In Association with:
Ecuador 14th - 18th October
DAY 12 14th Oct
Some of the group were up early and very well rewarded with excellent views of a Beautiful Jay only a few feet away on the veranda of our lodge. What a fantastic setting this was and literally on top of a rainforest! We then saw our first hummingbirds coming into the many feeders that adorned our lodge. Amongst these superb looking birds with names that stirred the imagination were Gorgeted Sunangel, Collared Inca, Buff-tailed Coronet, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Speckled Hummingbird, Booted Racket-tail and Violet-tailed Sylph. In the tree tops, which were at eye level, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanagers showed well and set our pulses racing as to what other species we could soon find. Walking towards the entrance to the lodge a Russet-crowned Warbler was found, followed by a Great Thrush, two Golden-crowned Flycatchers, Sierran Elaenia and then beside the gate we saw Blue-capped Tanager, Black Flower-piercer and a pair of beautiful Green-and-Black Fruiteaters. Nearby, everyone saw Long-tailed Antwren, Red-billed Parrots and some very showy Plain-tailed Wrens. A Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant was only seen by a few though! We then returned to our lodge for breakfast. Once this was over we all met up and proceeded to walk the 'H' trail. A pair of Masked Trogons were seen very well before we got distracted by the distinct call of a nearby Ocellated Tapaculo. We tempted two birds in very close but only myself and a couple of the group managed to get brief looks at this incredibly beautiful but difficult skulker. Moving on we had many more chances to see Spillmann's Tapaculo and everyone got to see one of these tiny mouse like birds eventually. As we walked past a fairly open area a Common Potoo was spotted perched on its daytime roost. An excellent sighting, this made up for the few in our group who missed the bird seen during the night. A small mixed flock was then found and included Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Cinnamon and Flavescent Flycatcher, Western Hemispingus, Golden Tanager and Turquoise Jays.
In a gap we saw huge White-collared Swifts flying above us and many more brightly coloured tanagers that included Blue-winged Mountain, Golden, Blue-and-Black, Flame-faced, Rufous-chested and Beryl-spangled. Juan found a Streaked Tuftedcheek and Southern Yellow Grosbeak for Peter and Arthur, and as we returned for lunch several of the group got to grips with a small flock that included Flame-faced Tanagers, two Toucan Barbets, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker and White-tailed Tyrannulet. Our lunch was more than adequate! Shortly afterwards we boarded our coach and then set off a short distance downhill to the house of Tony and Barbara Nunnery. Tony is a bird guide who knew Kevin, and I was pleased to meet him. He invited our group to stand on his veranda and admire all the hummingbirds that were coming to the countless feeders he had hanging all around his garden. What a show this was and a really relaxed way to see some good birds. Star of the show and one we had hoped for was a male White-tailed Hillstar, soon followed by an array of hummers that included Brown Inca, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Wedge-billed Hummingbird, Green-tailed Trainbearer, stunning male Booted Racket-tails, Spangled and Green Violet-ears, Empress Brilliant, Andean and Western Emeralds, Purple-throated Woodstars, Green-crowned Brilliant, Tawny-bellied Hermit and one of our favourites the Violet-tailed Sylph.
Aside from the hummers we also saw Black Flowerpiercer, White-tipped Dove and good views of a White-winged Brush-Finch. Leaving Tony and his wife in peace we returned to our lodge where some of the group opted for a couple of hours to relax while the rest of us walked the muddy road outside to reach a higher altitude just over a kilometre away. It was a little misty and drizzly and generally rather quiet. A Sickle-winged Guan was found as well as Dusky Bush-tanagers, Slate-throated Whitestarts, Turquoise Jays and a Striped Treehunter. As we returned towards the lodge we then had excellent views of up to four Rufous-bellied Nighthawks, a couple of which flew very low overhead giving us many opportunities to see these large birds very well.
DAY 13 15th Oct
As we walked downhill from the lodge we hadn't gone more than 100 yards before finding a Sapphire-vented Puffleg, a 'hummer' which was fairly new to the area and one that everyone enjoyed superb views of both perched and feeding above us on a flowering tree. A Sickle-winged Guan was then spotted and a little further down a Smoke-coloured Pewee. Beside an area where we could overlook the valley we searched for swifts. Chestnut-collared Swifts were soon found and several White-tipped Swifts were picked out. Smaller swifts were almost certainly Spot-fronted, but we could not really see any distinguishing marks on them, although amazingly they did fly in to a recording of their call! A quick stop beside Tony's house again gave us the chance to see White-tipped Swifts really well. Shortly afterwards a Blue-capped Tanager was found as well as a beautiful pair of Orange-bellied Euphonias. We then continued walking downhill followed a short distance behind by our coach. A Golden-headed Quetzal was an excellent find as it called from some trees close beside the road. Once it was located we had unbelievable views of this superb iridescent bird.
Continuing on we came across a couple of stunning Toucan Barbets and an elusive Azara's Spinetail and Andean Solitaire. Blackburnian Warblers and tropical Parulas were not uncommon but a much better find was a pair of stunning Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonias which fed quietly in patch of mistletoe. As we neared the Tandayapa Lodge I looked down on an area of more open woodland beside a stream. Here I spotted a male Andean Cock-of-the-rock and a quick shout enabled at least Jacky to get to see it fly off up the valley. It was nearing lunch time so we jumped aboard the coach and drove to the nearby lodge. A steep walk up to the main building was soon forgotten when a host of hummingbirds greeted us beside the dining room. On the feeders we watched and found several new species that included White-bellied Woodstar, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Brown Violet-ear and the impressive Green-fronted Lancebill. Lunch was then served and proved a short interlude from hummingbird watching. Back outside we once again enjoyed these glittering jewels and also saw White-sided Flowerpiercer and looking from the small wooden platform we scoped Black-winged Saltator and Yellow-rumped Tanager. Some of the group then returned to Bellavista Lodge by coach while the rest of us explored some of Tandayapas forest trails. We walked a short distance to a platform that overhung a wooded ravine, Arthur was one of the first to look over and immediately pointed out an orange bird sat in a tree top. Kev suddenly got excited and tried to get the rest of the group to see this stunning male Andean Cock-of-the-rock. It promptly flew and everyone thought it had gone until someone spotted it sat in a tree just 50 yards away. Most of the group managed to see it this time and were obviously thrilled by this superb bird. Leaving here we then followed one of the trails. It was very quiet but eventually we found a small flock where a Metallic-green Tanager was our best find. Returning we found another Andean Cock-of-the-rock, an immature Barred Forest-Falcon and Immaculate Antbird. Closer to the lodge a flowering tree held male and female Red-headed Barbet along with Berly-spangled and Metallic-green Tanagers. Departing the lodge we boarded our coach and then drove a few minutes down hill to a small settlement beside a fast flowing mountain stream. Looking from a bridge here we soon found Torrent Tyrannulet, Yellow-bellied Seedeaters and then a fantastic pair of White-capped Dippers which bounced around on the rocks below and gave us superb views.
We decided to walk along the track over the bridge and after getting poor views of a Crimson-rumped Toucanet, we waited until dark to see if any Nightjars would show. They never so we returned to our lodge, the evening meal and bird checklist.
DAY 14 16th Oct
Several of the group that decided to venture out early, got to see Ocellated Tapaculo as well as Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant an absolutely tiny yet beautiful bird.
Breakfast this morning was enjoyed with a female Masked Trogon sat just outside the dinning room window. The normal array of 'hummers' were watched feeding on their endless supplies of sugar water and a stunning male Southern Yellow Grosbeak showed very close in the trees beside the veranda. With everyone ready for today's excursion we walked to our coach parked beside the gate of the lodge. Just before the gate we found a mixed flock of birds that pleasantly held up our departure. A Pearled Treerunner was found first and showed extremely well, followed by Russet-crowned Warbler and at least three Azara's Spinetails which typically kept themselves in thick cover. More Southern Yellow Grosbeaks appeared along with two Montane Woodcreepers and then a stunning pair of Grass-green Tanagers. As the flock moved on then so did we. With everyone aboard the coach we drove higher until Juan spotted a Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan flying between a group of tall trees. We all got out and most of the group saw at least one of these amazingly colourful birds which sat perched for a short while. Nearby we found a group of Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanagers and a Masked Flowerpiercer. Continuing our journey in the coach we arrived at a lodge set beside a forest at a lower altitude than previously visited. At the entrance road we watched a couple of Barred Hawks circling around while listening to a Slaty Spinetail. As we walked towards the lodge a Stripe-throated Hummingbird appeared on some flowers and showed well to everyone. At the lodge itself we had a short break before taking a walk into the surrounding forest. Rusty-margined Flycatchers were easily found and then two Long-tailed Antwrens put on a good show. A Barred Parakeet flew high overhead calling and we got very distant views of several Velvet-purple Coronets feeding on a blossoming tree, unfortunately I thought too far away to be counted on our checklist! Deep in the forest a fantastic Club-winged Manakin performed an amazing display with its wings flicked open over its back. A Choco Toucan flew past for several people to see while the sound of Scaled Antpitta and Rufous-breasted Antthrush were a reminder of some of the forests hidden beauties. As we ate lunch in the gardens a mixed flock appeared in a small patch of nearby trees. Sierran Elaenea, Tropical Parula and Cinnamon Becard were spotted first and then as we all got closer two Rufous-winged Tyrannulets showed well along with Yellow-olive Woodpeckers, Ecuadorian Thrush an Olive-crowned Yellowthroat and several species of tanager already seen. With lunch now over we boarded our coach and headed to another nearby area known as Los Bancos. We stopped the coach and decided to walk the road which gave us views over the surrounding open ground and small patches of woodland. One of the first birds we encountered was a male Golden-winged Manakin,soon followed by excellent sightings of Ornate Flycatchers, Blue-necked Tanagers and then one of the special birds of this area a superb Moss-backed Tanager. A Choco Toucan then perched in full view for everyone to see and not long after a Pale-mandibled Aracari was found by Arthur and this also showed well to everyone. A little more difficult was a Bran-coloured Flycatcher, but we soon made up for this with more sightings of Moss-backed Tanager. Several really good mixed flocks were then found and amongst the assortment of species were Scaly-throated and Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaners, Black-striped and Wedge-billed Woodcreepers, One-coloured and Black-and-white Becard, more Pale-mandibled Aracaris, stunning White-winged Tanagers, Yellow-throated Bush Tanagers, Crimson-throated Tanagers, Golden-faced Tyrannulet, Lineated and Smoky Brown Woodpeckers and rarest of all a dainty Slaty Becard. It then began to rain, but as we were about to board the coach and return to our lodge a pair of superb Swallow Tanagers were spotted perched on a tree top, and despite the rain we all had wonderful scope views of yet another excellent species. After an exhilarating afternoon we returned in time for our evening meal and usual roll-call of birds seen.
DAY 15 17th Oct
Our last day began with some of the group taking an early pre-breakfast coach ride just a short distance to get to a higher altitude. Here we birded along a small unmade road within the forest. Plate-billed Mountain-Toucans were found and showed very well as did a pair of very confiding Crimson-mantled Woodpeckers. A little further on a Sickle-winged Guan was spotted climbing through a tree before flying off and then a pair of Plushcaps was eventually put on everyone's list. Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant was seen well but one of our target species the Tanager Finch was unfortunately only heard. Returning back to the lodge we came across another flock which was surely going to make us late for breakfast. As we went through the species we found a Flammulated Treehunter, two superb Streaked Tuftedcheeks, Spectacled and Slate-throated Whitestarts. We were late for breakfast, but this mornings pancakes soon filled us up! With breakfast over and our luggage packed we said our farewells to our rain forest lodge, and some of its wonderful hummingbirds including the Gorgeted Sunangel, Violet-tailed Sylph, Collared Inca and a Mountain Velvetbreast. We didn't need to be at Quito airport until 2.00pm so we had all morning to make a slow decent of the valley and try and find a few good species. Tanager species were well represented during our walk and amongst others we saw Golden, Metallic-green, Golden-naped, B eryl-spangled, Rufous-chested and a lovely pair of Black-capped Tanagers. A Roadside Hawk was watched circling around and shortly after we found both Brown-capped and Red-eyed Vireos as well as Three-striped Warblers and some very attractive Spectacled Whitestarts. As we descended further down the valley an Andean Solitaire put in a brief appearance soon followed by two Crimson-rumped Toucanets and later some very close views of perched Blue-and-white Swallows and a distant White-capped Dipper.
Leaving the forests behind us we drove towards Quito until we reached a monument placed on the line of the Equator. Here we ate our picnic lunch, had a coffee and then a few of us had photos taken stood either side of the yellow line that marked the Equator and passed through the centre of a tall monument. Our last hummingbird of the trip, the spectacular Black-tailed Trainbearer was then seen by most of the group. Time was up and we needed to get to the airport. Arriving here we unloaded our luggage and then said goodbye to our local guide Juan and then my good friend and excellent guide Kevin.
Our plane was delayed by an hour but once on our way we settled back for our long journey back to Madrid. Arriving the next day in Madrid, Spain our earlier delay meant that we just missed our connection back to Heathrow. A quick rush around and we were booked on the next flight, and only had a one hour wait before our final journey back to Britain.
I would like to thank everyone on this tour that made it a great pleasure for me to lead.
Best wishes - Steve Bird
Species Lists for the Galapagos and Ecuador