SOUTHERN ECUADOR & EXTENSION TO CUENCA 23 FEB – 8 MAR.
Charlie led 4 keen, sharp-eyed Brits; Peter Symmonds, Jeremy Hickman, David Sewell and Simon Mair for a productive trip for Tumbesian, Marañon and Eastern Andes endemics and recorded just under 500 species, with 469 seen. On this itinerary we firmly support the Jocotoco foundation by staying 6 nights at their 2 lodges and visiting another 2 reserves.
At Manglares Churute Horned Screamers, Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks and Snail Kites kicked off the trip, while a stop at Santa Rosa marshes yielded a good list of waders and herons. Buenaventura reserve provided a spellbinding look at an immature male (not so long) Long-wattled Umbrellabird perched languidly while a Western Two-toed Sloth hung nearby. Club-winged Manakins were plentiful and manically displaying at the neighboring lek. On the way to the leks, a family of Rufous-headed Chachalacas was seen daily. Searching for El Oro Parakeets on the Sambo Tambo road, we say Gray-backed Hawks wheeling along the ridge numerous times and a rare Great Blawk-Hawk perched closeby. David spied a Fasciated Tiger-Heron for us all along the river. Blue-chested Hummingbird on the feeders as well as Red-billed Scythebill on the entrance road were notable. Also, Loja and Tumbesian Tyrannulets were seen.
While playing the iPod for Clapper Rail at Puerto Pitahaya, we were surprised by a Sora popping into view. This would be the southernmost record for the species in Ecuador, with a 110km SW extension beyond Paul Coopman’s record from El Cajas, Azuay.
Heading on to Tumbesian region we had a Solitary Eagle perched near Celica as well as Black-cowled Saltator. At Zapotillo, Baird’s Flycatcher, Chestnut-collared Swallow, Tumbes Sparrow as well as my first Sechura Fox! On the way to la Ceiba Reserve just north, a dozen Comb Ducks along with Tumbes Swift. At Jorupe reserve we had a great view of West Peruvian Screech-Owl. The target furnariids were nesting and shy but we had glimpses of Blackish-headed Spinetail, Henna-hooded Foliage-Gleaner and Rufous-necked Foliage-Gleaner. Also Ecuadorian Piculet seen a few times, Yellow-olive Flatbill, Tumbes Pewee, Slaty Becard, Collared Antshrike, Black-billed and Striped Cuckoo, Plumbeous-backed Thrush, White-edged and Yellow-tailed Oriole. Around Utuana reserve yielded Chapman’s Antshrike, Saffron Siskin, both Elegant Crescentchest and Gray-headed Antbird proved excruciatingly difficult but were glimpsed by a couple of us. Bearded Guan greeted us first at Cajanuma, followed by a roadside day roost of Rufous-banded Owl and Red-hooded Tanager.
Tapichalaca reserve produced Golden-plumed Parakeet Andean Pygmy-Owl, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Chusquea Tapaculo, a family of four Jocotoco Antpittas coming to be fed. Just beyond the feeding area, a rare and unsolicited Yellow-billed Cacique worked its way into view. Rufous-tailed Tyrant seen frequently above Valladolid and towards Palanda, Marañon Thrush, Speckle-breasted Wren, Rufous-fronted Thornbird building a nest. Above Vilcabamba nice views of Loja Hummingbird.
Over to Bombuscaro at the eastern entrance to Podocarpus and Copalinga Lodge, White-breasted Parakeet, Band-bellied Owl, Blackish Nightjar, Blue-fronted Lancebill, Glittering-throated Emerald, Violet-fronted Brilliant, Black-streaked Puffbird, Crimson-bellied Woodpecker. After 2 days of chasing we finally called in the Coppery-chested Jacamar also saw Yellow-cheeked Becard and Cinnamon Neopipo. On the old Zamora road, Yellow-breasted Antwren, Blackish Antbird, Ecuadorian Tyrannulet while Spangled Coquette and Wire-crested Thorntail shows up nicely at the flower hedge at the lodge. Towards the airport, Blue and Caquetá Seedeater and beyond Saraguro, White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant.
Early morning at Yunguilla granted us intimate contact with pairs of Pale-headed Brush-Finches, as well as Pacific Elaenia. On to Cajas for lunch at the Dos Chorreras Restaurant where Simon was distracted by a flitter and coaxed us out for great views of a perched Violet-throated Metaltail. A flurry of activity before the Park station provided a cleanup of Paramo specialties and two pairs of Tit-like Dacnis just beyond.
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