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Ecuador trip report - August 2017

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Wow, those are some great shots (of everything, but especially) of that owl. 

I'm definitely going to have to go to Ecuador. I can't even contemplate half the birds you've posted here. My mind can't comprehend so many new birds in one spot. And I'm pretty sure that Smoke-colored Pewee is my new favorite bird. What a ridiculous name. And yet, it fits. 



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DAY 11:

This day would be spent at and near San Isidro.  First would be birding around the lodge for about an hour before breakfast.  Still pretty dark, making flash pretty much necessary (I try to avoid flash if I can). 


Olive-backed Woodcreeper by mattag2002, on Flickr


Green Jay (Inca) by mattag2002, on Flickr


Black-billed Peppershrike by mattag2002, on Flickr


Black-billed Peppershrike by mattag2002, on Flickr


Montane Woodcreeper by mattag2002, on Flickr


Pale-edged Flycatcher by mattag2002, on Flickr

We also had a couple nice birds way in the distance (Rufous-creasted Tanager and Sierran Elaenia), too far and too brief for photos.


After our breakfast we decided to attend a breakfast for the White-bellied Antpitta (Antpitta #8 for the trip!).


White-bellied Antpitta by mattag2002, on Flickr

A huge swirling mass of White-collared Swifts was above us, a really impressive sight.  A few Chestnut-collared Swifts were mixed in.


White-collared Swift by mattag2002, on Flickr


Chestnut-collared Swift by mattag2002, on Flickr


Of course, it is hard to ignore all the dazzling hummingbirds by the feeders.


Lesser Violetear by mattag2002, on Flickr


Long-tailed Sylph by mattag2002, on Flickr


Sparkling Violetear by mattag2002, on Flickr


Speckled Hummingbird by mattag2002, on Flickr


Fawn-breasted Brilliant by mattag2002, on Flickr



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DAY 11 cont'd:

For part of the morning we explored the road near the lodge.  A bit slow, but it was nice to see a Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher, Azara's Spinetail, Rufous Spinetail, and a few Southern Lapwings.


Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher by mattag2002, on Flickr


Rufous Spinetail by mattag2002, on Flickr



In the afternoon we went to nearby Guacamayos Ridge.  It started out well with a Turquoise Jay, and not too far down the trail had Green-and-black Fruiteater.  We had brief views of Sharpe's Wren, and some REALLY distant looks at Grass-green Tanager.  Unfortunately we only heard Black-billed Mountain-toucan and Slate-crowned Antpitta.


Turquoise Jay by mattag2002, on Flickr


Green-and-black Fruiteater by mattag2002, on Flickr


Sharpe's Wren by mattag2002, on Flickr



A late afternoon return to the lodge didn't produce anything.  We met right before dinner for a Hail Mary attempt at an owl.  Sometimes fortune smiles, and we were surprised to get very nice looks at this Rufous-banded Owl.


Rufous-banded Owl by mattag2002, on Flickr


I was a little bummed since the photos just weren't as sharp as they should have been (if you zoom in, you'll see they aren't nearly as sharp as the San Isidro Owl).  Myself and one other tried again after dinner.  We were able to see it, but just wasn't nearly as close so it wasn't possible to improve on the photos.  We also stumbled across at least two different San Isidro Owls.

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DAY 12:

We birded around San Isidro for just a short time, seeing mostly the same birds as we had seen before.  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38721208

The plan was to bird at a few places on the way to WildSumaco Lodge.  We first returned to Guacamayos Ridge, hoping to find some the birds we saw the day before for better views and for others to see, and maybe to spot one or two birds we only heard.  It was pretty slow.  We didn't hear or see the Mountain-toucan this time, and we didn't see any Grass-green Tanagers.  The one highlight was eventually seeing a pair of Slate-crowned Antpittas that were quickly moving around, so I was happy to even get any sort of photo.


Slate-crowned Antpitta by mattag2002, on Flickr


Our leader had a few quick stops in mind en route.  The first turned out great with our only Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant of the trip.


Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant by mattag2002, on Flickr


The next spot unfortunately didn't produce any of the hoped for Blackish Nightjars.  Just down the road we had another spot, which produce Fawn-breasted Tanager and Cliff Flycatcher.


Cliff Flycatcher by mattag2002, on Flickr



A bit further along we visited a feeding station where we also ate our own lunches.  One of the key species here did not disappoint, and we saw a handful of White-tailed Hillstars.  Another bonus bird was Glittering-throated Emerald.  Unfortunately it started raining on us here, which made further photos tough. 


Glittering-throated Emerald by mattag2002, on Flickr


White-tailed Hillstar by mattag2002, on Flickr


The rain eased up for a bit, and we spent about half an hour checking the surrounding trees.  A flock moved through which was exciting, but a challenge!  Many birds were new, but we'd see many of them again at WildSumaco.  The Ash-browed Spinetail would be the only one of the trip (so-so photo in the eBird checklist).


Little Woodpecker by mattag2002, on Flickr



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DAY 12 cont'd:

Arriving at WildSumaco in the mid afternoon left a fair amount of time to get some birding in.  Right at the lodge we had birds at the hummingbird feeders.  Lots of Golden-tailed Sapphires at the feeders, Violet-headed Hummingbirds at the bushes, and Wire-crested Thorntails here and there.


Violet-headed Hummingbird by mattag2002, on Flickr


Golden-tailed Sapphire by mattag2002, on Flickr


Wire-crested Thorntail by mattag2002, on Flickr


Our leader wandered off behind the rooms and found a pair of Many-banded Aracaris!


Many-banded Aracari by mattag2002, on Flickr


One of the staff let us know he was going down to the feeding station.  One of the first birds to come in was an Ochre-breasted Antpitta, which would frequently pop in and out while we were waiting for other species.  Our 10th and final Antpitta of the trip appeared, a Plain-backed Antpitta.


Ochre-breasted Antpitta by mattag2002, on Flickr


Plain-backed Antpitta by mattag2002, on Flickr


Ochre-breasted Antpitta by mattag2002, on Flickr


While waiting at the feeding area we had an Andean Motmot.  It was hard to be quiet and not move around too much while trying to look at the Motmot, but not risk scaring away any birds near the feeding station.


Andean Motmot by mattag2002, on Flickr


The light kept on getting worse and worse.  A Spotted Nightingale-Thrush ran in and out 2-3 times.  It was really tough to see even with binoculars, and almost impossible to see with the camera.  Managed a bad photo.  A White-crowned Tapaculo also came in.  The photos actually weren't as bad as I was expecting considering I was shooting at ISO 16000 and at only 1/30 sec.


White-crowned Tapaculo by mattag2002, on Flickr


The final bit of the day was mostly spent back by the feeders.


Rufous-vented Whitetip by mattag2002, on Flickr


Blue Dacnis by mattag2002, on Flickr


Ecuadorian Piedtail by mattag2002, on Flickr


Napo Sabrewing by mattag2002, on Flickr


Green Hermit by mattag2002, on Flickr


Black-throated Brilliant by mattag2002, on Flickr


Many-spotted Hummingbird by mattag2002, on Flickr


Wire-crested Thorntail by mattag2002, on Flickr


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DAY 13:

Nearing the end.  This would be our one full day around WildSumaco Lodge.  WildSumaco has a checklist of well over 500 species.  Many of those of exceedingly rare and one time records, but this still is a place where you want to spend a few days.  We'd have to try to make the most of it in our shorter visit.

One of the first birds was a skulky Black-billed Treehunter, which I unfortunately couldn't get a photo of.  Still around the lodge we had quite a few nice birds like Lined Antshrike, Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, Yellow-breasted Antwren, Ornate Flycatcher, and even had a flock of Maroon-tailed Parakeets fly in.


Lined Antshrike by mattag2002, on Flickr


Maroon-tailed Parakeet by mattag2002, on Flickr


Ornate Flycatcher by mattag2002, on Flickr


Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner by mattag2002, on Flickr


Yellow-breasted Antwren by mattag2002, on Flickr


Lafresnaye's Piculet by mattag2002, on Flickr


Exploring along the roads leading out from the lodge the habitat opened up a bit and started getting some new species.  I had missed Plumbeous Pigeon earlier in the trip so it was a nice catch-up.  We hadn't seen many woodpeckers during the trip, so it was a relief to finally get some more this day, but one of the highlights of the morning was a pair of Magpie Tanagers.


Yellow-tufted Woodpecker by mattag2002, on Flickr


Plumbeous Pigeon by mattag2002, on Flickr


Magpie Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr


We came across a mixed flock with some nice species, but basically couldn't get any good (if any) pictures.  I really wanted a decent look at the Fiery-throated Fruiteater...oh well.  We also had distant and dark views of a Golden-collared Toucanet.


Later in the morning we stopped by a hummingbird feeding station.  Undoubtedly our highlight was a Gould's Jewelfront.  After some patience, we also got quick glimpses at a Dusky Spinetail skulking behind.


Gould's Jewelfront by mattag2002, on Flickr


A bit more birding before lunch turned up a pair of Coppery-chested Jacamars!


Coppery-chested Jacamar by mattag2002, on Flickr

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DAY 13 cont'd:

As we returned for lunch, we also were treated with a few Black-mantled Tamarins that came in near the deck of the lodge.


Black-mantled Tamarin by mattag2002, on Flickr


Black-mantled Tamarin by mattag2002, on Flickr


After lunch I did a bit of independent birding and teamed up with a few others for a while before our larger group would meet for the afternoon session.  Right behind the lodge I spotted a Deep-blue Flowerpiercer, and a few others later got on it.  This was the last Flowerpiercer of the trip, and it meant I had actually seen every Flowerpiercer species in the Ecuador field guide!  I also got some bad photos of a Rufous-naped Greenlet, and got some photos of an Elaenia which is probably not identifiable.  We did find a Golden-faced Tyrannulet collecting nesting material, which allowed our best looks of this species for the trip.


Deep-blue Flowerpiercer by mattag2002, on Flickr


Golden-faced Tyrannulet by mattag2002, on Flickr


Once the rest of the group joined, we headed back towards the trail where we had the Antpittas before.  On the way we got some more distant looks at a Golden-collared Toucanet.  A couple split off to try for the Antpitta again.  In the meantime, we found a few nice birds such as an Andean Cock-of-the-rock, Golden-winged Manakin, and Striped Manakin.


Golden-collared Toucanet by mattag2002, on Flickr


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


Golden-winged Manakin by mattag2002, on Flickr


Back to the main road we got some better looks at Green-backed Trogon, a pair of White-backed Fire-eye, and new birds Crimson-crested Woodpecker and Olive-chested Flycatcher.


Green-backed Trogon by mattag2002, on Flickr


Green-backed Trogon by mattag2002, on Flickr


Crimson-crested Woodpecker by mattag2002, on Flickr


White-backed Fire-eye by mattag2002, on Flickr


Olive-chested Flycatcher by mattag2002, on Flickr


Black-billed Thrush by mattag2002, on Flickr


We'd been seeing a few earlier, but I finally got some decently close looks at the stunning Paradise Tanager.


Paradise Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr


Back at the lodge in the late afternoon produced many of the same hummingbirds.  As usual, light was really low, and I had to resort to flash.


Gorgeted Woodstar by mattag2002, on Flickr


Booted Racket-tail by mattag2002, on Flickr



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DAY 14:

Sadly, this would be our last full day in Ecuador, and much of it would have to be spent driving back to Quito.  The morning was spent again at WildSumaco.  We covered some of the same areas as the day before, and took a short trip down a trail into a new area.

By the lodge we had a Montane Foliage-gleaner.  And heading down the road, I believe it was our bus driver who first spotted the Chestnut-fronted Macaws.


Montane Foliage-gleaner by mattag2002, on Flickr


Chestnut-fronted Macaw by mattag2002, on Flickr


Further down the road we came across a couple nice flocks of birds including a Golden-eared Tanager (no photo), and poor photos of a Gray-mantled Wren and Lemon-browed Flycatcher.  Spotted Tanager, Yellow-bellied Tanager, and Collared Trogon were more cooperative.


Spotted Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr


Collared Trogon by mattag2002, on Flickr


Yellow-bellied Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr


A few Violaceous Trogons were new for the trip.


Violaceous Jay by mattag2002, on Flickr


Violaceous Jay by mattag2002, on Flickr


Down the new trail the birding was pretty slow.  We eventually came across some birds including a Becard I completely missed, a Fulvous Shrike-Tanager I barely saw and photograph, and a Blue-browed Tanager that nearly killed my neck looking straight up in order to get a fraction of second look.

The major bummer of the morning was missing a White-tipped Sicklebill that most of the group saw.  I was busy trying to relocate another hummer that I had briefly seen, and was almost assuredly a lifer.  Then, while I was lagging behind hoping to relocate the Sicklebill, and I missed out on a lifer Yellow-breasted Flycatcher.

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DAY 14 cont'd:

We arrived back at the lodge in the late morning to give us a bit of time to pack up, have lunch, and then start the drive back towards Quito.  I can pack quickly, so I squeezed in more birding.

Was happy to get some decent looks at a Bronze-green Euphonia and a pair of Gilded Barbets.


Bronze-green Euphonia by mattag2002, on Flickr


Gilded Barbet by mattag2002, on Flickr


Gilded Barbet by mattag2002, on Flickr


Wire-crested Thorntail by mattag2002, on Flickr


After trying multiple times to see one using playback, we were surprised to get decent looks at Blackish Antbird that spontaneously showed itself.


Blackish Antbird by mattag2002, on Flickr


During lunch the fog rolled in, but so did the birds.  We had one last frenzy of activity, and even picked up an Ecuadorian Tyrannulet as a new bird.  Squirrel Cuckoo, Red-headed Barbets, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, Yellow-breated Antwren, Olivaceous Greenlet, Blue-necked Tanager, Golden Tanager, Purple Honeycreeper, and Green Honeycreeper were just a few of the birds in this last group.


Red-headed Barbet by mattag2002, on Flickr


Yellow-breasted Antwren by mattag2002, on Flickr


Red-headed Barbet by mattag2002, on Flickr


Golden Tanager by mattag2002, on Flickr




The drive back was fairly slow.  There was a flyby Black Caracara.  We made a 5 minute stop to try unsuccessfully for a Blackish Nightjar.  Sadly, the weather wasn't good, and I don't think many others were interested in trying again for the Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, so we drove right on through Papallacta Pass back towards Quito.  We had one last dinner together and said our goodbyes as some were already leaving that night, and the rest of us would be leaving in two different groups early the next morning.

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Ecuador was a great location as a first trip to South America, and was actually fairly close to what I was expecting.  There is a lot of different habitat in the country, and you can see lots of birds with totally different trip strategies.  Our trip was one that seemed to be a somewhat less stressful and comfortable itinerary.  We stayed mostly in high elevations which maintain comfortable to cool weather, and kept bugs to a minimum.  While the high elevations provide interesting birds, the sheer number of species is lower.  Had we gone to lower elevations, especially the Amazon basin, we could have had a much higher trip total.  Even still, I think I had a respectable number of birds, even considering I definitely missed out on some while I was sick.

My totals for the trip:

Ecuador - 428

World Lifers - 314

Year Birds - 382

Photos Taken - at least 8813

Species Photographed - at least 344 (many species I didn't even bother to photograph such as the vultures)

Miles traveled - around 950

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