Thursday, December 3, 2015

Ecuador days 7 and 8, Refugio Paz de las Aves, Calacali, Antisana and Guango Lodge

Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Refugio Paz de las Aves, Ecuador, Nov 22, 2015
Dark backed Wood Quail, Refugio Paz de las Aves, Ecuador, Nov 22, 2015
Giant Antpitta, Refugio Paz de las Aves, Ecuador, Nov 22, 2015
Golden rumped Euphonia, Calacali, Ecuador, Nov 22, 2015
The last full day of the regular tour was spent first visiting the Paz de Aves Reserve near Mindo. We arrived, along with a few other groups, before dawn to make the walk out to a lek location for Andean Cock of the Rock. When we arrived the several males present were already quite vocal but most stayed largely out of view for quite some time. Thankfully the birds became more cooperative with time and all present got some great looks at an impressive species. While at the blind the folks from Paz de Aves managed to bring in a couple of Dark backed Wood Quail to feed. The real claim to fame for the reserve is the various species of antpittas they have enticed to come in and feed on worms offered to them. One of the members of the Paz family will whistle and call to them and offer some worms and eventually the birds come in. We started with a Yellow bellied Antpitta along a river and got quick views. Next up was a Great Antpitta which stayed in view for quite some time and offered great looks at a very large member of this bird family. The final antpitta species for the morning were a couple of Ochre breasted Antpittas, which are quite small and shake back and forth when perched (the reason the Paz family has nicknamed them Shakira). We tried to find a Mustached Antpitta but no luck getting him to come in today. Antpittas are normally a very difficult group of birds to get decent looks at but the birds here are different. Lots of other amazing species around the local area too made for another great morning. After the morning at Paz de Aves we started our trek toward Quito for the night. We made a few stops on the way to the city including a stop at Calacali which featured an almost desert like setting quite unlike the areas we have been in lately. Despite the large amount of trash around the entrance to the trail we found most of our target species and got great looks at most.

Full lists:
Carunculated Caracara, Antisana, Ecuador, Nov 23, 2015
Silvery Grebes, Antisana, Ecuador, Nov 23, 2015
Andean Gulls, Antisana, Ecuador, Nov 23, 2015
Black faced Ibis, Antisana, Ecuador, Nov 23, 2015
Andean Condor, Antisana, Ecuador, Nov 23, 2015
After spending another night in Quito the extension trip to the high Andes began with another early start with the destination being Antisana. We spent the entire morning in the paramo around Antisana before heading back to Quito to take the Pan American Highway to head through the Andes (with a stop at Cayambe Coca National Park) and then down to Guango Lodge where we arrive in the early evening. We once again had decent weather and found all of our most sought after birds. We managed to find an Andean Condor fairly quickly perched along a cliff face (plus found a few more later on). We added a number of other specialties from the paramo including such examples as Cinereous Harrier, Andean Gull, Stout billed Cinclodes, Andean Tit Spinetail, Black billed Shrike Tyrant, Giant Hummingbird and many others. We just seemed to be having great luck and it was to continue. After our trip through Antisana we stopped for lunch before the long ride up though the pass.
Rufous bellied Sandsnipe, Cayambe Coca NP, Ecuador, Nov 23, 2015
Spectacled Bear, 
At the very highest elevation of the trip near the radio towers in Cayambe Coca (around 4300m) we found two Rufous bellied Seedsnipe. A side trip down a side road found more new species and after turning around because of a road washout we spotted a Speckled Bear! Really exciting to see this species for everyone.
Torrent Duck, Guango Lodge, Ecuador, Nov 23, 2015
Chestnut breasted Coronet, Guango Lodge, Ecuador, Nov 23, 2015
We arrived in the early evening at Guango Lodge and enjoyed the very busy hummingbird feeders for a bit before we decided to continue our luck with good birds by going to try for Torrent Duck. After quite a bit of looking Jose found one in the last spot we checked. Distant but great looks at a male (joined by a female later). Overall another great day with more great birds.

Full lists for the day:


  1. OMG! That is an amazing trek! AND A SPECTACLED BEAR! I looked for that furry number in Peru during our Machu Picchu trek! Your birds are amazing and I drool! Congrats on fabulous pics and sightings!

    1. Indeed it was amazing...the bear just put it all over the top....very, very cool to see it. Cannot wait to get back down there again.