Guided by Sam Woods.This was a custom tour.
Ecuador has such an abundance of riches bundled up into one small country that many birders visit more than just once. The list of birds for this South American country exceeds 1600 species, and yet it is a little smaller in size than Germany, or to put it another way, the Unites States of America is 35 times larger! Ecuador’s avian diversity is determined by boasting diversity of habitats, from coastal lowlands to the Andean Mountains, and the Galapagos. And, it can also lay claim to a sizeable chunk of the vast Amazon Basin too. It was in the latter region that this short custom tour was entirely focused. Along with a diversity of birds and bird habitats, Ecuador is also blessed with a variety of lodges in which to be situated for birding purposes. This statement can also be said of the Amazon in the country, where there are a number of lodges dotted along the banks of the Napo River (accessible from the city of Coca), a major tributary of the Rio Amazon itself. While these “Napo Lodges” are the most frequently visited of the Amazon birding locations, this tour instead went to another, more remote lodge, located well south of the Napo River. While at first glance, the Amazon appears uniform to our eyes, Shiripuno Lodge is quite different from those other lodges, on a number of levels; it is located in a different province (largely in Pastaza), the community of peoples in the area is different (Waorani), and most significantly of all, its bird list is punctuated by many rare Amazon species that are only very rarely, or never, possible at those other more popular Ecuadorian Amazon birding locales. This tour was set up for just this reason, to target the rare and difficult birds that had not been seen by the group on a previous visit to a more readily accessible lodge along the Napo River. Thus, the trip was focused on plugging gaps in the list of a birder who was on their second Ecuador tour, and second trip into the Ecuadorian Amazon. To that end, we had some significant highlights, which made the trip to the lodge very special indeed, namely a daytime Rufous Potoo, a flyby from a Harpy Eagle, the rare White-crested Spadebill, a stunning Black-necked Red Cotinga (a species only regularly seen at one other Amazon lodge in Ecuador), Black Bushbird, Spotted and Collared Puffbirds, nice views of the ordinarily super-elusive Salvin’s Curassow; super looks at a male Fiery Topaz from our canoe, several of the unique White-plumed Antbird, and a male Lunulated Antbird; and a prolonged time with a Gray-winged Trumpeter. I should also mention that, while the lodge is more rustic than the other more widely visited ones on the Napo (e.g. electricity is limited to a few hours a day, of generator-provided power at Shiripuno), that is not to say we were not treated like kings; we enjoyed very good food through our stay, prepared by workers from the local Waorani community, and in 7 days never had the same meal twice; an extraordinary accomplishment in such a secluded location.