Trip report: Northwest Ecuador, in Search of Chocó Endemics (July 2009) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Sam Woods.

The tour began at the highest point, in the rich temperate forests and scrub of Yanacocha. The weather was splendid allowing for great views of the snow-capped Cayambe volcano as we walked the “Inca Trail” within this superb Fundacion Jocotoco reserve, a short drive from Ecuador’s capital, Quito.

Hummers and tanagers are a big feature of this reserve, and this day was no exception. Our first taste of the avian delights of Yanacocha came not too far down the trail when a flash of crimson drew us to our first flock weaving its way through the moss-laden polylepis trees, and our first striking Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanagers. Also in the same mixed feeding flock were another sturdy mountain-tanager, the Black-chested Mountain-Tanager, and a few Superciliaried Hemispingus. However, further along the same scenic Andean track we found the most gorgeous of them all, the Golden-crowned Tanager, a mixture of deep velvety blues, burnt reds, and jet black, all topped off nicely with a crown of bright gold. For me always Yanacocha’s star tanager, and judging from the appreciative tones resonating from the group it was their favorite too.

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