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I'll be leaving in a few weeks to head on a trip to Ecuador. I'll be birding for 9 days in a variety of different habitats and regions of the country. This will be my first trip to South America, so there will be possibilities for a bunch of lifers. I'm usually very lazy with writing up trip reports, but I want to do so (even if it's just for personal record keeping), so I'll add notes probably in the week following the trip. I'll attach the rough itinerary below

Day 1:

-Land in Quito around Noon

-Do customs etc. and Taxi into the town of Quito. Walk around and explore the old town.

Day 2:

Head west to the mountains east of Quito. Birding at Zuroloma Resrvere, Yanacocha Reserve, and bird the road into Mindo. Main targets for the day include Sword-billed Hummingbird, Equatorial Antpitta, Ocellated Tapaculo, Crowned Chat-tyrant, Imperial Snipe.

Day 3:

Bird the Mindo area around Bellavista lodge and the Milpe Bird Sanctuary. Targets include Plushcap, Tanager Finch, Plate-billed Mountain Toucan, Grass-green Tanager, Choco Warbler, Speckled Nightingale-Thrush

Day 4:

Head to the Western lowlands and bird at Rio Silanche Bird Sanctuary all day. Tagets include Berlepsch's Tinamou, Scarlet-browed Tanager, Scarlet-breasted Dacnis, Orange-fronted Barbet, Rufous-fronted Wood-quail

Day 5:

Birding around Mashpi and the Amagusa Reserve (looking for Choco endemics). The plan is to end the day at an Oilbird roost. Targets: Moss-backed Tanager, Black Solitaire, Choco Vireo, Pacific Tuftedcheek, Esmeraldas Antbird, Rose-faced Parrot

Day 6:

Birding around Refugio Paz and the Tandayapa Valley, before leaving the mind area and the west slope and driving down to Quito to stay the night. Targets: Andean Cock-of-the-rock Giant Antpitta, Yellow-breasted Antpitta, Ochre-breasted Antpita, Andean Pygmy-owl, Scaled Fruiteater, Beautiful Jay

Day 7:

Leaving Quito early to bird the high elevation eastern slopes of the Andes (we will be birding at elevations higher than 14,000 feet!) at Antisana National Park and Papallacta Pass. Targets: Andean Condor, Ecuadorian Hillstar, Andean Ibis, Giant Hummingbird, Carniculated Caracara, Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe

Day 8:

Dropping down over Papallacta pass, we'll bird the eastern slopes of the Andes as we drop down towards the Amazon. Most of the day will be around Guango Lodge. Targets: Torrent Duck, Gray-breasted Mountain-toucan, Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager, Tourmaline Sunangel, San Isidro Owl

Day 9:

Continuing to drop in elevation, the main stops will be at San Isidro lodge and Guacamyos Ridge. Targets: White-bellied Antiptta, Peruvian Antpitta, White-browed Tanager, Greater Scythebill, Black-bellied Mountain-Toucan

Day 10:

The last birding day of the trip will be around WildSunaco Lodge, right on the edge of the Amazon. After birding till lunch, we'll drive back to Quito. Targets: Copepry-chested Jacamar, Napo Saberwing,Paradise Tanager, Military Macaw, Golden-eared Tanager. 

eBird trip reprort:

https://ebird.org/tripreport/246169

 

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4 hours ago, Connor Cochrane said:

This will be my first trip to South America, so there will be possibilities for a bunch of lifers

Having never heard of the majority of target birds on your list, I can't help but think that a bunch of lifers would be more than a possibility for a first time visitor. Hopefully your biggest bunch of lifers comes more from the birds on your target list than the many(1600) other birds not on your list.

" with more then 1,600 bird species found throughout the small country, Ecuador has the world's highest density of bird species found per acre."

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Hope you do well with the altitude. I've never had issues until topping the 16k ft mark but it's certainly something to be aware of if you don't already know how your body will react. Enjoy! I have absolutely loved nearly every minute I've spent in SA. 

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With such a short period at that height, there's no time to acclimate.  I've only been to 10,500 or so.  Longer trips were easy after the first few days but the partial-day stays were a bit challenging. 

Regardless,  we expect extensive photos! 

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12 hours ago, SirVive said:

Hope you do well with the altitude. I've never had issues until topping the 16k ft mark but it's certainly something to be aware of if you don't already know how your body will react. Enjoy! I have absolutely loved nearly every minute I've spent in SA. 

 

7 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

With such a short period at that height, there's no time to acclimate.  I've only been to 10,500 or so.  Longer trips were easy after the first few days but the partial-day stays were a bit challenging. 

Regardless,  we expect extensive photos! 

I’ve hiked a couple of 14ers in the US so hopefully I should be fine, but Quito itself is at 9300 feet, so there won’t be a lot of time to acclimate.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

Quick overview of Day 1:

We departed San Francisco around 8pm to take what would be one of the more miserable flights I've been on. My carry on backpack was large which really limited legroom, there was a crying baby the row behind me, and kids watching their iPads throughout the night without connecting their headphones. I also lost my wallet on the flight which caused a lot of stress; luckily, however, I was able to recover it before we departed the plane. We got into Panama by five, where I was greeted by the first bird of the trip singing loudly in the airport terminal, a noisy Great-tailed Grackle. I had a four hour layover ahead of me, but I planned to bird outside the windows at the airport.

As the sun rose, I quickly became aware of a problem. Due to the high humidity, all of the airport windows were fogged in - at least so I thought. After walking around the terminal, I found a nice spot at the south end of terminal 2 which overlooked a marsh, and had clear windows. Lots of birds were moving about with the morning flight. Great Egrets and Neotropic Cormorant constantly were streaming by. Gray-breasted Martin and Cattle Tyrant - a bird I missed last time in Panama - were nesting along the terminal. Streams of parrots were moving by in flocks, closer birds were identified as Yellow-crowned Parrot and Orange-chinned Parakeet, both common species from my last trip in Panama. There may have been more species involved, but most of the parrots were too distant to positively Identify. Perched along fencelines around the marsh were Fork-tailed FlycatcherTropical KingbirdRuddy Ground Dove, Pale-vented Pigeon, and Tropical Mockingbird

The marshy areas over the runway also held some interesting birds. Flocks of Black-bellied Whistling-Duck were common. Southern Lapwing and Red-breasted Meadowlark were common in the grassy areas between the tarmac. More wading birds were moving this direction, with flyovers of White Ibis, Wood Stork, Western Cattle Egret, Black-crowned Night Heron, and Cocoi Heron, the first lifer of the trip. Flying over were a pair of Crested Caracara and a singular White-tailed Kite, a familiar species from back home. This mostly wrapped up my skywatch, as bird activity had slowed down by 7:30m and I was tried from a pretty much sleepless flight. A few more random species were around the airport including Blue-gray Tanager, Saffron Finch, Shiny Blackbird, Anhinga, and Southern Rough-winged Swallow. After grabbing a quick breakfast we boarded the two hour flight to Quito, which I was finally able to get some much needed sleep on.

Getting of the plane and heading through customs in Ecuador was much easier than anticipated. Honestly, it was the easiest customs I've ever been through (including re-entering the United States!). Within 10 minutes of leaving the plane, we were already out of the airport, where we were greeted by Rufous-collared Sparrow and Saffron Finch foraging along the road. I wouldn't be doing any birding the first day of the trip, and instead decided to stay in Quito for the first day and explore the old city. The taxi ride over (which was surprisingly cheap for a 45 minute drive - only $25) netted me the South American form of American Kestrel, as well as Turkey Vulture, Black Vulture, Common Ground Dove, and Blue-and-white Swallow. I checked into my hotel, La Casona de la Ronda, nestled in the middle of the historical district of the town. I spent the rest of the evening exploring the old Spanish Town, which was built in the late 1500s. There were many spectacular churches, the most impressive being La Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesus (which unfortunately banned photography), and Iglesia Católica San Francisco. Walking around the streets were pretty limited bird wise, but I did pick up my first few South American species with hoards of Eared Dove (which almost look Identical to our Mourning Dove), Great Thrush, and Sparkling Violetear. 

We were warned by our hotel that there were major threats of pretty crime, and looking online, it made it seem like the historical district was pretty dangerous. However, I never felt unsafe during my hours walking around. It honestly felt safer than some European cities I've been to. We were some of the only tourists there, and only encountered one other tourist in the hours of walking around. We wrapped up with a quick dinner near the hotel, and am currently getting ready for our early wake up tomorrow morning. 

Lifer Eared Dove (I didn't cary my camera walking around the streets)

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An incredible photo of my lifer Sparkling Violetear

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The Exterior of La Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesusimage.thumb.png.feb66a6a10c25368213d683486d5aa10.png

Iglesia Católica San Francisco

image.thumb.png.3a3fd56ac7efa9758944d3364f12907b.png

 

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I realize I haven't posted an update in a little while. 5 days of birding in, four left to go. Just wrapped up the west slope, where I saw 407 species. The weather here has been tough, and is going to get significantly worse as we move east towards the amazon (torrential downpours have caused landslides closing most of the highways, flooding has already killed 8 people 😬). Hopefully we'll get a little bit of a break from the rain. 

I've only uploaded a few pictures so far, but here's a couple from the last few days.

Ecuadorian Thrush

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Shining Sunbeam

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Andean Guan

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