East and West Ecuador 29 Dec Ė 14 Jan 2011
Charlie guided Robert and Ulrike Wynands meeting them at Wildsumaco after they finished a week birding at Sacha Lodge. Charlie had just been in an historic blizzard on a family visit to Boston and made it out miraculously the next day. We had good luck with bird activity on both slopes and recorded 510 species with 474 seen on a 17-day itinerary including Antisana. The Wynands had seen 250 species at Sacha so their total was close to 700!
Wildsumaco was great with an appearance of Gray-tailed Piha, Coppery-chested Jacamar, White-crowned and Blue-rumped Manakin as well as White-crowned Tapaculo. Robert had a lucky glimpse of the Buff-throated Tody-Tyrant when we finally heard one calling on the FACE trail and it appeared in the canopy after playback. A confiding family of 3 Chestnut-breasted Wrens came in to view as well, a surprise to Jonas who hadnít known them on the property but only up on the Sumaco volcano trail. Eulerís Flycatcher was heard in two places but failed to come in. Plain-backed Antpitta and Short-tailed Antthrush were not very vocal and stayed distant.
Understory flocks were few but we managed Ornate, Slaty, Stripe-chested and Foothill Antwren as well as Lined Antshrike, Plain Antvireo, Blackish and Black-faced Antbird and White-backed Fire-Eye. A new site down the entrance road near Guagua Sumaco I call the bamboo wall trail was great yielding Black-and-white Tody-Flycatcher, Olive-faced and Large-headed Flatbill, Yellow Tyrannulet, Spot-breasted Woodpecker and Blue-crowned Trogon. Along the road we picked up Golden-collared Toucanet, Chestnut-tipped Toucanet, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Rufous-naped and Olivaceous Greenlet. The hummingbird feeders and garden yielded the specialties including Green Hermit, Gouldís Jewelfront, Napo Sabrewing, Ecuadorian Piedtail, Wire-crested Thorntail, Many-spotted Hummingbird, Violet-fronted and Black-throated Brilliant. On the streamcreeper trail on an otherwise sleepy afternoon a brief appearance of a White-tailed Hillstar. We had an amazing two different day views of White-tipped Sicklebill! Also a stunning day roost of Band-bellied Owl near the residence garage.
Due to a bridge failure on the Loreto road we had to double-back to Coca and drive around Lago Agrio to Baeza and on to San Isidro. We made the best of the unplanned long drive and stopped for birding and enjoying San Rafael Falls, the most beautiful spectacle in Ecuador. We managed a nice flock with Red-headed Barbet, Streak-necked Flycatcher, Tropical Parula, Black-poll Warbler, Golden, Flame-faced, Blue-necked, Scarlet and Summer Tanager. Yellow-breasted Antwren was singing in its territory and came into playback for a close eye-level view. While picnicking I heard Lemon-browed Flycatcher calling and we soon located a pair. From the bridge on the Baeza Bypass we saw Neotropic Cormorant, Spotted Sandpiper, Torrent Duck and White-capped Dipper.
San Isidro mornings are blessed by the moth crop under the streetlights which command a veritable aviary and gave us intimate views of Masked Trogon, Inca Jay (see video), Glossy-black Thrush, White-tailed Tyrannulet, Pale-edged Flycatcher, Barred Becard, Black-billed Peppershrike, Brown-capped Vireo, Fawn-breasted and Flame-faced Tanager, Common Bush-Tanager, Slate-throated Whitestart. After this the next show is the White-bellied Antpitta which comes into worm feeding. We had good luck with a punctual but quick appearance of one individual. Later we drove up the road and managed a Highland Motmot, Emerald Toucanet, Streaked Tuftedcheek, Pearled Treerunner, Long-tailed Antbird, Azaraís and Ash-browed Spinetail. Also appearing were Sulphur-bellied Tyrannulet, Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant, Flavescent, Handsome and Cinnamon Flycatcher. Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatchers were very active and we had great views of a number of individuals in the roadside bamboo along with Plain-tailed Wren and the uncommon local Slaty Finch. Along a side road streamside we saw Slaty-backed and Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant as well as Smoky Bush-Tyrant. Roadside flocks yielded Capped Conebill, Bluish and Masked Flowerpiercers, Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia, Saffron-crowned, Beryl-spangled, Blue-gray and Summer Tanager as well as Blue-winged Mountain Tanager. Osprey and Broad-winged Hawk allayed any pangs of homesickness I might have had and later we got a night glimpse of the Lyre-tailed Nightjar before dinner.
Guango and Papallacta pass were good to us with mild weather and but a couple of the specialties were uncooperative. We had great views of Viridian Metaltail, Bar-winged and Stout-billed Cinclodes, White-chinned Thistletail, Tawny Antpitta but only vocals from Many-striped Canastero and no Giant Conebill in the meager flock.
Yanacocha treated us to good views of all the regular hummingbirds plus a bonus Rainbow-bearded Thornbill and a good mixed flock including White-banded, White-throated and Black-capped Tyrannulet, Scarlet-bellied and Black-chested Mountain-Tanager, Superciliaried Hemispingus. Also along the Inca Ditch, Brown-backed and Crowned Chat-Tyrant, Smoky Bush-Tyrant and Red-crested Cotinga. In the afternoon along the road to Bellavista and above we managed to get Red-headed Barbet, Toucan Barbet and Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan.
We had good luck with the Orange-breasted Fruiteater at both Paz de las Aves and on the Mashpi road along with Indigo Flowerpiercer, Moss-backed and Glistening-green Tanager. A surprise was hearing the Plain-backed Antpitta at Mashpi, which was the first time for me on the west slope!
Rio Palenque rewarded us with a views of Black-headed Antthrush, Black-striped Woodcreeper, Western Slaty-Antshrike and Plain Antvireo, Gray-breasted Flycatcher and Ochraceous Attila. Also Gray-and-gold Warbler and Choco Warbler. Along the river, Neotropic Cormorant in great abundance and Pied Plover.
At Silanche reserve we had a glimpse of a covey of Rufous-breasted Wood-Quail sprinting across the trail. Also along the trail, Blue-black Grosbeak. The tower was pumping with Black-tipped Cotinga (first time for me at Silanche!) Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Slate-colored Grosbeak, Scarlet-browed and Tawny-crested Tanager.
Our last day at Antisana filled in some gaps with Many-striped and Streak-backed Canastero as well as Andean Condor and the usual plethora of Carunculated Caracara and a lone Aplomado Falcon. The lake was surprisingly devoid of the normal species with only Andean Teal in attendance! Luckily we had seen the other species already at Papallacta. A good flock of Black-faced Ibis kept us entertained along with Andean Lapwing and Andean Gull.
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