrotlet, Pale-tailed Barbthroat, *Olive-spotted Hummingbird, *Little Woodpecker, *Spot-breasted Woodpecker, *Lesser Hornero, *Dark-breasted Spinetail, *Parker’s Spinetail, *Castelnau’s Antshrike, *Black-and-White Antbird, *Spotted Tody-Flycatcher, *Fuscous Flycatcher, Black-tailed Tityra, Black-billed Thrush, *Orange-headed Tanager, *Yellow-browed Sparrow, Chestnut-bellied Seedeater, *Oriole Blackbird and*Giant Cowbird.
15. SHIPATY CREEK and PROVIDENCIA TRAIL
A short boat ride up the Napo River from the Sacha Jetty, the navigable Shipaty Creek is on the S side; this leads through riverine forest to a mooring from which the Providencia Trail runs through terra frme forest; this area is owned by a local Indian community, though Sacha guides have access.
From the boat up the creek, we saw several excellent spp :- *Sungrebe, Blue-and-Yellow Macaw (overhead), *Great Potoo at roost, Ringed Kingfisher, *Green Kingfisher, American Pygmy Kingfisher, *White-eared Jacamar, Swallow-winged Puffbird, *Chestnut-eared Aracari, *Scarlet-crowned Barbet, *Rufous-headed Woodpecker, E.Wood Peewee, *Lesser Kiskadee, Thrush-like Wren, Magpie Tanager and *Solitary Cacique.The terra firme forest along the Providencia Trail has a very different complement of birds to Sacha’s own forests; we spent 5hr on c.5km of trail, and with considerable input from Marcelo’s tape, succeeded on many species not seen elsewhere. Highlights:- *Sapphire Quail-Dove, Squirrel Cuckoo, Great-billed Hermit,*Yellow-billed Jacamar, *Great Jacamar, *White-necked Puffbird, *Collared Puffbird, *Brown Nunlet, Gilded Barbet, Buff-throated Woodcreeper,*Pygmy Antwren, White-flanked Antwren, *Black Antbird, *Scale-backed Antbird, *Rufous-capped Antthrush, *Ash-throated Gnateater, *Rusty-belted Tapaculo, *Brownish Twistwing, Screaming Piha, *Cinereous Mourner,Blue-crowned Manakin, *Coraya Wren and, *Fulvous-crested Tanager. The mammalian highlight came in the form of a *Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth.
16. YASUNI NATIONAL PARK
Yasuni NP lies on the S bank of the Napo, around 30min boat ride downstream from the Sacha Jetty; a permit is necessary, but the cost of this is automatically incorporated into Sacha guests’ bar bill.
The main attraction for both serious birders and tourists alike are two Parrot-licks, the first only 200m from the river bank, and the second reached by a 30min muddy trail which begins further downstream. Both have very comfortable shelters from which to watch the birds, and visitors are well instructed to keep very quiet. Anything to demonstrate to the world at large that parrots should be enjoyed in their natural forest habitats, rather than in cages must be a good thing! The two licks attract totally different sets of spp. - around the first, large gatherings of *Dusky-headed Parakeets, Blue-headed Parrots and Mealy Amazons assembled in the trees, and the *Yellow-crowned Amazons and *Red-bellied Macaws were probably heading in the same direction. At the second, there was little activity mid-am, but at lunchtime, this was filled with a very noisy horde of Cobalt-winged Parakeets, together with a few *Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlets and *Orange-cheeked Parrots, coming to drink/bathe.A single *Scarlet Macaw was also seen nearby.Birds seen on the trails to and above the second lick included:- Great-billed Hermit, Amazonian White-tailed Trogon, A.Pygmy Kingfisher, *Lemon-throated Barbet, Chestnut Woodpecker, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, *Cinereous Antshrike,*Grey Antwren, *Rufous-tailed Antwren, *Black-faced Antbird, *Warbling Antbird, *White-plumed Antbird, *Bicoloured Antbird, [Thrushlike Antpitta heard],*Double-banded Pygmy-Tyrant, *Golden-headed , Blue-crowned and *Striped Manakin all in the same area, Violaceous Jay, *White-necked Thrush, *S.Nightingale Wren, *Tawny-faced Gnatwren, Turquoise Tanager and Thick-billed Euphonia.
Dec.9th - 0730 Iberia flight Heathrow - Madrid arr.1045; 1330 Iberia flight to Quito arr.1800 local time. Met by Iain and transferred to Tandayapa Lodge 2000, very tired.
Dec. 10th - Tandayapa all day.Birded around terrace and feeders (13spp. hummers), plus ate breakfast0700-1200 on trail system - highlights Dark-backed Wood-Quail, Golden-headed Quetzal, Toucan Barbet, Golden-winged Manakin and Rufous-b.Antthrush.Middle of day on terrace (adding 3 more hummers, Rufous-winged Tyrannulet, etc.) and lunch. Afternoon excursion up Nono Road from 1500 seeing Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Crested Quetzal, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock and Beautiful Jay, returning at 1800; unsuccessful vigil for Nighthawks
Dec.11th - Pedro Vincente Maldonado with Jose all day.Left after 0400 coffee, arr.at a patch of forest 6km along track for breakfast by 0615.Birded forest edge for 1km <>, incl. picnic lunch until 1400; excellent birding with Choco Toucan, W.White-tailed, Choco and Collared Trogons, Band-tailed Barbthroat, Guayaquil Woodpecker, Orange-fronted Barbet, Griscom’s Antwren and Yellow-tufted Dacnis among the better finds. Drove out via several stops in more open country - Little Cuckoo, Striped Cuckoo, etc - reaching main road by 1515.Drove back to Tandayapa by 1645.
Dec.12th - Mindo Road and Tandayapa.Left 0530 up old Mindo Road to c.1km above Bellavista Lodge for 0600; early success on Tanager Finch, Ocellated Tapaculos and a flock of Plate-billed Mountain Toucans, then birded cloud forest along road to San Tadeo, finding good mix of tanager flocks, incl. Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager and Flame-faced Tanager.Returned via main road toTandayapa by 1200 for lunch and hummers.Second excursion to lower parts of Mindo Road 1430-1730 - generally hard going, but Powerful Woodpeckers obliged; failed on Lyre-tailed Nightjars
Dec.13th - Los Bancos to Quito.After early breakfast, drove to Milpe Reserve, Los Bancos arr. 0615. Birded along rough road through open areas finding main targets of Ochre-breasted and Moss-backed Tanagers, plus Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Ornate Flycatcher and Flame-throated Tanager in first hour. Forest trail immediately yielded lekking Club-winged Manakins, then several good mixed flocks :- Rufous Motmot, Choco Warbler, Yellow-collared Chlorophonia, Slate-coloured Grosbeak,etc.Deteriorating weather and John’s arm forced retreat to café in town by 1000, where a few birds added in the garden. Decided to return to Tandayapa for early lunch, pack, then drive to Quito arr. Tropical Birding office 1430. Chiropractor appointment arranged for 1530-1700, then retired to Hostal de la Rabida.
Dec.14th - Yanacocha.Left hotel after 0500 breakfast, and drove up (mostly bumpy) road to Yanacocha Reserve on slopes of Volcan Pichincha for 0615. Birded along track through elfin cloud forest, seeing all 8 of the target hummers (incl. Black-breasted Puffleg,Sword-billed, Great Sapphirewing, Rainbow-bearded Thornbill), mostly on the series of feeders, plus Barred Fruiteater, Scarlet-bellied and Black-breasted Mountain-Tanagers. Returned to van for early lunch, then to Quito for second visit to chiropractor.
Dec.15th - Antisana and Guango.Left after 0530 breakfast and drove SE out of city up onto Antisana Volcano.First stop in scrubby ravine at 3400m yielded Giant Hummingbird, Black-tailed Trainbearer and Red-crested Cotinga; continued uphill, with further stops adding our first A.Condors, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Ecuadorian Hillstar, etc. On grassland plateau area, flocks of Black-faced Ibis, Carunculated Caracara and Andean Gulls.Large expanse of Embalse de Mica (c.4000m) provided Silvery Grebe, all of the expected duck, a tight circling flock of Condors, and an excellent venue for a picnic lunch. Drove down with weather closing in and eventually raining; continued E over Papallacta Pass (still raining) to Guango Lodge arr. 1600. Lodge veranda provided tea and hummer feeders, where 12spp. included Long-tailed Sylph, Mountain Velvetbreast and both White-bellied & Gorgetted Woodstars - bringing the total to 46spp.
Dec.16th - Papallacta Pass, Papallacta Lake and GuangoLeft after breakfast at 0600 and drove up to top of Papallacta Pass by 0630; slowly drove up track through scrubby paramo - finding Blue-mantled Thornbill, Tawny Antpitta, White-chinned Thistletail, etc - to communication masts where Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe and wonderful mountain views competed until cloud closed in by 0730! Drove back down to main road, adding Paramo Tapaculo and Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant, and finally a patch of Polylepis woodland provided the main target of Giant Conebill. Continued downhill (E) to Papallacta Lake, where exploration along the old road produced 3 more hummers - Viridian Metaltail, Green-t.Trainbearer and Purple-backed Thornbill (No.50!), and a good mix of small passerines, incl. Plushcap and Pale-naped Brushfinch.Returned to Guango Lodge for lunch; after enjoying the feeders, walked the River Trail, finding the first Torrent Ducks; checked out 1600 and drove E/S to Cabanas San Isidro arr.1730.
Dec.17th - San Isidro.0530 breakfast, then walked Maculoma Trail 0600-1130, where good birds included:-Emerald Toucanet, Yellow-vented Woodpecker, Equatorial Rufous-vented Tapaculo and Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher. After lunch, watched hummer feeders (adding Bronzy Inca) and birded around grounds. After dinner, the famous mystery owl obliged in the car park.
Dec.18th - Loreto Road.Left 0400 and drove S on awful roads to Loreto turning (tarmac again!) for picnic breakfast at 0600, with Cliff Flycatchers and a good tanager flock enjoying their breakfast in a fruiting tree. Walked/drove the forested road between km12 and 18 for most of the day until 1500. Many good finds included:- Black Hawk-Eagle, Orange-breasted Falcon, Channel-billed Toucan, Striolated Puffbird, Copper-chested Jacamar, Lined Antshrike, Wing-banded Wren, Blue-rumped Manakin, and assorted tanager flocks containing Paradise, Green-and-Gold, Golden-eared and Orange-eared.Return drive even worse with an hours delay for roadworks, arr.back at San Isidro 1815.
Dec.19th - Guacamayos Ridge - Quito.Left 0600 and drove S to Guacamayos Ridge arr.0630. Walked first 1km of trail thro’ cloud forest.
Dec.20th - Quito to Sacha.Leisurely start! Collected 0930, transfer to Airport for 1100 Icaro flight to Coca arr. 1130; lunch at Sacha office before 1245 boat down Napo River to Sacha landing arr. 1445. Met our guide Marcelo, and birded slowly along boardwalk - seeing a selection of commoner Amazon birds plus roosting Mottled Owls - to lake and lodge arr.1630.After welcome drink, etc., evening canoe trip up Orquidea Creek - Boat-billed Heron, Many-banded Aracari, Green-and-Rufous Kingfisher, Orange-crowned Manakin, and finally spotlit common Potoo to end the day.
Dec.21st - Sacha all day.Left after 0500 breakfast, by canoe up Orquidea Creek again, to wooded canopy tower where spent 0615-1015; excellent birding, with Crane Hawk, Black-hd.Parrot, Ivory-billed Aracari, White-br.Toucan, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Spangled Cotinga, Dugand’s Antwren and Swallow Tanager amongst the better finds; Golden-tailed Sapphire and Fork-t.Woodnymph added to the hummer tally. Walked Tortuga Trail.
Dec.22nd - Sacha all day.0500 breakfast, then paddled across lake, walked boardwalk to river jetty by 0600.Boat upstream on Napo River to a small scrub/grass covered island 0730-0830, which added many new spp. incl:- Pied Plover, Pale-tailed Barbthroat, Castelnau’s Antshrike, Lesser Hornero, etc. Continued to South bank, and slowly navigated up Shipaty Creek, seeing a host of good birds - White-eared Jacamar, Chestnut-eared Aracari, Rufous-headed Woodpecker, fly-over Blue-and-Yellow Macaws and a roosting Great Potoo. Moored at start of Providencia Trail, and walked through terra firme forest 0930-1430 (incl.picnic lunch); often hard going, but perseverance and Marcelo’s tapes yielded more excellent birds: Rufous-capped Antthrush, Ash-throated Gnateater, Blue-crowned Manakin, Collared Puffbird, Great Jacamar, Great-billed Hermit (hummer No.60), Sapphire Quail-Dove, Rusty-belted Tapaculo and Yellow-billed Jacamar. Return boat down creek and across Napo River - adding Brown Jacamar, walked boardwalk, then canoe across lake - where White-chinned Jacamar completed the set - to lodge for tea at 1600. Final evening walk on trails failed to produce Crested Owl, but Kinkajou rounded off another very productive day.
Dec.23rd - Sacha all day. Usual 0500 breakfast, then canoe, boardwalk to jetty by 0615.Boat down river, exploring several islands and sandbanks - Amazonian Umbrellabird, Collared Plover, Spotted Tody-Flycatcher - to Yasuni NP on South bank. Short walk to first parrot-lick, attended by many Blue-headed Parrots, Dusky-headed Parakeets and Mealy Amazons. Continued downstream - seeing Yellow-crowned Amazon and Ladder-tailed Nightjar - to trail leading to second lick. Forest highlights included :- Blue-capped, Golden-headed and Striped Manakins, Scarlet Macaw and assorted Antbirds/Antwrens. Lunch in shelter overlooking parrot-lick with noisy hordes of Cobalt-winged Parakeets, plus a few Orange-cheeked Parrots and Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlets. Return walk along different trail to river by 1430; boat back to Sacha jetty and eventually lodge at 1600 for tea and rest! Evening sortie to Pygmy Marmoset tree, then further failure on Crested Owl, but Night Monkeys as compensation.
Dec.24th - Sacha all day.0515 breakfast, then walked trails - Black-tailed Leaftosser, Coati - to steel tower/walkway for 0600; birded mostly from first and central towers, initially frustrated by mist, then driven down by heat at 0930 - but seeing Wing-barred Piprites, Pink-throated Becard, Cream-coloured Woodpecker and White-browed Purpletuft, etc. Returned on longer loop of forest trails, rewarded by Striated Antthrush and Black-spotted Bare-eye, to lodge by 1130 for siesta/lunch.Left 1530 and paddled up Orquidea Creek to wooden tower 1600-1800 - adding Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatcher, Cinnamon Attila, Gould’s Jewelfront (the 61st and final hummer of the trip) and a magnificent male Umbrellabird.Paddled back for Christmas dinner by the lake.
Dec.25th - Sacha - Quito - Tandayapa.0630 breakfast!, canoe over lake and boardwalk to jetty for 0745 boat up river to Coca arr.1045. 1145 Icaro flight to Quito arr. 1215. Transfer to Tandayapa arr.1400 for late lunch. Walked down through village and up Nono Road, where Lyre-tailed Nightjar performed at dusk.
Dec.26th - Tandayapa all day.Spent 0545-0630 in new light-feeder hide, but only Russet-crowned Warblers and Immaculate Antbirds visited. Returned for breakfast, then walked Potoo Trail 0730-1200 seeing very little. Second shorter excursion on trails similarly unproductive.Final failure on Nighthawks from terrace.
Dec.27th - Tandayapa - Quito -O600-1015 walked up first few km of Mindo Road; again very quiet, but Beautiful Jay and Toucan Barbet the best finds. Rest of am relaxing over hummer feeders and packing, before 1200 lunch. 1300 transfer to Quito Airport for 1845 Iberia flight, via Guayaquil, to
Dec.28th - arr. Madrid 1330. 1600 Iberia flight to Heathrow arr. 1715.
Click here for full species list