Guided by Scott Olmstead.This was a set departure tour, and it included the High Andes extension.
Our June Andes Introtour combined mostly dry weather with spectacular Chocó endemics, some rare mammal sightings, and comfortable accommodations and consistently superb meals at Tandayapa Bird Lodge. Birding Northwest Ecuador in the dry season has advantages and disadvantages. We never lost a morning to rain, and we enjoyed breathtaking mountain vistas; however, bird activity was reduced with less cloud cover and we had to work hard to find our birds! North American migrants are absent this time of year, which means the trip list comes up a little shorter, but it also means when you are sifting through a mixed flock you don’t have to worry about every other bird being a Blackburnian Warbler or Summer Tanager! With our whole group taking part in their first dedicated birding trip to South America, this minor simplification of the avifauna probably played to our benefit.
In the end we did well with Chocó endemics, spotting some of the rarest and most sought-after species of the region like Tanager Finch and Chocó Vireo, as well as some of the most magnificent birds in Ecuador, like Toucan Barbet, Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Velvet-purple Coronet, Lyre-tailed Nightjar, Andean Condor, and Giant Antpitta. We tallied five species of toucans, over 30 species of tanagers, and over 40 species of hummingbirds in our eight days in the field. After the main tour concluded, incredible mountain landscapes, the cozy charm of Guango Lodge, and unexpected sightings of Spectacled Bear and Mountain Tapir made the High Andes extension a memorable couple of days.