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Southern and Northern Ecuador by Nigel Voaden
26th October – 28th November 2009

Guided by Boris Herrera and Roger Ahlman. Download daily journal and trip report below.


Amazon to Andes and Western Slope with Leif Gabrielsen 17 Oct-8 Nov 2009

Charlie guided a keen Norwegian birder for 3 weeks with a total of 722 species recorded, with some 55 heard only. Paula Reynosa joined us on the east slope.


East Slope tour with Bradley Hacker and Mary Wenzel
25 Aug- 1 Sep 2009 guided by Charlie

Headed up the old road to Papallacta Pass we had an early surprise with a Curve-billed Tinamou hunkered down on a roadside cut which eventually flushed with a heartstopping explosion of wingbeats. Two adult Andean Condors graced us with a glide-by and later views of Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Variable Hawk, Carunculated Caracara and American Kestrel completed a good sampling of raptors for a sunny, dry season morning on the interandean side. Another gift was a small flock of White-browed Ground-Tyrants, an austral migrant and uncommon visitor here. A Giant Hummingbird helicoptered nearby while Tufted Tit-Tyrants eventually gave us an endearing show of their delicate crests. High above at the antennas a brutal, sodden gale cut short our Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe hunt but lower down we did manage a Blue-mantled Thornbill, Bar-winged and Stout-billed Cinclodes, as well as Tawny Antpitta.

Spending two nights at Guango allowed us to clean-up even with the persistent rain eventually producing Viridian Metaltail, Andean Tit-Spinetail, Many-striped Canastero, White-chinned Thistletail, Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant and Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant. Eventually we encountered some flocks which yielded Scarlet-bellied, Hooded and Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager as well as Black-backed Bush-Tanager and the spectacular, rare Masked Mountain-Tanager. In the same area we had an unexpected appearance of the scarce and local Rainbow-bearded Thornbill. Unfortunately, the Crescent-faced Antpitta, recently discovered above the Papallacta Hot Springs did not appear for us. (This is a coveted antpitta, normally sought by stalwart martyrs up the muddy strenuous Cerro Mongus trail). Guango feeders rounded up the usual suspects including the fantastically foiled Sword-billed Hummingbird, the aquiline Mountain Velvetbreast, the jabot-adorned Collared Inca painted like a Dutch Master. Also the bejeweled Tourmaline Sunangel, Buff-tailed and Chestnut-breasted Coronet, the ember-rumped Glowing Puffleg and the dainty, coppery-tailed Tyrian Metaltail.

Along the Baeza bypass near 1800m we observed some low elevation Amazon species moving into the deforested corridor including, Southern Lapwing, Black-billed Thrush (normally below 1200m), Red-breasted Blackbird (known to 400m, previous record published by Charlie), Vermilion Flycatcher (a rare austral migrant to eastern Ecuador with only 3 previous records according to Birds of Ecuador). Rufous-bellied Nighthawks greeted us that evening at San Isidro during a break in the rain. Early morning there was great activity around the parking lot with Masked Trogon, Pale-edged Flycatcher, Black-billed Peppershrike, Inca Jay and Subtropical Cacique. On the Cock-of-the-Rock trail we flushed a White-throated Qual-Dove and noisy flocks of Barred Parakeets flew by but frustratingly out of view. At the feeders we added the subtly hued Fawn-breasted Brilliant and Bronzy Inca as well as the Green Violetear. This widespread hummingbird is found from Mexico to Bolivia and the species name thalassinus means sea-green, from thalassa - the Greek sea goddess. Water was the theme as we had a washout that afternoon and the next morning as we attempted the Guacamayos trail with virtually no bird movement.

Still pouring rain on the Loreto road we managed to scope the Cliff Flycatcher and finally the rain cleared as we neared the rio Pucuno valley near the Wildsumaco turnoff. A lunch break along the Napo Galeras park road yielded Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet, Buff-throated and Grayish Saltator as well as a new species for the Wildsumaco list, Crowned Slaty Flycatcher, an austral migrant. Later a burst of roadside bird activity greeted us and we had great views of Guilded and Red-headed Barbet, Chestnut-tipped Toucanet, Golden-collared Arašari, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, tanager flocks as well as a Fiery-throated Fruiteater. We had success teasing out skulkers like Dusky Spinetail, Blackish Antbird and White-backed Fire-Eye. An afternoon visit to the Coopman’s Trail produced Golden-winged and Blue-rumped Manakin, Golden-eyed Flowerpiercer in the melastome grove and later the most spectacular tanager highway I had ever seen! While the flock of 7 species was not that diverse, it was HUGE with hundreds of individuals streaming along the forest edge and continuing for what seemed like half an hour; with Guira, Orange-eared, Golden, Paradise, Green-and-gold, Spotted and Bay-headed Tanagers.

Visits to the Piha trail yielded singing Buff-throated Tody-Tyrant, Yellow-throated Spadebill and Gray-tailed Piha but alas these difficult elusives never showed. On this and other trails we did have success with views of Collared Trogon, Coppery-chested Jacamar, Many-banded Arašari, Black-streaked Puffbird, Lineated and Crimson-crested Woodpecker, and the scarce and local Crimson-bellied Woodpecker. Difficult skulkers that eventually showed were Chestnut-crowned Gnateater and Short-tailed Antthrush. Relaxing on the lodge terrace we had the incredible luck to see a Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle glide overhead with its immaculate white underparts, a lifer for me! Somehow I have missed this rare impressive raptor over the years, being much rarer in Ecuador than in Central America. Other raptors seen included Swallow-tailed Kite, Short-tailed Hawk and Barred Forest-Falcon which after persistent playback gave us a quick fly-over. On the F.A.C.E. trail we had good views of Black-faced Antbird, heard another Buff-throated Tody-Tyrant and the great luck to rustle up a Gray-throated Leaftosser, another lifer for me!

At the hummingbird feeders we cleaned up on Green Hermit, Gray-chinned Hermit, Napo Sabrewing, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Golden-tailed Sapphire, Many-spotted Hummingbird, Rufous-vented Whitetip, Ecuadorian Piedtail, Black-throated Brilliant, Gould’s Jewelfront, and Booted Raquet-tail, while Wire-crested Thorntail and Gorgeted Woodstar, including some rare males, cruised the porterweed hedges. Parrots seen included flocks of Chestnut-fronted Macaw, White-eyed and Maroon-tailed Parakeet and Blue-headed Parrot. Along the roadside we lucked out on Rufous-breasted Piculet, Spot-breasted Woodpecker and White-tipped Sicklebill. Winding up the East slope trip near Coca we had luck with a cute pair of Blue-winged Parrotlets.


West Slope tour with Bill Sugg 4-12 july, 2009

Charlie led Bill to Antisana and then on our 8 day West Slope tour and recorded a total of 344 species with 328 seen. At Antisana we had a Cinereous Harrier show nicely as well as a small flock of Black-faced Ibis along with the usual paramo specialties including Streak-backed and Many-striped Canastero.

We started with a bang at Yanacocha with long, lingering views of the male Black-breasted Puffleg on the feeders by the tunnel, a bird I haven’t seen for a few years. My previous experience with the species was having fleeting views as it came briefly to feeders and zipping off. Tropical Mockingbird at Caspigasi before Calacali was a new locality for me for the species.

Scaly-naped Amazons were active around Bellavista and were seen on both days. All the large carismatics performed beautifully around the lodge including, Sickle-winged Guan, Toucan Barbet, Plate-billed Mountain Toucan and Turquoise Jay. A female Powerful Woodpecker worked a snag near Tandayapa Pass and we had gripping views of the Ocellated Tapaculo as it came out and sauntered off down the trail. Three Black-chinned Mountain-Tanagers came to feed at Mindo Loma amidst the hummer flurry including Velvet-purple and Buff-tailed Coronet, as well as Violet-tailed Sylph, Empress and Fawn-breasted Brilliant.

Club-winged Manakins lekked wonderfully at the Mindo Cloud Forest site on Milpe road but the specialties including Moss-backed Tanager and Glistening-green Tanager have gone AWOL the past couple of years. Rio Palenque was very quiet in the understory but we managed to tease out Chestnut-backed Antbird, Dot-winged Antwren and almost saw Black-headed Antthrush. I had my first Rio Palenque sighting of Pied Plover, a rarity here along the river. Barred Puffbird and Lanceolated Monklet were great finds along the trail.

Our last morning at Silanche tower started slow but later was pumping with birds; Cinnamon Woodpecker perched indefinitely on a palm spike while flocks of Gray-and-gold, Scarlet-browed, Bay-headed Tanagers as well as a fleeting Blue-whiskered Tanager graced us. White-necked Puffbird, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Purple-throated Fruitcrow and a Rose-faced Parrot and Red-lored Amazon flyby kept us rapt. That afternoon was the grand finale at the new Mashpi site described below in another news flash, bagging us the impossible Indigo Flowerpiercer along with Moss-backed Tanager, White-tailed Hillstar and Orange-breasted Fruiteater.


Southern Ecuador February 10-22 2009
by Ben and Stephanie Turner

Just after leaving the airport we had Glossy Ibis at the marshes east of Guayaquil. This is a casual vagrant to wet fields in Southwesten Ecuador. Birding our way to Cuenca we had great looks at Giant Conebill, Tit-like Dacnis and Andean Tit-Spinetail. After a day visiting Ingapirca and marketing we headed back up to Cajas and had great looks at Violet-throated Metaltail above Dos Chorreras restaurant. On to Yunguilla the next morning we had one brief look at a Pale-headed Brush-Finch, they were less active and not singing as they were nesting.

At Buenaventura we had great looks at a displaying male Umbrellabird, Club-winged Manakin displaying at the lek. Coatis and Rufous-headed Chachalacas entertained us at the fruit feeder at the dining hall along with the swarm of hummingbirds at the feeders. Occasionally a young Coati would scamper across the floor! We had good luck with the el Oro Parakeet as there was an accessible nest to view the parent. We watched soaring Gray-backed Hawks while waiting for the parent to arrive. Brownish Twistwing was a great find up the road from the umbrellabird lek.

Near Sabanilla we had nesting Slaty Becards, Yellow-tailed and White-edged Orioles. Outside of Zapotillo on the road west of la Ceiba, Tumbes Swift, Blackish-headed Spinetail, Comb Duck and Wood Stork. At Jorupe it was great to see the lodge nearing completion. Henna-hooded and Rufous-necked Foliage Gleaners were singing and active but tough to see well. We had a great look at the latter in Sozoranga later on.

At Copalinga the hummingbird feeders were relatively inactive but the verbena hedge yielded great looks of the Spangled Coquette, Wire-crested Thorntail and Glittering-throated Emerald.

The Jocotoco Antpitta family showed up on call at the feeding station but I was distracted as a noisy gang of White-capped Tanagers appeared. Orange-banded Flycatcher, Black-throated Tody-Tyrant and Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant yielded to us along the trail. After a long vocal duel, an Ocellated Tapaculo did manage to show for us. Down the hill to Valladolid we had Rufous-fronted Thornbird in a hedgerow on the edge of town. A few kilometers beyond at the palm grove curve we had Straw-backed Tanager (known before only from one locality south of here but recently found here and Wildsumaco) and Blue-naped Chlorophonia (scarce on the east slope and new for the Tapichalaca list).


Northern Peru January 22-31 2009
with Forrest Rowland guiding

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