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guy_incognito

Ecuador trip report - August 2017

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guy_incognito    4113

Earlier this month I joined a 2 week birding trip to Northern Ecuador.  I had been to Costa Rica previously, but never to South America, so there were plenty of new birds in store.

Briefly, Ecuador is dominated by the Andes running in a north-south direction through the middle of the country.  This creates many different habitats, and many species only occur on one side of the Andes.  We were mainly in the north and central portion of the county, including the high elevations (up to 14,500 feet), and ventured down both slopes, but usually above 5000 ft.  We had one dedicated guide with us the entire time, whom I would highly recommend (Kevin Easley).

Anyone who has done tropical birding knows that it can be tough, but worth the effort.  Often species are seen poorly (when out in the forest), or really well (when at feeding stations).  Light can be incredibly low, so I was thankful to have a new camera body which did much better with high ISO.  

It will probably take me a couple weeks to work my way through a trip report.  Since it was a long trip with a ton of birding, I'll try to keep the writing to a minimum, providing the most pertinent details and hopefully a few interesting facts along the way.  Expect many photos (of varying quality).  I'll try to provide eBird links if you are interested in the full species list, and if you want to see some really bad photos.

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guy_incognito    4113

Myself and two others took a redeye flight from LAX to Panama, and then continued on to Quito.  While in Panama we killed some time looking out the windows for birds, and actually saw some nice species such as Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Southern Lapwing, Black-necked Stilt, Bat Falcon, and Tropical Mockingbird.  

We arrived in Quito in the early afternoon.  Since the rest of the group wasn't arriving until the evening, we were by ourselves, just able to bird around our Inn.  Although it didn't seem promising on the drive in, they had a decent amount of property, and we saw a handful of interesting species despite being in the middle of a town.

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Tropical Mockingbird by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

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Golden Grosbeak by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

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Vermilion Flycatcher by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

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Eared Dove by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

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Cinereous Conebill by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

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Western Emerald by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

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Rusty Flowerpiercer by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

Some of these species we would never see again on the trip.  Was really happy to see the Golden Grosbeaks, and I'm a sucker for Flowerpiercers, so even though the views weren't great, the Rusty Flowerpiercer was exciting.

eBird checklist with a few more pictures: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38496817

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guy_incognito    4113

DAY 1 - For the first full day, we would be heading to the high elevation just east of Quito at Antisana.

The first stop was at a restaurant with feeders.  With a name like Tambo Condor Restaurant, we were hoping the name wouldn't disappoint.  Sure enough, we did have a few Andean Condors, but they were rather distant.  In the realm of distant, we also got scope views of Paramo Pipit and Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant.  Within decent photograph range, we were also very happy to see the world's largest hummingbird, the Giant Hummingbird, along with some of its smaller relatives.

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Tyrian Metaltail by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Black-tailed Trainbearer by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

We had breakfast here, and then continued on to Antisana.  However, we returned here in the afternoon, so I may as well just add those photos now.

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Glossy Flowerpiercer by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Giant Hummingbird by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Black Flowerpiercer by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Shining Sunbeam by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38515783

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guy_incognito    4113

DAY 1 cont'd:

Continuing up the road and up in elevation we start to run across some of the unique birds of the this area.  One of the major targets is Black-faced Ibis.

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Black-faced Ibis by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

Not far away we start spotting Andean Lapwing, and have a few flyover Variable Hawks.

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Andean Lapwing by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Variable Hawk by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

On the way up we also made a stop and found a few Ecuadorian Hillstars, a nice target bird, but I could only get poor, distant photos of a female (see eBird link if you like looking at bad photos).  A Sedge Wren and Plain-colored Seedeater were also in this area.

 

At the top we reached the end of the road where there are a few buildings and some more walking trails.  We headed down to the lake to look for some unique birds, and found our major targets of Andean Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, Slate-colored Coot, and Silvery Grebe.

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Andean Teal by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

Several nice birds were also seen in this general area.  We ate lunch up here, and our lunch stops during the trip were often interrupted by birds.

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Great Thrush by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Andean Tit-Spinetail by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Stout-billed Cinclodes by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Chestnut-winged Cinclodes by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Plumbeous Sierra-Finch by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Many-striped Canastero by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Andean Gull by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Plain-capped Ground-Tyrant by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

Prior to this trip, I had never seen nor heard any Antpitta.  I knew that I should finally be getting some on this trip.  The Tawny Antpitta is a relatively common bird of the high elevation.  For an Antpitta, it is relatively accommodating.  We heard several, and saw two.

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Tawny Antpitta by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

Video of Antpitta

 

A nice start to the trip with some quality birds.

https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38515808

 

 

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guy_incognito    4113

DAY 2

Today we would be heading to the west slope, starting at higher elevation, and then working towards the lower elevations.

The first stop would be at Reserva Yanacocha.  This is a high elevation spot.  There is a walking path about 3 km long that traverses across the steep mountainside, and a feeding station at the end of the path.  As is the case with much of the tropics, it can be feast or famine.  Many of the birds move through in flocks, and it can be a frenzy trying to get on them.  Most times, however, there really aren't too many birds around.  We didn't have any mega flocks here, but did pick up a few nice birds here and there.

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Superciliared Hemispingus by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Black-chested Mountain-Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Hooded Mountain-Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

At the end of the trail we spent some time watching the feeders for hummingbirds, and then continued on a bit further along smaller trails.

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Buff-winged Starfrontlet by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Great Sapphirewing by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Purple-backed Thornbill by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

We heard a Rufous Antpitta, and strategically positioned ourselves near a fork in the trail.  The bird was off below and to the right of the right fork.  The leader went up above the left fork and played for it.  The Antpitta creeped through the vegetation, and gave us one quick look as it crossed the right fork.  Some of us missed it there, so we quickly repositioned to the left fork, and the bird kept coming up, and we got a second crack at it.  Antpitta species #2 for the trip!

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Rufous Antpitta by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

Further down the trail we had a few other birds, and surprisingly had decent looks at a Tapaculo.  Also stumbled across another Rufous Antpitta.

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Blackish Tapaculo by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Blue-backed Conebill by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Rufous Antpitta by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

The return leg didn't produce much of anything.  It was lunch by the time we finished the walk, and we set up near some feeders at the visitors area. 

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Masked Flowerpiercer by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Yellow-breasted Brushfinch by mattag2002, on Flickr

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White-throated Hawk by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Sword-billed Hummingbird by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Sapphire-vented Puffleg by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Andean Condor by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38565133

 

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guy_incognito    4113

DAY 2 cont'd:

From there we would continue west and down slope.  Our only Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle of the trip was seen out the window.  And further down the road we spotted a couple White-capped Dippers.

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White-capped Dipper by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

We were told it was just 15 minutes to our next stop.  I was starting to feel pretty tired at this point, and started getting some fevers and chills.  That 15 minutes was actually over an hour, but I was sleeping for much of it.  We finally arrived at a feeding station at Alambi Cloud Forest Lodge.  I saw at least 14 different species of hummingbirds here.  Light was fairly low, as usual, but with some effort, most species could be seen and photographed pretty well.

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Andean Emerald by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Brown Violetear by mattag2002, on Flickr

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White-whiskered Hermit and Tawny-bellied Hermit by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Tawny-bellied Hermit by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Purple-throated Woodstar by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Fawn-breasted Brilliant by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Green-crowned Brilliant by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Purple-throated Woodstar by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Crowned Woodnymph by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Purple-bibbed Whitetip by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38565169

 

Part way during this stop I started feeling even worse, and up came what remained of my lunch.  This provided temporary relief, but I was feeling really drained and febrile.  Luckily, we were continuing to our next stop at Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge where we would be spending 2 nights.  That night I missed dinner and was pretty much miserable.  GI issues meant many urgent interruptions throughout the night.

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guy_incognito    4113

DAY 3:

The GI bug was showing no signs of relenting, so I slept straight through the 6 am meet time.  Eventually pulled myself together for about 30 minutes of slow-paced independent birding before breakfast at 8 am, in which I tried to force myself to get some food.  The group met again after breakfast, but I was still in no shape to be far away from a restroom.  I basically went back to bed and slept for another 3 hours, allowing just a few minutes of birding before another meager attempt at eating food.

In my minimal birding, I at least got a catch-up bird that I had missed the day before, and I also managed to see an Andean Solitaire, which no one else saw at any point during the trip (we heard a few).

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White-tailed Tyrannulet by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Andean Solitaire by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

I mostly stayed close to the room, but at least there were some feeders around.

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Buff-tailed Coronet by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Speckled Hummingbird by mattag2002, on Flickr

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White-sided Flowerpiercer by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Collared Inca by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Glossy-black Thrush by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Gorgeted Sunangel by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

In the afternoon, the group was just going to walk around trails at the lodge, so I figured I might be able to join them.  Sure enough, I did have to excuse myself, but it was nice to do a bit of birding and see a few new birds like Sickle-winged Guan, Plain-tailed Wren, Uniform Antshrike, and Red-billed Parrot.

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Red-billed Parrot by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38565176

 

By dinner I was starting to feel slightly better, but during the day others started getting similar symptoms as I had.  By night, some were feeling really bad, and two of them actually made a trip to the local hospital.  

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guy_incognito    4113

DAY 4:

Well, another unpleasant night passed, but slightly better than before.  The two that went to the hospital were back, having received IV fluids and antibiotics.  Ecuador has universal health care, and they didn't even charge the American tourists for anything.  One of the participants that went to the hospital was given a course of antibiotics to take over the next week.  A wise decision was made to give a dose of antibiotics to the other two of us that were sick, until we could get to a pharmacy and get meds for everyone.  I was slowly getting better already, but I think that the antibiotics really did help, and I was feeling much better by that afternoon.

The morning was still a problem, and I again had to forgo joining the group, and instead spent a good chunk of the time in bed.  A nice consolation prize was excellent looks at a pair of Masked Trogons right outside my room.

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Masked Trogon by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Masked Trogon by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

Couple nice birds near the feeders:

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Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Russet-crowned Warbler by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

Joining the group, we did have a few nice birds along the trails.

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White-throated Quail-Dove by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Golden-headed Quetzal by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

Back near the lodge, there was an aggressive pair of Cinnamon Flycatchers.  They would repeatedly buzz our heads.  Must have been an unseen nest nearby?

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Cinnamon Flycatcher by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Cinnamon Flycatcher by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

During lunch, a Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan was spotted out the window.  It was mostly obscured.  I really thought I'd be seeing more of these, but sadly this was the only one I saw during the entire trip.

 

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38565183

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guy_incognito    4113

DAY 4 cont'd:

Fortunately the GI issues were subsiding just in time for our departure from the lodge.  I really didn't want to face those problems on the bus!

En route to our next destination we stopped at a feeding station.  The locals have learned that birders are more than willing to give a few dollars to visit feeding stations that locals may just set up in their back yard.  They get a nice source of income, and we get to see some great birds...a real win-win.  It also reinforces the locals with the concept of appreciating and conserving their wildlife.

One of the very first birds we saw was this beautiful Crimson-rumped Toucanet!

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Crimson-rumped Toucanet by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

Over the course of 3 hours we enjoyed seeing many tanagers, euphonias, hummingbirds, and eventually a pair of our most wanted birds appeared.

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Orange-bellied Euphonia by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Dusky Chlorospingus by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Black-capped Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Golden Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Velvet-purple Coronet by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Violet-tailed Sylph by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Thick-billed Euphonia by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Tropical Parula by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

And finally the stars!

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Toucan Barbet by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

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Ecuadorian Thrush by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Golden-naped Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Red-faced Spinetail by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Pale-legged Hornero by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Scrub Blackbird by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Crimson-rumped Toucanet by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38565199

 

It was great to be feeling on the mend, and just in time as we transferred to Septimo Paraiso lodge for the next few days on the west slope.  Tomorrow would be one of the most anticipated days of the entire trip!

 

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rfurnish    1434

Great stuff, Matt!  Fantastic photos as always.  Ecuador is amazing with the huge abundance of species.  You've already shown a ton of birds I didn't get to see.  Despite somehow having identical counts for the country, I imagine our lists are quite different!  

Sorry to hear that your group had to deal with some kind of bug going around, but happy you were able to persevere. 

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guy_incognito    4113

Yeah, your trip to the Amazon basin brought in a whole new set of birds.  You saw many that we didn't even have a chance at, and would have loved to see (Long-tailed Potoo is just one of many).

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guy_incognito    4113

DAY 5:

This was one of our most anticipated days of the trip, so I was really happy to be feeling much better. 

We would be visiting Refugio Paz de las Aves.  The Paz family is one of, if not the first, to set up Antpitta feeding stations.  Antpittas are very secretive species, but they have learned that by feeding them every day, the Antpittas will come in fairly reliably.  If they miss feeding them for a day or two, they may not come back.  However, there are lots of other good birds on their property, so it is a great place to spend the morning.

The first stop at dawn was at a lek spot.  Photography was exceptionally difficult due to low light.  Didn't help that the little girl kept running around and bumping my tripod.

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Andean Cock-of-the-rock by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

There were a pair of Rufous-bellied Nighthawks far across a valley roosting in a tree.  We got much better looks at the female Lyre-tailed Nightjar roosting under a bridge, though.

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Lyre-tailed Nightjar by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

From there we went to the first feeding station, which wasn't an Antpitta, but was for Dark-backed Wood-Quails.

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Dark-backed Wood-Quail by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

Now, the Antpitta gluttony would start.  As we were walking down the trail I heard rumblings about a Giant Antpitta.  Arriving on scene I see this bird, expecting Giant, but it was instead Moustached Antpitta.

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Moustached Antpitta by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

Down the trail we find "Shakira", the Ochre-breasted Antpitta.  They call it Shakira because it sort of shakes its hips (I'm sure some readers here are too young to remember Shakira).

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Ochre-breasted Antpitta by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

Returning back up the trail, they have managed to locate the Giant Antpitta.  First it is buried deep in the vegetation across the valley.  It eventually comes out and gives us a short view.  There are many of us, and we have to quickly cycle through a decent viewing position so that everyone can get a look. 

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Giant Antpitta by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

We then load up in the bus, and move elsewhere on their property. While waiting for the next Antpitta to be found, we see a Green-and-black Fruiteater sitting on a nest.

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Green-and-black Fruiteater by mattag2002, on Flickr

Only about 75 yards apart from each other, we get our last two Antpittas of the day, resulting in a perfect 5 for 5 Antpitta morning.

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Chestnut-crowned Antpitta by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Yellow-breasted Antpitta by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

Afterward, they feed us a great snack consisting of these fried corn and cheese balls.  Man were those good!  We spend some time at the feeders while eating and bag a few more birds.

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Palm Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Montane Woodcreeper by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

Back down by the river we see our only Torrent Tyrannulets of the trip.

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Torrent Tyrannulet by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

What a great morning.  Cock-of-the-rock, 5 Antpittas, Fruiteater, Lyre-tailed Nightjar, and a handful of other nice birds.  The day isn't over yet!

 

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38581247

 

 

 

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guy_incognito    4113

From there we moved on to another major target, which was about 2 hour drive.  While it seemed like a lot of time to spend for "just" 1 bird, I was hoping it would be worth it.

We pick up the local who gives us access (again, the locals have learned how to make free money), and easy enough we have our next target.  I'm a broken record here, but photography was really hard.  Shooting wide open (f/5.6 for me), many shots were still ISO 8000 at 1/13 second.

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Oilbird by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Oilbird by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Oilbird by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

On the walk back, we notice one or two birds and stop to look.  This causes us to find a few more birds, and repeats itself.  The local guide probably got annoyed since he ended up sticking around longer and longer as we kept finding more birds.  My favorites were definitely the Little Cuckoo and Olivaceous Piculet.

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Pacific Antwren by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Olivaceous Piculet by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Little Cuckoo by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38581289

 

 

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guy_incognito    4113

DAY 6:

Today we would be heading the Mashpi area.  Anytime we head to different areas at slightly different altitudes in the tropics new birds become available.  In addition, there are a couple major target birds for this area.

We arrive early, with typical dark and foggy conditions.  The men and women split up for a pee break, during which time on of the women spots an Orange-breasted Fruiteater...nice start!  From here we just work along the road and find a few other nice birds.  We frequently heard Esmeralda's Antbird, but could never get one of those skulkers to show itself.  This is just one of many heard only birds of the trip, which is disappointing since I don't count heard only birds on these trips.

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Uniform Treehunter by mattag2002, on Flickr 

We hear a classic double knock, and then get some looks at its origin.

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Powerful Woodpecker by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

We then reach a feeding station, and one of the first birds we see is a target, the Glistening-green Tanager.  At this point the light is still poor, and even the birds only 20-30 feet away are poorly photographed due to fog.  Luckily the Tanager would return later for better views.  There were also several other nice birds seen from the feeders, and the fog would come and go, giving better chances for photos.

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White-throated Quail-Dove by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Swallow Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr

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One-colored Becard by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Orange-breasted Fruiteater by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Orange-breasted Fruiteater by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Flame-faced Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Glistening-green Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

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guy_incognito    4113

DAY 6 cont'd:

After leaving the first feeding station, we continued further along the road.  We got some distant scope views of Olive-crowned Warbler, and I only got very brief views of Yellow-bellied Seedeater.  A Bran-colored Flycatcher stuck around just long enough for most if not everyone in the group to get a look.

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Bran-colored Flycatcher by mattag2002, on Flickr

We saw several Ornate Flycatchers on the trip, but they were still one of my favorites.

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Ornate Flycatcher by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Broad-billed Motmot by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Three-striped Warbler by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

We reached the gates for a reserve/lodge.  Apparently it is run by the government.  It is an excellent birding location, but very few birders go there because they charge something like $100 just to visit the grounds, and $500/night to stay there!  We did not visit, but rather was shown a feeding station along a path just outside the grounds.  Here we had one of our major targets, a Moss-backed Tanager.

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Moss-backed Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr

A mixed flock moved through in the adjacent canopy, and we worked hard to keep track of the birds.  We got brief views of a highly desirable Indigo Flowerpiercer amongst some other nice birds.

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Yellow-throated Chlorospingus by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Wedge-billed Woodcreeper by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Golden-bellied Warbler by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

Further up the road we got a brief but great look a fancy looking parrot.

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Rose-faced Parrot by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

Got brief looks at Golden-winged Manakin, and then worked to finally get some looks at a Club-winged Manakin.

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Club-winged Manakin by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

All-in-all, a fairly successful day in the Mashpi area.

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38596458

 

That took up much of the day.  We arrived back at Septimo Paraiso late in the day.  In a quick walk around in fading light I was pleased to find a Black-winged Saltator and a Streaked Saltator.  That was the only Streaked Saltator of the trip.

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38596407

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guy_incognito    4113

DAY 7:

We would again take a day trip, starting and returning to Septimo Paraiso.  Today's destination would be the Rio Silanche area.  Basically our first stop would be at the canopy tower, where we would spend at least a couple hours.  It started out pretty slow, but got some notables like Choco Toucan (shorter, blunt-ended bill than Yellow-throated), White-bearded Manakin, and Streaked Flycatcher.

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White-bearded Manakin by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Choco Toucan by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Yellow-throated Toucan by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Streaked Flycatcher by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Masked Tityra by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Collared Aracari (Pale-mandibled) by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

The Scarlet-Rumped Caciques and Purple-throated Fruitcrows were hanging out together.

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Scarlet-rumped Cacique by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Purple-throated Fruitcrow by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

Many other good birds, several of which we never saw anywhere else on the trip.

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Gray-and-gold Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Orange-fronted Barbet by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Ruddy Pigeon by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Purple Honeycreeper by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Maroon-tailed Parakeet by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Maroon-tailed Parakeet by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Green Honeycreeper by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Bronze-winged Parrot by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Scarlet-browed Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Slaty-capped Flycatcher by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Ochre-bellied Flycatcher by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

Perhaps my favorite bird, and often a tough one to find...

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Slate-throated Gnatcatcher by mattag2002, on Flickr

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guy_incognito    4113

DAY 7 cont'd:

Activity was starting to die down at the tower, and we could see a mixed species flock moving through the trees down below, so we transferred to the trails for a bit.  Most of these birds were really tough to see, but a few nice ones were in there like Guira Tanager, Striped Woodhaunter, Checker-throated Antwren, and Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher.  A Hook-billed Kite was a nice flyover, and a couple Dusky-faced Tanagers decided to show.

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Hook-billed Kite by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Dusky-faced Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

As usual, our lunch was interrupted by a couple similar looking hummingbirds, the Purple-chested Hummingbird and Blue-chested Hummingbird.

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Purple-chested Hummingbird by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Blue-chested Hummingbird by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

Walk through the forest after lunch was a bit slow, but a Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant and Black-striped Woodcreeper were new.

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Black-striped Woodcreeper by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38612153

 

We moved on from this location to a seemingly random stop along the road.  After a bit of playing we got on a couple of Barred Puffbirds.  A couple other nice birds at this stop included a high flyover Black Hawk-Eagle, and a Striped Cuckoo that actually showed itself.

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Barred Puffbird by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Barred Puffbird by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Striped Cuckoo by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38612118

 

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guy_incognito    4113

DAY 7 cont'd:

We then moved on to the Milpe area to finish off the afternoon.  First was a stop at some feeders where we got our first Green Thorntails of the trip.  About half of the group stayed at the feeders, and the other half went off on some trails.  We actually had quite a few good birds.  My favorite was the Brown-billed Scythebill, which unfortunately was just too skulky for a photo.

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Crowned Woodnymph by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Green Thorntail by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38612105

 

We next moved just a short distance down the road and picked up a few more new birds.  Rufous-throated Tanager was great, but with horrible light.  I was also glad to see Snowy-throated Kingbird which I had previously missed on the trip.

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Masked Water-Tyrant by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Snowy-throated Kingbird by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38612068

 

Finally, we arrived back at Septimo Paraiso just before dark.  A few of us decided we wanted to try for Wattled Guan.  We had been hearing them in the morning and evening, but trying to find one is really tough.  Somehow, one was scoped in the middle of a tree far off on the hillside.

https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38612029

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guy_incognito    4113

DAY 8:

Today we would switch from the west slope to the east slope, but we had one major target to go for first.  It was drizzly and overcast as we arrived and hiked a tough 1/2 mile to the lek location.  We got some pretty decent views, but the darkness and fog made viewing difficult for the Long-wattled Umbrellabirds.  Nonetheless, we were still happy.  Afterward, they fed us some empanadas back in the little town, and while eating, one of our group saw a couple birds on a hill by the town!  Hah, guess we didn't have to go on that hike!  At this point the light was quite a bit better.  The bird was further away, but it was still a better opportunity to photograph it.

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Long-wattled Umbrellabird by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

From here, we would still have a lot of driving to do, so there wouldn't be much birding during the day.  While crossing a river, the leader spotted a Fasciated Tiger-Heron on the rocks below. 

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Fasciated Tiger-Heron by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Fasciated Tiger-Heron by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

One quick stop along a rather desolate looking area gave us an uncooperative pair of Golden-rumped Euphonias, and an only slightly less uncooperative pair of Tufted Tit-Tyrants.

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Tufted Tit-Tyrant by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

We ate lunch near Quito at Mitad del Mundo, a tourist stop with monument and shops on the equator.  After that, it was pretty much travel for another 3 hours or more as we climbed up out of Quito to the east, going through Papallacta pass at around 13,000 feet, and then descending down to our final destination at Guango Lodge.  We didn't arrive until late afternoon.  Most others decided to check out the feeders, but I had a mission...make Ron jealous.  Per eBird, it would seem like Guango is great location for Torrent Duck.  Well, no dice for me, despite searching up and down that stretch of the river.  I did see a distant White-capped Dipper, and on the way back the two of us that took this hike found a couple Andean Guans coming in to roost at night.

Flash:

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Andean Guan by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

No flash: (ISO 5000 at 1/20 sec!)

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Andean Guan by mattag2002, on Flickr

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guy_incognito    4113

DAY 9:

Back to high elevation and really high elevation this time!  We set off early to visit the Papallacta pass area, and found our way to about 14,500 feet.  It was downright cold, and at this elevation just walking up a moderate incline was enough to make you short of breath.  We really had one major target up here, and unfortunately, we had no luck with Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe.  This would go down as perhaps our most obvious miss during the trip.  At such high elevation, there really weren't too many other birds around.  Our first owl of the trip was found, which disappointingly, was a Great Horned Owl.  We really only got one new bird here, the White-chinned Thistletail.

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White-chinned Thistletail by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Stout-billed Cinclodes by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38648961

 

We returned to Guango Lodge where we'd have some time to relax and bird around the lodge prior to heading out for some afternoon birding.

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White-bellied Woodstar by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Turquoise Jay by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Chestnut-breasted Coronet by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Tourmaline Sunangel by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

After seeing those birds around the feeders, some of us went on the trails, and quickly came across the moving flock.

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Pearled Treerunner by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Slaty Brushfinch by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Spectacled Redstart by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Gray-hooded Bush Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Rufous-breasted Flycatcher by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

As quickly as the flock came, it was gone, and all was quiet in the forest once again.  Just a couple Mountain Wrens popped out for a bit, and then back to the lodge to meet and head out for the rest of the afternoon.

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Mountain Wren by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Long-tailed Sylph by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38649173

 

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guy_incognito    4113

DAY 9 cont'd:

For the rest of the afternoon we head back up the hill part way to the town of Papallacta, and birded along a road heading up from the town.

We spent a while and eventually got some brief, poor looks at a Paramo Tapaculo.  Brief, poor looks at a Tapaculo is better than you usually expect.  They are basically ultra-skulky black wren-like things in the dark understory.

A few species were seen, and the best bird would have to be the Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant as we on our way out.

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White-banded Tyrannulet by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Pale-naped Brushfinch by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Rufous Wren by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant by mattag2002, on Flickr

https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38648985

 

Oh, and I did check the river when we were at the lodge, and still no luck with Torrent Ducks.

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guy_incognito    4113

DAY 10:

Today would be another moving day, but thankfully not too far, so we still could do a fair amount of birding.  For the morning we would head back to the same area as yesterday afternoon, but we'd have more time and work further up the road from Papallacta.

We first started near the parking lot at resort.  Basically the first bird was a new one, a Tawny-rumped Tyrannulet, the only one of the trip.

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Tawny-rumped Tyrannulet by mattag2002, on Flickr

A Sedge Wren was being fairly cooperative, and about 3 Black-crested Warblers came through.

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Sedge Wren by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Black-crested Warbler by mattag2002, on Flickr

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38672299

 

We would then head up the hill and quickly picked up the first target, Viridian Metaltail.

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Viridian Metaltail by mattag2002, on Flickr

It ended up being a rather sunny morning.  While it looked like nice weather, these bright sunny conditions are bad for birding.  We really struggled to find many birds.  One highlight was a Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, a species I had seen so poorly at Guango that I hadn't counted it.  At the top we had really distant views of our only Black-backed Bush Tanagers of the trip.

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Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Brown-bellied Swallow by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

Perhaps the highlight of the morning was the Andean Fox.

36202615613_2240759e91_c.jpg

Andean Fox by mattag2002, on Flickr

36202615913_3679c29416_c.jpg

Andean Fox by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38672328

 

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guy_incognito    4113

DAY 10 cont'd:

We returned to Guango for lunch, get packed up, and a bit of birding before heading out.

 

The last Sword-billed Hummingbird of the trip.

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Sword-billed Hummingbird by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Buff-tailed Coronet by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Tourmaline Sunangel by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

After lunch we did a short birding foray and refound the flock.  This time I got better looks at the hemispingus species, but didn't get good enough looks at a Bluish Flowerpiercer that others saw.

36175242124_6556a92ed5_c.jpg

Black-capped Hemispingus by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Black-eared Hemispingus by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Gray-hooded Bush Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

Of course, I checked the river yet again, and once again with Torrent Duck-less.

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38672335

 

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guy_incognito    4113

DAY 10 cont'd:

We left Guango lodge, heading further east and lower in elevation for our next lodge at San Isidro.  We made a stop in the town of Baeza at a pharmacy, and hopping along the sidewalk was our first Yellow-browed Sparrow of the trip.  Also here is a Tropical Kingbird for no better reason than it was there, I had nothing better to do while waiting for the others, and I didn't take photos of any others during the trip.

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Yellow-browed Sparrow by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Tropical Kingbird by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

With that short stop out of the way we continued on towards San Isidro, but actually drove just a couple miles beyond it to Cosanga.  Here we checked the river, and lo and behold, I spotted our targets.  We repositioned, and got some decent looks (yes, the ducks, not the photobombing Spotted Sandpiper).

37011197715_dfdc657280_c.jpg

Torrent Duck by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Torrent Duck by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Torrent Duck by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Torrent Duck by mattag2002, on Flickr

A rather attractive seedeater greeted us as we left, already very happy to have that major target out of the way.

36202618263_3ea6251e32_c.jpg

Chestnut-bellied Seedeater by mattag2002, on Flickr

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38672437

 

We arrived at San Isidro in the late afternoon, and most of us immediately started looking for birds.  We'd see basically everything again, but you never know, and the only way you'll see something interesting is by being out there.  At least I got my catch up Bluish Flowerpiercer.

36202618713_523c0edd86_c.jpg

Bluish Flowerpiercer by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Russet-backed Oropendola by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Smoke-colored Pewee by mattag2002, on Flickr

36202618963_d55e7df41b_c.jpg

Golden-crowned Flycatcher by mattag2002, on Flickr

36202619173_194ec5afb5_c.jpg

Gorgeted Woodstar by mattag2002, on Flickr

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Bronzy Inca by mattag2002, on Flickr

 

San Isidro is especially well known for one bird.  There are several owls that were discovered in this area that look half way between a Black-and-white Owl and a Black-banded Owl.  So are they hybrids?  No one ones for sure.  The issue is that Black-and-white are only on the west slope.  Black-banded are on the east slope, but only at lower elevation.  Seems unlikely that these could really be hybrids given there is no range overlap between the other species, and this owl is not in range for either one.  Perhaps this is a third species, but some also wonder if this is evidence that perhaps all 3 should just be one species?  Whatever the case, the jury is still out, and what they call the San Isidro Owl currently doesn't count as any species (per eBird, at least).

We didn't see it on our first check on the way to dinner, but had no problem finding one after dinner.  I would see it again two more times that night without really even looking for it, and I saw at least two different birds the following night.

36202619383_a7053acd50_c.jpg

San Isidro Owl by mattag2002, on Flickr

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San Isidro Owl by mattag2002, on Flickr

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San Isidro Owl by mattag2002, on Flickr

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38672382

 

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