ITINERARY & DAILY ACCOUNTS
∑ Friday 2 Sept Evening flight with KLM to Quayaquil.
∑ Saturday 3 Sept Arrival 6:00 AM. Transfer to Hosteria Alandaluz.
∑ Sunday 4 Sept Boat trip to Isla de la Plata
∑ Monday 5 Sept Birding trip along Ayampe River.
∑ Tuesday 6 Sept Flight Manta to Quito. On to Papallacta.
∑ Wednesday 7 Sept Birding Papallacta. Afternoon on to San Isidro.
∑ Thursday 8 Sept Birding San Isidro trails.
∑ Friday 9 Sept Birding Huacamayos ridge. Afternoon on to Archidona.
∑ Saturday 10 Sept Birding Loreto Road.
∑ Sunday 11 Sept Birding El Para Reserve near Archidona.
∑ Monday 12 Sept Birding en route back to Quito.
∑ Tuesday 13 Sept Yanacocha and Old Nono-Mindo road. On to Mindo.
∑ Wednesday 14 Sept Birding Pedro Vicente Maldonado.
∑ Thursday 15 Sept COR lek and Mindo Valley. Afternoon to Milpe.
∑ Friday 16 Sept Birding Tandayapa and Bella Vista.
∑ Saturday 17 Sept Birding Reserva Las Gralarias and Milpe.
∑ Sunday 18 Sept Birding Las Gralarias and Calicali. On to Quito.
∑ Monday 19 Sept Flight home via Bonaire, Amsterdam to Duesseldorf.
∑ Tuesday 20 Sept Arrival in Duesseldorf in the morning.
Friday 2 September
Flight from Duesseldorf to Amsterdam at 5:30 PM where we met Roland who had flew in from Frankfurt. After a hamburger dinner at the airport we were off to the gate for our KLM flight to Guayaquil with a short stop in Bonaire.
Saturday 3 September
We arrived in Guayaquil early morning at 6:00 AM. Our driver was already waiting for us for our transfer to Hosteria Alandaluz, which took about three hours. The first bird we saw when we got out of the airport building was a Saffron Finch. During the first 1Ĺ hours of our drive we crossed the Guayas peninsula. This rather dry area with scrubs and scattered trees produced some nice birds that we did not see during the rest of the trip. From out of the car we saw amongst Crested Caracara, Shiny Cowbird, Great-tailed Grackle and several beautiful White-tailed Jay, which was our first Tumbesian endemic on the list. Just before we reached the coast we had a short stop at some salt ponds where we had Snowy Egrets, Least Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Sanderling and hundreds of Wilsonís Phalarope. The onwards drive along the coast produced amongst Grey Gull, Grey-headed Gull, Brown Pelican, Cocoi Heron and lots of Magnificent Frigatebirds. After arriving at Hosteria Alandaluz we dropped our luggage in the cabins and checked out the area surrounding the lodge until lunch. The hotelís garden produced Amazilia Hummingbird and Boat-billed Flycatcher. The river mouth at the beach right next to the lodge held eighteen roosting Yellow-crowned Nightherons and on the beach we flushed Anthonyís Nightjar. Further birds observed were amongst Whimbrel, Black-necked Stilt, Pacific Hornero, Bairdís Flycatcher, Southern Yellow-grosbeak, Collared Warbling-Finch, Vermilion Flycatcher, Masked Water-tyrant, Short-tailed Field-tyrant, Tropical Kingbird and Superciliated Wren. We also noted a Peruvian Pelican in a large flock of the more common Brown Pelicans. After a good lunch in the hotelís restaurant we walked towards the village of Puerto Rico. While walking along the road we had several Pacific Parrottlets and lots of Scrub Blackbirds. A flowering pineapple field to the left held dozens of Bananaquits collecting nectar. Just beyond the village we took a track to the right into the dry deciduous forest, which ended up after about 400 m in a semi-open habitat towards the hills. The track is about one km from Alandaluz just before the paved road bends to the left. We birded this very productive area until the late afternoon and had amongst Ecuadorian Ground-dove, Baronís Hermit, Ecuadorian Piculet, Slaty Spinetail, Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaner, Black-and-White Becard, Speckle-breasted Wren, Black-capped Sparrow, Yellow-tailed Oriole, Streaked Saltator and Tropical Parula. In the semi-open area we had a Pacific Pygmy-owl perched in the open. During our walk back to Alandaluz we saw a Red-masked Parrot near the village. Our first day produced 74 bird species. After a warm shower we had an excellent seafood dinner in the hotelís restaurant and went to bed at 9:30 PM.
Sunday 4 September
Today a boat trip to Isla de la Plata was on the program. Before breakfast we birded for about 30 minutes around the hotel. Apart from a Common Gallinule and Wilsonís Plover we did not see any new things. After breakfast we had a Fasciated Wren near the reception while waiting for our driver. The drive to Puerto Lopez took about 30 minutes. We were dropped off at a small office where we paid the entrance fee for Isla de la Plata and walked the last part to the beach where our boat was waiting for us. Along the beach we noted Croaking Ground-dove and our only two House Sparrows of the trip. During the 2Ĺ hours boat ride we noted amongst Wedge-rumped Storm-petrel, Black Storm-petrel and dozens of Wilsonís Phalarope. After 1Ĺ hour our boatman noted some whales in the far distance. We approached them carefully and soon we were surrounded by five adult Humpback Whales and a baby whale. They kept on circling around our boat for about 30 minutes, which gave us the opportunity to take some nice pictures. After this brilliant performance we headed on and as we approached the island we already saw several diving Blue-footed Boobies. We then took a three hourís walk on the rather barren island. During the walk we noted Long-tailed Mockingbird, Collared Warbling-finch, Vermilion Flycatcher and Short-tailed Woodstar. At the north-eastern end of the island we walked through a colony of Blue-footed Boobies and Nazca Boobies both breeding right next to the trail. While walking along the northern cliffs we noted several Red-tailed Tropicbirds. Watching them sailing along the cliffs with their long tails was certainly one of the highlights of the trip. On the way back we had a Waved Albatross hidden in the bushes. Unfortunately it had abandoned its egg, which was lying in the open along the track. During the boat ride back to the mainland we saw more or less the same birds as before. From Puerto Lopez we were transferred back to Alandaluz where we arrived at 5:30 PM. The food at Alandaluz was again delicious.
Monday 5 September
Today an early start for a birding walk along the Ayampe river towards La Cantalapiedra. We left at 6:10 AM and our driver picked up Silverio (our bird guide for today) at the bus stop at the main road. After a ten minutes drive we got out of the car at the river mouth and started a six hourís walk along the river. The habitat along the river valley is completely different compared to the rather dry forests along the rest of the coast with moist evergreen forest alternated by bamboo patches. The trail was very productive with lots of Tumbesian endemics occurring. Along the first part of the track we noted amongst Neotropic Cormorant, Pied-billed Grebe, Wattled Jacana, Spotted Sandpiper, Ringed Kingfisher and Ecuadorian Thrush. After two hours we stopped to eat our packed breakfast as a Northern Violaceous Trogon landed in a tree right in front of us. We also had cracking views of a beautiful Yellow-tufted Dacnis. We had to wade through the river several times and as we headed further inland we saw amongst Rufescent Tiger-heron, Grey Hawk, Laughing Falcon, Thick-billed Euphonia, Collared Antshrike, Tumbesian Tyrannulet, Tumbes Pewee, Grey-and-Gold Warbler, Saffron Siskin and Yellow-rumped Cacique. As we approached La Cantalapiedra Roland saw a Guayaquil Woodpecker and we also had Bronze-winged Parrot, Scarlet-backed Woodpecker and our only White-backed Fire-eye of the trip. We arrived at La Cantalapiedra at around 1:00 PM where we rested in the hammocks until lunch was served. After lunch we went back to Alandaluz by car where we arrived at 2:30 PM. We decided to pay another visit to the trail beyond the village of Puerto Rico while Wilma stayed at the lodge to relax. Our second visit paid out well as we saw several new species. We saw amongst Grey-backed Hawk, Olivaceous Piculet, Grey-breasted Flycatcher, Great Antshrike (male and female) and Rufous-browed Peppershrike. One of the best sightings where a Plumbeous-backed Thrush (much more beautiful than in the book) and an Elegant Crescentchest (another tumbesian endemic). We got back at the hotel at 6:00 PM and had a cool beer to celebrate another successful day. Today we saw 83 species of which 38 were new for the trip.
Tuesday 6 September
From 6:00 until 8:00 AM we checked out the Puerto Rico trail again. Despite that this was our third visit to the trail we managed to see some good new birds. We saw amongst Red-billed Scythebill, Streak-headed Woodcreeper and Green Honeycreeper. Back at the hotel we had a relaxed breakfast and afterwards packed our luggage for our onwards journey. At 10:30 AM we said goodbye to the people of Alandaluz and left for our two hour transfer to Manta airport. The arid scrubs between Puerto Lopez and Manta produced several Harrisís Hawks perching along the road. We arrived at the airport at 00:30 PM and the onwards flight with Icaro to Quito took only about 50 minutes. When we arrived in Quito Edison who was our bird guide for the oncoming 13 days was already waiting for us. We packed our luggage in his car and were off towards Papallacta. While leaving Quito behind us the road went up higher and we stopped at a unpaved road to the right at an altitude of about 3200m. We walked the track, which is supposed to be good for Andean Condor and Giant Hummingbird, but it was very quiet. The only bird observed was a Tyrian Metaltail, Tufted Tit-tyrant, Great Thrush and Black Flowerpiercer. We headed on towards Papallacta pass at an altitude of 4000m. About 2km before the pass we took an unpaved road to the right that eventually ended up at the main road near the pass. Here we had amongst Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle (beautiful raptor), Andean Tit-spinetail, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Bar-winged Cinclodes and Plumbeous Sierra-finch. Before arriving in Papallacta we took a side track to the left along a lake. Here we had Andean Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail and two Andean Gulls. When we arrived at the very luxurious Hotel Termas Papallacta it was already dark. Our very nice cabins had private thermal pools right at the front door. We decided to drop our luggage in the room and have dinner first. The food was really delicious and we could choose between trout, steak or chicken. After dinner we drank a beer and checked off our bird list for the day before having a relaxed dip in the thermal pools in front of our cabin.
Wednesday 7 September
We were off at 6:00 AM to first check out an area with Polylepis-forest at an altitude of 3400m. We took the road back towards the pass and stopped halfway were we took a track to the right. The weather was very harsh with a strong wind and rain showers. Despite that we managed to see some great birds like Pearled Treerunner, Cinereous Conebill, Giant Conebill, Masked Flowerpiercer, Blue-and-Black Tanager and White-sided Flowerpiercer. After about a 500m walk the track ended up at a viewpoint on a lake. Here we had Andean Ruddy-duck and Andean Coot. We walked back to the car and headed on towards the pass were we took the unpaved road up towards the radio towers at 4300m. Unfortunately we missed Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe here but nevertheless we had some nice new birds like Carunculated Caracara, Paramo Ground-tyrant, Paramo Pipit and Andean Tit-spinetail nesting along the road. At 10:00 AM we drove back towards the hotel were we visited an area called Rancho del Canon, which is owned by Hotel Termas Papallacta. The entrance road (with a gate) starts right behind the hotel and follows the valley of the Papallacta River at an altitude of about 3100-3400m. We had some excellent birding here an saw amongst Shining Sunbeam, White-chinned Thistletail, Agile Tit-tyrant, Rufous-breasted Chat-tyrant, Blue-backed Conebill, Black-chested Mountain-tanager, Mountain Wren and the beautiful coloured Scarlet-bellied Mountain-tanager. Bone-shaking cold we arrived back in the hotel for lunch at 00:30 PM. After lunch we decided to first warm up a bit in the hot thermal pools before heading on towards the east slope. At 2:00 PM we packed our luggage and headed on down the east slope. After a 30 minutes drive we stopped at a bridge over a river were we had White-capped Dipper, which was unfortunately missed by Roland. Just a few hundred meters beyond the bridge we stopped at Guango Lodge, which is famous for itís hummingbird feeders. The surrounding forest and river valley holds lots of other great birds. While drinking a cup of tea on the porch we enjoyed the abundance of hummers visiting the feeders. We noted amongst Purple-backed Thornbill, White-bellied Woodstar, Collared Inca, Blue-mantled Thornbill, Tourmaline Sunangel, Mountain Velvetbreast, Mountain Avocetbill, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Gorgeted Woodstar, Long-tailed Sylph and the star bird of all Sword-billed Hummingbird. We then walked down the trail behind the lodge towards the river were we had new birds like Turquoise Jay, White-throated Tyrannulet, White-banded Tyrannulet, Black Phoebe, Grass Wren and Black-backed Bush-tanager. At 4:30 PM we headed further down slope through a beautiful valley with dozens of waterfalls plunging down the sheer mountain walls. Near Baeza we saw a White-throated Kingbird from out of the car. Before taking the side road up to San Isidro Lodge we first headed to the bridge in the nearby village of Cosanga to check out the river for Torrent Duck. Unfortunately enough we did not manage to find one and we decided to head for San Isidro Lodge where we arrived at dusk. When we walked to the restaurant we heard the famous San Isidro Owl. After a superb meal we checked off our day list at the room while enjoying a drink.
Thursday 8 September
Today we have the whole day to explore the trails of San Isidro. We had an early breakfast at 5:30 AM and while walking back from the restaurant to the cabins we already had some great birds. The area was teeming with flocks of the colourful Inca Jays and Russet-backed Oropendolas. We also had a Black-billed Peppershrike in a tree opposite the parking area. As we started our walk on the tracks around the lodge the first bird encountered was a Long-tailed Antbird skulking in the scrubs along the track. Besides great sceneries, lots of flowers, beautiful butterflies and a dead opossum our walk produced some top quality bird sightings. We saw amongst Chestnut-collared Swift, White-tipped Swift, Masked Trogon, Crested Quetzal, Emerald Toucanet, Rufous Spinetail, Unicolored Tapaculo, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Green-and-Black Fruiteater, Capped Conebill, Bluish Flowerpiercer and Subtropical Cacique. We also saw ten species of Tanagers like Saffron-crowned, Golden-naped and Beryl-spangled Tanager just to mention a few. We also heard Slate-crowned Antpitta and Roland and Edison managed to see a Chestnut-crowned Antpitta which we missed unfortunately. Around noon we walked back to the lodge to have lunch and afterwards enjoyed watching the hummers from the porch were we had amongst Tawny-bellied Hermit, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Bronzy Inca and Chestnut-breasted Coronet. In the afternoon we decided to visit the open fields above San Isidro by car hoping for some specialty birds. Wilma stayed at the room to have some time for her own and do some reading. While driving along the track through the forest we stopped as we heard a feeding flock. We managed to find Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Azaraís Spinetail, White-crested Elaenia and Rufous-crowned Tody-flycatcher. In the open cultivated fields above SI we had amongst Rufous-collared Sparrow, Grey-rumped swift and several Southern Lapwings, which are considered to be rare in Ecuador. We drove the track until we reached a bridge over a river where we saw several Black Phoebe and Tropical Kingbirds. We turned here and went back towards the lodge. In the forest along the track we stopped when we heard Highland Motmot but we did not manage to see one. Other birds observed were Golden-headed Quetzal, Black-crested Warbler, Smoky Bush-tyrant and Yellow-vented Woodpecker. At 5:30 PM we headed back to the lodge. From 6:30 AM we decided to do some owling along the surrounding tracks. While we were still in the room Roland and Edison spotted the San Isidro Owl in the palm-tree at the car park. When we arrived it was already gone but we managed to see several Rufous-bellied Nighthawk hawking for insects around the lamp-posts. We then drove along the track towards the main road on search for some owls but unfortunately it soon started raining which minimized our changes of seeing any nocturnal birds. Although we did not see anything we managed to hear Rufous-banded Owl and Andean Potoo. At 7:30 PM we went back to have dinner and afterwards check off our day list. It has been a long and tiresome day and we went to bed early at 9:30 PM.
Friday 9 September
It rained when we got up at 5:15 AM for breakfast and headed for Huacamayos Ridge, which is about a 30 minutes drive on the road towards the east. When we arrived at the trail entrance it started raining heavier and the mountains were cloaked in clouds. After waiting for a while in the car the rain slowed down a bit and armed with raingear and umbrellas we started walking the trail. Because of the thick fog it was almost impossible to see anything in the surrounding trees. Despite that we managed to identify Black-billed Mountain-toucan, Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Hooded Mountain-tanager, Northern Mountain Cacique and Grass-green Tanager. After about 1Ĺ hours it started raining very heavy and the trail we were walking on turned into a stream. We decided to go back to San Isidro were we waited for the rain to slow down on the porch watching the feeders. New hummers observed were White-tailed Hillstar and Green-fronted Lancebill. We then walked the trails of SI until lunch. Because of the ongoing rain we did not see any new species. After lunch we packed our luggage for our onwards journey to the eastern lowlands. The road towards the east was under construction and in very bad condition. At about 3:45 PM we arrived at the junction with the road to Coca known as the famous Loreto road at an altitude of about 1100m. Meanwhile the weather had improved significally having sunny weather with temperatures at around 24 degrees C. We birded the first section of the road for only about 3 km. The birding here was really superb. The Loreto road certainly is a site not to be missed in Ecuador. Within two hours of birding we saw about 60 species of birds of which many were new for the trip. We saw amongst Maroon-tailed Parrot, Blue-headed Parrot (great views in the scope), Violaceous Jay, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Yellow Tyrannulet, Masked Tityra, Chestnut-bellied Thrush, Black-and-White Seedeater and Chestnut-bellied Seedeater. Loreto road is also a great place for lots of colourful tanagers. We had amongst Swallow Tanager, Paradise Tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, Silver-beaked Tanager and the superb Magpie Tanager. At 5:45 PM we drove back to the junction and headed on towards Archidona over the very bumpy road. It is unbelievable that this road is supposed to be the main connection to Tena, which is the capitol of the Napo province. The about 20 km stretch of road to Hotel Orchidís Paradise near Archidona took about 45 minutes. Because our rooms were not ready yet we drank a beer in the bar. Afterwards we dropped our luggage in our fairly musty room and had dinner at 7:30 PM.
Saturday 10 September
Today we have the whole day to explore Loreto Road. We had an early breakfast to be at the start of the turnoff to Coca at first light. For the whole day we birded the Loreto road over a stretch of about 20 km. We drove slowly and stopped every time we heard or saw activity. The first 5 km or so from the junction towards Coca took almost the whole morning, which certainly says something about the high bird activity. The first three hours produced an amazing number of sightings having amongst White-eyed Parakeet, Wire-crested Thorntail, Black-eared Fairy, Lafresnayeís Piculet, Dusky Spinetail, Marble-faced Bristle-tyrant, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Lined Antshrike, Blue Dacnis, Paradise Tanager, Spotted Tanager, Golden Tanager, Grayish Saltator and many more. From 9:30 AM the activity seemed to slow down a bit but after a light rain shower the activity increased again and we picked up several feeding flocks producing amongst Napo Sabrewing, Red-headed Barbet, Chestnut-tipped Toucanet, Rufous-tailed and Streaked Xenops, Yellow-cheeked Becard and Black-faced Dacnis. Around noon we had lunch alongside the road under a tree, which was full with feeding Blue-naped Chloroponiaís. Wilma spotted a Orange-breasted Falcon perching in a tree. We had great views of it through the scope. At a rocky outcrop along the road further on we saw a nice pair of Cliff Flycatchers and on the opposite side of the road we had Scarlet-breasted Fruiteater and the fairly rare Fiery-throated Fruiteater together in one feeding flock. At around 3:00 PM we had a break at a small restaurant along the road. When we walked back to the car Edison spotted a Orange-eared Tanager, which we unfortunately missed. From here the road went up into a more densely forested area. After crossing a stream we parked our car and walked along the road searching for new things. We noted amongst Yellow-throated Bush-tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Green Hermit and Yellow-olive Flatbill. Just as we wanted to walk back to the car we heard a loud drumming noise. After searching for a while we found a Crimson-crested Woodpecker hammering on a bamboo trunk. We had perfect views of this beautiful bird through the scope. At 5:30 PM we walked back to the car and slowly made our way back. At dusk we stopped at a rocky ledge and after waiting for about 15 minutes we had several Lyre-tailed Nightjars in flight as well as perched. It is always nice to end a successful birding day with a nightjar especially if it is a beauty like the Lyre-tailed. We drove back to Archidona where we arrived at 7:00 PM. A perfect day has come to an end. Today we had 102 species of which 58 were new for the trip.
Sunday 11 September
We were up at 5:00 AM and after breakfast we headed for El Para Reserve to pick up some lowland birds. The reserve is located about a 20 minutes drive east of the town of Archidona at an altitude of about 500 m. In Archidona we took a left turn and followed an unpaved road until we reached a bridge crossing a rather wide river. After crossing the bridge we followed a narrow road with superb views on Sumaco Volcano to the left. We stopped for some bird activity and had a flock of White-bearded Manakins. After about 3 km we stopped at a gate to the left, which was the entrance to the reserve. When we got out of the car we had amongst Speckled Chachalaca, Black-throated Mango, Golden-collared Toucanet, Gray-capped Flycatcher and a flock of noisy Crested Oropendolaís. Behind the gate we started our walk into the forest. The trails were not very good maintained especially the last section. As a result of that they were fairly overgrown, narrow, muddy and slippery. Despite that we had some great birds new for the trip. One of the specialty birds of El Para we saw was the Striated Antbird, which is very local and rare in Ecuador. Further birds observed were amongst Gray-fronted Dove, Amazonian White-tailed and Violaceous Trogon, White-fronted Nunbird, Purplish Jacamar, Lettered Aracari, Spixís Woodcreeper, Plain-winged and Russet Antshrike, White-breasted Woodwren, Rufous-bellied Euphonia, Yellow-rumped Cacique and a beautiful Orange-backed Troupial. We also saw quit some new hummers like Rufous-breasted and Gray-chinned Hermit, Violet-headed Hummingbird and Gray-breasted Sabrewing. After a few hours of birding it started raining quite heavy and we made our way back to the car over the very slippery trails. When we got back the rain had stopped and we decided to have lunch at the car. While eating we saw many nice butterflies, Moriche Oriole and a Purple Honeycreeper. The afternoon was filled in by doing some roadside birding along the track running alongside the reserve with views on the forest edge and the more open area on the opposite site of the track. It was sunny and quite warm but nevertheless we scored some nice birds here having amongst Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, Plumbeous Kite, Dusky-headed Parakeet, Gray Elaenia, Long-tailed Tyrant (common), Black-tailed Tityra, Yellow-bellied Dacnis and Opal-rumped Tanager. At 4:00 PM the birding became very slow as a result of the warm weather and we decided to slowly make our way back to Orchids Paradise. We made another stop on the way back before the bridge having Black Caracara and Green Oropendola. Today was one of the very few days that we were back at the hotel early at 5:00 PM. We relaxed a bit on the terrace outside and had a nice cool beer. After taking a shower we had dinner and checked off our bird list having 82 birds of which 44 new for the trip.
Monday 12 September
Today we commenced our journey back to Quito. We had breakfast at 5:30 AM and were off at 6:00 AM. Halfway towards Huacamayos we heard Powerful Woodpecker but we did not manage to locate it. We were back at Huacamayos ridge at 8:30 PM and this time we were luckier here then a few days ago having fairly sunny weather with clear views of the surrounding forest and the valley beneath. Right at the start of the trail we had good views of a Slate-crowned Antpitta. Other new birds observed during our walk on the trail along the ridge were amongst Greater Scythebill, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Flammulated Treehunter and Lacrimose Mountain-tanager. We birded the area for about 2Ĺ hours and then drove further towards Quito. At the bridge near the village of Cosanga we again tried for Torrent Duck but we missed it again. While driving to Baeza we noted Torrent Tyrannulet along the road close to the river. We arrived at Guango Lodge again at 00:30 PM and decided to have our packed lunch at their porch while enjoying the hummers visiting the feeders. After lunch we birded the area around the lodge for about an hour or so. There was lots of bird activity going on and we noted some new birds for the list like Citrine Warbler, Russet-crowned Warbler, Barred Becard, Black-capped Hemispingus and Stripe-headed Brushfinch. We then headed further towards Papallacta. The lake produced about the same birds as on our previous visit. At the pass we tried the road towards the antennas again but we missed the Seedsnipes again. The only new birds for the list were Tawny Antpitta and a Many-striped Canastero. We then drove to Quito where we arrived at around 5:30 PM at our very cosy Hotel La Cartuja. The small scale hotel is built in a colonial style and used to be the embassy of the UK. It had nice cosy rooms and a patio. After a warm shower we had a fine dinner in the restaurant next to our hotel.
Tuesday 13 September
After an early breakfast Edison picked us up at 5:30 AM for the start of our west slope tour. We drove out of the city and took the old Nono-Mindo road towards Yanacocha Reserve. The weather was great having clear views over the Andes. While the sun came up we had superb views of the surrounding mountains. On the access road towards Yanacocha we saw American Kestrel. When we arrived at Yanacocha the gate was still closed. We climbed over the fence and followed the wide trail along the ridge for about 2 km. We saw amongst Bar-bellied Woodpecker, Crowned Chat-tyrant, Barred Fruiteater, Glossy Flowerpiercer, Scarled-bellied Mountain-tanager, Black-chested Mountain-tanager, Rufous-naped Brushfinch and Superciliaried Hemispingus. At the end of the trail we sat down on the benches surrounded by several feeders with a great view on Pichincha Volcano. While warming up in the sun we enjoyed the hummers and flowerpiercers visiting the feeders at close range. We noted amongst Western Emerald, Shining Sunbeam, Great Sapphirewing, Sapphire-vented Puffleg, Golden-breasted Puffleg, Sword-billed Hummingbird and Buff-winged Starfrontlet. We also had a White-throated Hawk soaring above us. From here we walked back to the gate where we had lunch before heading towards the Mindo area. During the drive down to the Nono-Mindo road we saw Black-tailed Trainbearer, Variable Hawk and a pair of beautiful Black-chested Buzzard-eagles perched in a bare tree along the track. Roland noted a Andean Condor for a short while but it soon disappeared behind a ridge and the incoming clouds. The rest of the afternoon we drove along the Nono-Mindo road and stopped at several spots looking for birds. We noted amongst Golden-headed Quetzal, Beautiful Jay, Streaked Tuftedcheeck, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Metallic-green Tanager and Black-winged Saltator. At a bridge at the turnoff to the left towards Tandayapa Lodge we had fine views of two White-capped Dippers. Here we took a right-hand turn back to the paved road towards Septimo Paraiso Lodge. At 5:30 PM we arrived at the lodge where we were welcomed by Pablo the owner and his friendly rottweiler named Tony. We used the remaining daylight by visiting the feeders in front of the lodge. Within 30 minutes we saw 12 new hummingbirds having amongst Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Booted Racket-tail, White-necked Jacobin, Brown Violet-ear, Andean Emerald and a beautiful Velvet-purple Coronet. When dusk came in we dropped our luggage in the room and had a beer in the bar and played a game of pool billiard until dinner. We checked off our bird list and went to bed early.
Wednesday 14 September
Today another early start as we wanted to be in Pedro Vicente Maldonado around first light. During our drive to PVM, which took about an hour, it rained for most of the time. We saw several Rufous-bellied Nighthawks soaring along the streetlights. When we arrived at the turnoff at PVM the weather cleared up a bit and we had fine weather for the rest of the day. It even became fairly warm in the afternoon having temperatures of around 26 degrees C. Along the first section until a quarry we did some roadside birding and stopped at several places where we heard activity. This was a fairly dusty affair because several lorries drove off and on between the quarry and the main road. Nevertheless the birding was good having amongst Pallid Dove, Choco Toucan, Lesser swallow-tailed Swift, Violet-bellied Hummingbird (female), Orange-fronted Barbet, Black-striped Woodpecker, White-winged Becard, Blue-whiskered Tanager, Bay Wren, Gray-and-gold Tanager and a Buff-rumped Warbler near a river. After crossing the river we birded an open spot to the right away from the road surrounded by forest patches. Here we had Red-rumped Woodpecker, Western Slaty-antshrike, Dot-winged Antwren, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Black-crowned Tityra, Orange-crowned Euphonia and Emerald Tanager. We then took a trail into the forest near the river and had amongst Purple-crowned Fairy, Black-striped Woodcreeper, Lineated Foliage-gleaner, Purple-throated Fruitcrows, Scarlet-breasted Dacnis, Golden-hooded Tanager and Lesser Greenlet. We also heard the rare Brown Wood-rail but unfortunately we missed it. Driving further along the road we made several birding stops and saw amongst Swallow-tailed Kite, Green Kingfisher, Black-cheeked Woodpecker (common), Double-banded Graytail, Guira Tanager, Silver-throated Tanager, Scarlet-browed Tanager and Yellow-bellied Siskin. We then crossed a palm plantation having a group of Black Vultures feeding on palm nuts right along the road. A bit further we called in a Broad-billed Motmot. Beyond the palm plantation the area became more forested. We had lunch at the car and after that walked a trail trough the forest that produced some very good birds of which many were Choco endemics. At the start of the trail they were building a watchtower. While walking through the forest we had amongst Ecuadorian Trogon, Choco Trogon, Red-headed Barbet, Choco Woodpecker, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Black-striped Woodcreeper, Streak-capped Treehunter, Wattled Guan, Yellow-tufted Dacnis and Blue-whiskered Tanager. After birding the area for about two hours we decided to drive back slowly to the main road. On the way back we had amongst Striped Cuckoo, Bronze-winged Parrot, Streaked Flycatcher and Cinnamon Becard. When we drove back towards the Mindo area it started to rain again. We had a drink in a restaurant in Los Bancos with fine views on a river valley and several feeders. The only new hummers seen were White-whiskered Hermit and Long-billed Starthroat. We then headed back to Septimo Paraiso. Entering the valley we had a Narino Tapaculo in the scrubs along the road and we heard the unmistakable sound of a Toucan Barbet. When we arrived Tony the rottweiler welcomed us again by peeing on the tires of Edisonís car. After a short visit to the feeders we took a warm shower and went for dinner. After dinner we did some owling and had close views of a Black-and-White Owl and we also heard Mottled Owl. A great birding day had come to an end with 117 species of which 51 were new for the trip.
Thursday 15 September
Another very early rise as we wanted to visit the Cock-of-the Rock lek in Reserva Las Tangaras near Mindo. We left at 4:30 AM to be at the lek before first light. The climb up through the dark forest was quite strenuous. When we arrived we sat down under a shed and waited for the action to start. At first light we had 12 males displaying at close range. Seeing this spectacle certainly brought back memories from our trip to Suriname last year. After about 30 minutes we walked back down the slope having amongst Red-billed Parrot, Masked Trogon, Spotted Woodcreeper, Red-faced Spinetail, Spotted Barbtail and Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant. We also heard Slaty-capped Shrike-vireo but we were not able to spot it. We then birded the area along the river were we had Swallow Tanager, White-capped Dipper, Fawn-breasted Tanager, Metallic-green Tanager and Black Phoebe. We then went back to the lodge for a late breakfast at 9:00 AM. While Wilma stayed at the room we birded the trails of the lodge until lunch. It was quite warm with sunny weather and the birding was very slow. Besides birds that we saw before we added Rufous Motmot to our list. After lunch we added a few new hummers at the feeders having Tawny-bellied Hermit and Empress Brilliant. We then packed our luggage and said goodbye to Pablo and Tony. As it started raining heavily we cancelled our plans for visiting Mindo valley. We decided to drive back to the restaurant in Los Bancos were we waited for the rain to stop. At 3:30 PM the rain stopped and we decided to have a short visit to Milpe Bird Sanctuary. Here we had amongst Choco Toucan, Pale-mandibled Aracari, Smoky-brown Woodpecker and Esmeraldas Antbird. At 5:00 PM we left the area and beyond the Mindo turnoff we took a very bumpy track up towards Las Grallarias Reserve, which is owned by Jane Lyons from MBT. Arriving at the guesthouse we were welcomed by Jane and we first paid a visit to her feeders having new hummers like Gorgeted Sunangel and Buff-tailed Coronet. After a warm shower we had a drink before having a delicious dinner.
Friday 16 September
Today the area around Tandayapa and Bellavista is on the program. After breakfast we left the guesthouse at 6:00 AM and headed for the Tanager Finch stake-out but unfortunately did not show up. We then parked the car at a junction and walked the track of the upper Tandayapa valley for a couple of hours. We had great weather with excellent views of Tandayapa village below us. We saw amongst Sickle-winged Guan, White-throated Quail-dove, Masked Trogon, Plate-billed Mountain-toucan, Streak-necked Flycatcher, Sierran Elaenia, Plain-tailed Wren, Andean Solitaire and many tanagers of which Blue-capped Tanager was new for the list. While walking back to the car we had four Toucan Barbets feeding in a tree at close range right above the track. In the excitement I forgot to make pictures of them. Around noon we went to the house of Tony Nunnery were we stayed about two hours enjoying the hummers at the feeders while having our lunch. From his porch we noted amongst Green Violet-ear, Western Emerald, Collared Inca and a Crimson-rumped Toucanet perched in a tree in the open. We then headed for the Bella Vista trails where we walked for about two hours. Here we had amongst Barred Forest-falcon, Plumbeous Pigeon, Azaraís Spinetail, Spillmanís Tapaculo and Rufous-chested Tanager a new tanager for our list. We also heard Occelated Tapaculo but we did not manage to spot it. We drove back to the junction at the upper Tandayapa valley. While the fog was coming in we tried the track again for about 500 m. We managed to see a few new birds having Powerful Woodpecker, Striped Treehunter, Olive-striped Flycatcher, Western Hemispingus and although not new for the list a flock of Grass-green Tanagers. At 5:00 PM we decided to drive back and have another try for Tanager Finch. However it did not show up again but we did see Yellow-bellied Chat-tyrant in the scrubs along the road. We arrived back at Janeís place where we did our checklist before having dinner.
Saturday 17 September
I had not slept well because of stomach problems. The initial plans for today was a visit to the lower part of Las Grallarias and Milpe but because of my stomach problems we decided to stay close to the lodge just in case I had toÖ We started walking the trails around the lodge at 6:00 AM. The first new bird we had was a Collared Forest-falcon perching in a tree in the open. We then entered the more densely forested part of the reserve having Rusty-winged Barbtail new for the list. Halfway Wilma and me returned to the lodge. On the way back to the lodge two Dark-backed Wood-quails crossed the path in front of us. I did not feel too good and decided to go to bed for a few hours. For the rest of the morning Roland and Edison birded the area at the other side of the road and had Orange-breasted Fruiteater. I slept well and felt a lot better at lunch. After lunch we went to Milpe Bird Sanctuary located along the road close to Los Bancos. We first walked the very nice trails through the forests near the entrance. Afterwards we did some birding along the road for about 6 km. Despite being one of our last days in Ecuador we managed to see quit some new birds in Milpe. New birds observed were amongst Little Cuckoo, Plain Xenops, Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet, Ornate Flycatcher, Rufous-winged Tyrannulet, Snowy-throated Kingbird, Choco Warbler, Rufous-throated Tanager, Moss-backed Tanager, White-winged Tanager and Yellow-green Bush-tanager. We also had Scarlet-backed Woodpecker that we did only see at the coast. When we arrived back at the lodge it was already dark. While the others had great food my dinner consisted of rice and bananas.
Sunday 18 September
This was our last day of the trip. We had an early breakfast and afterwards packed our things. We said goodbye to Jane and thanked her for arranging a great trip and being our host at Las Grallarias. The morning until lunch was filled in by birding the trails of the lower part of Las Grallarias. As we got out of the car we had several Black-chinned Mountain-tanagers. For about two hours we searched for Giant Antpitta. We heard it several times but it did not show up. While walking the trails through dense foliage we had Dark-backed Wood-quail, Long-tailed Antbird, Orange-breasted Fruiteater and Scaled Fruiteater. We got back at the car around noon where we had lunch first. While driving back to the paved road we had Tricoloured Brush-finch along the track. We headed back towards Quito and stopped at Pahuma Orchid Reserve. We enjoyed the orchids and walked a track along a rocky stream where we had a beautiful Slaty-backed Chat-tyrant. After a drink at the restaurant we headed on. Our last birding stop was at the dry valley of Calicali where the rare and local White-tailed Shrike-tyrant occurs. We sadly missed it but had a Ash-breasted Sierra-finch as our last new bird of the trip. After a photo-stop at Mitad del Mundo (a monument right at the equator) we arrived back at Hotel La Cartuja in Quito at 5:00 PM. In the hotelís patio we drank a beer together and afterwards said goodbye to Edison. We thanked him for his enthusiasm and for showing us such a lot of nice birds. I than checked my e-mail from home and went for a well deserved shower. We again had a very nice dinner in the restaurant next to our hotel.
Monday/Tuesday 19/20 September
We had breakfast at 6:00 AM and at 6:30 AM a taxi picked us up for our transfer to the airport, which took only 10 minutes. Our flight was on schedule and we took off at 9:15 AM. During the flight home we had time enough to work out our checklists and do some reading. After a short stop in Bonaire we landed in Amsterdam at 5:00 AM the next morning. We said goodbye to Roland who had another connecting flight to Frankfurt while we flew to Duesseldorf. We arrived there at 8:00 AM, picked up our car and within an hour we were back home save and sound.
Another great holiday has come to an end ÖÖÖ
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