East and West Slope Tour 4-19 Nov 2007 guided by Charlie Vogt
Charlie guided Paul Prevett and Candy McManimon for 16 days on the East & West slope before their Galapagos trip. We recorded a total of 554 species with 513 seen and had good luck with some rare birds. Papallacta pass was merciful with the weather and we had great views of Black-backed Bush-Tanager & Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant along with the rest of the Paramo specialties. Guacamayos trail was forth giving with wonderful views of Greater Scythebill, Slate-crowned Antpitta, White-throated Quail-Dove walking on the trail and for Charlie a fleeting glimpse of Masked Saltator. Also Green-and-Black Fruiteater & Dusky Piha appeared. A Rufescent Screech-Owl came in to playback near the Lyre-tailed Nightjar site outside Baeza. A heavy downpour outside of Archidona cleared for an active late-afternoon birding including Blue-winged Parrotlets, Black-throated Mango & Orange-fronted Plushcrown.
At El Para we had a birdy morning with lots of activity and intercepting a big flock in the forest. Striated Antbird responded well and Olive-faced Flatbill were seen while Large-headed Flatbill was heard but unresponsive. Wire-tailed Manakins displayed beautifully and Golden-collared Toucanets fed on fruits.
Wildsumaco charmed us with Rufous-breasted Wood-Quail, Military Macaw, Chestnut-tipped Toucanet, Coppery-chested Jacamar, Gray-tailed Piha and gripping views of Chestnut-crowned Gnateater. The hummingbird feeders yielded Many-spotted Hummingbird, Green Hermit, Fork-tailed Woodnymph as well as difficult species like Napo Sabrewing, Black-throated Brilliant, Ecuadorian Piedtail, Amethyst Woodstar, & Violet-headed Hummingbird. The Dusky Spinetail around the residence house showed nicely and an antswarm brought up great views of Ornate Antwren & Plain Antvireo. We had a pop-in/pop-out flash view of Buff-throated Tody-Tyrant. As Paul has researched Anatidae he was pleased to have a lingering look at the male Torrent Duck on the Rio Pucuno which is the name of Wildsumaco's foundation.
On the west slope we scored the rare and local Tanager Finch near Bellavista along with White-faced Nunbird and 2 separate views of Ocellated Tapaculo in the undergrowth and then crossing the trail. Just below Tandayapa pass towards Mindo, we observed Sickle-winged Guan and 2 female Powerful Woodpeckers. Angel & Rodrigo Paz did their magic and lured out the Giant, Moustached & Yellow-breasted Antpittas along with the Dark-backed Wood-Quail. Both Barred Forest-Falcon & the rare Plumbeous Forest-Falcon were vocalizing but.did not show. At Mindo Loma the Black-chinned Mountain-Tanagers were nesting in the forest so were not coming to the bananas but we hiked up the waterfall trail to see White-tailed Hillstar and the side trail for the Hoary Puffleg.
On the waterfall road above Mindo we had Bat Falcon, Purple-crowned Fairy, Little Cuckoo, Yellow-bellied Siskin. On the Pachijal road (km 72) we had Pacific Tuftedcheek and the best view of a Wattled Guan, including seeing the red base of the yellow wattle.
At Mindo Cloud Forest Reserve a Plumbeous Hawk called and perched nicely in the morning light. Later we scoped a female Hook-billed Kite near the entrance on Milpe Road. Milpe Garden yielded Moss-backed Tanager & Glistening-green Tanager. Rufous-fronted Wood-Quails put on a great show at Rio Silanche with their rollicking chorus and finally running across the trail. We also saw Purple-chested Hummingbird, Crimson-bellied Woodpecker, Checker-throated Antwren, Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher and glimpsed Black-headed Antthrush after some work. Tawny-crested & Dusky-faced Tanager clans livened up the forest and were later joined by Emerald, Scarlet-browed & Rufous-winged Tanagers. Lunch at the Mirador restaurant in los Bancos yielded a dozen tanagers at the feeders including Rufous-throated & Silver-throated Tanagers.
Rufous-headed Chachalacas chorused downslope toward the river at Rio Palenque and we had a close-up, studious view of Olivaceous Piculet. Ruddy Quail-Dove settled on a stump giving us a rare and spellbinding look. In a Heliconia filled ravine we were buzzed by Band-tailed Barbthroat, White-whiskered, Baron's & Stripe-throated Hermits. Other notable species included Red-rumped Woodpecker, Red-billed Scythebill, Great Antshrike, Western Slaty-Antshrike, Plain Antvireo, Pacific, White-flanked, Slaty & Dot-winged Antwren, Snowy-throated Kingbird (out of season but seen at Milpe as well), Whiskered Wren, Golden-hooded Tanager, and Crimson-breasted Finch.
ANGEL OF THE CLOUD FOREST. By Art Evans 2007
He flows through the cloud forest so silently I'm not sure his feet quite touch the ground. Three feet behind him, camera at the ready, it's dead certain I've never met such a talented stalker. He points to a spot in the high forest canopy. All eyes strain. . . nothing. Seven sets of binoculars scan the many layers of rainforest foliage until, aha!, a female Masked trogon, sitting still as a stone, materializes. Someone whispers, "How could he see that?". Like in my own profession, you see what you know. He knows the jungle well. His name is Angel Paz (Angel Peace, in English).
Señor Paz is descended from the Inca people and speaks the Quechua language at home, Spanish in town, and English to us. He farms a few acres on a steep mountainside. Along with a few goats and chickens, he tends a passion fruit vineyard and a tree tomato field to supply the specialty fruit market in Quito.
The North side of his farm fronts on a sizable remnant of the original mountain rainforest of the Andes. In the heart of it is a dance arena, called a lek, used by a fabulous bird called the Cock of the Rock. The size of a small chicken, the splendidly scarlet males gather at the lek each morning at first light to sing and dance for all the females they can attract by their cooperative display. It's a noisy, colorful, jumping, jiving, Saturday night disco show, and it is a jaw-dropper for an amateur birder like me. At most the show lasts 30 minutes, so we need to get there well ahead of the show to get a good seat.
Charlie Vogt of Andean Birding, our professional birding guide, hauled us through many miles of steep, rutted, mountain roads in the dark to Angel's little house made of rough planks. The hum of his generator supported a weak porch light under which Señora Paz served us a welcome cup of very strong, hot coffee. An hour before first light, we started single file down the precipitous staircase into the ravine. Away from the porch light we depended on the pale, blue glow of our LED pen lights. The rainforest at night is as dark as the inside of a cow. No moon or starlight penetrates to the forest floor. A slip on the wet split-log staircase could mean pinballing off the trees for 100 yards down into the canyon.
Led by Angel, Crow, Shane, and a couple of British birders who call themselves "twitchers", we quietly crept down the trail into the muddy cathedral. In about 45 minutes we came to the little palm thatched blind with a view of the lek. Angel inspected the blind very carefully for the deadly Fer-de- Lance, scorpions, and tarantulas as big as your hand. Satisfied, he smiled and motioned us to shuffle in and be seated. We squinted and strained for another half hour until we could focus on the squawking, fluttering dance display. Most of the time there wasn't enough light to do stills or video, but for the last 3 minutes of the disco, I did get a shaky telephoto clip of the flamboyant, scarlet dancers. Then they were gone. I leaned over to Crow and whispered, "They are never going to believe this back at the feed store!"
Angel thought the Cock of the Rock lek would be the main draw for his ecotourism experiment, but in the process of building the trail and the blind to see the lek, he met some even more remarkable birds with whom he established a personal relationship and who gave him the reputation as the "Antpitta Whisperer."
Antpittas are a family of medium sized birds of the forest floor which are rare, stick to deep cover, and wear perfect camouflage. Like a copperhead, they depend on that camo and allowed Angel to approach fairly closely. Being quiet and making no sudden moves, he was able to see them often until they seemed to ignore him. He watched what they did and what they ate, and he gave them names. They like the large, fat, white grubs which they scratch up from the wet leaf litter. He dug up some of the grubs and when he saw "Maria," he tossed one to her. She eyed it for several minutes, floated over to it, grabbed it by the butt, whacked its head on the ground a few times, and slurped it down. Maria is a Giant antpitta, about a foot tall, the largest species of the family. She looks like a big brown egg with a bill on top and longish toothpick legs below, no neck and no tail. Though profoundly odd looking, that's no stranger than the fact that she now comes when Angel calls her name. In his always gentle voice, he almost whispers "Maria, Maria", and she steps from behind a single leaf which hides her so well. This time there is enough light, and the little camcorder hums softly in front of my delighted smile.
When Maria is satisfied, Angel turns a different direction and calls, "Willi, Willi". Another antpitta appears. Willi is a Yellow breasted ant-pitta, and he is justly wary of Maria. She chases him away, even though she has had so many grubs she can't quite swallow the last one. Angel finally has to chase Maria away with his boot so Willi can have his breakfast. To my further amazement, Angel later called up Esmerelda, a Moustached antpitta. Many birders come to Ecuador looking for antpittas, yet fail to find them. Angel showed us 3 species in 2 hours!
Back at the house we joined the Paz family. Senora Paz was cooking breakfast for the kids, and she insisted that we have some of her breakfast specialty, deep fried plantain banana balls with a cheese surprise in the center. Yum! Each of the beautiful but shy, barefoot kids had a plantain fritter in each hand, and they seemed delighted that we liked them just as much as they did.
We were unbelievably fortunate to meet Angel Paz and see his special corner of the world. He calls his place "Refugio Paz de las Antpittas", Peaceful Refuge of the Antpittas. It is barely accessible from the village of Nanegalito, Ecuador.
As a postscript, next year there will be a big birding convention in Quito, and hundreds of birders from all over the world will trek to Refugio Paz de las Antpittas to touch the hem of the cloak of an Angel.
If you would like to read more about Angel Paz, there is an excellent article about him and the antpittas by the famous bird authority Kenn Kaufman (who still doesn't believe in Ivory-billed woodpeckers) in the Jul/Aug 2006 issue of Bird Watchers Digest. www.birdwatchersdigest.com
You can also Google up Angel Paz, antpitta, Ecuador.
If you are interested in birding Ecuador, it would be hard to overstate our enthusiasm for and gratitude to Charlie Vogt and his company, Andean Birding. www.andeanbirding.com We recorded 494 species, seen or heard, in less than two weeks. At times, we were seeing new species faster than we could write them down. No doubt, some of them got away unrecorded, but not the Great potoo! But that's another story.
AVIFAUNA 2007 SUMMER TOUR. Led by Jonas Nilsson 26 July - 19 August 2007
This was our fourth trip with Avifauna and again we had a great time. We started with 11 days in the Andes, 8 on Galapagos ending with 6 days in the Amazon. Different this year was Antisana instead of Cotopaxi and a daytrip to the new Wildsumaco reserve in the eastern foothills.
First we went east and highlights included great views of Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, Giant Conebill and Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant at Papallacta, Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan at Guango and a male Bicolored Antvireo video-filmed at San Isidro. Further east on the Guacamayos ridge we encountered the rare Greater Scythebill and also Solitary Eagle, Black-and-chestnut Eagle and Semi-collared Hawk. Also noteworthy were White-tipped Sicklebill and a flock of Spot-fronted Swifts at Cotundo. When visiting the new Wildsumaco reserve, run by Jonas and his partners Bonnie and Jim Olson, we had a very early start from Orchid’s Paradise. We were awarded with Yellow-throated Spadebill, Gray-tailed Piha, Napo Sabrewing, Many-spotted Hummingbird and Blue-rumped Manakin. Returning to the highlands we had a fabulous day at Antisana with beautiful views of the volcano. A pair of Aplomado Falcons put on a show chasing Doves and Lapwings and, as always, Andean Condor and Black-faced Ibis showed well.
Then we headed west starting with Yanacocha and the gorgeous Black-chested Mountain-Tanager. At Mindo we spent 3 nights at the very nice Septimo Paraiso. Highlights here included Plumbeous Forest-Falcon, Wattled Guan and Lyre-tailed Nightjar and the visit to Paz de las Antpittas yielded the cooperative Giant, Yellow-breasted and Moustached Antpittas. Lower down at Milpe we enjoyed Moss-backed Tanager and Broad-billed Sapoyoa and at Bellavista White-rumped Hawk and Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, completing all 3 species of Mountain-Toucans possible in Ecuador.
After this great start we flew to Galapagos for 8 days of more relaxed birding. Again we managed to get great views of Mangrove Finch, Galapagos Rail and Galapagos Martin, and finding Large Tree-Finch and Vegetarian Finch the very last morning we succeeded in getting all the endemics for the third year in a row! We also had lovely views of Bottle-nosed Dolphins and glimpses of Orcas. Then, after 8 days with a total of 64 species, we were ready for the Amazon!
We spent 3 nights at Napo Wildlife Center and 2 nights at Sani Lodge. Highlights at Napo were Zigzag Heron, Sungrebe, Citron-bellied Attila and Black-bellied Thorntail. The long hike on the Tiputini-trail was maybe the best day on the whole trip with Ash-throated Gnateater and Gray-winged Trumpeter in the same frame and stunning views of a male Black-necked Red-Cotinga. Also, a herd of over a hundred White-lipped Peccaries were memorable. The best at Sani were Long-tailed Potoo, Capped Heron, Rufous-headed Woodpecker and Black Skimmer. Then we had a great farewell on our very last morning from the canopy-tower with superb views of Cream-colored and Scaly-breasted Woodpecker, Lafresnaye’s Piculet, Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant and Golden-collared Toucanet. This to finish off another successful Avifauna tour. All in all we recorded 744 species (656 seen and 88 species heard only).
Mexico Specialty Tour - Oaxaca, Veracruz, Chiapas. May 23-June 20, 2007
Charlie led Mark Sokol for a month recently in Mexico focusing on endemics for a very rewarding trip. Many difficult species were seen and some important recordings were obtained, especially for species not found on commercial recordings.
We started out with a bang at Monte Alban scoring Dusky, Berylline and White-eared Hummingbirds, Boucard’s Wren, Blue Mockingbird, Curve-billed and Ocellated Thrasher, as well as gripping views of Slaty Vireo and the astoundingly juicy-red race of the House Finch. Up-slope north of Oaxaca city we observed the striking Bridled and Oaxaca Sparrows while recording their exceptional songs.
An early start over la Cumbre – Cerro San Felipe, rewarded us with Spot-crowned Woodcreeper, Greenish Elaenia and Black Robin. Dwarf Jays were glimpsed as they skulked through the mid-canopy along with mixed flocks of Slate-throated Whitestart, Olive, Crescent-chested, Red, Rufous-capped and Golden-browed Warblers. We obtained great views and recordings of Rufous-capped and Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch. All the while we were serenaded by Brown-backed Solitaire and Russet Nightingale-Thrush. Journey to Ixtlan and overnight, we continued over the stunning pass towards Valle Nacional. Beautiful pine-oak forests leading up to a windswept and soil-stunted treeline, then down a canyon with a view of first growth pines. Tall straight poles like what stood in New England before they were cut to mast the British navy ships. This slope was incredibly birdy and yielded Ornate Hawk-Eagle, White-faced Quail-Dove (great recordings but invisible after 2½ hours of trying!), Olive-throated Parakeet, Wedge-tailed Sabrewing, Emerald-chinned Hummingbird, Canivet’s Emerald, Azure-crowned, Amethyst-throated and Garnet-throated Hummingbird, Spotted and Streak-headed Woodcreeper. Also, Azure-hooded, Unicolored Jay and the big bruiser of the genus, Blue-crowned Chlorophonia. These are hardly the “dainty jewel-like birdlets” that Hilty describes of its congeners in the Birds of Venezuela.
At Coatepec with Don Pedro Mota we heard Mottled Owl and obtained recordings of an undescribed song of Bearded Wood-Partridge but typically a no-show. I sent the song to Jack Eitnear (Center for the Study of Tropical Birds, Austin) who was delighted and wants to publish it. We were able to see Emerald Toucanet, Bronze-winged Woodpecker, White-Throated Thrush and Rusty Sparrow. At Amatlan we had Thicket Tinamou, Stripe-throated Hermit, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, the very local Karst specialist – Sumichrast’s Wren and great displays and vocalizations of the Red-crowned Ant-Tanager and Black-headed Saltator.
Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve near Lake Catemaco, Veracruz is the northernmost rainforest in the Americas with one of the longest sitelists for Mexico. However, the weather was sunny, hot and dry dampening bird activity and forcing many species upslope to the cloud forest where access is difficult. Birding the lowlands for a few days yielded Violet Sabrewing, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Long-billed Starthroat, Blue-crowned Motmot, Collared Aracari, Keel-billed Toucan, Golden-olive Woodpecker and Red-throated Ant-Tanager. Frustrated at missing some specialties, we got a break-through tip on the internet about a new road to Ruiz Cortinez out of San Andres Tuxtla up the west shoulder of volcan San Martin. Here we finally heard Slaty-breasted Tinamou, and had great views and recordings of Tuxtla Quail-Dove, Long-tailed Sabrewing, Yellowish Flycatcher, Gray-collared Becard, Gray-crowned Yellowthroat and Plain-breasted Brush-Finch.
On to Chiapas via Tehuantepec for Sumichrast’s Sparrow and the Arriaga Foothills where we immediately got on to breathtaking Rosita’s Bunting and Banded Wren with its superb canary-like song. Pushing on to Puerto Arista for Pacific and Orange-chinned Parakeet, as well as the mother-of-all-wrens, the Giant Wren which is at the exact place where Steve Howell describes it in the finding guide 8 years ago! Mapastepec yielded Yellow-naped Parrot, Short-billed Pigeon, White-naped Swift, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Long-billed Gnatwren, Plain and Rufous-naped Wren.
At the stunning Lagos de Montebello we saw a White-breasted Hawk chasing a pair of Guatemalan Flickers and a fully “streamer-plumed” male Resplendant Quetzal displaying over the Liquidambar forest. Meanwhile we were serenaded by some of the Americas’ best flautists, the Brown-backed and Slate-colored Solitaires. The area has perhaps the highest diversity of thrushes (11 species) of any site in the New World, and the overture is breathtaking! Keeping an eye out for any flowers, we located some yellow tubular blossoms which attracted Slender Sheartails and Green-throated Mountain-Gems. After weeks of trolling for the White-naped Brush-Finch at many sites in Oaxaca and Veracruz, we finally scored a lively pair on a brushy slope near Lago Pojoj. Then we had a glimpse of Highland Guans after recording their undescribed contact calls. These calls are not found on any commercial recording but Charlie has uploaded them on the Xenocanto website.
Our last and favorite day of the trip was el Sumidero near Tuxtla Gutierrez, a 1200m deep limestone chasm, equivalent to the Redwall gorge of the western Grand Canyon. The combination of the views and easy birding along the low-trafficked road in open, thorn-scrub woodland with many unique species is unbeatable. At the first lookout we had a lingering view of Lesser Roadrunner, the only day we saw it on the trip and we saw it twice again at other sites. Violaceous Trogons sallied from trees overhanging the canyon rim. Olive Sparrow vocalized nicely but was a bit skulky. Our first Singing Quail vocalized but did not respond again. Between the 1st and 2nd lookout we recorded a lone note of Singing Quail but still no approach. Typically a difficult skulker, the Flammulated Flycatcher responded beautifully and perched conspicuously several times. A pair of Belted Flycatchers, our favorite tyrannid of the trip, sang and showed well. Fan-tailed Warbler, the Chiapas race of Yellow (Golden) Grosbeak and Bar-winged Oriole brightened the scene. Finally a Singing Quail exploded in full ear-splitting song, walking close to us along the roadside and then flew right over my head!
We checked a total of 333 species for the trip with 15 species heard only. More would have been seen except that we were concentrating on getting the specialties. The itinerary was basically “stay until we see the target birds” and then cut-and-run to the next site. As a consequence, sometimes we would drive through prime birding hours. But many lifers were had, new sites reconnaissanced and unique recordings obtained. Charlie was able to get recordings of 23 new species needed for Mexico on the Xenocanto website.
WESTERN SLOPE ECUADOR WITH CLAYTON VARDY AND FRIENDS
Led by Charlie Vogt. 13-21 February 2007
This was a very productive trip with some keen spotters aboard on our new 8-day Western slope itinerary with an add-on day to Antisana. Bob Schaefer was a return participant having enjoyed our Amazon to Andes trip a couple of years ago. We recorded a total of 346 species with 320 seen, even after we had a washout rain on our morning to Rio Silanche. The antpittas were initially reluctant to appear at Paz de las Aves due to some interspecific squabbles and changing family dynamics. The Giant Antpitta had not shown during the previous 5 weeks but started appearing the day before and did so for our group along with Yellow-breasted and Moustached Antpittas as well as a cameo of Dark-backed Wood-Quail and Scaled Fruiteater.
In total we saw 5 toucan, 13 raptor and 38 hummingbird species, 50 tyrant flycatchers, 49 tanagers. Evenings were graced by Band-winged Nightjar, Short-tailed as well as Rufous-bellied Nighthawk. Flammulated and Striped Treehunters showed nicely at Bellavista along with Powerful Woodpecker. While the Milpe Road was a bit quiet, the Club-winged Manakins danced beautifully and we saw Rufous-throated Tanager and White-ringed Flycatcher at the lower end (known in NW lowlands and Silanche at 500m, this is an altitude extension to 900m). After lots of fruitless searching at Milpe, the Glistening-green Tanager was finally located at Ñanca Jatunmi (Pachijal Reserve) above Mindo.
Rio Palenque was as birdy as always and we swiftly filled up our tropical birdlist, including Spectacled Owl, Olivaceous Piculet, Red-rumped, Black-cheeked and Guayaquil Woodpeckers, Broad-billed and Rufous Motmot,. Barred Puffbird and Red-billed Scythebill. Antisana topped off the trip with 3 flocks of Black-faced Ibis (endangered in Ecuador with a population <100 and only seen here), two sightings of Andean Condor, scope-filling views of Silvery Grebe as well as Cinereous Harrier (scarce in Ecuador) and the rare Aplomado Falcon crashing through a flock of Black-winged Ground-Doves.
Southern Ecuador 27 Jan- 16 Feb 2007 with Avifauna led by Jonas Nilsson
Avifauna the Swedish Bird Club visited Ecuador for the 4th time with Andean Birding, the first time for Southern Ecuador. The trip started on the coast of Salinas with Brown and Peruvian Pelicans, Magnificent Frigatebirds, Blue-footed Boobys and Chilean Flamingos. Along with least-, semipalmated-, western sandpipers and Short-billed Dowitcher they found more rare ones such as American golden-Plover & Hudsonian Godwit. A trip in to Manglares Churute was made mainly to get the great Horned Screamer, another good bird here was the Muscovy Duck. In the nearby forest they saw the beatiful Royal Flycatcher, and also Jet Antbird and Grey-capped Cockoo.
The coastal tropical dry forest has the highest concentration of endemic bird species in the world. It includes such Tumbesian species such as Anthony’s Nightjar, Peruvian Thick-knee, Short-tailed Woodstar, Tumbesian Tyrannulet, Gray-and-white Tyrannulet, Collared Warbling-Finch Band-tailed Sierra-Finch. In Cerro Blanco we got spieces like Gray-capped Cuckoo, Henna-hooded and Rufous-necked Foliage-gleaner, Gray-breasted Flycatcher, Slaty Becard & Blackish-headed Spinetail.
We visited all 5 of the Jocotoco Conservation Foundations reserves. At Buenaventura we saw the flagship species, Long-wattled Umbrellabird and El Oro Parakeet. And later on at Utuana both Black-crested Tit-Tyrant & Rusty-breasted Antpitta (the secound one first discovered in Ecuador in 2001) and also Jelski’s Chat-Tyrant and Grey-headed Antbird. At Tapichalaca we put on a lot of effort in trying to see Jocotoco Antpitta, a new spieces of antpitta that was found here in 1997. we could listen to its special song but the bird was not to be seen. Another antpitta we did got to se was the Chestnut-naped Antpitta. And we got great views of Golden-plumed Parakeet, Ocellated Tapaculo and White-capped Tanager.
Before returning to the city of Loja, we went for Elegant Crescentchest and Tumbes Sparrow. After that little extra-journey we drove down towards Amazonas to Bombuscaro. Here we got species as Andean Cock-of-the-rock, White-breasted Parakeet, also many tanagers and the lovely hummingbirds Spangled Coquette and Wire-crested Thorntail. The next day we went on an adventorus journey on the beautiful Río Nangaritza. And from the village of Shaime we walked a long way to get to the very rare Orange-throated Tanager. Everybody got to se the tanager good, and then we continued to a cave with Oilbirds.
Returning to civilization of sorts, we set our targets on one of the world’s rarest birds, the Pale-headed Brush-Finch. This species was “lost” for 24 years before it was rediscovered in 1998 in a valley near Santa Isabel. And in the reserve we got to see at least 3 birds of the 60 existing pairs. Good news, the population is growing!
We finished the trip at higher elevations. East of Cuenca we ran in to the biggest flock of the journey. It was a mixed flock containing 20 species of ovenbirds, tanagers, tyrant flycatchers, with good birds such as Masked Mountain-Tanager, Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Viridian Metaltail and Rainbow-bearded Thornbill.
On the last day we got to see one of Ecuador’s rarest endemics, the Violet-throated Metaltail, as well as some other great species such as Giant Conebill, Tit-like Dacnis, Blue-mantled Thornbill and Ecuadorian Hillstar.
Total species count was 680 seen and heard.
NORTHERN PERU. Led By Roger Ahlman, 11 Dec-13 Jan 2007
Jonas Starck comments: “For me all the great views of 53 species of hummingbirds (without visiting feeders!) was probably the highlight of the trip. Marvellous Spatuletail, Royal Sunangel, Purple-backed Sunbeam and many other species showed up great for us. Another feature of the trip was the good views of many recorded antbirds like Black-spotted and Reddish-winged Bare-eyes, White-plumed Antbird, Saturnine Antshrike and Black-tailed Antbird was among those who put in great appearances.
Nightbirding-sessions were rewarded with excellent views of both Andean and Rufous Potoo and while trying for Cinammon Screech-Owl at dusk we also heard a calling Ochre-fronted Antpitta which surely must have been one of the rarest species recorded during the trip.
Best of the raptors were the magnificent views we had of the Buckley´s Forest-Falcon at Yacumama and close second was the Solitary Eagle at Quebrada Limon. Our successful quest for the White-winged Guans was another definite trip-highlight. Furnariids also went well with such rare species like Great Spinetail and Russet-mantled Softtail which were lifers even for Roger.