Tours & Destinations Ecuador
. . . . . 2013 TOUR SCHEDULE . . . . .
The Birds of Northern Ecuador
Andes, the Northwest Lowlands, and a touch of Amazonia25 September 2013 - 6 October 2013, 12 days & 11 nights
With almost 1700 species of birds, over 16,000 known plants, and almost 400 species of mammals, Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. Considering its relatively small size, it may harbor more species per square mile than any other country. Ocean currents, an equatorial latitude, and the rugged Andes combine to create climate variations that support great biogeographic diversity as well as a high regional endemism. Coastal beaches and mangrove lagoons, lowland tropical forests, tropical deciduous forest, Amazonian rainforest, Andean foothill and cloudforests, high elevation paramo, and peaks higher than 20,000 feet all contribute to the beauty and richness of the country.
We’ll begin our tour in the northwestern lowlands, foothills, and cloudforest, where we’ll spend two nights each at the lodges of Tinalandia, Septimo Paraiso, and Tandayapa. In addition to birding at the lodges, we’ll visit two superb reserves managed by the Mindo Cloudforest Foundation – the Rio Silanche and Milpe Reserves – and make a visit to the must-see 'Antpittas and More' show at the home of Angel Paz. In the northwest, we’ll find a great variety of species, including several regional endemics. Possibilities include Pallid Dove, Dusky Pigeon, Bronze-winged and Red-billed Parrots, Scarlet-backed Woodpecker, Choco Warbler and Toucan, Pacific Antwren, Scarlet-browed and Rufous-winged Tanagers, Yellow-tufted Dacnis, Red-faced Spinetail, Toucan Barbet, Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, possibly four to six species of antpittas, many tanagers, and perhaps two dozen species of hummingbirds.
From Tandayapa, we’ll travel to the eastern slope of the Andes to the temperate forests of Guango Lodge. On our way, we'll make a day trip over Papallacta Pass. We'll begin in treeline scrub where we'll look for Black-tailed Trainbearer, Blue-and-yellow Tanager, Tufted Tit-tyrant, Shining Sunbeam, Rufous-naped Brush-finch, Red-crested Cotinga, and Streak-throated Bush-tyrant. Higher up near the pass and the peak, we’ll look for several high Andean specialists such as Ecuadorian Hillstar, Plumbeous Sierra-finch, Black-chested Buzzard Eagle, Variable Hawk, Tawny Antpitta, Stout-billed and Bar-winged Cinclodes, Andean Tit-spinetail, Many-striped Canastero, Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, and others.
At almost 9000 feet, Guango is a great spot for Torrent Duck, White-capped Dipper, various mountain-tanagers, Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Powerful Woodpecker, Dusky Piha, Rufous Antpitta, several species of chat-tyrants and brush-finches, and many hummers, including the improbable Sword-billed Hummingbird.
Our next stop is Cabanas San Isidro which, at about 6500 feet, is in the transition zone between temperate and subtropical habitats. From the comfortable lodge, which has great rooms and food, we’ll search for species that occur only on the eastern slope as well as more widespread species. These include Speckle-faced (White-capped) Parrot, Powerful Woodpecker, Rufous-crowned Tody-flycatcher, Pale-edged Flycatcher, Green-and-black Fruiteater, Inca Jay, Black-billed Peppershrike, Barred Becard, Andean Solitaire, Bluish Flowerpiercer, Saffron-crowned and many other tanagers, Crested and Golden-headed Quetzals, and as many as 10 species of hummingbirds. We’ll also make a day trip to lower elevations at Guacamayos Ridge where we’ll have chances to see species like Greater Scythebill, Golden-eyed Flowerpiercer, Grass-green Tanager, Rufous-headed Pygmy-tyrant, fruiteaters, and more. In the afternoon, we'll head lower still to the Tena area where we should see a nice selection of Amazonian species.
We’ll conclude our journey with a day trip to the high elevation paramo of the Antisana Reserve. In this wild area of shrubs, vast grasslands, and a high altitude lake, Laguna Micacocha, we’ll have good chances to see many species that we won’t find elsewhere such as Giant Hummingbird, Andean Condor, Cinereous Harrier, Aplomado Falcon, Red-crested Cotinga, Black-winged Ground-dove, Paramo Pipit, Black-faced Ibis, and a suite of other high elevation birds.
This tour will be led by naturalist and bird guide Mark Pretti. Cost is approximately $3700-3800 per person, double occupancy, and includes all lodging, meals, admissions and transportation from Quito. Limited to eight participants. Detailed itinerary will be available at a later date.
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THE BIRDS OF SOUTHERN ECUADOR
Jocotoco Foundation Reserves & Copalinga Lodge7 October 2013 - 20 October 2013, 14 days & 13 nights
With several new lodges providing access to excellent habitat and many species unique to the region, southern Ecuador has quickly become a destination almost as popular as the north. A short one-hour flight from Quito brings you to the southern province of Loja from where several distinct avifaunal areas are easily reached. In addition to birding in the dry interior valley where we may find Long-tailed Mockingbird, Pacific Parrotlet, Croaking Ground-Dove, Peruvian Meadowlark, and Chestnut-throated Seedeater, all very near the airport, we'll travel to the south, east, west, and southwest to visit several superb lodges and find some great birds and wildlife.
Our first stop is the Jocotoco Foundation's (JF) Tapichalaca Reserve, home of the highly range-restricted Jocotoco Antpitta, as well as other antpittas including Chestnut-naped, Rufous, Slate-crowned, and Undulated. While at Tapichalaca we'll enjoy the rich cloud forest and hopefully find many hummers (Rufous-capped Thornbill, Flame-throated and Amethyst-throated Sunangels, Collared Inca, Speckled Hummingbird, Tyrian Metaltail), flycatchers (Orange-banded, Smoky Bush-Tyrant, and Black-throated Tody-Tyrant), Chusquea Tapaculo, Barred Fruiteater, Bar-bellied Woodpecker, Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan, and many more. Traveling a nice elevational transect down to the town of Valladolid, we may find Maranon Thrush, Streaked Saltator, Speckle-breasted Wren, Loja Tyrannulet, and many colorful tanagers. With luck we'll find the spectacular White-capped Tanager and perhaps the rare Golden-plumed Parakeet.
From Tapichalaca, we'll drive to the eastern slope and beautiful Copalinga Lodge. Warmer temperatures and a rich assortment of species from both higher and lower elevations await us here. Wire-crested Thorntail and Spangled Coquette are hummer highlights, while Coppery-chested Jacamar, White-crowned Tapaculo, Black-streaked Puffbird, Lanceolated Monklet, Golden-winged Tody-Flycatcher, and Blue-rumped Manakin are a few of the gems we've seen here. We'll spend one morning at the Bombuscaro section of Podocarpus National Park and another morning along the old Loja-Zamora Road where Gray-mantled Wren, Cerulean Warbler, and Scarlet-breasted Fruiteater are possible.
We then journey west to the JFs Buenaventura Lodge. Buenaventura may be the birdiest place in the world's birdiest country. Between the hummers swarming in huge numbers at the feeders, the many mixed flocks, the rare and local El Oro Parakeet, and a lek of Long-wattled Umbrellabirds, this is an unforgettable place. We spend two full days here and hope to see many of the west slope and Tumbesian specialties. Club-winged Manakin, Ochre-breasted Tanager, Crimson-breasted Finch, Barred Puffbird, Black-striped Sparrow, Brownish Twistwing, and White-tipped Sicklebill are among the many possibilities.
We finish our tour in the far southwest with two days at the JF's Jorupe Reserve where comfortable cabins set amidst spectacular tropical deciduous forest make for a perfect birding experience. "At the lodge" birds include Pale-browed Tinamou, Gray-backed Hawk, West Peruvian Screech-Owl, Gray-cheeked Parakeet, Tumbes Swift, Ecuadorian Trogon, White-tailed Jay, Black-capped Sparrow, Watkin's Antpitta, Saffron Siskin, and White-edged Oriole. Deeper in the forest are Blackish-headed Spinetail, Rufous-necked and Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaners, Collared Antshrike, Gray-breasted, Baird's, and Sooty-crowned Flycatchers, Slaty Becard, Black-capped Sparrow, and lots more.
Cost should be about $3800 per person, double occupancy, and includes all lodging, meals, admissions, and transportation from Quito. Limited to eight participants. This tour will be led by naturalist and bird guide Mark Pretti.