An early departure from the
hotel in Quito brings us to the western entrance of Antisana Ecological Reserve, a mix of elfin forest below and grassland páramo above. The former yields many high elevation cloud-forest and treeline species such as Shining Sunbeam, Pearled Treerunner, White-throated Tyrannulet, Tufted Tit-tyrant, Unicolored (Blackish) Tapaculo, Plain-colored Seedeater, Cinereous Conebill among others. Beyond and above, the páramo proper yields Bar-winged and Stout-billed Cinclodes, Black-billed
Shrike-Tyrant Páramo Pipit and Plumbeous Sierra-Finch. Here we also see Ecuadorian Hillstar feeding on the orange thistle-shrubs Chuquiraga while Many-striped Canasteros and Andean Tit-Spinetails skulk in the bushes and Tawny Antpittas call all around.
Higher up on the plateau we scan for Andean Lapwings, Páramo Ground-Tyrant and the local specialty, the Black-faced Ibis. This isolated population is at the northern extreme of the species range and is considered
endangered in Ecuador. Black-winged Ground-Dove is abundant in flocks along with Eared Dove. Streak-backed Canasteros haunt the drier areas. Carunculated Caracaras are seen in large numbers often walking and scratching in the fields. Puna Hawks are also commonly seen soaring along the ridges and hovering (like Rough-legged Hawks). Given good visibility we have a good chance of seeing Andean Condor, one of the largest populations found in Ecuador as well as Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle. With
more luck we might see the rare Cinereous Harrier and Aplomado Falcon (subspecies pichinchae).
Arriving at Lake Mica with our box lunch, we survey the lakeshore bustle of Andean Gulls, Andean Coots, Andean and Blue-winged Teals, Andean Ruddy Ducks, and Yellow-billed Pintails. This is also the best place in Ecuador to observe closely the regal Silvery Grebe. Also, large mammals which are notoriously shy in the tropics are often seen at the reserve such as the
South American Fox and White-tailed Deer.
Heading back to Quito with a pretty sunset en route, we arrive at the hotel for dinner.
See the Antisana Birdlist.
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Price per person: Click here for prices
Included: Box lunch, expert bilingual birdguide, transportation and entrance fee.
Not included: Last night dinner; drinks; tips.
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