After our swing down the west slope we are briefly back in Quito before heading to the east slope for the second half of the trip. Hummingbirds have been a hit as expected with a respectable 35 species already tallied by the group. This Booted Racket tail male is one of the showstoppers!


Well it is the rainy season...

Friday the 13th finally saw our luck with rain change. After three days of mostly dodging the rain, we struggled with trail and roadside birding for the entire morning, though we had good success at Mindo Loma, Bellavista and Tony Nunnerys in the Tandayapa valley. Of course, all three of these locales provided covered shelter to watch superb hummingbird feeders! The shutters were clicking today and we got not one, or two, but three coffee breaks. I used my new camera to try and get a few hummer pics. Here are the ones I liked the best.

The day ended well when we returned to the drier central valley near Quito. We birded some arid scrub and cactus thickets and picked up some nice birds like Purple-collared Woodstar (a lifer for both Paul and I), Band-tailed Seedeater, Black-tailed Trainbearer and Ash-breasted Sierra Finch. We reached the Sheraton around 6 pm and had another fine dinner before retiring for the night. Tomorrow we head to Antisana volcano at high altitude so we are hoping for clear skies.

FEB 12th: RIO SILANCHE (lowlands)

Today we had a really early start with the coffee hounds meeting at 4:15 am for their first jolt and then everyone on the bus by 4:30 am. Just about everyone dozed during the ninety minute drive to the beginning of the gravel access road to Rio Silanche reserve (a Mindo Cloud Forest reserve).

The day began well with a wonderful first light chorus of Little Tinamous, Common Potoo and both Rufous and Broad-billed Motmots. After our box breakfast we started things off with a bang when everyone got to watch a Scaly-breasted Wren sing its haunting song from a mossy log in the forest understorey. Wow!

Today was a big day for the list to swell and we had many great birds. We found a great ant swarm with both Bicolored and Immaculate Antbirds. I couldn’t get a pic of either but below is a shot of Bicolored from Panama, though the birds here are a bit rustier.

It was definitely an antbird day and almost everyone got to see six species of antbirds today: Bicolored Antbird, Immaculate Antbird (male and female), Checker-throated Antwren (male and female), Dot-winged Antwren (male), White-fringed Antwren (male and female) and Chestnut-backed Antbird (male). Another three species were heard but not seen. Other top sightings today included a showy band of Purple-throated Fruitcrows, a band of White-fronted Capuchin monkeys (a life mammal for Tom and Paul), and crippling views of a male White-bearded Manakin.

Perhaps the most exciting find was a gorgeous small colubrid snake (to be identified) that I spotted sunning on the road. This pic was taken by Paul though the finger in there is mine!


We pulled out at 6 am this morning and headed directly to Milpe Road at around 1000 meters elevation. The weather today was iffy with misty conditions and some rain for most of the day. Still we persevered and managed to see over a hundred species for the day.

We lunched at the restaurant Rio Los Blancos, which has great fruit and hummingbird feeders. We tallied eight species of tanagers (and allies) including this male Orange-bellied Euphonia.

FEB 10th: ANGEL PAZ (morning) and RIO LOS BLANCOS (lunch and early pm)

A very early 4 am breakfast call this morning and 4:30 am departure for Angel Paz antpitta reserve. This privately owned site is famous for the work of brothers Angel and Rodrigo who bait in several species of antpittas with worms.

The road in can only be described as tortuous! Still our driver Luis got us to the trailhead to meeting the brothers at 5:30 am. There were many highlights today but Maria the Giant Antpitta was certainly the best for most folks. Other highlights were not one but two White-faced Nunbirds, several Olivaceous Pihas, Toucan Barbets, Cock of the Rocks, Yellow-breasted Antpitta, and Golden-winged Manakin! Here are a couple of photos showing Maria close up, and the group in the shelter waiting for Maria.


Our trip began this morning with a 5:30 am breakfast buffer at the Sheraton (opened early for us) and then a 6 am meeting with Galo, our guide, and Luis our bus driver. We packed up the bus and headed out of the city before traffic began, winding our way up the towards the Jocotoco reserve at Yanacocha. This is one of the few places where high temperate forest still persists, as much has been cleared for pastureland.

One of the highlights this morning was scope views of a Tawny Antpitta singing from the top of a bush as soon as we got off the bus.

Among the many great birds today one of the most popular was the incomparable Sword-billed Hummingbird. I didn’t tote my camera all the way down the trail, but this is a pic I took the previous year of the same species. It gives you a clear idea of why the bird makes such an impression… As my good friend Paul says “the beak, with the bird attached”.

Another highlight was a nice male Barred Fruiteater which had good close views of on our return walk from the hummingbird feeders. Again no camera, but this photo was taken at the same place at the same time of year, just two years prior.

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