Trip report: Ecuador The Andes Introtour (Feb 2011) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Andrés Vásquez N.

The day started foggy, rainy and a bit cold as we left Quito. The weather remained like that until we arrived to the reserve so we did not have a chance to bird the agricultural terrains on the way. It seemed like as we switched the engine off, the rain also stopped so the next hours of birding inside the reserve were great. We started by visiting with success the new feeding station of a pair of Tawny Antpittas just at the entrance to the reserve. A very cooperative Andean Guan showed up not far from the gate and a bit farther down we got some flocks that held Scarlet-bellied, Hooded, and Black-chested Mountain-Tanagers together with other highland birds that kept us entertained all the way to the end of the trail. The hummingbird feeders at this farthest point are just amazing, the absolute star being the unique Sword-billed Hummingbird (AJ) which was joined by another 6 species including the Andes endemic Golden-breasted Puffleg and a close relative, Sapphire-vented Puffleg (AJ). On the way back to the parking lot we saw another highly desired hummer, the very attractive Rainbow-bearded Thornbill.

After lunch we moved down slope towards Tandayapa. The first good bird of the afternoon showed up not far from the reserve on grasslands; a Paramo Pipit responded well to my playback and perched for a second on a fence pole just before flying over the bus and disappearing on the grasses. Considerably lower down in elevation, we started birding again on cloudforest along the Alambi River that runs parallel for a good stretch to the old Nono-Mindo road. Here we found a couple of specialties: White-capped Dipper and Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant. Several kilometers ahead, we stopped in a spot that is always generous to me. Here we got several of the target species we look for on this trip plus flocks of various tanagers. The first target to show up was a Toucan Barbet followed by a Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan and afterwards joined by a male Andean Cock-of-the-Rock. A great closure for a great day came when we arrived to the always welcoming Tandayapa Bird Lodge where the frenetic activity on the hummingbird feeders blows the mind of every visitor. We got about 12 species in the first two minutes and a couple more later on…(more)

Click this link to view the full report in PDF format