Trip report: Ecuador, The Andes Introtour (February 2014) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Cameron Cox.

Northwest Ecuador is marvelously diverse and beautiful. It is loaded with birds and is particularly blessed with beautiful tanagers and gaudy hummingbirds. In fact, some of the most spectacular birds in the world are found here and many were seen during this tour. Much of the trip was focused on the bird rich Tandayapa Valley and surrounding areas with a trip farther afield to the lowlands around Rio Silanche. The extension focused on the High Andean region east of Quito and touched on a little of temperate zone on the eastern slope of the Andes.
This tour was based primarily at Tandayapa Bird Lodge. This allows us to focus on seeing and enjoying new birds rather than spending our time constantly pack and unpack as we change location. The first and last night were spent in Quito and one night was spent at Guango Lodge on the east slope of the Andes during the extension.

Highlights from the Tandayapa Valley included stunning hummingbird diversity including the captivating Booted Racket-tail at Tandayapa Bird Lodge, a pair of Strong-billed Woodcreepers foraging only a few feet from our faces at Tandayapa Bird Lodge’s blind, a Crested Quetzal in the mist in the upper Tandayapa Valley, the odd but stunning Ocellated Tapaculo on the Research Station Road, and trumpeting Toucan Barbets along the main Tandayapa Road.

Hilghlights from Milpe included lekking Club-winged Manakins, a surprising pair of Long-wattled Umbrellabirds, and a Spotted Nightingale-Thrush.

Several stunning Choco endemics dominate the day at Mashpi including Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Indigo Flowerpiercer, and Glistening-green Tanager.

Rio Silanche produced, among many, many other things, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, a rare Choco Woodpecker, and killer looks at Northern Barred-Woodcreeper.

Our morning at Paz del Aves gave us up close and personal views of an Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek, Cloud-forest Pygmy-Owl, Common Potoo, Lyre-tailed Nightjar, and three species of antpitta.

On the High Andes extension the Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe was the biggest hit, but Torrent Ducks, Andean Condor, and Carunculated Caracara also were very exciting.

In all had had 263 species on the main tour and added 42 more on the extension. Combining the main tour and extension we had 46 species of hummingbirds and 47 species of the tanager family.
A hearty thanks to our bus driver Luis who knew the area perfectly, always got us safety to our destination safely, and when above and beyond every day to help me and everyone on the trip. Thanks Luis!

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