Trip report: Southern Ecuador (Jan-Feb 2012) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Andrew Spencer. This was a set departure tour.

Ecuador is, justifiably, among the most popular of destinations in the neotropics for birdwatchers. But most of those birders stick to the “classic” northern circuits, either east slope or west slope, with a much small number visiting the remote southern part of the country. This is a real shame – where else can you combine Tumbesian endemics with the southern fringes of the Choco bio-region; spectacular, newly described antpittas with rare, little-known tanagers?

Our 2012 southern Ecuador tour was a smashing success. The first part of the trip was dogged by persistent (but rarely heavy) rain, but during the later part only occasional precipitation bothered us. We encountered a total of 644 species (33 of those heard only), and found nearly all of our main targets, among them many Tumbesian and Choco endemics and a host of other rare species. This was the first year we visited two sites on the tour (Yankuam in the southeast, and Yunguilla near Cuenca), and I must say both were an excellent addition! Indeed the birding at Yankuam was perhaps some of the best on the tour, with not only the spectacular Orange-throated Tanager, but also many other Amazonian species at the upper edge of their range overlapping with foothills species at the lower edge of theirs. It also brought the trip list up to atmospheric highs, higher than any other tour we offer in Ecuador.

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