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28 January - 28 April 2000

by Patrick O'Donnell

I just got back from a 6 month trip to Costa Rica and Ecuador. Birding was of course the best reason for being there and so that is how I spent most of my time. For Ecuador, I will just make comments on notable sightings as well as places that might not be as well covered in other trip reports. I will do the same for Costa Rica in another message.

Summary: I arrived in Ecuador 1/28/00 and departed on the 28 of April. I worked as a volunteer at Bellavista for a little more than 1 month from February until March, and then visited a variety of places up until my departure date. In all, I ended up recording 718 sp., 671 of which were seen, 133 of which were lifers. My favorite lifers were; Lanceolated Monklet - because I no longer bothered to even hope for that species, Spot-winged Parrotlet - because it is so little known, Long-billed Woodcreeper - because it looks and sounds fantastic, and Western Hemispingus (proposed split from Black-eared by Greenfield et al.) - because the first time you see it you have no idea what it is because it looks and acts like a furnariid. I have not listed every species recorded, only those deemed to be of special interest.

Inca trail at the Cordillera de los Huacamayos - also known as La Virgin de los Huacamayos by bus drivers, the trail is now well maintained and surfaced with rocks. The reason for this, however, is due to a new oil pipeline that is found 4 km or so down the trail. Oil workers were at the pipeline when I visited the site in late January as well as in March. Birding was excellent with highlights being:

Bicolored Antvireo (Dysithamnus occidentalis) - 2 pairs seen foraging together in the undergrowth on 2 days.

Black-billed Mountain Toucan (Andigena nigrirostris) - group of 4 seen near pipeline.

Speckle-faced Parrot (Pionus tumultuosus) - several seen in flight.

Scaly-naped Parrot (Amazona mercenaria) - several seen in flight.

Streak-capped Treehunter (Thripadectes virgaticeps) - one seen with mixed flock.

Tyrannine Woodcreeper (Dendrocincla tyrannina) - one seen with mixed flock.

Olive-backed Woodcreeper (Xiphorhynchus triangularis) - fairly common species I had to mention because it was a lifer for me. 1-2 seen with most mixed flocks.

Brown-billed Scythebill (Campylorhamphus pusillus) - 1 bird seen assumed to be this species although the mantle appeared to be unstreaked. No vocalization heard. Dark bill seems to rule our Greater Scythebill. Can young Greater Scythebill (C. pucherani) have dark bill?

Barred Antthrush (Chamaeza mollissima) - 3-4 heard, 2 seen! (whistled in).

Chestnut-crowned Antpitta (Grallaria ruficapilla) - several heard, 2 seen.

Moustached Antpitta (Grallaria alleni) - 2 heard, both from streamside growth.

Chestnut-naped Antpitta (Grallaria nuchalis) - 3 heard.

White-bellied Antpitta (Grallaria hypoleuca) - 4 heard, 2 seen mostly at treefall gaps thick with second growth.

Slate-crowned Antpitta (Grallaricula nana) - 3-4 heard, 1 seen well with tape playback in second growth behind the shrine.

Unicolored Tapaculo (Scytalopus unicolor) - a few heard and seen.

Equatorial Rufous-vented Tapaculo (Scytalopus micropterus) - a few heard and seen.

Spillman's Tapaculo (Scytalopus spillmani) - a few seen and heard.

Ocellated Tapaculo (Acropternis orthonyx) - a few heard.

Rufous-breasted Flycatcher (Leptopogon rufipectus) - common and usually a nucleus species of mixed flocks- listen for piercing, squeeky call.

Olivaceous Piha (Lipaugus cryptolophus) - at least 2 different birds seen with mixed flocks.

Chestnut-breasted Wren (Cyphorhinus thoracicus) - family group of 4 seen.

Orange-eared Tanager (Chlorochrysa calliparaea) - seen near pipeline.

Rufous-crested Tanager (Creurgops verticalis) - 2 seen with mixed flock.

Yellow-whiskered Bush-Tanager (Chlorospingus parvirostris) - 2 seen with more abundant Common Bush Tanagers.

White-rimmed Brush Finch (Atlapetes leucopis) - 2 seen.

Wooly Monkey - group of 4 seen twice - good sign of low hunting pressure.

Along the roadside toward Tena, there is an HQ for the Reserva Antisana and Sumaco-Galeras. The ranger gave us info. about the area, said they don't charge visitors an entrance fee, and showed us a few trails that are not well-maintained. It was therefore difficult to enter the forest, but there were some birds at the roadside such as Golden-eyed Flowerpiercer (Diglossa glauca), and 3 Hummingbird species that were fairly common. These were White-tailed Hillstar (Urochroa bougeri), Bronzy Inca (Coeligena coeligena), and Long-tailed Sylph (Aglaiocercus kingi).

Bellavista: Great birding with Plate-billed Mountain Toucan (Andigena laminirostris), Gorgeted Sunangel (Heliangelus strophianus), Rusty-winged Barbtail (Premnornis guttuligera), Powerful Woodpecker (Campephilus pollens), Beautiful Jay (Cyanolyca pulchra), and Dark-backed Wood-Quail (Odontophorus melanonotus) all being fairly common. The Wood-Quail and the Woodpecker were best seen inside the forest-trail A most reliable, while the others were best seen from the roadside, the Jay being seen along the stretch below the dome. Bellavista does accept guides on a volunteer basis, although if your volunteering experience would be in any way similar to mine, then you would mostly be clearing trails with a machete and working for the hotel aspect of the business far more than staking out rarities or doing any bird guiding.

Tony and Barbara's Hummingbird extravaganza: Tony Nunnery and Barbara might not call their back porch as such, but I would. Tony works as a bird guide for different companies and lives with Barbara in a beautiful house situated in an ideal birding spot. They welcome birders although do ask for a donation of $5 to bird their trail and back porch. Their land is located about 3 ks or so downhill from Bellavista along the Nono-Mindo road at approximately 1800 meters and is situated amidst primary and secondary Choco cloud forest with a fantastic view into the gorge of the Tandayapa river. From the back porch, one can see several hummingbird feeders that regularly attract 12 sp. or more daily. These include such Choco endemics as Empress Brilliant (Heliodoxa imperatrix), Violet-tailed Sylph (Aglaiocercus coelestis), and Brown Inca (Coeligena wilsoni) and other sp. such as Green Violetear (Colibri thalassinus), Andean Emerald (Amazilia franciae), Rufous-tailed Hummer (Amazilia tzacatl), Speckled Hummer (Adelomyia melanogenys), Fawn-breasted Brilliant (Heliodoxa rubinoides), Collared Inca(Coeligena torquata), Buff-tailed Coronet (Boissoneaua flavescens), Velvet-purple Coronet (B. jardini), Gorgeted Sunangel (Heliangelus strophianus), Purple-throated Woodstar (Calliphlox mitchellii), Booted Racquettail (Ocreatus underwoodii) and Blue-tailed Emerald (Western Emerald)(Chloristolbon mellisuga). They also have one record of Hoary Puffleg (Haplophaedia lugens) - 1 bird that actually flew into the house!! As if the hummingbirds weren't enough, raptors such as White-rumped Hawk (Buteo leucorrhous), Barred Hawk (Leucopternis princeps), and Black and Chestnut Eagle (Oroaetus isidori) are often seen from the porch along with excellent eye-level and even dorsal views of White-tipped Swift (Aeronautes montivagus), Chestnut-collared Swift (Streptoprocne rutilus), and the rare Spot-fronted Swift (Cypseloides cherriei) - the last sp. seen 4 times or so per month. Mixed flocks with a variety of Tanagers, Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia (Chlorophonia pyrrophrys), Toucan Barbet (Semnornis ramphastinus), and sometimes Black Solitaire (Entomodestes coricinus) pass through the backyard as well as on their easygoing trail (no steep grades). They don't allow tape playback on the trail so as not to disturb the two pairs of Giant Antpittas (Grallaria gigantea) that occasionally hop out onto the trail anyways. Yellow-breasted Antpitta (Grallaria flavotincta) and Moustached Antpitta (Grallaria alleni) also occur on the trail but are difficult to see. Their house is on the right side of the road about 6 ks uphill from Tandayapa. It is hidden from the road, so if a sign has not been put up, look for an obvious trail with earthen steps leading to a house close to the road on the right about between 4 and 6 ks up from Tandayapa. At this distance from Tandayapa, theirs is the only house on the right side of the road. Before heading down to the house, they ask that birders yell down a greeting so as to make sure they are home.

Mindo - This important bird area is best covered in Simon Allen's excellent guide to birding the Mindo area. He also covers the Tandayapa valley and the Los Bancos road as well. The Yellow House trail still charges $10 entrance fee and is mostly old second growth, but does support a good avifauna. Notable sp. recorded by us on one visit, and by Rudy Gelis on other visits were:

Crested Guan (Penelope purpurascens) - 1 seen.

Barred Puffbird (Nystalus radiatus) - a pair seen well raising their crests as they performed their drawn out wolf whistle.

Plate-billed Mountain Toucan (Andigena laminirostris) - a few seen.

Rufous-breasted Antthrush (Formicarius rufipectus) - 1 seen.

Giant Antpitta (Grallaria gigantea) - 1 heard and seen.

Scaled Antpitta (Grallaria guatemalensis) - 1 heard.

Ochre-breasted Antpitta (Grallaricula flavirostris) - 1 seen.

Scaled Fruiteater (Ampelioides tschudii) - a pair seen.

Andean Cock of the Rock (Rupicula peruviana) - several males seen. There was a lek of the above-mentioned sp. just past the second (?) stream.

Also good mixed flocks with many Tanagers, etc. The upper part of the entrance road to Mindo still has good habitat, but much has been destroyed closer to the village. Apparently, at least 30 hectares of cloud forest will be cleared by a foreign coffee grower (a Belgian) who appears to be dedicated to sun coffee and hopes to start a coffee growing school in Mindo that could end up jeopardizing much of the forest in the valley. I am ashamed to say I couldn't stay there long enough to investigate what I was told (by a landowner upset by what is happening) and so I don't know the grower's name. Along the upper part of the road, Brown Inca (Coeligena wilsoni) was common as was Golden-headed Quetzal (Pharomachrus auriceps), Toucan Barbet (Semnornis ramphastinus), and many Tanagers including Glistening Green (Chlorochrysa phoenicotis). Tyrannine Woodcreeper (Dendrocincla tyrannina) and Blue Seedeater (Amaurospiza concolor) were other good sp. seen.

Finca 106.5 along the Los Bancos road - This is the "Chocó habitat" that is often referred to in trip reports where the participants were guided by Vinício Pérez of Mindo. It is located at the 106.5 k mark along the Los Bancos - Puerto Quito highway on the left hand side of the road heading towards Puerto Quito. It is about 2-3 km past the first turnoff for San Vicente Andoas. When I visited there in April, they were fixing the wooden sign they normally have in place, and so it was a bit difficult to find. Hopefully the sign will be back up soon as it is definitely worth visiting. The farm is owned by Felipe Quiroz, a compassionate, friendly individual who is also passionate about protection of tropical forest. Their family passed over the chance to earn extra money by having a cattle farm so that they could keep their primary forest intact. None of their neighbors took such an unusual course of action and so replaced their Chocó rainforest with habitat for misplaced bovines. Needless to say, the patch of forest at Felipe's farm is just about the only intact forest left along the Los Bancos road and it has quite a few species considering it's size. Most of the farm near the house is young and old second growth that grades into primary rainforest. They have a main trail that goes back from the road about 3 km that goes through the middle of their property, the edge of the property being maybe 500 meters or more on either side of the trail. The trail crosses 4 streams and rivers, the second of which has the best swimming hole I have seen anywhere in Ecuador. Birding along the trail can be difficult to view canopy sp. because there are no raised areas that allow views into the crowns of the trees. Understory birds can be more easily seen. The elevation is about 800 meters. Felipe welcomes visitors and arriving early shouldn't be a problem as the family typically rises at dawn. He usually charges $4 for a guided day visit. He is not a birder, but understands birders' needs. The place is particularly good for:

Rufous-crowned Antpitta (Pittasoma rufopileatum) - Vinício Pérez has most often shown it to birders in a flat area after the second stream.

In the same area, Indigo-crowned Quail Dove (Geotrygon purpurata) also occurs.

Pallid Dove (Leptotila pallida) was common near the banana plants at the start of the trail.

Rufous-fronted Wood-Quail (Odontophorus erythrops) - heard but not seen on each visit from forested areas along the trail.

Blue-fronted Parrotlet (Touit dilectissima) - flock of 12 seen once.

Bronze-winged Parrot (Pionus chalcopterus) - flock of several often present to raid the corn (maize) patch.

Crested Owl (Lophostrix cristata) - Heard nightly and 2 seen roosting in the bamboo patch just before the 4th river.

Green Thorntail (Popelairia conversii) - 3 seen near house.

White-eyed Trogon (Trogon comptus) - 1 seen and heard along trail.

Black-tailed Trogon (Trogon melanurus) - 2 heard, 1 seen along trail.

Broad-billed Motmot (Electron platyrhinchum) - pair seen forest edge.

Rufous Motmot (Baryphthengus martii) - seen and heard daily.

Barred Puffbird (Nystalus radiatus) - heard once in forest.

Pale-mandibled Aracari (Pteroglossus erythropygius) - fairly common.

Chocó Toucan (Ramphastos brevis) - fairly common.

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii) - fairly common.

Olivaceous Piculet (Picumnus olivaceus) - seen with mixed flocks.

Red-rumped Woodpecker (Veniliornis kirkii) - 2 seen in forest.

Crimson-bellied Woodpecker (Campephilus haematogaster) - 1 seen primary forest.

Ruddy Foliage-gleaner (Automolus rubiginosus) - 1 seen with understory flock.

Plain-brown Woodcreeper (Dendrocincla fuliginosa) - common.

Spotted Woodcreeper (Xiphorynchus erythropygius) - common.

Spot-crowned Antvireo (Dysithamnus puncticeps) - 1 seen w/ understory mixed flock.

Checker-throated Antwren (Myrmotherula fulviventris) - common, often seemed to be a nucleus sp. of understory mixed flocks.

Chestnut-backed Antbird (Myrmeciza exsul) - common.

Black-headed Antthrush (Formicarius nigricapillus) - common and rather easily seen for a Formicarius.

Pacific Flatbill (Rhynchocyclus pacificus) - seen once with mixed flock.

Green Manakin (Chloropipo holochlora litae) - seen a few times with mixed flocks.

Slaty-capped Shrike Vireo (Vireolanius leucotis) - 1 seen w/mixed flock.

Spotted Nightingale Thrush (Catharus dryas) - 1 heard.

Tawny-faced Gnatwren (Microbates cineiventris) - common.

Golden-bellied Warbler (Basileuterus chrysogaster) - common.

Yellow-tufted Dacnis (Dacnis egregia) - pair seen w/ mixed flock.

Emerald Tanager (Tangara florida) - a few seen w/ mixed flocks.

Rufous-throated Tanager (Tangara rufigula) - a few seen w/mixed flocks.

Grey-and-Gold Tanager (Tangara palmeri) - a few seen w/ mixed flocks.

Ochre-breasted Tanager (Chlorothraupis stolzmanni) - a few seen w/ mixed flocks.

Scarlet-browed Tanager (Heterospingus xanthopygius) - a few w/ mixed flocks.

Yellow-bellied Siskin (Carduelis xanthogastra) - 2 seen.

Aldea de Salamandra - Found 2 km before Puerto Quito along the Los Bancos road, this place offers cabins and guided tours of the area with an ecological perspective. They have a very small area of primary forest and some second growth. We had a few interesting birds in this lowland area. The trail through the primary patch has some nice overlooks that allow for a bit of canopy viewing. Best sp. was Black-tipped White Cotinga (Carpodectes hopkei) - 1 female seen. Other interesting sp. were; Purple-throated Fruitcrow (Querula purpurata) - 4 seen well, Green Thorntail (Popelairia conversii) - 2 males and 1 female flying around together in circles as if on a merry-go-round. Blue-chested Hummer (Amazilia amabilis) - common. Sooty-headed Tyrannulet (Phyllomyias griseiceps) - common. Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher (Todirostrum nigriceps) - common. Rufous-tailed Jacamar (Jacamar ruficauda) - 1 seen. White-whiskered Puffbird (Malacoptila panamensis) - 1 seen. They also apparently have a private reserve located close to the southern edge of the Cotocachi-cayapas reserve. They charged $20 per day, food and guide included, to visit this area. Although we unfortunately didn't get the chance to visit this area, it sounded promising as it is mostly primary rainforest at an elevation of 600-1200 meters with monkey sp. being present, thus an indicator of possible little hunting pressure.

Tinalándia - We didn't bird the property since they charge $10 just to walk around. Instead, we walked next to the property along the road to Bolívar, and had some good birds such as; White-tipped Sicklebill (Eutoxeres aquila), Barred Puffbird (Nystalus radiatus), Orange-fronted Barbet (Capito squamatus), Pale-mandibled Aracari (Pteroglossus erythropygius), Choco Toucan (Ramphastos brevis), Red-rumped Woodpecker (Veniliornis kirkii), Western Slaty Antshrike (Thamnophilus atrinucha), Purple-throated Fruitcrow (Querula purpurata), and Dull-colored Grasquit (Tiaris obscura).

Yasuní research station, Yasuní national park - Yasuní national park is 9820 sq. km of mostly primary Amazonian rain forest habitats. This research station run by the Universidad Católica was only opened in 1994 and is located along the Tiputini river that runs through the heart of the northern part of the reserve. The habitat is unaltered save for the oil-company road that leads to the station. There is little-no hunting pressure at the station. There is a canopy tower, the rooms actually have air-conditioning, laundry service, and 3 meals a day (which were amongst the best I have had in Ecuador) is included in the price which was a very reasonable $30 per day in March, 2000. The station is located just about due south of the La Selva lodge along a controversial road that was built by oil companies to access Yasuní park. The road is unique amongst Amazonian byways in Ecuador in that it is flanked for 60 km or so by primary rainforest. This is because there is only one entrance to the road, the gateway being controlled by an oil company. Only those persons who are visitors to the station, oil workers, and the Quechua and Haorani peoples that live in a few small communities in the area are allowed through the gate. For visitors to the station, proof of vaccination for Yellow Fever and a signed note of permission are required from the university. How to get there - First, a visit to the university must be made (arrangements might be possible via postal service but that could be a long, drawn-out process). The Universidad Católica is located at 12 de Octubre and Tamayo in Quito. The office for Yasuní is located on the 4th floor of the science building, 2nd or 3rd door on the right after taking a right from the stairwell. The office hours are weekdays from approximately 9 AM until 5 PM. Arrangements to visit the station must be made at least 3 days (and a week is better) before the arrival date. This is because the office must fax or send the oil people at the entrance a copy of your passport and Yellow Fever vaccination because they will check these when you arrive. All costs must be made at this time as well which for us included; the $30 per night fee, $12 for transport to and from the station from the road entrance, and an optional $14 for use of a canoe for 2 hours. A station car can also be rented for $7 per hour to explore the road if one wished (which is by the way, excellent birding). A yellow fever vaccination can be obtained for about $4 from the university clinic if needed but must be gotten at least 10 days before the arrival date at the station. When the secretary has been paid and given copies of proof of the vaccination and passport, then she acquires the note of permission which must be signed by the director of the station. This might actually take a day or 2 depending upon where the director is. For us it only took a wait of 2 hours. This permission slip is absolutely necessary - you will not be allowed entrance without it. The secretary also asks for a pick-up time at the entrance. 9:30 AM worked fine for us, staying over the night before in Lago Agrio and taking a taxi for $16 for the 2 hour ride to Pompeya Norte in the morning. From Pompeya Norte, it may take hours before a boat arrives just to ferry you across the river. We were kindly taken across in a canoe used by some oil workers. By land, the trip is 14 hours from Quito. To get to the station, there are 3 options: 1. Plane from Quito-Coca, then hired boat to Pompeya Sur (the entrance) is the quickest and therefore most expensive. 2. Bus to Coca, then boat hire to the entrance. The bus is long and cheap, the boat 2 hours and usually at least $30. 3. Bus to Lago Agrio, then a taxi to Pompeya Norte, or a variety of buses to Shushufindi, then Pompeya Norte. Using only buses is a very long, uncomfortable, and somewhat unreliable experience (buses to Pompeya from Shushufindi typically only go when there are enough passengers to warrant the trip). We paid for a taxi from Lago Agrio that took 2 hours and charged $16. This price has probably gone up, but would still be worth it especially if it is shared.

The birding - The one drawback of the station is that there is no guide or info. on where certain sp. are. So, there are no stakeouts. There also didn't appear to be any river-island habitat nearby. There was, however, pristine terra firma and várzea rainforest, river edge, lagoons, palm forest along the road, and there are probably other microhabitats in the area needed by such specialties as Cocha Antshrike and Rufous-headed Woodpecker. There was a good trail system, and a sturdy canopy tower with 3 platforms and access via a steel ladder (climbing equipment provided). Birding along the road was also very good. For our canoe hire, they took us down the Tiputini to a lagoon. The water was low at the time and so we didn't see as much as is typically seen at the lagoon (monkeys, many birds), but along the way we saw Capybaras, Greater Ani (Crotophaga major), many other common sp. and 1 male Purple-throated Cotinga (Porphyrolaema porphyrolaema). 202 sp. were recorded over a 5 day period, with best birds: Gray Tinamou (Tinamus tao), Tiny Hawk (Accipiter superciliosus), Ornate Hawk Eagle (Spizaetus ornatus), Crested Eagle (Morphnus guianensis) - 1 seen along laguna trail by Rudy Gelis, Spix's Guan (Penelope jacquacu), Salvin's Curassow (Mitu salvini) - 5 seen by Rudy Gelis, Blue-throated Piping Guan (Pipile cumanensis) - common, Gray-breasted crake (Laterallus exilis) - heard along grassy strip next to road many times but never seen. Gray-winged Trumpeter (Psophia crepitans) - group of 15 seen by Rudy Gelis, Large-billed Tern (Phaetusa simplex) seen along Napo during boat ride while leaving, Blue and Yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna), Red and Green Macaw (Ara chloroptera), Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao), Chestnut-fronted Macaw (Ara severa), Black-headed Parrot (Pionites melanocephala) - most common Parrot, Orange-cheeked Parrot (Pionopsitta barrabandi), Hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin), Tawny-bellied Screech Owl (Otus watsonii), Crested Owl (Lophostrix crestata), Great Potoo (Nyctibius grandis), Band-tailed Nighthawk (Nyctiprogne leucopygia), Ladder-tailed Nightjar (Hydropsalis climacocerca), Chapman's Swift (Chaetura chapmani), 4 Trogon sp., Great Jacamar (Jacamerops aurea), 3 Nunbirds very common, Swallowing (Chelidoptera tenebrosa), Lemon-throated Barbet (Eubucco richardsoni), Golden-collared Toucanet (Selenidera reinwardtii), Yellow-throated Woodpecker (Piculus flavigula), Scale-breasted Woodpecker (Celeus grammicus), Red-necked Woodpecker (Campephilus rubricollis), Chestnut-winged Hookbill (Ancistrops strigilatus), Long-billed Woodcreeper (Nasica longirostris), many Antbirds including Reddish-winged Bare-eye (Phlegopsis erythroptera), Noble Antthrush (Chamaeza nobilis), Rufous-capped Antthrush (Formicarius colma), Ochre-striped Antpitta (Grallaria dignissima), Rusty-belted Tapaculo (Liosceles thoracicus),many Flycatchers including Fork-taileds hanging out with Eastern Kingbirds, White-browed Purpletuft (Iodopleura isabellae), Spangled Cotinga (Cotinga cayana), Bare-necked Fruitcrow (Gymnoderus foetidus) - common, Lawrence's Thrush (Turdus lawrencii), Paradise Tanager (Tangara chilensis), Vermillion Tanager (Chalocaetes coccineus), Lesson's Seedeater (Sporophila bouvronides).

Mammals seen were: Black-faced Tamarin, Wooly Monkey, Monk Saki Monkey, Squirrel Monkey, Red Howler Monkey, Brocket Deer - joined the Trumpeters, capybara, Black Agouti, and Kinkajou. Jaguar has been seen at the riverbank and River Dolphins in the Tiputini. Giant Otters are also seen not too rarely at the lagoons. The avifauna at Yasuní is probably similar to that of La Selva and Sacha lodges albeit at more affordable rates. It appears not to have been very much explored ornithologically and so probably has some surprises in store for the visitor.

Podocarpus Park - Similar to my trip here in 98, the birding being fantastic. The entrance fee for both Cajanuma and Bombuscaro has been lowered to $5 for 5 days. The rangers at Cajanuma no longer allow visitors to use their kitchen but overnight stays at the HQ and other shelters are still allowed. At Bombuscaro, visitors are allowed kitchen access but must pay for a tank of propane($2). Overnight stays are still allowed. The HQ had a room with 2 beds and mosquito net while the 3 cabins have no such amenities. There is a new loop trail at Bombuscaro that goes through habitat similar to that of the self-guided trail. The bridge across the river has been rebuilt and now gives access to a trail that follows the river downstream across from the HQ (but doesn't loop back).

Cajanuma - rained quite a bit but still great birding with some specialties such as Tawny-breasted Tinamou (Nothocercus julius) - it flew out of a tree!, Golden-plumed Parakeet (Leptosittaca branickii), Swallow-tailed Nightjar (Uropsalis segmentata) - 1 flushed along laguna trail, 8 Hummer sp. including Sword-billed and Flame-throated Sunangel, Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan (Andigena hypglaucus), Crimson-mantled Woodpecker (Piculus rivolii), Chestnut-crowned, Chestnut-naped, and Rufous Antpittas, Ocellated, and Chusquea Tapaculos, Black-capped Tyrannulet (Phyllomyias nigrocapillus), Barred Fruiteater (Pipreola arcauta), Black-chested Mountain Tanager (Buthraupis eximia), Golden-crowned Tanager (Iridosornis rufivertex) - common, Black-headed Hemispingus (verticalis), Grey-hooded Bush Tanager (Cnemoscopus rubirostris), etc.

Bombuscaro - Rainy for 2 out of 5 days. Great birding over 4 day period with best being: Gray Tinamou (Tinamus tao) - 1 heard each evening, Solitary Eagle (Harpyhaliaetus solitarius) - 1 adult seen, Rufous-breasted Wood Quail (Odontophorus speciosus), White-breasted Parakeet (Pyrhurra albipectus) at least 2 flocks seen in flight along river, behind HQ, and feeding along New trail, Spot-winged Parrotlet (Touit stictoptera) - flock of 12 seen flying between tree crowns on opposite side of river from HQ, Band-bellied Owl (Pulsatrix melanota) - heard nightly but not seen. Coppery-chested Jacamar (Galbula pastazae) - 1 heard along main trail near park entrance. Lanceolated Monklet (Michromonacha lanceolata) - finally caught up with this dreamed of sp.! 1 seen responded to imitation of song, 2 others heard all along main trail. Black-streaked Puffbird (Malacoptila fulvogularis) - 3 seen main trail. Red-headed Barbet (Eubucco bourcierii), White-streaked Antvireo (Dysithamnus leucostictus), White-backed Fire-eye (Priglena leuconota), Plain-backed Antpitta (Grallaria haplonota) - many heard, 1 seen, Northern White-crowned Tapaculo (Scytalopus atratus), Orange-crested Flycatcher (Myiophobus phoenicomitra), Lemon-browed Flycatcher (Conopias cinchoneti), Amazonian Umbrellabird (Cephalopterus ornatus) - 2 heard, 1 male seen, Blue-rumped Manakin (Pipra isidorei)-common, Wing-barred Piprites (Piprites chloris) -1 heard, Paradise Tanager (Tangara chilensis), Orange-eared Tanager (Chlorochrysa calliparaea), Golden-eared tanager (Tangara chrysotis), Olive Finch (Lysurus castaneiceps), etc.

Catamayo - This town about 30ks west of Loja is situated amongst nice Tumbesian habitat. We birded around the town for one day while waiting to take the plane to Quito that left the following morning. The best bird was Black and White Tanager (Conothraupis speculigera) - 2 were seen near the airport, and in a trashy gully just outside of town on the right side of the road heading towards Loja. Their calls were more like an Icterid than that of a Thraupid. Other more common sp. were; Croaking Ground Dove (Columbina cruziana), Short-tailed Woodstar (Myrmia micrura), Collared Antshrike (Sakesphorus bernardi), Tawny-crowned Pygmy Tyrant (Euscarthmus meloryphus), Long-tailed Mockingbird (Mimus longicaudatus), Fasciated Wren (Campylorhynchus zonatus), Superciliated Wren (Thryotherus superciliaris), Parrot-billed Seedeater (Sporophila peruviana), Chestnut-throated Seedeater (Sporophila telasco), Band-tailed Sierra Finch (Phryglius aludinus), Tumbes Sparrow (Aimophila stolzmanni), and Collared Warbling Finch (Poospiza hispaniolensis).

Alandaluz ecolodge and the road to Cantalapiedra in the vicinity of Machalilla national park - During the first week of March, we stayed at the Alandaluz ecolodge on the Pacific coast about 15 minutes south of Puerto Lopez along the coastal road. I would recommend this place (especially the restaurant) to any birders hoping to bird Machalilla park. We paid $7 for a cabin with shared bath, the food in the restaurant was offered at low prices and was excellent. All the food came from their self-sustaining organic gardens. The lodge was situated on the coast amidst very dry Tumbesian habitat with such typical sp. as Long-tailed Mockingbird (Mimus longicaudatus), Baird's Flycatcher (Myiodynastes bairdii), Snowy-throated Kingbird (Tyrannus niveigularus) and Pacific Parrotlet (Forpus coelestis) being common. The lodge is situated about 7 ks or so north of Ayampe where there is good birding along the river heading towards Machalilla.

Cantalapiedra - About 12 ks south of Alandaluz along the coastal highway, as the road is going over a ridge with rather humid forest on it, there is a gravel road on the left or east side that leads to Cantalapiedra after 4 km. The road is well signed as the way to Cantalapiedra and seemed to be better birding than Cantalapiedra itself. We hitched a ride there one afternoon and had a surprising amount of activity considering the time of day. The road passed through mostly older second growth that appeared to be connected to primary forest and had such sp. as: Pale-browed Tinamou (Crypturellus transfasciatus) - heard only, Grey-backed Hawk (Leucopternis occidentalis), Rufous-headed Chachalaca (Ortalis Erythroptera), Scaled Pigeon (Columba speciosa), Blue Ground Dove (Claravis pretiosa) - very common, White-tipped Dove (Leptotila verrauxi), Ochre-bellied Dove (Leptotila ochraceiventris)- Leptotila sp. heard other than White-tipped may have been this species, Red-masked Parakeet (Aratinga erythrogenys) - many flocks in flight, Acestrura sp. Hummingbird female was either Little (bombus) or Esmeraldas (berlepschi), Black-tailed Trogon (Trogon melanurus), Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii), Red-faced Spinetail (Cranioleuca erythrops), Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaner (Hylocryptus erythrocephalus), White-backed (Pacific) Fire-eye (Pyriglena leuconota), Pacific Elaenia (Myiopagis subplacens), Grey-breasted Flycatcher (Lathotriccus griseipectus) - 2 separate individuals!, Black-headed Tody Flycatcher (Todirostrum nigriceps), Grey-and-gold Warbler (Basileuterus fraseri), Guira Tanager (Hemithraupis guira), Crimson Finch-Tanager (Rhodospingus cruentus), etc. This road might also hold such rarities as; Pacific Royal Flycatcher (Onychorhychus pacificus), Ochraceous Attila (Attila torridus), Slaty Becard (Pachyramphus spodiorus), and Saffron Siskin (Carduelis siemeradzkii). At Cantalapiedra itself, the habitat was a bit drier and mostly second growth. There were some steep trails that eventually reached better habitat, but as this was a 2 hour walk in the midday heat, we didn't do it. The accommodations there looked comfortable and cost $7 per night at that time. Be wary about taking an excursion to Cantalapiedra from Alandaluz as you could be charged $20 for a guide that really knows very little about any aspect of the local ecosystem to take you around the property. It could be just as easily done on your own.

Patrick O'Donnell
719 Augustus Place
Niagara Falls, NY 14301

Copyright © 1992-2012 John Wall